Bella Zen Solid Chic…

Do you use solids?  A lot? A little?  Not as much as you’d like to?

Me too.

Zen Chic Comma Plus

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.

MI Zen Jelly Belly

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.)

MI Ahead of the Curve

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.

MI-Zen-Flower-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.

MI Zen Pale Floral Dots

On a side note – using the Moda Palette Builder can help translate an image into corresponding Bella Solids.

Bella Palette Builder

On the other hand, I found a picture of a wooden floor that I found very appealing.

Zen Chic Wood Floor

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.

Zen Chic Urban Scene

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.

Zen Chic Color Palette

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.

Zen-Chic-Bella-Urban-Palette

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.

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11 comments on “Bella Zen Solid Chic…

  1. quiltingtn says:

    I have only made one quilt in my 12 years of quilting in all solids. It was an Amish design and I found it very difficult to pick the colors. Ilove how the quilt turned out, it hangs in my guest room.

  2. Gene Black says:

    Did you consider taking a color picture (such as the bouquet) and using those colors as the solids for the floor quilt?

  3. Hildy says:

    I normally only use solids as backgrounds but I already made a few pillows just with solids and they look really good. The hardest for me is to find just the right solid and that’s sometimes not so easy.

  4. Donna says:

    Great post. Brigitte is one of my favorite designers. I love, love, love her fabric lines. I’ll look for the Palette Builder and try it out.

  5. Marianne says:

    What an inspiring post from one of my favorite designers!

  6. Mary Andra says:

    A fabulous informative and inspirational posting. Thank you Carrie for a pick me up start to my day.

  7. Cave Creek Maggie says:

    Ditto Mar Andra! I really like it when I begin my day learning something new to me! Thanks Carrie!

  8. Debbie says:

    This was super informative.

  9. In all my years of quilting I have made only one all solids quilt & I loved it ~ still do! So now I’m wondering why I have made only one? A very interesting & informative post today! Thank you Carrie!

  10. Carol Eberhardt says:

    Oh my gosh that Moda Palette Builder is the coolest! I have lots of gorgeous bird photos I have been fooling around with tonight….so much fun! Better than TV!

  11. Cheryl says:

    This post is great. I love the Zen Chic lines and patterns and find the way she looks to incorporate solids into the designs to be fascinating. I will definitely look into the Moda Palette Builder. Also,is there a pattern for the first quilt shown above, using the “Comma” line? I looked on line but couldn’t find anything.

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