Wednesday 24 July 2013

Plaster and pouches

Before we left for Melbourne last week, my boys were given a small Android tablet each from their grandparents to use during the plane trip. As soon as they were given them I started planning to make cases for them (naturally!). I actually started these pouches for them before we left, but didn't get them finished until today - better late than never I guess! And they do really like them, which is great.

I used the great iPad case tutorial from Fresh Lemons Quilts, but scaled it down to fit the smaller tablet size. They are a wee bit snug - I forgot to allow for the extra thickness of these tablets compared to an iPad - but they can squeeze them on. I'm not sure how useful the outer pocket is going to be though ;o) Both cases are made using Lizzy House fabric - the blue/teal is from 1001 Peeps (still one of my all time favorite collections, and the first time I've cut into my stash of these) and the green is Castle Peeps.

The reason they are open as shown is that I can't fit them over the end of my sewing machine to sew the bottom piece of velcro on - so I'll be hand sewing it on at some stage. I'm not sure where my brain was to be honest - hopefully my hand stitching will be enough to hold it there...

While I was at it, I finally made a cover for my iPad as well. I used an Echino cheater patchwork print, and quilted along the lines between the squares.

We have a bit of excitement going on in our house at the moment as well. We bought our house a bit over two years ago, but haven't done any renovating until now.  I didn't take any really good 'before' photos unfortunately - but the dining part of our kitchen used to be really fugly exposed brick - it's now covered with plasterboard :o)

We are just waiting for the plasterers to come back and sand it back in a few days and then I'll be painting - which I'm SO excited about. I love painting walls :o)

 The stair well was also exposed brick. 

Downstairs in our house we have a large rumpus room - which will eventually be my studio once we don't have kids living at home anymore. So yeah, probably in a decade or so ;o) It has really poor natural lighting - there are only windows at one end of a very large room. And until recently it was completely covered with dark wood panelling, which made it really dark and gloomy.

I'm beyond thrilled that this now has plaster walls as well - even the bare plaster board makes the whole space SO much lighter. This is the same area as the above photo (with everything shoved into the centre of the room). 

So I might be a bit quiet here for the next few weeks - between painting walls and finishing off my next magazine submission I'm going to be pretty flat out :o)

Oh, I did also want to mention that Peg at Sew Fresh Fabrics is running a Flat Rate Shipping Special through till next Monday 29th July. Shipping rates will be $3 US / $10 Canada / $12 International, refund will be processed upon shipping. 
As ever, I'm a happy enabler :o)

xx Jess

Sunday 21 July 2013

Advice for new bloggers

If you're popping in from Beth's New Blogger Blog Hop, welcome to my corner of the blogosphere. I'm Jess and I've been blogging about quilting, sewing and fabric for almost two years. I'm a stay at home mum of three children (8, 6 and nearly 3) and I'm a quilting addict. I participated in the Let's Get Acquainted hop last year as a new blogger, and it was a brilliant way to find new blogs - I hope you're all enjoying this years hop! 

Thanks so much to Beth for asking me to write an advice post for the hop - I've been trying to think of things I wished I had known before I started blogging, and also asked my readers for some ideas on what they would like to see in this post. The advice posts so far have been brilliant, so I'm not sure how much I can add to them - but I'll try. I've added some photos of my favorite projects too - just to break up the wall of text ;o)

First up, I thought I'd mention a few things about blog etiquette. If you're writing a blog, chances are you want people to read it and come back regularly - we all love followers after all. The previous posts in the advice series have all covered lots of great pointers on what to do to gain a readership. I guess this is a list of what NOT to do - things that many people don't like, that could turn them off coming back to visit your blog again, or from become a follower.

Full quilt on point - Retro Flowers

Retro Flowers - 2013
Be consistent

By this I don't mean you have to blog everyday, or even every week (hey, I'm probably one of the most inconsistent bloggers out there in terms of regular blogging) - but if you say you're going to do something, do it. A few people I know have started QALs, only to have the person running the QAL fail to post finishing instructions. Kind of frustrating, don't you think?

