Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Puzzling over colour

This post is late. I was planning to share some thoughts about picking colours for the Mod Pop QAL and post them on Tuesday. Now it is almost Thursday. This is not a coincidence - it seems that, in the end, it is hard for me to write about colour.

Mod Pop

I am going to start with my original plan which was to share some ideas for the Mod Pop quilt. The quilt is a wonderful example of a pattern just begging for two different colour stories - one for the background and one for the focus pattern. There are several ideas to consider:
  • use just two colours/fabrics - solids or prints for a very bold and fresh lines. This would make a very mod 70's style look. 
  • use a blend of colours to make a colour story for either the background or the focus fabric or both. 
  • use high contrast between the background and the focus fabric, using low volume and saturated colours, or go with similar values and contrasting colours.
  • use only solids, only prints or prints for one part and solids for the other. 
  • use a mix of a few fabrics or of a great number of different fabrics, whether solids or prints.
As I started thinking about what colour to use for my next Mod Pop, I realized there were many other ideas too, including:
  • Make one of the background or the focus fabric a rainbow with solids or prints.
  • Make one or both of the background and the focus fabric a gradation of one colour from dark to light - something I have learned to understand is what the word ombre means. This could also be done with both prints or solids.
  • Mix solids and prints in either the background or the focus fabric.
  • Use black/grey and white/tan/cream in either solids or prints - a black and white or sepia quilt.
  • Mix fabric types - for example use linen, flannel, corduroy, or denim for one part and cotton for the other.
  • Add the odd unexpected pop of contrasting colour into whatever colour story that is otherwise being used.
  • Use a single colour story for each vertical pattern but have a rainbow or ombre effect moving across the quilt.
  • I am sure that there are many other possibilities too. Don't you just want to make a whole lot of these to see how they would turn out? I sure do.
I am not a colour expert, although I love playing with it. A few of my hints are:
  • If you pick colours that you like to work with the quilt will be easy to work on, finish and love.
  • Using 10 or 15 blues - whether prints or solids - is generally better than a small number of shades. The use of similar shades together creates depth, movement, and interest. And the grouping can be of a fairly large range of colours and still read as one colour. This works especially well with solids.
  • Take advantage of the colouring sheet included in the pattern if you are in doubt about your choices. Or make just a small section of the quilt as a test before cutting all the fabrics. You can also use palette generators - there are several available on the internet.
  • Look to nature, a favourite painting/photograph, fabric or wallpaper for inspiration regarding colour choices. Think about memories - the colours in your grandmother's kitchen, your mom's favourite flowers, your dad's bookshelf, your favourite bike or car.
  • Be bold and don't be reluctant to put unexpected colours together.
As part of the Mod Pop series, I wanted to share some other resources on the internet where each topic is considered by others. But for colour, I am not going to do that. Every blogger I follow regularly shares their thoughts on colour - we all love colour and we all puzzle over it. All the time. 

So this leads to my last thought on colour for tonight: Colour is perplexing - it is the best, it is the hard, it is fun and it is complicated. It permeates our daydreams and our sleeping dreams too. I think that the approach of quilters to colour is often amazing and inspiring. I hope exploring colour is a part of the quilting journey that never ends. I can't wait to see what colours are used in the QAL, and by others making other quilts, every day.

What are your thoughts on colour?

Modern Shopping Bag

By the way, I finished my tutorial today for the Fluffy Sheep Quilting newsletter and Cindy has given it the green light to be included. She told me she plans to send the newsletter out on Saturday so hurry over and sign up before then. This bag is another exercise in exploring colour it seems.

Modern Shopping Bag




Anonymous said...

I still love that quilt and think I'll be copying your colour scheme because they are all my favs. I am thinking it would be good to use all my favorite blues since I have an abundance and since it will be for me. But we we see.

I still want this to be my next project but I just have a few things to finish off first.

Annabella said...

