Part 3: Choosing Fabrics and Colors: Playing in the Mud

Hello again. Here we are in Part 3 of my color journey using Joen Wolfrom’s     3-in-1 Color Tool. If you are new to our blog, you may want to take a few minutes to read Parts 1 and 2.

I spent the past two weeks digging through stacks of fabric and visiting several local quilt shops in search of what I call the “muddy” colors that will play well with the other fabrics I have selected. My goal in adding these tones to my palette is to help diminish the brightness of my original three prints. The tool was helpful in allowing me to narrow down the search and select my favorites.

Looking for good "playmates" in the muddy Fuchsia tones.

Here are a few bolts of muddy Aqua Blue prints.

I look for a variety of prints as I like lots of pattern play.

After going through this process, I have quite a large selection of fabrics (lights, darks, pure colors, and tones) to choose from. I wanted to take you through the process of collecting fabric for a particular color scheme, but unless you are making a very scrappy quilt, which I often do, you will want to narrow down the selection.

I think most quilters start with a pattern and then begin the process of choosing fabrics. I decided to experiment with the Memory Star pattern.

Memory Star block

I like this block not only because it offers many color opportunities, but also because it allows for some interesting secondary designs when the blocks are joined together. You only need to make one block to see these often-unexpected and exciting secondary designs.

To preview the secondary designs that form when multiple blocks in these fabrics are joined together along the sides, simply fold two opposite sides of the block into the center.

Secondary design formed where blocks join on the sides.

For a preview of the secondary designs that form where blocks meet in the corners, simply fold each of the corners into the center of the block and pin.

Secondary design formed where blocks join at the corners.

Auditioning your block this way also gives you an opportunity to make simple changes, perhaps alternating corner fabrics to produce even more interest. Look at the following photos to see how a simple adjustment in fabric placement changes the secondary designs.

Memory Star block in Triadic Color Scheme.

Secondary design when blocks join on the sides.

Secondary design where blocks join in the corners.

Thanks so much for joining me on this color journey. I hope you have found it helpful and that it encourages you to play with the 3-in-1 Color Tool and to experiment with fabrics and colors that you may not have yet explored.

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, if you are interested in a more in-depth study of color, I encourage you to follow Joen Wolfrom on her new blog, Playing with Color. I promise you a wealth of information and inspiration.

Until next time, happy sewing!

P.S. – Before signing off I want to show you just one last sample. This has been a fun process. I think I will be playing more with these fabrics. Be sure to check back to see the full quilts.

Scrappy four-patch blocks set on point.

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10 Responses to Part 3: Choosing Fabrics and Colors: Playing in the Mud

  1. Ally says:

    This series has been so, so helpful! I will definitely be buying the 3-in-1 Tool. I have the hardest time picking fabrics! I usually ask knowledgeable looking strangers in the quilt shop what they think. Usually they just think I’m crazy though. Just curious, did you ever finish this quilt? I couldn’t find a post and I’d love to see it!

  2. Patsy Ronat says:

    Thanks, Laura — What a great series on how to use the 3-in-1 Tool. I read all of the instructions that came with the tool, and had been using it for some time in a simple manner, but your three lessons and examples took it to a whole new level! Now I finally begin to understand the potential of this wonderful tool, and it will be more fun and at least twice as useful as before!

    • Laura Nownes says:

      Thanks Patsy. I’m glad it was helpful. I learned a lot about the tool also as I was working with it. I’m now hooked on it. Enjoy!

  3. Kathy Howard says:

    Nice article. I had never seen this way of previewing a block. I’m sure to use it in the future.

  4. elaine says:

    thanks for a great presentation of “coloring” with fabrics. you have been sharing the techniques with us the last three weeks. reminds me that we cannot expect to put our fabrics together quickly. it takes time to build the right color design. we can never get enough of your inspiration. thanks!

  5. Marina says:

    We are really enjoying your posts, and your detailed description of the 3-in-1 tool is fantastic. Also these are great photos to illustrate the principles. We’ve been 3-in-1 fans for a very long time and use it for every one of our projects. In short, it is indispensable! :-)

  6. Pingback: JWD Publishing Blog » Quilters—Check Out Laura Nownes’ Part 3 Series in Selecting Colors & Fabrics for a Block Design

  7. Carolyn Brrien says:

    great use of the fabrics you chose! the star was definitely the right choice!

  8. Sue says:

    Laura – I love that block and the possibilities it presents. I haven’t bought the tool yet but will the first chance I get. I think scrappy quilts are more fun to make than a set color scheme. You never know what the secondary pattern is going to look like until you start putting the blocks together! Thanks again for a good read!!!!!!

  9. Carol Barringer says:

    Thanks for sharing more of the selection process, the variety you’re looking for, the role the muddy fabrics play. Your first block is lovely, but the second one shows your design skill. The four-patch corners make a great secondary pattern. The scrappy version is fun, too. I’ve gone back to the beginning of Joen’s “Playing With Color” series and am almost caught up to her current posts. A 3-in-1 Tool is on my must-have-asap list. I think this will take my quilting from “pretty good” to “much better” — with practice and doing the exercises. I’m excited — thanks! CarolB

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