Word Verification

If you have word verification turned on I strongly suggest you go read this post by my friend Lu. I promise you, if you turn word verification off you will get a load more comments. And if you're worried about spam, it is easy to either moderate your comments, or not to allow anonymous commenters (which is what I have done and I rarely get spam comments). Word verification is a total pain in the bum - especially if you read and comment on a phone or tablet, where it can be virtually impossible to read the verification thing ;o)

Reflected Textures Pillow

Reflected Textures - made for Fat Quarterly ezine

Another thing that can put people off is the appearance of your blog. Simple, clean and modern are much more visually appealing than a blog with a really busy background or too much going on in the sidebars. Same goes for photographs - bad photographs, or really tiny photos are a bit of a turn off. You don't need an expensive camera to take good photos - there is a brilliant post by Anne of Play Crafts about photography that is well worth reading. Tessa's advice post on photography is also really great, and details how to change the size of your photographs to fit your blog.

Asking people to follow you

IMO this is flat out rude, and akin to spam. Please don't leave a comment on my blog post asking me to follow your blog - to me, there is nothing more annoying and it's a guaranteed way to ensure I won't come visit. On the flip side,  if someone comments regularly on my blog, I'm pretty likely to click through to their blog and if I like what I see, I'll become a follower.

Groove - 2012

Okay, I don't want to focus too much on the negative stuff, so I'll leave it there on the etiquette side of things. Let's get a bit more positive! If you're writing a blog, chances are you want to gain more followers, right? In my experience there are a few good ways to grow your readership.


For me, the online sewing world is all about making connections with other people who share my passion for sewing, quilting and fabric. I don't have a local Modern Quilt Guild, or any friends who sew (they all crochet or knit) so it's been fabulous to be able to share what I make on the interwebs. I've made some great online friends simply by commenting regularly on their blog and vice versa. Commenting is also a great way to gain followers - as I said before, I tend to follow people who comment regularly on my posts and I know I've gained followers in the same way.

Be Yourself

Both in what you make and how you write. For me, this is a really difficult one and I think I'm only just beginning to really find my style in terms of quilting. When you're surrounded by so much inspiration online it can be difficult to find your style and work out what is 'you'. I spent a large chunk of last year joining QALs because everyone else was doing them - and most of those projects are still unfinished. QALs can be a lot of fun, and a great way to make new friends, but they are a tonne of work as well. My advice is to only start a QAL (or any project) if you're really passionate about the quilt you'll be making.

Finn's Quilt
Giant Chevron Quilt - my first published pattern :o)

Same goes for how you write. Find your voice and be genuine. For example, some of my favorite bloggers are extremely witty and clever - but I'm not especially witty in real life so I don't try to be on my blog. I write how I speak and hopefully that comes across as genuine. Part of this is working out how much of yourself you want to share - Heidi covered this beautifully in her advice post. Although my children are the number one priority in my life, I tend not to talk much about them here. There isn't a right and wrong way to do this, but I think it's a good idea to set yourself boundaries on how much personal information you put out there.

So that's it from me - the only other thing I wanted to mention is the Tech Help for Bloggers series my friend Jenelle put together last year. It is amazing series of posts, covering all sorts of techy stuff to help bloggers. I have zero technical experience, so if like me you have no idea about html code and need a bit of help, go have a look. Jenelle covers how to create a blog button (which I refer back to each time I do this) and a whole load of other really useful info.

Enjoy the rest of the hop!

xx Jess

Friday 19 July 2013

A trip to Amitie

As promised, I'm supplying fabric porn today. I spent two blissful hours wandering around Amitie Textiles this morning, patting fabric and trying my best to not buy a piece of everything they had in the shop. I think Amitie may be my new favorite place on earth. Aside from shelf upon shelf of temptation, there are heaps of Jen Kingwell's quilts hanging in the shop - including Steam Punk which was amazing to see in person. I seriously could have stayed all day ;o)

I didn't really have anything specific in mind when I walked in, but I tried to be conscious of what I 'need' to fill out my stash. I'm low on navy and dark blues after using a good chunk of what I had in some recent projects. The other thing my stash is lacking is fabric with more than one or two colours - I tend to buy a lot of monochromatic prints, as I find them easier to work with when pulling fabric together for a project. I'd like to push myself out of my comfort zone for my version of Steam Punk and try to use some more multi-coloured fabric, so that was another thing I tried to focus on. I kind of succeeded.   