I think this is an amazing post Leanne, and I shall re-read it again and again as it's a reall useful resource for thoughts on colour. I tend to not overthink the process and choose colours that appeal to me. Whether it works is another thing altogether!

Cindy said...

I really like your thoughts here - I need to mull them over a bit more. As mine QAL quilt is going to my brother, I was thinking of using blues and greens, so kind of similar to what you have here. How many shades did you use in the quilt you made? There's enough variety, but still they sit well with one another.

Canadian Abroad said...

I figure out colours by copying you. Simple!

Valerie said...

Great post, Leanne! It is fun to think about color, and I love all the different options you've mentioned here. Fabric selection is by far my most favorite part of making a quilt!

Debbie said...

oh this is a great post on color - can I repost on my AQT fb page?? I feel like I'm still learning how to use color & what I like...but since blogging, I sure do experiment more, and for that I am grateful!! You made me feel better about my choices of fabric for the QAL....we'll see if I stick with them.

Little Island Quilting said...

I find choosing colour combinations instinctive. As soon as I start to think the process through it becomes difficult. I just pick what I like, probably spending no more than 5/10 mins and off I go. However, I don't know if that is because I have no access to a quilt store in my real world which means I can't over think my choices if I want to get on with something immediately- which I invaribly do. I read people on their blogs talking about going to their LQS to search for the perfect colour and take advice. I think if you don't have that option and have a more 'make do' approach to quilt making, this will influence (IMO) your attitudes to colour combinations. Oops, didn't mean to go on this long!

Anonymous said...

Colour is my favourite part of the whole quilting process. I just go with my gut and pick what works together in my head. It doesn't always turn out the way I planned, but I just chalk that up to another learning experience and move on to the next project.

Archie The Wonder Dog said...

What a great post - I love considering the possibilities of colour in a quilt but find I tie myself in knots so I usually end up relying on instinct...the more I think/choices I have the less likely I am to make a decision!

Nat at Made in Home said...

Love the choosing colour scheme, great post!

Trudi said...

i love colour and am happy to play with faves as well as those I would shy away from, it's fun, and probably instinctive, and having a well stocked stash makes it easier to play. I tend to start with an idea and just lay them together and if I like, they stay, if I don't they're out! Some great ideas in your post Leanne, I have a plan I just need to do the play and finalise :)

Katy Cameron said...

Whew, after all that thinking no wonder you're exhausted :oD All great food for thought though, and although I'm not playing along, all sorts of strange things that I'd never have thought of when I started this time last year have leapt into my shopping carts of late...

Ramona said...

You did cover a lot but I also had a thought about making it a warm/cool color quilt. Some of those warm color/cool color quilts are amazing and I think this one would look good like that too.

Anne said...

I think I know what I'm going to do with my low volume swap fabrics! Low volume background with a high color foreground...just need to figure out what color that might be. lol

Also, we're still working on it (because apps are always in development) but if you want to play around with making palettes from photos, we have a browser tool for that:

felicity said...

Very interesting.

I think I am very instinctual when it comes to colour. I just "know" what looks best - to me, anyway.

Nanette said...

I think I'm going to go with reds as my background fabrics, since I have tons of red FQs in my stash. For the focal, I'm trying to decide if I want to do all white, or two white and one gray in the center (I'm making the lap-quilt size.)

I just downloaded the coloring sheet, so I'll play around with that today.

Kirsten said...

Fabulous post - really like your thoughts on choosing colurs.

Sheila said...

Really good post - you have given lots of extra options to think about.

OPQuilt said...

All good thoughts on color, and I liked reading the comments as well. I guess I'm pretty crazy about all colors, but pretty much hate gray in quilts as a rule (just a personal thing) Many people do lovely things with gray--like those tote bags with those zing of brights!


leanne said...

thanks Leanne - as soon as I read use just two colours/fabrics - I knew instantly what I was going to use for this quilt - I have some pezzy print that I love and I've been waiting for just the right quilt to make and just happen to have two metres - kismet! I'm pairing it with my new fav kona solid - azelea :)