Color and Pattern—They Just Go Together

by Christine Barnes

Well, fellow quilters, sewists, wearable artists, and others, here I sit, your Alchemist Emeritus, trying to decide what to say in my final post. You’ve heard about my plans for online classes, and you know you can keep up with me through my “Color Connection” newsletter. So I thought I’d talk about pattern in fabric. A student in a recent workshop said as she was leaving, “I learned as much about pattern as color today.” Great point. It’s hard to separate the two—they just go together.

Patterns are described by their style (naturalistic, stylized, abstract, geometric, ditzy, etc.), their scale (large, medium, small, and everything in between), and their density (open or closely spaced motifs). Classic design tells us to “vary the style and scale” of patterns in a design, such as a quilt, but when I mentioned this in a class early in my teaching career, one of the students tentatively raised her hand and said, “I have no idea what you mean by that.” I got the point and stuck with examples because visuals are almost always better than words, right? Right!

So let me show you pattern combinations in a few of my blocks and those of my students. In October I taught my “Urban Sunsets” quilt workshop for the Diablo Valley Quilters (what a great group!). Here are two blocks, one from my quilt, the other made after the quilt was finished. In the first example, the hand-painted fabric on the left is very open, the stripe is geometric and dense, and the Marica Derse print is stylized. (As an example, the paisley motif, which originated in India, is a stylized version of a pine cone.)In the block below, the scale of the hand-dye and the batik is very different, while the “pattern” of the red-orange Grunge is more like a texture.Back to the class . . . . In the delightful example below, you see a near-solid blue, a casual batik plaid, and a stylized floral. There’s a color connection among the fabrics, but the style, scale, and density are very different. Black-and-white strips help to separate the fabrics.What fun to see the repetition of dots in different sizes and colors. (This student was experimenting with the width of the skinny strips. I like to cut mine 3/4″ wide so they finish to a scant 1/4″.)I couldn’t resist: Nancy, who once belonged to the Grass Valley guild, is technicolor 24/7. She definitely brightened my day.Pressing the seams flat is essential to getting a crisp block.Don’t the center units look great up on the design wall? Yellow-green Grunge dots were popular that day.A lovely block, with related colors and very different patterns. The variation in the scale of the prints is very sophisticated. A Grunge in the center ties the fabrics together.

Next stop, the Sacramento chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, a very enthusiastic group of risk-takers. 🙂 The goal in this Granny block exercise was to work with a classic color combination. This block is a triad of red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-violet, three colors spaced equally around the color wheel. The patterns are busy, but the colors and values vary enough to keep the design sharp.This block is roughly the same color combination, but two of the fabrics are much less intense than the yellow-green. And wow, aren’t these patterns dynamic together? I especially like the way this student oriented the “striped” fabrics to draw the eye inward. Extra credit for this mock-block! (Not everyone filled in with background triangles on their mock blocks. We were having too much fun, with too little time.)The Farmer’s Wife block, also known as Genny and Ruth, is a wonderful template for working with value, color, and pattern. Search Pinterest and you’ll see many versions—it’s such a versatile design. Here, black-and-white squares really bring the corners forward. Again, not everyone completed the background.Oh gosh, look what happens when the “star points” are white and part of the negative space is patterned—hard to believe it’s the same block as the previous one. I love the fresh colors and patterns in this block. Notice that the triangles are two different colors (yellow-green and blue). Great use of the airy, open print in the nine-patch unit, and the black-and-white print is the perfect scale for the corner squares. Nice!Finally, look what happens when the triangles in a “Japanese X and +” block are highly patterned and darker in value. This student gets even more extra credit for unique pattern placement—this block is going in circles, in a good way.In case I’ve left you confused, this is what a typical X and + block looks like, with the  triangles as background.I hope those blocks inspire you to look at and work with color and pattern in new ways. A big thank you to my brave and cheerful and willing students!

Let’s move on to my Studio Sale and the fabrics I love, but may never get around to using. Here’s how it works: Email me through the “Bio/Contact Me” page on my website,, not through our AA blog, and let me know what you want. I’ll add the sales tax and postage and get back to you with the total. If it’s agreeable, I’ll send you a Request for Money through Pay Pal. (You don’t need a PayPal account for this transaction.) Once you pay, I’ll send your package. You can also pay by check (I’ll give you my mailing address once we’ve agreed on the sale). OK, here goes . . .