These first two photos are all quarter-metre cuts. There are a few Liberty Lifestyle prints in there, some Heather Ross and a few organic cottons. I especially love the teal textured solid on the front right. 

I'm especially enamored with this little pile and how well they work together. I may have had a small heart attack when I found the Katy Jump Rope brown floral ;o)

While I was chatting away in the shop, I mentioned my plans to make a Steam Punk quilt fairly soon - and it just so happened that they had one last Steam Punk kit made up. It's four metres of fabric, cut in fat sixteenths - a perfect starting point for Steam Punk. I love Jen's version in all it's eclectic beauty, but I've been feeling really overwhelmed with deciding what fabric to use for it (I've pulled at least half a dozen different stacks over the last few months, but wasn't happy with any). I'm really excited about getting stuck into it now I have this stack as a starting point - there is no way I'd be able to pull these together myself, but I feel pretty confident about building upon them.

So I've blown my fabric budget for the next six months, but it was completely worth it. I'm in fabric addict's heaven right now!

xx Jess

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Breaking the silence

The tumbleweeds haven't quite managed to roll across my blog thanks to all the fantastic guest posts for the Colour Theory Series, but still it's been a while since I posted anything much sewing related. I've kind of been hibernating from the interwebs actually - I have a scary number of unread blog posts (think four digits) and a similar number of emails I need to answer (apologies for my tardiness - I will get there soon!). Life manages to get in the way of blogging sometimes :o)

We're in Melbourne this week - school holidays are in full swing, and we are having a brilliant time doing 'big city' things with the kids. Tasmania (where we live) has a pretty small population - we don't have a local zoo or aquarium or anything like that, so the little ones are having a ball exploring everything. And I'm extremely excited about the prospect of visiting Amitie on Thursday for some much anticipated fabric therapy. Expect a drool-worthy post later in the week ;o) 

I do have some quilting related news as well. One day way back in February, I emailed the editor of Australian quilting magazine Quilters Companion proposing a submission for their magazine. I honestly didn't think I'd even get a response - but to my surprise and utter delight Clare emailed me back later that day to let me know they'd like me to be a contributor to their magazine. Cue extreme happy dancing, and complete shock. 

The sense of unreality didn't really wear off until this week when Issue 62 of Quilters Companion was published. I am extremely excited to say this quilt is in there :o)

It also explains why I've been such a quiet blogger of late - I've been working on two more quilts for the magazine. One is finished and sent off (the one I gave you sneaky peeks of), the other is partially made and will be finished off in a panic when we get back home. I'm really happy with both of them, and really can't wait to show you them! 

This also means that I will be looking at releasing a few patterns later in the year. If anyone is interested in pattern testing for me later in the year, please let me know. The first one is beginner friendly, the second two are more advanced beginner/intermediate patterns, so I'd be looking for a range of different experience levels. Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you're keen :o)   

I hope you're all having a great week - and for those of you going to FQR I hope you have an amazing time. Not jealous. At all ;o)

xx Jess

Saturday 13 July 2013

Colour Process - Julianna

The final post in the colour series is by the talented Julianna, who blogs at Sewing Under Rainbow. 

I could talk about colors all days. But this doesn't mean that I use some exceptional color ways. Pretty much opposite: I use only a few color ways, which I love the most. And I'm not bored with them so far! I think that using standards you love, doesn't mean that it will be boring. It can be really challenging (for example if you decide to make little changes or use your favorite color scheme in some tricky way). You don't have to use over and over different color ways. There's nothing wrong about repeating success. I am not aware of any rules on this, aren't you? :) So if you feel, that there's no need to change your world of colors, don't change a thing. Don't follow the newest trends or any rules set by others. Just be yourself. This will always ends up with creating awesome things! 
But on the other hand, don't avoid opportunities of challenging yourself a little bit and use colors or color schemes you don't really like. Great opportunity to experiment is taking part in swaps or in events organized by quilting shops (i.e.: Block of the month, where you receive fabrics to be used in particular pattern).

