Gray Is Good for Quilts!

by Christine Barnes

My title is a bit tongue in cheek, but until the Modern Quilt Movement took hold, gray was a bit of a color outcast, considered drab and unimaginative. No more! I thought it would be fun to show several quilts from QuiltCon that used gray effectively.

The first, “Twisted Tulips” by Jacquie Gering, is a wonderful example of colors looking more intense in the company of grays and black. There’s a suggestion of transparency, too, especially in the lower left. Fabulous quilt!Twisted Tulips by Jacquie GeringWhat looks like a gray fabric in the quilt below, “Modern Fans” by Suzy Williams is a narrow black-and-white stripe. From a distance, your eye mixes the two neutrals to make gray. The directions for making this quilt are in Modern Patchwork’s special issue on QuiltCon. I got my copy at JoAnn.Modern Fans by Suzy Williams, quilted by Quantum QuiltsJennifer Sampou made this delightful wedge quilt, using her fabrics. The different values and random placement of the grays make this classic design dance.Octagon Shimmer by Jennifer Sampou. quilted by Jocelyn MarzanChanging gears, unless you are new to our blog, you know how much I love ombrés, and one of my favorites is the gray Gelato #714. It’s subtle and sophisticated, and as a “neutral” (not considered a color) gray makes colors seem richer and more intense. Following are four blocks I’ve made for a new quilt, “Urban Sunsets.” (I’ll be teaching this quilt at Sugar Pine Quilt Shop on May 29. Email me for details because the info isn’t on the shop website yet.)

You’ll see right away that the value shifts in this gray ombré have a bearing on the colors/patterns you choose for the center units. The left fabric in the center must separate visually from the gray border it touches, and the right fabric must separate from the gray border it touches. The patterns in these fabrics help to sharpen the outline of the center square.13a finished block! copy

The block below is my favorite so far. Doesn’t the Elin Noble hand-paintd fabric on the left look like a sunset???desert, fave, 8@ 72The block below isn’t as ethereal as the others because the middle fabric is darker in value. But I wanted violet in the quilt, and I think it will do that job nicely.purple rain, 8 @72 copyThis block has two Kaffe fabrics and a batik by Alison Glass. Without a luminous fabric, the block seems denser. I like the look—it’s just different.16 pink block @ 8 copyNote: If you subscribe to my newsletter, “Christine’s Color Connection,” you’ve seen my tutorial on adding the super-skinny strips that separate the three center fabrics. If you don’t get my newsletter, email me and I’ll send you a link to that issue.

That’s it for today. Oh, one more thing. April 30-May 1 is the Pine Tree Quilt guild show at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Artistic Alchemy will have a booth this year, so come to the show and meet us (and our work) in person. You can also see this year’s Opportunity Quilt, based on one of my patterns and beautifully quilted by Sandra. See you there!




7 thoughts on “Gray Is Good for Quilts!

  1. Love your new blocks & article on grays.
    Just received June issue of American Patchwork & Quilting — There on top left corner, Page 10 you are featured in “Sew in the Know”. Great going Christine!

    • Thank you Connie! The short blurb in American Patchwork was a complete surprise to me. I had a chat with the editorial director of the magazine at QuiltCon, and she said they really like my work. Nice that they thought of me. Made my day.😊

  2. I love that block and that ombre fabric is amazing. That needs to go on my shopping list. I have a bunch of favorite fabrics that have been calling for me to use, and I think this may be to show them off.

    • Thanks for your comment! I’ve had so much fun with the gray ombré, and it works well with many different fabrics–solids, batiks, modern prints. I’m inspired by what others come up with. That’s the fun of teaching!

  3. Pingback: Finish Along 2016, Q2 Goal Setting | Quilt Musings

  4. could you send me the instructions for your swizzle block? it’s so much more creative the the usual squares! I love it!!!

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