1. This woven and hand-screened piece is from Kasuri Dyeworks, a famous high-end Japanese fabric store in the SF area. The shop closed more than a decade ago because, get this, artisans in Japan weren’t making many of these fabrics anymore; there just wasn’t the demand. (Google Kasuri Dyeworks to read the story.) So this is truly a gem. 40″ x 14¾”, $30 + tax and postage2. I bought this piece of hemp (yes, hemp) from a vendor selling Asian fabrics at Pacific International Quilt Festival. It’s very crudely woven, and has “unique” flaws, but I still LOVE the design. I tested a small corner of it in cold water and it barely bled. The true color is slightly lighter; for some reason my camera insisted on making it a bit darker. 45″ x 14″, $20 + tax and postage. The scissors in the bottom right are for scale.3. This yukata cloth came from Kitty Pippen, an author and internationally known quilter of Japanese fabrics, and a lovely lady. It would make a gorgeous wall hanging, framed by other sophisticated fabrics. 36″ x 14¾”, $20 + tax and postage4. Alexander Henry “kyugetsu dolls,” no longer available. The colors are exquisite and the black is deep and rich. 1 yard + 2 inches, $17 + tax and postageThe next two photos were taken on either side of the fold:5. A Robert Kaufman print, as it would appear on a bolt. 1 yd. $12 + tax and postage6. A batik of many wonderful colors. 1 2/3 yds. $20 + tax and postage7. I’ve always been drawn to ethereal batiks in organic geometric patterns. 1 yard, $12 + tax and postage8. More hard-to-say-goodbye-to fabrics, indigo batiks from a primitive-fabric vendor at the Marin Needle Arts show. 6 fat quarters, $16 + tax and postage9. The center square in the piece below is Kaffe Fassett, the ombré is by Caryl Bryer Fallert (no longer available), and the stripe is also by Kaffe. This block photographs as very rich and saturated, but it’s a bit more muted in real life. 17″ x 17″, $18 + tax and postage10. Finally, I made a series of these blocks in different fabrics, then matted, framed, and hung them together to make a “hard-edged Ninepatch.” I had a “recipe” to create a sense of depth and layering: a light batik center, surrounded by two darker fabrics, and finished with an even lighter batik. 12½” x 12½”, $14 + tax and postage If you’re still with me, thank you so much for looking. Keep in mind that I’ll have periodic studio sales in my newsletter, “Christine’s Color Connection.”

So as I end my role as an “active Alchemist,” let me say that it’s been a delight spending time with you. I’ll be following the blog along with all of you, enjoying every bit of creativity and inspiration that Heidi, Mary, Sandra, and Jane share. Yay, AA!






When One Thing Leads to Another

by Christine Barnes

I’m guessing most of us have a bin or space on a shelf for fabrics and pieces left over from past projects. Too good to toss, we keep them, thinking they’ll speak to us another time. Several years ago I made this simple vest of pieced squares and appliquéd circles cut from ombrés. (I had no idea that I would one day become an ombré-aholic.) I intended to embellish the circles, but you know how that goes.00 vest back onlyWhen you appliqué circles, you usually cut away the fabric from the back to reduce the bulk. I call these circles “bonus circles,” and ones from this vest were way too cool to throw away. So they sat in a special place, waiting to be used.000 cbnus circles on grayAnother project that’s been sitting on my shelf are units/blocks based on my “Luminaria” pattern (scroll down in my Store). I took 16 units made from Painter’s Canvas fabrics by Michael Miller and auditioned them as four trial blocks. I thought of my circles: why not try them in the centers?1 four blocks on wall, earlyThat day I passed by my studio, looked in at my blocks and ombré bolts, and said to myself, “color therapy!”0a looking into my studioI started laying out the units to make rows, but I was beginning to feel that the texture and pattern of the Painter’s Canvas fabrics were a bit much. Also, I could see that a few of my inner fabrics weren’t light enough (look at the second row, second block from the left, the raspberry unit). What to do?3 a row and a halfI began to make more units from my collection of Grunge fabrics by Moda. (Many of the colors are in my Store.) Their pattern is subtler than Painter’s Canvas, as you can see below, with Painter’s Canvas on the left and Grunge on the right. Grunge and Painter's swatchesI made lots of Grunge units and auditioned them in rows.6a mostly GrungeBetter, I thought, yet there was still the problem of some of the inner fabrics not being light enough.