This is more or less everything I would like to write, but since it's a short descprition of my world of colors, I prepared also a few "technical" conditions which could help you in making your good color choices. 

Choose colors in the daylight. It may happened that you choose right colors when it's dark. But it may also happened that you will make some mistakes and you won't be pleased with your color choices.
I ignored once this rule while sewing Christmas pillow. I wanted to use cheerful lime and red. I didn't remember what exact tone had lime fabric I've chosen, but I was truly convinced that this is the one I was looking for. And I piece the pillow top. On the next day, I was crushed. The colors didn't look together as I expected. I quickly piece another top, this time selecting colors in the daylight. You can judge the results by your own (on left my color failure, on the right choosing fabrics at the daylight):

I read somewhere that if some color schemes exist in nature, it will always look good in handmade items. Even though, there might happen that you won't be able to create such scheme, because you don't have fabrics in the exact tone "used" by nature and crucial for the whole scheme.
I always loved red tulips or poppies on spring. Juicy green grass with lot of red flowers. I wanted to repeat it in our living room. But I failed with choosing the right shadow of green and whole scheme looked a bit artificial. There was nothing right about it (unfortunately I don't have any photos of this failure).

Follow your intuition
I believe that people are divided into two groups. People who were born with color intuition and from almost first try create wonderful color schemes. The second group are people who have to develop their hidden color intuition. 
If you are natural born colorist, you don't need any advices on how to create wonderful color schemes. If your color intuition is hidden or lost somewhere, with a little help of color theory, you'll soon become a master in selecting colors. After some time of being familiar with rules of color theory, you'll slowly forget about these rules and your hidden intuition will replace knowledge about colors. So my only advice for you is to learn color theory, sew a lot of things and then forget about all rules and start creating your color schemes.

Finding the right pattern
Recently I wrote a guest post on how I choose patterns for my works. If you're interested in this theme, click HERE:)

To prove that I'm pretty boring with my color choices I put here a mosaic of some of my works. If you find there some color ways not mention above, this means that I was pushed (by someone or something) to challenge myself. But then I had to immediately sew something in 'my' colors:)

PS. Thank you so much Jess for inviting me to your series! I'm sure that your posts and guest post of invited bloggers will help people in making their color choices. I hope also that mine post will help a few quilters to believe in themselves:)

A massive thanks to Julianna and all the guest bloggers in this series who put so much time and thought into their posts. It has been a great learning experience for me, and hopefully some of you as well. 

Friday 12 July 2013

Colour Process - Joanna

I would like to welcome the fabulous Joanna who blogs at Shapemoth to talk about her approach to colour today. 

Hi all, for those who do not know me (and I bet that's a lot of people, LOL), my name is Joanna and I (more or less) regularly blog over at I would like to thank Jess for including me in the blog-hop and admit that I'm more than flattered to be considered as a quilter who uses the colour exceptionally well.

I'm quite a young quilter as I started sewing about 3 years ago. My colour choices have differed through time and were always highly inspired by the fabrics I use and depended on the project I was making. 

3 years ago I started with very traditional colour combinations. There were some japanese patchwork-inspired projects, lots of earth colours - browns, beiges, muted greens and yellows. Thinking about it, although I had (and spontaneously have) rushed towards more bold and strong colours, I somehow prefer harmonic and 'silent' colour palette. I'm not a huge fan of contrasting colour, not a fan of colour blocking also (however, like in everything, there are exceptions of rules; there are some really fabulous quilts that use completely 'not-mine' colours which I consider brilliant!).

