Friday, June 20, 2014

The Fabric....

Today on the Flowering Snowball-along schedule, I will talk about choosing fabrics.  And even better yet...Susan from PatchworknPlay is here to share her insights about fabric.  She is amazing at choosing the perfect fabrics for her projects. Susan never disappoints!  I love the fabrics she puts together.  They are  exciting, appropriate for the quilt pattern and always thoughtfully chosen.
So head over to Susan's and then pop back here for my thoughts on color and design...


  As a quilt teacher, there are often discussions about how to choose the right fabric.  

As much as I would like to say there is a formula for choosing the right fabrics...I just don't buy into this notion that there is a right and wrong way to choose fabric.  Other than, choose what makes you happy and don't buy the stuff you don't really like....even if everyone else is ga-ga over it!  If it isn't your cup of tea just wait.  Sometimes things grow on you and they become irresistible! 

All too often, people just don't trust their instincts when it comes to fabric.  Listen to what your gut tells you...if you place two fabrics next to each other and they make you happy...go for it! I often find choosing fabrics a trial and error process.  I pull a pile of fabric for a quilt and then edit from there.  Sometimes I have to go back into my stash and grab a few other choices.  But usually I just have a small box or bag with the 'working' fabrics.

When I began quilting...there were rules for the number of fabrics and the scale of the design, the value, the hue, etc, etc, etc...
it just made my head want to explode!  That's probably why all my early quilting was navy and raspberry!
So for my part today, I just want to show you the different effects to think about as you work with this design.

To begin...let's just refresh our memories about color - you know this without even having to explain it...

Primary Colors are pure, yellow and blue

Secondary Colors are produced by mixing two primary colors in equal amounts...such as: violet, green and orange

Tertiary Colors are between Primary and Secondary...such as: red-violet or yellow-orange

If you are making an 'exciting' quilt, you will most likely pull warm and cool colors.  Warm colors are those associated with fire and Cool colors are the colors associated with water or the ocean.
Alternate warm and cool colors next to each other to create excitement!

stash buster...pattern by Sarah Fielke

And then there are the neutrals....neutral colors don't appear on the color wheel.  They are black, grey, white and some beige/browns.  Neutrals will not dominate...they go together and can be layered.  This is probably why neutral colors are often chosen as a background.

So how does color affect the Flowering Snowball?
Let's look at the parts...
If you choose to have the A/B template advance...simply use a lighter or neutral color for the C template.  The visual effect you get is a series of floating circles.  My scrappy version is like this.  I see dead people circles...hehe!

If you prefer the C template to advance, giving you a strong melon flower effect, choose a color and value for C that makes that template advance...

    There are a few other helpful truths about color to keep in mind...

Complementary colors are colors that are opposite on the color wheel.  They elicite a lively, spirited feel!

Analogous colors are next to one another on the color wheel and give a harmonious feel!

 Accent color is a color used in small bits to create a pop!  I always think of this as a very sophisticated strategy.

 Then there are tones and shades of color.  These are values depending on the amount of grey, white and black added to the color.  You can vary the value so no one element stand out from the rest...

I hope this helps a little if you struggle with color.  But, honestly, I think we all tend to over-think it!  Go with what you like. 

On Monday, I am going to talk about laying out your fabrics for cutting.  You will need to consider the straight of grain.  And Clare of Selfsewn will walk us through doing this quilt using English Paper Piecing.  Yay!
Have a great weekend and keep posting those pictures on Flickr and  Instagram #floweringsnowballalong



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  2. Oh, you are much more educated about colour than me! That's why you're the quilting teacher and I just teach boys! LOL!

  3. I love how you wrote about in the beginning the rules 'making your head want to explode'. Ditto! I have learned so much from learning to trust my instincts even when other people are saying 'are you sure you want to do that?'. LOL Great explanation about color!

  4. Thanks! Now I know why I like your quilts so much. You buy what you like and stick with that. Your style becomes apparent because you're not following anyone else's rules.

  5. thanks for the rundown Mary...i think i already play by your rule of use what you like...but glad to know im not just being stubborn!

  6. Thanks for your words! Fabric choosing often stopped me sewing. I usually wanted to use fabrics other members of our guild said impossible. If I did not stop this time I usually happy with my new quilt. I will definetelly follow my intuition. Thanks, thanks, thanks! My live will be much simplier:-)

  7. I love this stuff! I was so happy to see "tertiary"..a word that sends my hubs out of the room :) My biggest obstacle is always the limited selection on hand. I have many wonderful fabrics, but such an odd mix that when I pull colors, I often just can't stand certain "styles" side by side. Pre-cuts are a real friend to me in that regard! So after spending alot of leisurely time and effort making a mess of my fabrics, pulling by colors etc..I ended up going with a pre very first ever layer cake! And it makes me happy :)

  8. many thanks for the info, off to MQG meeting today so will study your blog when I get home

  9. Lots of wonderful colour information, I agree we should trust our intuition, afterall colour taste is such a personal thing. It's great to see all your different examples of how colour works with the snow ball blocks.

  10. When it comes to picking colors, I am eager to read anything I can put my hands on. Took a few classes on that subject and still struggle with it. It is very helpful to have some guidelines. What seems to work for me is picking colors and prints that make me feel good, when I hear; "Oh wow" in my head, it is a good sign and rarely disappoint. Thanks.

  11. Wow! Just an incredible post, chock-full of well-curated and thoughtful information. The illustrations are amazing and I can't imagine the work you put into preparing it for all of us. Thank you so much for imparting such wonderful knowledge and experience to your readers. Much-appreciated!

  12. I don't use color "rules" either. I've been using colors as the base squares for my applique. So much more fun than white backgrounds!

  13. This is a fantastic post Mary. Showing all the examples is very helpful. I'd love to make one of these quilts but can't fit it in my schedule this summer so will enjoy learning and seeing what everyone else does.

  14. I think you are right to suggest going with your gut and what you like. You will have to stare at the fabrics for ages as you sew, so you might as well enjoy looking at them!
    Great examples of how different colour schemes alter a pattern.

  15. Amazing how different colour choices affect the overall appearance of the same block - although now I have the dilemma that I like ALL of them (apart from the purple and yellow version). It will be fun to see all the different version appear over time.

  16. Always loved how you put fabrics together Mary! Love your alternative versions - only trouble is wanting to make them all!

  17. Thanks for the tips.Love your layout!