Another possible solution was to “air out” the blocks with plain alternate squares. I like the black-and-white fabric (lower left) best because it repeats the black in some of the bonus circles; however, it’s very lightweight, more like lawn than a quilting cotton.6 color blocks and B&W auditionThen I decided to try blocks with four light fabrics that were similarly light, to make the centers blend into one shape and recede.25 block made from 4 diff blocksWhen I mocked up four blocks and laid the circles on top, I saw immediately how well the circles stand out against the lighter backgrounds. Graphic, but in a quiet way. And that’s where I am for now.30 Grunge only, desert blocksI’m not sure if I’ll set my blocks side-by-side or separate them with alternate squares. And I don’t know how large the quilt will be. It’s true: one thing does lead to another, and someday I’ll make a quilt from all the units that are still left over.

In my next “Christine’s Color Connection” newsletter, I’ll be doing a step-by-step tutorial on making the units, blocks, and bonus circles (I have a technique for making them from scratch). If you don’t already get my newsletter, you can sign up on the home page of my website, or text COLOR4Q to 22828 on your smartphone.

That’s it for now. I hope your summer is going swimmingly and that you have plenty of creative projects lined up. As soon as I post this, I’ll be back working on my samples for Zephyr. The countdown to the retreat continues. Cheers!






















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!




My Gallery Adventure in Color

by Christine Barnes

Last weekend I drove 200 miles north to Weaverville, home to an active art community and my long-time friends Evelyn (an amazing watercolorist) and John Ward. This is my second show at Main Street Gallery, and besides being a lot of fun, it was fascinating to hear the comments from people who expect quilts to be traditional. I thought you’d enjoy hearing what others think—and wonder—about quilts.

“Wow!” was the comment I heard most as people walked through the door. When we were hanging the quilts, I asked if we could put the more colorful quilts on one wall and the less intense ones on the opposite wall. I call it “a color connection,” when fabrics or quilts have related colors but don’t match. To my eye, they seem harmonious without looking overly planned.

Here are several views of the colorful wall. Forgive the less-than-fabulous photos—I was so busy helping Evelyn hang the quilts that I didn’t take much time with photos. And I didn’t get a single shot of the reception because I was busy talking. Sheesh! 3 color wall 3Evelyn and I met when we both worked for an ad agency in Sacramento. I was an intern and a total rookie, but it was a great job because we became friends.  After long careers in publishing, we’re both so happy and grateful to be doing what we love. Good for us!

5 Evelyn and me About the two transparency quilts above, I was surprised at how many people were drawn to this effect, and how curious they were to know how to create it. It’s really all about choosing the right values and keeping the intensity of the colors consistent. The term “shot cotton” (a fabric woven with different-colored warp and weft threads) drew a number of questions, too.

7 Lustrous I + color wheelBlack and white—always a winner! We hung the quilt above and my color wheel side by side because they both have bright colors, and each has black.

10 plaid + solid, closeI wanted you to see Sandra’s quilting in “Solids + Plaids,” above. Thank you, Sandra!

“Puss in the Corner on the Courthouse Steps” is a combination of two traditional designs, but it has lots of contemporary fabrics—ikats and prints from Kaffe Fassett and opalescent stripes from Michael James. I was happy to hear comments about the sense of depth, a feeling of layering, in this quilt. Hey, I thought, they get it!

11 puss, crookedOn to the more neutral wall. “How do you choose your fabrics” was probably the most-asked question, followed by, “Where do you find these fabrics?” Those questions really reinforce my belief that different kinds of fabric—woven stripes, ombrés, Japanese prints—make a quilt more interesting.

8 neutral wall 3We hung the framed nine-block piece below next to “Urban Ombrés” because of their black-and-white connection. Ombré fabrics were new to just about everyone.

9 offbeat

2 brushed stragiht onPeople noticed the sashing, though the term was unfamiliar, in quilts like “Brushed Metal,” above, and “Lustrous II,” below. “How did you decide on that black-and-white print?” I told them I tried at least six different fabrics for the sashing, and to my surprise, this was the one. Bold and busy as it is, this print still reads as background, and the blocks seem to float. (The narrow red flanges help, too.)

6 Lust II only“How do you know how you’re going to quilt something like this?” was the question about “Earthscape,” below. I had to admit that I didn’t do the quilting (Carol Walsh did a phenomenal job with it), but it was fun to point out the different shapes and textures she created with thread. More than a few people asked about Elin Noble’s handpainted fabrics in the upper areas. “You can paint fabric???”

4 earthscape“Well, these aren’t like any quilts I’ve seen” was my favorite comment. It was fun to watch people begin to see color and quilts in a different way. Some told me about quilts in their past and how much they meant to them. That’s what keeps us quilting, the memories they evoke and the people who made them.

Finally, I’m teaching my “Color Made Modern” workshop at Sugar Pine Quilt Shop October 24-25. Contact me for details, or call the shop at (530) 272-5308. I’ve taught this class a number of times, locally and far away, and it’s become my favorite workshop. Come to find out why!