What is important for me:
  • That fabrics match when combined - how to explain it? I guess I can’t as that’s very individual thing. For me, certain colour/print combination will work nicely, for others they will not. It’s just the way the brain proceses the information.
  • Colours - I drift towards 'muted' and 'silent' colours. I love nature and I highly value peace and silence in life. I guess it highly influences my designs. 
  • Fabric prints - I don't like combinations of busy fabrics in contrasting colours. I know that many modern quilters do use them but it's not for me. I tried to do it few times but my brain just doesn't 'see' those colours/prints combinations and I always end up with a mess instead of a nice quilt/block design.
Here are my preferred colour choices/fabric combinations:

'Pathfinder' in Quilt Scene 2012 (1)

Kindle cover with embroidered fox (1)

And here are more bold colours which I used. It's important to note, that those 2 below are not my original designs, but quilts based on a graphic or print which I found in the net. I really like the fabric/colour combination (hey, that's why I've sewn those quilts) but I wouldn't be able to create such colour combos on my own:
'Shattered rainbow' quilt finished (2)

As to where I find my inspirations:

  • First of all - fabrics. Colours and combination of colours in whole fabric lines. If I would to choose 3 fabric lines, which I consider the best (because of the colours used) I'd say: 'Cut out and keep' from Cloud9 Fabrics, 'Comma' by Zen Chic and 'Curio' by BasicGrey
  • Quilts, graphics, prints. Eye candy which you find in the net. Tons of inspiration, new ways to combine colours, things, which normally I wouldn't try until I saw it somewhere.
  • Architecture, billboards, advertisements in shops or patterns on things I (or people I see around) use like bags, boxes, clothes, etc.
  • Nature - it has a huge impact on me, how I see world and I how I combine colours. Photos which you take on your holidays/trips/walks are a great colour inspiration (I guess most of you saw already an example of a photo with a colour palette made with it). I used the photo below to create a colour palette for the EPP pillow (which was published in the last Modern Patchwork issue!):

Thank you again Jess and thank to you all, who are visiting and reading!

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Colour Process - Alison

Today's amazing guest post on colour process is from Alison who blogs at Little Island Quilting. 

First off I’d just like to preface this by saying the only exam I failed at school was Needlework and the exam I got the lowest mark after that was Art.

That’s meant to show two things: I am no expert and anything is possible if you really want to do it. I also think I’ve reached the stage where I am with fabrics and quilting by instinct rather than any deep understanding of colour. Having Jess ask me to write this has meant I’ve really had to think about what I do and why I do it.



I would say my starting point when making a quilt is not normally colour. I begin with value: ie dark, medium and light colours.
I personally think how you tackle the levels of dark, medium and light are probably the most important part of how your quilt will turn out. I prefer my values to be on the edge of one category or another as it gives a feeling of softness, it blurs the lines of the pattern (which I like) and it does mean you can take a more relaxed attitude to what ‘colour’ to use. It makes your eyes work to see the pattern and for me, I just find that very visually exciting.

When I’ve decided on my values I then begin to think about warm and cold. White is crisp but it is also cold and can read very ‘flat’ for me.

Because I felt the white made this quilt a bit 'flat' visually, I decided to add the little butterfly corners in 

Creams add warmth to me. And if the darks, mediums and lights that I’ve used have cream hues in them (as opposed to whites) then I will probably go with cream backgrounds.

I’ve mentioned it before and I know there are those who don’t like it but I find brown invaluable. It acts as a warm bridge builder between so many colours that I often find myself reaching for it.

Black -  I’m not a huge fan of on it’s own. I find it too draining and too safe…if that makes sense. Black and white together are a different matter. Then I think they add an exciting neutral component to a quilt and are especially brilliant when my scrappy quilts are overflowing with powerful and contrasting colours and designs.

I never plan the fabrics I am going to use in a quilt from start to finish. I think there are a number of reasons for this:

·      I equate planning with work and I don’t want to work at my hobby
·      I don’t have a local quilt store I can pop to for just the right amount/shade of fabric
·      I therefore have to work with what I’ve got and if I use it up (which I invariably do) it pushes me in another direction as I am forced to use another piece of fabric. I think that is where my scrappiness comes from; that and the joy of fabric buying!

Another thing to mention is that all the time I am making a quilt I am thinking if it is visually stimulating on the eye. I also like gardening and in numerous garden design books it mentions creating little rooms and vistas for your garden; to not lay it all out flat in front of you, to give the eyes a chance to discover something new each time you look.

Poncy as it may sound, I can relate that to the colours in a quilt. I don’t want to look at a quilt and drink it all in immediately. I want to look at it and have my eyes darting all over it to take in the different shades, colours, tones, scales and fabrics used.

