Thursday, 29 January 2015

Colours I Feel.

Have you even thought about the colours that make you feel something? I hadn't until recently. And I feel a bit silly about it. But maybe that's the normal progression of things. I buy things I like, I make things from them. I discover I don't really like it. I learn from the experience. It's ok to be learning.

I've always liked the rich, saturated colours of designers like Anna Maria Horner. And interestingly, my earliest quilts reflect that clashy, happy feel. And then somewhere a long the line, I made quilts, like those above and below, according to an idea I had. I could use these colours, with grey and half square triangles. I could take my boyish prints and cut them up small. I'll use this particular line I've been given and follow this pattern. Can I tell you a secret I only occasionally let you know back then? For my first year of serious quilt making, I felt like only a very few reflected who I was and what I liked. Why was that? I used to think. What's the disconnect? What is it about some quilts that make me go, meh, and others that give me tingles?

Well, a little while ago I started a Pinterest Board. I named it Colours I Feel. And I started adding anything that gave me that feeling I've been trying to express in my work. I find it hard to express them here in words (which is partly why I quilt!), but they include things like my sense of identity, passion, satisfaction, beauty. It turned out to be a very useful little exercise that helped me pinpoint what exactly what makes me go YES! in a quilt. Want to hear them?

1. I like clash. I think I've always known this, but while making quilts a couple of years ago, I kept playing with limited colour pallettes. Then any clash I tried to throw in just didn't work. Even when I was making scrappy quilts, like the one above, when I stuck to just reds and blues, it sat flat.

2. I like pink. It's funny. I didn't buy pink for a long time. Not till Evie, at 18 months, decided she was going to choose what she wore. And there had to be pink. I started making pink pinnies to sell and keep. I started making pink quilts with the scraps. But what I've discovered is that what makes a quilt feel complete to me, is having those various shades of colour in the mix. Not just the primaries.

3. I like low volume. It's probably to my detriment that I rebel against what lots of other people are making. Because when low volume became really popular, I kind of snubbed my nose at it. But over the years, and then with my pinterest boards, I've learned that I need my quilts to have a bit of breathing room. I'm still figuring out how I like traditional blocks (I love my red and white quilt! But scrappy blocks with a plain white background have never really appealed to me...), but I love pockets of saturated colour balanced with light.

So for February's Do.good Stitches block, I'm asking the Care Circle for some scrappy, improvised, string play. I'd like a bright mix of colour concentrated in one section, bordered by low volume prints. For those who prefer structure over improvisation, I'd be very happy with a log cabin, with brights on one corner, and light colours on the other? or a basket weave pattern? Or maybe Anna Maria Horner's feather block?

Below is what I made after a couple of hours of simple play. They're not very complex, but boy, I love them!

And I'd love to hear from you? Do you have a certain mix of colours you know you like? Or are you still learning?


  1. I love scrappy and saturated - and the way those colors play so nicely with low volume makes my heart sing. For Christmas I gifted my grandmother a scrappy log cabin quilt (she always makes everyone else the quilts, so I thought someone should make her one!) and the color combo takes my breath away still. I think the low volumes (which I too rebelled against) can really make colors sparkle :)

  2. Hi Jodi! Great post! I love your work and the colours you use! I guess I'm still learning. I love happy colours but to know how I like them together, I just have to try. I have learnt to follow my instinct; if some colour or fabric doesn't look good from the beginning, it won't change later. I make mistakes and then think, why I didn't TRUST myself and tried to use some colour or print even it didn't feel right. Thank you for inspiration! x Teje

  3. GOSH. Those blocks. Those saturated centers. Those are a thing that I never knew I loved. (But wow I really, really do!)

    I absolutely get what you mean about colors that make you feel something, though. I know my "happy" colors and I tend to gravitate around those most. As a wee beginning quilter, though, I stress about colors a lot. I know what I want my quilt tops to look like - mostly, ha ha - but then I just get overthinky and worried actually picking fabrics and I fall all to pieces!

  4. I think I am still learning, however I know I love AMH - somehow all her fabrics work together. I love colourful scrappy, that sort of clashy bohemian feel. I love these with linen and low volume Probably most of my quilts don't reflect that though. I guess I am still a work in progress.

  5. Love your post.... Hearing others process is insightful...
    I've been told, I pick a range on the low, medium, dark scale, and stay close to it in a given project, and the range is usually low/medium values. I'd like to experiment with the balance of all over the scale in a project....

  6. I love how different colours and combinations have their own appeal or make the soul tingle. I find I crave different combinations according to seasons and what's going on in my life.
    Love the EPP quilt sitting on the bench, it looks like AMH voiles which would make it very soft and buttery. Did you have any trouble doing EPP with voile?

  7. This post was very helpful to me! I am still learning, and I don't know what I like yet, but what you wrote about pink struck me, except I think that my "must include" color is red, which is a total surprise to me. I also need there to be a surprise in the quilt somehow, something that tickles me. I just finished doing something like what you did with pinterest, but the old fashioned way; I was given a bunch of old quilt magazines, and I've gone through cutting out quilts that make my heart leap, and now I'm trying to figure out why. :) Thanks again for the blocks -- I made 4 Ohio Star because I liked it so much!


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx