Ask Jo: More on Color

I’ve been writing blog posts about color lately and how I do color if I am making a scrappy quilt.

I first did a entry on sorting scraps.  Find that HERE.
Then I did an entry on selecting strings for string quilts.  Find that entry HERE.
This post on my Pumpkin Patch quilt.  Find that HERE.

Before I go any further, I want to say that what I’m talking about here is what I do.  I haven’t always done this….but time and experience have gotten me here, selecting fabrics that way I do.  What I do isn’t for everyone..but it is for me.

Those post have brought about more questions….

Cindi asked:
The examples you have shown have all been a single color. Do you do this with multi color scrappy piecing, such as your Pineapple Crazy blocks? Thanks for your blog, it is on my must read list daily.”

Here is my Pineapple Crazy quilt.  It’s a Bonnie Hunter quilt and can be found in her book String Fling.   You can read all about the quilt HERE.


This quilt I started making several years ago.  This quilt is likely what got me thinking more and more about color.

This is the first block I made for the quilt….

pineapple-Crazy-6
I was new to paper piecing.  I have never done such a scrappy quilt at the time.  Check it out….I didn’t follow my guidelines to make the quilt from either the “white based scraps” OR the “cream based scraps”.  Look on the left.  Those scraps and a mix of white based and cream based.  The red I had was a little more cream based…Nothing in this block was definitive.

I went on over the next few years and made more and more blocks….I wasn’t doing border blocks.  I was doing center blocks.  Slowly as I went, piece by piece I started developing a preference.  I liked “white based” for this quilt.

All of the blocks were put together for the center and then I started sewing the rest of the outer blocks.  I decided to skip the red triangles and by now, my “white based/cream based” theory was in place.  This was the block I made.Things are MUCH more in line with my “white based” preference.
pineapple-Crazy-5
Check out both blocks….can you see the difference.  The second block POPS!  It’s brighter and more fun.  With the cream based fabric gone, it’s cleaner and fresher looking.

Variety is still needed so it’s okay to include some that are not WHITE-WHITE…but cream…I don’t include it with this color scheme.



My daughter Kayla made a couple blocks for me ….she made them when she was at retreat and for fun wanted to give paper piecing a try.  I did a big debate when putting the quilt together.  Her blocks had cream based fabrics in them.  See the navy, browns, gold and green calico print.

Now that I’m pointing them out, they stick out even more…right??

Now…here is the first photo of the quilt I showed you again.  Look at the center.  Can you see the darker blocks?  Those are the ones Kayla made.
When I started this quilt I didn’t have my theory of color….I wouldn’t have likely notice it.  Now, I easily see it.

When working on an intense quilt like this.  Examining every piece that is added to a block as I finger pressed the seams back, I was able to see what I liked and didn’t like.

Pineapple-CrazyIs the quilt “wrong” because I didn’t use ALL “white based” fabrics?  No way.  I am thrilled with this quilt.  I love it.  It was a fun and wonderful quilt to make.

I thought I’d pull pictures of a few other quilts I’ve made….

Our Tricky Checkers quilt…


Here it’s close up…

It’s WHITE based.


Close up…

CREAM based.

Lozenges quilt…

Lozenges-1Cream based.
Lozenges-3Garden Party…

Garden-party-6-1
WHITE based.

Garden-party-7This quilt has a few strays and I do like a few rebel pieces in quilt but for the more part, it’s white based.

The next question…
Nancy B asked:
Thank you so much for your posts on sorting. :)  One question I have is, if you are making a scrappy quilt in a specific colorway (such as Bonnie’s current mystery “Good Fortune”), would you pull the required colors from both buckets or still stick to one or the other?”

For this…I stick to the whichever bucket I decide on for the the most part.  From time to time, I don’t have much of a color I want.  Then I’ll sneak into the other bucket and see if there are a couple prints that are “on the fence” tones.

Mine I tried to stick to Civil War type prints….With Civil War prints a quilter can either go with more shirting type prints which are typically more white…or you can go with more creams…or tans.  Bonnie showed her prints in brights which, for me, are more white based.  That left me wondering.

I ended up with mostly creams….


Here’s a close up….Notice it’s mostly creams.  I did add a couple shirtings and a couple that lean towards tans.  
In all of this…I like going “mostly” one way but do stray to add a bit of variety.  Still I would not add a white print like is in these blocks….


Happily I have a couple buckets of scraps and lots of fat quarters.  I have a good variety of fabric and can typically find the colors I want without having to supplement from the quilt store.  It wasn’t always that way.  I didn’t have the stash I had.  I didn’t have the monetary resources.  I always tried to do the best with whatever I had….

Now about the colored part of these triangles…That will have to be another blog post about color.  Can you see the pieces in them that aren’t “white based”?  I sure can.  But I made these before I had my theory and I did what I could with the resources and knowledge I had.  Rather than dwell on it…I’m moving on.

Thanks so much for the color questions ladies….it’s been fun talking about color.  It’s something I never get tired of studying.  Honestly, I take quilt books to bed and study the quilts all the time.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.

If there are more questions…ask away!

12 thoughts on “Ask Jo: More on Color

  1. Diana Nelson

    Thank you for your posts on color. I too am interested in it and the creams and whites are very important in a quilt that has various fabrics. I have a lot of scraps and having your posts to help me sort my neutrals has been a big help. I too want to make Bonnie’s pineapple quilt but am hesitant because of the center square is so small. Will have to try my hand at doing one and see how it goes. Thanks again.

    Reply
  2. Judy in MO

    Keep the color discussion going. I’m learning a lot from it. I think I was doing the cream/white based theory without really calling it that, just using trial and error, eliminating pieces because they were too bright or too dull.

    Reply
  3. Sally

    I have really enjoyed your posts on color and have learned a lot. I made Bonnie’s Good Fortune Quilt and did not really understand the white/cream thing but noticed that I did not like my quilt as much where I had the cream fabric and now I understand color better. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Michele

    Loving your cream/white posts. I lean to the whites. As I was sorting for a recent project it seemed like a lot of the modern fabrics have what I call a gray cast. Certainly not creamy but not bright white either. Any advice on using these grey whites? Do I need to make a third category? Thanks for any advice.

    Reply
  5. Carla

    Another educational post! And I so enjoyed seeing the close ups of pineapple crazy. It’s one of my favorite t quilts I’ve seen on your blog. In my dreams I would make that one lol. Maybe……I did recently sort my stash (such as it is) based on what you have shared and it felt very intuitive to me. I was pleased with the results.

    Reply
  6. Donna T

    I really enjoy your posts on color! The way you explain it and your fabric examples makes it so simple to understand! I have no problem picking out the white and cream base! Thank you for another great post on color!

    Reply
  7. Carol Lorraine Stearns

    I did a series of post on my blog a couple of years back through the eye of the decorator. Don’t blog much so it is fairly recent. It was titled 5 steps to fabric confidence or some such thing and it talked about finding the focus print and going from there. You do a great job of picking colors and I like your white and cream based information. Really helpful to those who struggle with making selections. I enjoyed the read!

    Reply
  8. Kim LeMere

    Love your pineapple quilt and it is bright and cheerful. I have learned a lot about color from these posts and I think I have usually done my creams/whites pretty much the same way. As Bonnie said a long time ago, if its closer in color to a brown paper bag its a cream, if not its a white. Keep sharing, I’m learning.

    Reply

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