So bearing all that in mind, I start pulling fabrics. I’ll sometimes start with just one main print that I want to use, just because I’m drawn to it. If I’ve done that, then I start pulling fabrics that go with it. I know many people recommend looking at the colours used on the selvedge but I don’t as that puts me off. It makes me think that I should be using certain colours because they appear on the selvedge and instead, I’d rather work instinctively.

As I’m pulling fabrics and starting to sew I’m thinking:

·      Is there enough movement for the eyes – I try and achieve this through using a complete range of scales and styles of fabric. In my mind everything and anything will go if it is cut up small enough
·      Balance – have a nice balance of colours. By that I mean if my first random scrappy block has some orange in it, I’ll make sure it appears at least once someone else
·      However, the good thing about going scrappy though is you don’t have to worry too much about balance because the law of averages usually dictate that eventually I will have used most colours
·      Have I got my values right?
·      If I feel I’m going too mad and random with fabric choices, then I look to rein it back in by using black and white fabrics or a neutral or even a patterned fabric that I then start to use a bit more than all the others.

If I had to offer any tips on an exciting colour combination it would be:

·      Don’t buy the whole range of one fabric line. If you have to, don’t use it all in the same quilt. Mix and match
·      Think value first and colour second
·      Don’t spend too much time agonising over what will and won’t go – if you’re busy concentrating on values and you use enough different scraps, eventually it’ll all go!
·      Try to get a mix of florals, geometrics etc going and include different scales
·      Use brown!
·      Oh and use purple too. I never see many quilts with purple
·      Mix it up – use different genres of fabric and yes that does include any batiks. I have some
·      If you don’t like a particular fabric, consider turning it over and using the reverse side
·      And above all else...HAVE FUN! 

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Colour Process - Heidi

I'm excited to have my friend Jeannette aka Heidi from Gone Aussie Quilting here talking about colour today. 

Thank you, Jess, for having me here on your blog to talk with you about a subject that is responsible for about 80% of the reason I am drawn to being a quilter—that is color! If you are familiar with my blog Gone Aussie Quilting, you will likely find lots of vibrant saturated color mixed together in bold combinations. I still consider myself new to this art we call quilting, I am untrained in any artistic way, yet that I believe is what has kept me unafraid to experiment with my craft and to use color freely. I must admit, I am not a color snob, that is to say, I do not dislike any color. In the fashion that a foodie will eat anything, I will use all colors in my work and like to combine them with the enthusiasm of a chef trying out new food combinations in the kitchen. In a very similar way to food, not every color combination will be to everyone’s tastes, but I firmly believe that in order to create something that works, we must first let go of our prejudices and fears and try combining colors using our instinct and passion as our guide. I have a tendency to live my life with grand ambition and a “more is more” philosophy. This translates to quilting in that my quilts tend to be larger in general, but also that I tend to use more fabrics and more colors within a quilt as well. You can see an example of this in a project that I am working on currently (a few years in the making) of a quilt that combines literally hundreds of fabrics and colors, my Japanese + and X quilt.

With each block created thus far in this quilt, I have chosen fabrics that work well together within each block as a separate entity on its own. As in the block shown above, I started with the middle fabric (the plus) as my inspiration to gather a color story together. I pulled fabrics from my stash and used the center fabric as a guide. I find that it is important not to match colors exactly as is shown in the various oranges that I chose for this block. Variation is the key to keeping your eye moving and interested.

 As important as it is to choose a variety of fabrics, I also find that placement is as important. In this case, the green highly contrasts next to the orange and makes a serviceable background for the block. My approach with this Japanese + and X quilt will be to keep the colors of each block as its own independent color story. Each block will then be placed next to similar colored blocks to create a wash effect across the quilt. This idea was inspired by a vintage quilt I once saw on an Ebay auction long ago that intrigued me. This quilt has been an experiment for me in playing with color without the usual mode of using a background neutral as a resting spot for the eye. A typical approach might be to use a neutral low volume print or solid fabric as the background fabric to create a restful place within the quilt. For this quilt, I wanted to experiment by using color contrasted against color to see if by arranging colors next to each other if I could make the chaos settle.

