Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pastel & solid fabrics?

A question from Jennifer D:

I am curious if you’ve posted/written your perspective about color anywhere that I could read?  I am very intrigued by your use of color and pattern in your quilts.  I’m mostly curious whether your style of design would work with solids or pastel prints.  

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for your question, I hope I can answer this!

Pastel fabrics will be suitable for my patterns, just watch out for the values of the fabrics. If we're talking in a scale of 1 to 10, your pastels will be in the range of 2 to 5 or 6. If you scan and print various fabrics in your computer and set the printer only to print black and white, you'll see the fabric in grey. The grey scale runs from 10 which  is black and white is at 1. Decide what sort of look your quilt is going to be, pastels as in the French country quilts? Then look at the background fabric you're going to use. If this background is say a pastel dotty / stripe fabric in light apple green, you'll be able to use quite pale prints up to the medium range, I think the important thing to consider is the contrast and texture of the prints. Line up your print fabrics on the background. I'll pull out all the pastel pinks, yellows, apricots, blues, greens, aquas and lilacs. Most fabrics in pastels also come in many hues if you put them next to each other. 
Say you're going to do a flower in pinks on the light apple green background and it has 5 parts, try and find 5 different shades of pinks, then add a yellow for the middle bit and different greens for the leaves and light to mid- brown for the stem. Also, look at the texture of the prints, not feel-wise but what the print fabric gives you. If you look at PJ Feathers, this fabric has a lot of textures in different parts of feathers, same as in PJ Shell Montage. I hope this is making sense, it is really hard trying to explain in words, not being face to face.

Solids are do-able, but as the solid fabrics have no texture, you'll probably need a huge array of solid fabrics to achieve and maintain the interest in the quilt. I think it will probably work better on a dark background rather than a pale one. Pam has done her Roseville Album in solid Oakshot cottons on a dark background, it looks spectacular, have a look at it, it is on the list of Labels. Also, if you decide on solids, it will be better if you work with the shot cottons. Shot cottons are woven using 2 different colour threads and it gives that lovely luminosity that you don't get with the regular solids. Hope this helps, I hope other readers who have done the patterns in pastels and solids might be able to put their thoughts? cheers, Kim McL


  1. Oh my gosh! Nothing like feeling like a rock star! Thanks so much for taking the time to address this - I am grateful for your talent and time! You perfectly addressed the question I was trying to ask - the VALUE was the word I was reaching for.... Now... to get that pattern out and start pulling from my stash.... Thanks so much!

  2. Pleasure Jen, hope you have fun doing the pattern ( which one)
    did you manage to click on that link " it" to see Pam's Roseville? K

  3. That's such a good explanation about the colours, value and textures. The more fabric, the better!