I hope you’re enjoying glorious fall weather, as we are here, and finding time to create and sew.


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!


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.

“White Space is Breathing Room for the Eye”

Christine Barnes

I had the BEST time with the Village Quilters of San Diego last weekend! Thanks, ladies, for being so willing to try new ways to play with color. Not long into the day, I turned to one of you and said, “At what point did I lose control of this room?” It was a bit rowdy, but we had fun, didn’t we?

The workshop, “Modern Color,” was all about creating the graphic, light-and-airy look you see in modern quilting. We used both traditional and original formats, and fabrics typical of modern quilts—bold, contemporary patterns, solids, and “low-volume” background fabrics. (Low-volume as in quiet, usually light in value, with subdued motifs.) One of the most identifiable characteristics of modern color is the use of white space. I love the saying, “White space is breathing room for the eye.”

After I talked about the basic color concepts—they never change, no matter what your quilting style—we dove into the first exercise. Below is a traditional value placement with black-and-white triangles anchoring the design. (Imagine the four-patches you’d get where four blocks meet.)CB Kings w triangles 2Here’s the same block, minus the triangles. (Pay no attention to the lines on the exercise sheet underneath.) Love the low-volume background fabric here.CB Kings plainAnother example using the same format, different fabrics:

CB Moda Circles w triangles CB Moda Circles plainIn the example above, leaving off the triangles really puts the focus on the circles in the center. I like the  simplicity, and the way the lines between the center square and background are blurred a bit.

Below are student blocks, by Carol and Karen. Keep in mind that these are quick cut-and-paste exercises—neatness doesn’t count. How different these blocks look, based on the values of the large triangles. I love them both!16 kings crown, goodWow, here are two designs that also look very different, thanks to value placement. Notice how much larger the upper block looks, almost like a snowball design, because of the “visual weight” of the black-and-white print. Love the balance of warm and cool colors in the lower block.1 churn dashI played with the same block, below. A large-scale, black-and-white check fabric for the rectangles gives the design an asymmetrical look.

CB B&W Churn :dash 2We also worked with the block from my Urban Ombrés quilt. I supplied strips of gray ombré to surround the center units—like white, neutral gray gives your eye a place to rest. (The black-and-white fabric in the right block will soon be in my website Store.)6 urban ombresTwo more examples, so different yet so effective!5 urban ombres, Marilyn3 urban ombresWe did one more exercise, but yours truly was too busy gabbing to take photos. Trust me, there were some great blocks. I’ve said it before: it’s so much fun for me, as a teacher, to see what all of you come up with. You continue to amaze me.

Looking ahead (and into my stash), I’m thinking solids and plaids for my next quilt. I knew there was a reason to acquire and stockpile all those yummy plaids.

plaids + solids 1Finally, I’ll be in Mendocino having Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt and uncle. I took this photo on the garden tour in June. The coast doesn’t look like this in November, but I fell in love with the layered colors of the heather and thought of this pic when I was going through my plaids. Sort of fits the season, don’t you think? Wherever you are, have a great time with family and friends. It’s my favorite holiday.

Mendo Heather



Zephyr on My Mind (Still) + a Look to Next Year

by Christine Barnes

I love October! My favorite poem when I was twelve was “October’s Bright Blue Weather,” by Helen Hunt Jackson. The last stanza reads:

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

At Zephyr we had both bright blue weather and bright blue water. The changing colors of the lake (sometimes you see bands of different blues, almost like an ombré) made it magical.

The retreat was magical, too. By now you’ve read the post-retreat thoughts of Heidi and Sandra. I heartily second their enthusiastic accounts of our time there. Lest my students feel left out, here are some images from my Luminosity and Luster workshop:

First, she who brings the most fabric . . . has the most to work with.

F Karen's tableBelow are some of the blocks Karen made with her yummy selection of fabrics. Note the “swizzle stick” borders, narrow strips of fabric inserted between the block segments.D1 Karens blocks copyLuster exercises, starting with strips of gray ombré that I provided. How different the blocks look, depending on the choice of fabrics for the center units. Compare the lower left and lower right blocks, for example.A luster ex, largerEileen worked with a pattern she brought, with the idea of creating luminosity. C Eileen's blocksAs she played with her options, it became apparent that she was also creating transparency, almost by accident. A few days after the retreat ended, Eileen sent me a pic of her quilt top:K Eileen's finished top, transAren’t the bands of lighter-value yellow running horizontally through the quilt cool? She gets extra credit, for sure!