Another example of using color contrasting against color you can see in my current attempt to make a New York Beauty quilt.

This quilt still in its infancy is an experiment of using all highly saturated colors and placing them so that they lie next each other far enough along the color wheel so that they don’t run into each other.

In a completely different approach to the use of color, I would like to show you some of the blocks I am currently making for my Steam Punk quilt. My goal in this project is to use muddier low volume fabrics and then use the brighter colors sparingly in order to make them more pronounced. This is a trickier task for me, as my natural tendency is to overkill my work with vibrancy and saturation. I started by picking fabrics from my stash that are murkier in order to focus on what I am trying to achieve with the Steam Punk blocks.

This murky palette is not over stimulating and will provide the right balance to let color shine through. You can see that the Steam Punk blocks have as many different fabrics as in the Japanese + and X quilt, but the background choice has allowed the color to come through and pop out at you.

As with the Japanese + and X quilt, each block keeps its own color story and will be tied together by using single grey sashing that will unify all these block into one quilt. Somewhat different to the way that the murky fabrics allow colors to pop through, using all one neutral light background fabric has a tendency to brighten the entire work.

These churn dash blocks look fresh against the light low volume background fabric. Sometimes I find it useful when I have a specific idea for a project to do some research via the internet and Flickr to gain some inspirational color ideas. I had an idea for a project a while ago to work with colors of the 1950’s, the only problem was that not having lived during the 1950’s, I wasn’t sure what the colors of that time period were exactly. I searched 1950’s cars on Flickr and ended up creating this collage with the colors that seemed most prominent.

I then found a piece of fabric that was representative of the 1950’s as another guide and pulled fabrics from my stash keeping both the fabrics from the cars collage and the fabric piece as my guide in choosing.

This is just an example of how you can approach choosing color for your projects. I’m still not sure if it will be a project that I pursue, but I wanted to show you that sometimes researching an idea from a different angle can lead you in a direction you might not have thought of previously. I hope this has shown you a few different ideas on how to approach color within your quilting projects. My best advice is to trust yourself, you are here for your enjoyment. Let your work be a reflection of yourself first and foremost. Don’t be afraid to try something new as we are evolving creatures after all! Thank you Jess for having me on your blog to talk about one of my favorite subjects!

Monday 8 July 2013

Colour Process - Amy Badskirt

This week as part of the Colour Theory for Quilters series, I'm really excited to welcome a group of very talented quilters to talk about colour on my blog - how they approach it, and where they find inspiration for choosing palettes. Today's post is by Amy who blogs at Badskirt. 

When Jess invited me to share my color process with you, I was quite excited. Choosing fabric and pairing colors is my favorite part of sewing. I like to think of it as creating my visual voice. With color, you can set the mood. Warmth (as above), chaos (just below), lightness, conflict, coolness and unease - just a handful of feelings that you can create with color.

My color process begins with the combination of good fabrics and understanding of my personal tastes.   We are fortunate to craft in a time where there are a variety of fabrics available at reasonable costs to suit everyone's personal style.  

But just what is your color style? And how can you find it?  I'm going to tell you a bit about my color style in the hopes that it helps you understand your own. I think this understanding is the foundation of working with color and is the most important step in the craft color process.

When I start a new project, I often start in my meager fabric stash.  I once had an overwhelming collection, but have since narrowed it down to fabrics I truly love. 

What makes a good stash in terms of color? For me, it is having a range of tones that inspire me without being burdened by fabrics and colors that I'm unlikely to use.  My creative voice is loud, but not brash. I choose rich tones and avoid anything wishy-washy. In that sense, my color style is a reflection of me.My close friends would agree that I'm decisive, opinionated, bold and often beating my own drum.  

For the most part, my stash is riddled colors like dark teal, salmon, drab olive, citron and mustard. I buck the primary color trend and aim for the offbeat.  Were I gentle and soft-spoken, you might expect to see a cupboard full of pastels. Instead my stash boils with intensity.

A large part of my process is making lots and lots of fabric stacks before I cut anything out. I audition fabrics from my stash. I want to make sure that the fabrics look good together and they fit my current mood. I don't know about you; but I can't make a light, airy quilt when I'm wearing a sourpuss grimace.

