Generally, the first thing that anyone sees when looking at a quilt pattern are the colors chosen for the design. How much of this is because you are thinking about matching colors with you décor, or drawn to a favorite color, or even possibly thinking about the colors available in your stash I don’t know. The reality is that most of us typically work within a range of color that we are comfortable with and coordinates with other pieces that we already have, not to mention that we don’t have to try to imagine a piece in an alternative colorway if we are just trying to copy the cover photo. It may be hard to break this habit, but change can be very rewarding and surprising.
To illustrate this point let’s use the pattern Cascades as an example. Several years ago our staff member, Eleanor, was vacationing in northern Wisconsin and went shopping with her husband David. David had been commenting previously that with all the quilts that Eleanor had made, she had never made one specifically for him. While in the quilt shop he found a pattern that he liked, Cascades, and was very happy with the colorway on the cover photo as shown on the photo above.
Eleanor purchased the pattern and brought it in to work one day so we could play and choose the fat quarters, sashing and border fabrics required to make the quilt top. Based upon the cover photo we chose similar fabrics and the quilt turned out great. David loved it. Eleanor planned to enter the finished quilt into a local quilt show and allowed us to hang it at the shop prior to the show and home use. You can see the similarities by comparing the two photos. The cover quilt colors are a little darker and more intense, but the color focus of the two quilts is purples and blue teals with yellow highlights.
We hung Eleanor’s quilt in the shop up until the quilt show and took it down with the intention of moving on until we started to get questions about the pattern and requests for classes. Eleanor was willing to lend us her quilt again, but it was obvious that we needed a new sample. As we like to do, we created a new sample in an alternative colorway. Since it is fall, we chose colors like the colors of the fall leaves and bits of sunlight peeking through as the leaves fall to the ground.
As you can see from the close-ups, you get quilts that each have a distinctive feel to them, but the color choice alters that perception. Looking at both full quilts it is even easier to see. Personally I think of a beach with a gentle breeze blowing off of the ocean, or a waterfall in the sunlight when looking at the blue version. The brown and orange quilt reminds me of a warm, cozy leaf fort, or a walk along a wooded path in autumn.
The point of all of this rambling is don’t be afraid to change up your color choices when starting a project. Think about what it is about a pattern that appeals to you and what might you do to change it up and personalize it.
Sometimes it is very easy to do. Other times it is more challenging. This is a topic that we will revisit from time to time as we continue to produce samples. Hopefully some of our choices will inspire and challenge you to put together color combinations that have personal meaning and evoke pleasant memories.