Our Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

100qbThe 100 Blocks in 50 days Project sponsored by Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics will soon be wrapping up.  I shared lots of links and giveaway info about the project back in November,100 Quilt Blocks in 50 Days and soon after, Laura wrote about designing her first block Jigsaw Landscape Block. Our final three blocks will be debuting on the Janome Blog on December 16, 17 and 22, including free downloadable directions for our blocks, along with the other 96 blocks that make up this fabulous quilt! I will add the links to each as they are released.

2015-07-17 12.50.31
1. Laura’s Jigsaw Landscape released on 11/9/15    2. Laura’s Squared Block to be released on 12/16/15    3. Pati’s Two Blocks from One, Block 2 to be released on 12/22/15    4. Pati’s Two Blocks from One, Block 1 released on 12/17/15

Since you already have access to the instructions to make the blocks, thanks to Janome, I thought we might discuss some tips for designing with solid fabrics. Because most quilt fabric companies now offer their own signature line of solids, there are so many options available to us, that it can be a bit daunting to know where and how to begin. So, let’s do that – start at the beginning.2015-06-16 11.25.18

When the fabric first arrived in the mail for our 100 Blocks project, Laura and I had a tough time deciding how to ration out our stash. Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture Fabrics are, as you may know by now, some of my favorites. I love the saturated colors, the wide range of color options and the oh-so soft hand of the fabric, which make it really enjoyable to work with. But, it was still a challenge to commit to a color palette for our blocks. We were working at a cutting table that happened to be holding a  beautiful display of gladiolas. I looked up and realized that our color palette was right there in front of me in nature’s display!

Fabric inspiration

It’s not always that easy, though. So, read on for a few great tips. Once you have omitted the need to balance the scales of prints, you will see that you have opened up so many opportunities to new design possibilities! But balance is still the operative word. The balance of color, texture, proportion and warmth in choosing solid fabrics are a key part of your design. Here are our tips –  choose one or all, but be mindful of all of them as you work through your design.

Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

Inspiration-Jennifer Rounds, Citrus fruit plate1.  Consider starting with an inspiration piece. This could be anything from a photograph to a ceramic pot, or a historical quilt. You are looking for something that inspires you emotionally, not literally. Draw from the color combinations that are used.

Selection of Solids at Wooden Gate Quilts

2. Be aware of texture, sheen and weave in the solids you are choosing. It may be a simple answer to choose from the same manufacturer’s line for consistency. But by mixing it up a bit in these three areas, you may be adding depth and interest to your final work. Check out all your options at your favorite quilt shops.

 

Vintage Cheddar and White Quilt3. Choose a minimal color palette to create elements with striking graphic design. Consider the one and two color historical quilts and the strong graphic elements that they evoke. Think of the overall impact of the finished quilt and don’t get caught up in focusing on just the individual blocks.

 

 

Salvege-Markings4. Choose a multi-color palette to create a dynamic and exciting overall design. Or as, Gianni Versace once said, “less is a snore.”  A multi-colored print is a great place to draw color inspiration from. Use the colored dots on the selvedge to shape your color palette. These are the manufacturer’s registration marks and are usually tried and true. Now, take a moment and look at the amount of each color used in the fabric design. Read on to # 5 . . . .

Close up of Achoo by See How We Sew5. Explore proportions. You can control the interaction of color choices by size and placement. Solid fabrics have a greater visual impact than prints. Manipulate this with the interaction of large and small elements to create drama and effect. 

 

Michael Miller Cotton Couture

6. Rely on the rules of color theory –  Just as with prints, be aware of balancing the amount of light, medium and dark colors you choose. You will find solids in every hue, value, tint and shade.Line your stash up in a manageable order by one of these categories. Move them around, tweak the order and placement. Make sure that they all play well together.

Happy Little Placemats by Pati Fried7. Be aware of saturated colors vs. non-saturated colors. Saturation offers wide range of impact and can also play an important role in the final results. Use a large amount of a strong color for a wow factor, or just add a sliver of an unusual color for accent or interest.

8. Combine warm colors with cool colors. Warm colors tend to advance, while cool colors recede. Think of designing a room in your home. Would you be happy with a completely cool, blue bedroom? Adding a lavender lamp to your bedside may give just the touch of warmth needed. How about a sumptuous red dining room? A slate blue vase might be the perfect accent to  offset the warm reds.

9. Add a repeating neutral to bring cohesiveness to the design-even if your neutral is red or turquoise. It will give consistency and flow to a busy design.

 

Let It Rain by Pati Fried

10. Consider negative vs. positive space. This could be a complete topic on it’s own . . .  but in short, use negative space to your advantage, allowing a resting place between solid color elements. This allows each element and color to be appreciated. I think of it as the difference between a photo collage on a refrigerator vs. choosing a few precious photos to frame and hang on the wall. Each is wonderful in it’s own way, but you are looking at the refrigerator as one big photo essay, and the wall as individual moments in time.

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Congratulations go to MoeWest, the winner of a copy of Laura’s book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!, third edition.  Laura will be in contact with you shortly to arrange shipping.

Laura and I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace, happiness and love. We will see you back here in 2016 for another year of fun with See How We Sew!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Laura & Pati

2 thoughts on “Our Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

  1. Great post! I find that I gravitate more and more to solids, so I appreciate your tips. (I plan on tackling some of the “100 quilt blocks” after the holidays; I hope they will still be available…)

    Like

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