Do you use solids? A lot? A little? Not as much as you’d like to?
Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic uses solids in all of her quilts, and few designers I’ve seen use them better.
Most of us find using solids in quilts a challenge – from picking an all-solid color scheme to finding the right shade of Bella to pair with prints. Even when it’s a perfect match, it might not be the one that works best. Mixing prints with solids can also result in the solids over-powering the prints, which may or may not be the look you’re going for.
As it is with so many things, what you would choose is probably different than what I would choose because it’s a matter of personal preference. Knowing what you like and what you’re trying to achieve is another factor, and learning that is an exercise in trial-and-error. (Lots of trying. Lots of errors.)
With the lower price of solids and the tremendous variety of color – my MatchMaker has 266 colors of Bella Solid – make using solids very appealing, most of us find actually using solids in quilts to be a bit of a challenge.
When I want to know something, I ask someone who knows a whole lot about the subject, someone like Brigitte.
How would you describe the differences between quilts made with all solids and those made with mostly prints?
Solids are crystal-clear in translating a quilt layout. While a print – especially a large scale print – can distract from the structure of a design and be forgiving if the layout is not well thought out, a solid stays true and pure.
Solids clearly reveal the structure of the quilt whether it is a regular block setting or an asymmetrical, more artistic approach.
A print has at least two and if you combine several prints – especially prints from the same collection – they naturally play together and connect. The fabric designer has already done the color work. Whereas if you combine solids, the color work is on you – you are the designer who creates a good color scheme.
For example, this Jelly Belly quilt has prints with a lot of texture and color in them. The quilt layout is pretty simple and the prints connect with each other. The blocks are not all distinct when you first see the quilt because the different textures and colors distract from the simple shapes. (This quilt is made with Juggling Summer.)
But in this second quilt – called Ahead of the Curve – the blocks, colors and shapes are immediately recognizable with the use of only solids. Using only solids also shows off a sewist’s skill – smooth curves, matching points and straight seams. (Ahead of the Curve was published in the Fall 2014 issue of Quiltmaker magazine’s Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks.)
A quilt made with all solids has a definite impact – it grabs your attention and leaves and impression. It also creates a quilt that is timeless and classic – regardless of the color scheme.
When you’re designing a quilt using only solid fabrics, which comes first – the quilt design or the color palette?
That’s hard to answer because it works both ways – at least for me. I might browse a lifestyle magazine and see a beautiful photo with the beautiful spring flower bouquet – peach, pale orange, cream, pale pink, chartreuse, pistachio green – that gives me a very fine palette.
So my quilt layout should be something delicate, supporting the tenderness of the hues. Maybe a soft and elegant quilt design like the unobtrusive dots on the pure white background.
On a side note – using the Moda Palette Builder can help translate an image into corresponding Bella Solids.
On the other hand, I found a picture of a wooden floor that I found very appealing.
The design is very strong and straight and I would look for a more expressive or dramatic color palette, something with higher contrast between the lights and darks. This is the kind of design that would work in a more masculine color palette.
So how would you approach selecting a color palette for that quilt?
It would definitely be different process than for the first example, the flower bouquet. That color scheme was already there, I just have to translate it to fabric.
The wooden floor has a few more options. It could be translated into a two-color quilt, or even a monochromatic one. But let’s say I wanted to add a little bit of color to it. That’s when I would hop over to Pinterest and look for images or urban scenes, something with strong light-dark contrasts and a masculine feel.
What I see is the cool hues – black, gray, grays that are almost blue, white, beige and the contrast of the melon red and pink from the car lights. It’s perfect.
Now how to translate this image into a color scheme. While I like the Palette Builder, there are websites that can do more detailed palettes – more colors – websites like CSS Drive. As with the Palette Builder, I upload my image and the website software breaks down the image into individual colors.
Now I have simply need to determine how many colors I would like to use for my quilt – let’s say eight – and then select that many pieces.
I would then use my Moda Bella MatchMaker to pick 8 fabrics – 4 darks, 3 lights and the melon accent – which I could count as a light.
Here are the eight Bella Solids I’ve chosen based on the image. The Melon is a little more intense than the colors in the palette so I would use it as a highlight in the quilt layout.
No, Brigitte didn’t tell me which eight Bellas she picked… but I’m working on that.
There’s more coming later this week about Bella solids, picking color palettes and such.