Lessons Learned – Experimental Color Play


People who know me know I love the water. Beach, lake, river, pond, pool, take your pick. I find it impossible to resist fabric with nautical themes, and in a perfect world I would live at the beach. Alas, I cannot afford that lifestyle so I make do by obsessing over anything beachy.

I have only been quilting for about two years (one of which was spent making just one quilt, so I don’t know if that counts), and I have found that while I love modern quilting, so far I’ve definitely leaned towards traditional quilts with modern fabrics. My most recent quilting goal is to turn some of my modern quilting ideas into reality. I came across this gorgeous quilt a while back on pinterest. The colors are right up my alley, and I thought the design really modernized what I believe is the rail fence pattern. To be entirely honest, I wanted to copy the quilt exactly, the coral orange would be perfect for my bedroom. Ultimately I decided to try something different and quickly picked yellow and grey as my two main colors. I went to work sewing the strips of a light yellow and light grey together, and in a matter of days had enough blocks to make a lap size quilt. I threw the blocks onto my design wall and sadness washed over me. It looked washed-out and I just didn’t like it. I couldn’t put my finger on it until my mom remarked that the colors were both too light, and there wasn’t enough contrast. I have a hard time completing quilts I don’t like, so I put the blocks away to be used another time and set out to come up with another plan.

I played around again in Illustrator and thought it might be neat to use different shades of blue and I arranged them in a way that reminded me of the depth of water, or ocean waves. I choose my pallette, keeping contrast in mind considering my failure with this pattern when I tried my beloved yellow/grey combo. I had so many lovely Kona blues to choose from, and my initial pallette didn’t contrast enough, and I feared the quilt would again look washed out, with the pattern getting lost. I settled on the colors above, worked up a strip-piecing plan, and got to work piecing the blocks.

Overall I think the concept is more successful than the grey/yellow scheme (which I can’t even bear to show you!) but I think the concept would have been conveyed better if there were LESS contrast this time. I can’t win! I still have a ton of Kona blues that I want to use to piece a similar quilt, with less contrast, so that the flow of the “wave” is more gradual. The quilt top works up VERY quickly, thanks to strip piecing, so hopefully within the next couple of weeks I’ll have another version to share. I want to quilt the version above with a water type pattern on one of our local quilt shops’ long-arms. The quilt is slightly smaller than a twin right now, the perfect size to drape over my couch.


Linking up to Freshly Pieced for my first WIP Wednesday! Woohoo!

15 thoughts on “Lessons Learned – Experimental Color Play

  1. Very nice though in spite of you wanting more gradation. You can nave make bough quilts! I wanted to do transparency quilts and I ended up doing four of them just to figure out how to use the colors and saturation etc. Nice job!

    • See, you know what experimenting is like! Even if the first few are nice, it can take a while to get it juuuuuuuuuuuust right. Kinda like Goldilocks and the 3 bears. 🙂

    • I haven’t seen that, gonna have to google it…sounds right up my alley! I sent my Neptune quilt to Jessica a couple of weeks ago and am having it quilted with circle-like bubbles….I can’t wait to get it back!

  2. How did you figure out the piecing nad yardage for the gradient colors? The original tutorial is just two colors… I would love to make this as a christmas present! thanks!!!!

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