I check how pairings look with just a sliver showing, then I look at larger section.  I shuffle things to make sure they look good in both random placement and well-organized stacks. I take favorites with me into shops to look for complimentary fabrics to get me started. One thing I like to do is to take photos of my combinations, then I step away and come back later to see if I still like it. 

 Like all skills, pairing fabrics takes practice. Give yourself that time.

When I find a combination that works for me, then I like to stay with it for a bit and let it evolve.  The teal, coral and grey square quilt above trickled into a palette for this envelope quilt made with the help of The Beehive quilt bee.  This envelope quilt was inspired by and evolved from Ayumi's envelope project; yet, the color palette and feel are quite different. Ayumi has a distinct, cheerful style which I couldn't emulate. If I had tried, I would have undoubtedly failed.  

In my experience, finding your voice takes time. It takes a willingness to get it wrong and the strength to continually evolve. Whether you are quilting, doing graphic design or painting furniture - give yourself the space to experiment. For many of us, the hardest lesson in shops is that a dress that looks good on someone else may not look good on us. Similarly, it can be difficult to squeeze yourself into someone else's crafting style. Don't be afraid to try on new color combinations, but don't be upset if they don't work out.  

I don't have a favorite color. I don't like purple, and I certainly don't like primary rainbows. Knowing what you don't like is as important and knowing what you enjoy.

Each of the projects shown in this post has a color palette accompanying it. In the coral Schoenrock Cross block above, I've added a sour green to the palette.  I feel this addition would give a nod to spectrum without having to fall back into the limited 8-pack Crayola color box of our childhood. It's a more mature rainbow of sorts.

Of course, the addition of green to this project isn't necessary. This block became a potholder. If it had become a quilt, I might have intentionally left the green out.  When making a color palette, omission can be as important as inclusion.

Revision is very much a part of my color process. When I'm working on a project like this hourglass pillow, I often edit and revise the palette as I go. While this cushion only needed 16 blocks, I made about 20 of them. I then decided what worked best and left out those that didn't suit. In this case, I omitted a royal blue block and a few true reds. 

Another part of my creative color process is delay. The sharded triangle quilt above sat for months while I waited for the perfect colored fabrics to finish off the top row.  I am fortunate to travel a fair bit and keep a mental list of fabric colors that I need for projects. I'd rather wait to finish them, than finish them with something not quite right in terms of color and shape.

I'm lucky that I have a good color memory and can normally "pair" fabrics without having things on hand. I can see a fabric in a shop and know if it will work with others that I have at home. If you don't have that skill (and most people don't), then you might find it handy to make yourself a little swatch book of fabrics and fabric colors to carry with you. It will help you make more informed choices for your stash and may help with your color process.

Speaking of matching fabrics, I'd like to briefly mention my approach to monochromatic combinations. In the earlier examples, I used a fair number of colors in my work. I've included this blue trivet as a means of 
talking about one of my pet peeves - flat, liveless projects. After working in a quilt store, I must admit that I find many monochromatic projects a bit lackluster. When things match too well, they can be stale. 

Using contrasting values, as in little blue trivet, can add punch to a project. Value makes things interesting. Value makes your eye dart across a project.

To better understand value you can visit  
- Rebecca's Color Theory 101 post which is part of this series
- The Value Added Quilt Along posts which I contributed to along with Rachel, Jolene and Leila
- Jess' Value Tutorial

I'll leave you with one final note about my own color process. I've got a bit of a mantra: When things look flat, add some black.  Some times I get to the end of project and find things aren't jumping off page like they should. At other times,  I may want to add a little more oomph early on in a project. When this happens, I incorporate warm charcoal or black. It's nuanced, of course. I choose prints with a balance of tone at pigment. Some projects call for a warm black and cream. Others call for a stark black and white. As Jennifer explained,  colors have context.  In my own loud way, I've embraced the darkness for the brightness it brings.

Understanding your color style can be a challenge, but don't be scared by the idea. You are the best expert on the subject.  Embrace your style whatever it is; let yourself fail; and, most importantly, enjoy the process!

happy crafting from Amy Badskirt