Nancy was also working with luminosity, and I’ll show you her finished quilt in a future post (no pressure, Nancy). Here she’s just relaxing. See how neatly her fabrics are piled at the front of her table? More extra credit. The fabrics choices pinned to the wall are Noelle’s, for her Sassy Circles quilt, but she somehow escaped the camera.I Nancy at her tableHere, Teresa begins to work with Serenity ombrés, Kaffe Fassett stripes, and Marcia Derse prints.G Teresa works with ombresAnd her blocks take shape. Note the center squares, cut on the bias. They’re a bit harder to work with, but they certainly add movement to the blocks.E Teresa's blocksMany thanks to Noelle, Nancy, Nora, Teresa, Karen, Jackie, Eileen, and Cindy. I can’t imagine my time there without you. (I wish I had taken more pics!) I really enjoyed meeting the students in the other classes and seeing their amazing work.

I’m adding this pic of the back of my vest because so many asked me about it. I pieced the vest back, with a green hand-dye on the outside and yellow-green osnaburg on the inside. What you see are the seam allowances, which I purposely put on the outside. The raw edges are bound with 1-inch strips of a Kaffe stripe cut on the bias. This technique is called the Hong Kong seam finish, and if you Google it, you’ll find plenty of videos and still tutorials.J back of my vestWe’re working on plans for next year, and we’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to add that extra sewing day. I’m thinking about transparency, one of my favorite light effects. There are two kinds: parent/child and layered. Here’s an example of layered transparency, the illusion that lighter see-through shapes float above darker shapes. There will be a variety of exercises and three or four quilt design options.L Trans squares, bound-1Finally, I left Zephyr and headed home up the west side of the lake. A stop at the Emerald Bay lookout is almost mandatory. Talk about “bright blue water,” with bits of greener blue.H Emerald BayUntil next time, enjoy these glorious October days and keep scheming and sewing. Is there anything better?!


Christine’s Excellent Adventure with “The Quilt Show”

0a array of folded blocksWhile teaching at Sisters in 2012, “The Quilt Show” sent a small crew to interview me on color. As my “closest friends,” you can see the interview FREE starting today, April 6, and running through April 13. There will also be a slideshow of my work in the April 8 newsletter. Just click here to become a Basic (free) member and see the show. If you want to become a Star member, you can get a $5 discount using this coupon code: 266448288510. (Click the icon below to be taken to The Quilt Show home page.)

QSLogo15My segment is near the end of the show, following Kim Diehl’s in-studio presentation with Alex and Ricky. Her segment is great—I learned a new technique and loved seeing her work.

Recording the interview was a lot of fun, with more than a few surprises. (Safe to say, Hollywood is NOT knocking at my door.) Shelly, the producer, declared me a “one-take wonder” because I got through the main part of the segment without a mistake. Except, at the end I said, “back to Alex and Ricky in the studio.” Uh-oh, she said, they might not be in the studio; they might be on location. So we did the segment again, only this time I flubbed my lines. Sigh. Apparently, you can be a one-take wonder only once. But I had a great time, and Shelly and Lilo, the editor-in-chief, were wonderful to work with. Thank you, TQS!

What follows is a short visual series on luster and color. First, I’m happy to tell you that the gray ombré I love so much is being reprinted by E.E. Schenck. Yay! It’s one of the most graphic and versatile fabrics I’ve ever used, and I’m delighted that it will be available to my students (and everyone else) at the retreat.

But luster is also doable using bright, saturated colors. It’s the movement of light that suggests a lustrous surface, or sheen. I made the block below using three ombrés and a Kaffe stripe, but immediately decided it was too much of a good thing. There’s too much movement, and a quilt with blocks like this one could be overwhelming. How to tone it down but still make the most of the ombrés’ shfts in color and light?2 ombre luster only

I went back to the drawing board—that is, my fabric, and auditioned a Kaffe print. The geranium print below had the same range of green values as the green ombré. Yum!3 geranium vignette

More Kaffe prints and more auditioning led to a group of fabric vignettes.4 fabric vignettes

Here’s my new version. Notice that this block features the same two ombrés  as the original block. But the prints add some needed color, pattern, and viusal texture.5 retake of luster + prints

I’m not sure if I’ll ever make the quilt—you can see an array folded blocks at the start of this post—but I certainly enjoyed the process, and that’s what it’s all about.

I can’t think of a better place for you to enjoy your process and nourish your creative spirit than our Zephyr retreat. The setting is breathtaking, and every day you’ll be treated to color as only nature can do it. What could be better?!