A Tale of Two Quilts (and a bit of transparency)

by Christine Barnes

New fabricsThe image above has nothing to do with this post, but I just had to drop it in because I LOVE these fabrics by Marcia Derse, Alison Glass, and Kaffe Fassett. You’ll see some of them again in a future quilt or garment.

Now, to the business at hand: Have you ever worked on a quilt that wasn’t quite “working,” yet you continued because you hoped it would get better? That’s what happened when I started my quilt Urban Ombrés. It began with the block below. I cut the center rectangle from a lighter ombré, and the surrounding strips from darker areas of other ombrés, all from Caryl Bryer Fallert. (The black-and-white is by Kim Schaefer and isn’t available, even on the Internet.) I thought the block was lovely, very ethereal and serene.

1 single block, all ombre Ah, but sometimes more is actually less. I made a total of sixteen different blocks and joined them to make the quilt top below. I knew long before I finished that it lacked punch, but I kept going. Sound familiar?2 quilt with all ombres“It needs pattern,” I thought. I looked on my shelf of recent acquisitions, where I keep new favorites. Nothing. Then I saw a pile of Marcia Derse fabrics, like the ones below, and thought, what if?

MD FQsI grabbed a scrap and laid it over the center of the top left block. What a difference this one fabric made!3 single block, with MD printSuddenly the block had visual weight, and the center unit looked cohesive. I kept going, making 16 blocks with the same colored ombrés in the same positions as in the first quilt top. (There are a few exceptions.)

5 quilt with MD centersI’ve never had the first top quilted, but I’m glad I took photos so I could show the impact value, hue, and pattern have on the look of a quilt. As I have said before, “Lesson learned!”

Changing gears a bit, below is an example of layered transparency. In the first mock-block I combined four medium-to-dark colors. These fabrics are from Michael Miller’s “Painter’s Canvas” line, and they are still available. In fact they’re coming out with new colors next month. Good!6a painter palette AThen, from my embarrassing stash of MM fabrics, I laid four lighter-value versions of the same colors over the original fabrics:

6a painter palette FNow there is the illusion of a transparent plane of lighter color. Very simple, very graphic,  and really very easy. If you’ve signed up for my workshop, you’ll get a chance to make this and other transparency studies, one of which you’ll turn into a quilt.

Today is Friday the 13th, but I feel lucky in so many ways. Just having a light-filled studio with an abundance of delicious fabric makes my day, every day. Happy Spring!

Christine

p.s. I have a few Urban Ombrés kits consisting of the Marcia Derse prints, colored ombrés, gray ombré, and quilt pattern. (Both black-and-white fabrics are sadly gone.) Email me if you’re interested.

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6 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Quilts (and a bit of transparency)

  1. You illustrations make your lessons so interesting. It really helps bring the lesson home. I love that quilt and so does my daughter, for whom I made it for. I’ll soon been making another one – for ME!!!! Looking forward to taking your workshop, Christine.

    • Rejeanne, I’m so glad your daughter loved her quilt. And now you can make yours:-) It will be fun to meet you at the retreat. We’re delighted that two students are coming from Canada!

  2. Thanks for the inspiration and teaching in this article. Are you teaching your vest any where in the north state this summer?

    • Thanks for your comment, Marjorie. I’m teaching my collage vest at Meissner Sewing and Learning Center in Folsom, CA, on Saturday, March 28. But I’m guessing you live farther north than that. I don’t teach it often because guilds usually want color classes. I’ve done it as a private class for groups that get together on their own. I just love the process, from assembling the collage to doing the surface stitching. It’s not instant in any sense, but it is rewarding—and so much fun!

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