I just recently returned from Spring Market in Salt Lake City.  I was honored to be demoing how to thread paint in WonderFil Threads booth.  I was also able to present a Schoolhouse Series to shop owners.  

What a hoot!!  This was exactly what I needed to spark my creativity again.  Looking at the options available from other vendors and what new things were being presented for we creatives was inspiring.  The store owners are so great.  They are just the most wonderful people.  They truly want to carry items and do things in their stores so you have a venue to interact with others and to see new items and be inspired to create lovely works of art.

So I wanted to tell you about this.  I know that so many of us struggle with color. This is one reason I do a program on color for guilds.  It doesn't seem to matter how experienced we are and how beautiful our quilts are, we just lock up sometimes.  

I think the real fear for me stems from worry that I am going to spend a lot of money on fabric, especially because I have a lot already, and then still not be happy with the quilt when it is done.  There is a lot of fear involved with committing to the quilt by chunking it up, spending time sewing, then just hating the way it looks.

Really??!!!  Who wants to rip out pieces and try to replace them!?!?  

I totally get this because I feel the added pressure of creating something that is so good you, as a customer, feel inspired to buy the pattern.  I mean, what if the colors are horrible or one of them is wrong and it ruins the quilt?  

It can be even scarier when you are using wool.  Even though the pieces are small, the price for wool is up there.  The picture of the quilt is what inspires you to recreate it.  Then you have to find those colors and wools.

One of the things that can save you is using my method of doing a gradation first.  If you choose colors and put them in a gradation you immediately see where you are missing something.  I used to be terrified of using lots of different fabrics because I didn't know if they would all work. That is until I realized that the quilts work because of VALUE.  So if you put your fabrics in a gradation from light to dark it makes it all fall into place.  

This is whether you use prints, batiks, or WOOL!!!

When I was learning this concept here's what I did first.  

  • I decided to sew a "Lady of the Lake" pattern, basically a two value quilt.  
  • Then I picked out print fabrics that all included a blue in it somewhere.  It did not matter if it was a lot or a little blue in the design, it just had to have a blue in it somewhere.  It didn't even matter if the blues were all the same (e.g. cobalt blue, teal blue, powder blue, grayed blue).  It just had to include a blue.
  • After I had about 20-30 bolts I stacked them so all I saw was the 4" edge of the bolt, then I put them in a gradation from dark to light.  If something really jumped out at me when I stood 10 feet away I pulled it out.  
  • Then, because I was only using two values, I just split the stack in two and used the light half anywhere it asked for a light fabric and the dark set for the dark half.  

I have to say I was so scared.  I thought this was going to be a huge investment and was not going to work.  Some of the prints were calico, some were batik, some were even solid!  But it worked!!  It looked great.  If I had a photo I would share it with you and I am hoping you can visualize because I gave that away to someone and do you know what?  They loved it!!  

My Point is that it works with wool, too.  And the great thing about hand dyed wool is it includes variations in value so you can fussy cut if you want.  Not only that, some wool has more than one color in it.  For instance Wooly Lady does a unique method where they dye with one color after bleaching the fabric so it "takes" as a pure color...then they do a second dye bath that adds an analogous (next to it on the color wheel) color into the wool.  So you get a subtle change in color but it still "reads" as whatever the base color is.  

This is all done on a high quality wool.  What is the point of using really cheap wool that shreds and sheds and maybe costs less but is hard to work with and doesn't hold up to use?  

You know who else I love?  Weeks Dye Works.  They have a HUGE and GORGEOUS selection of wools and colors.  They also use different weaves. It makes for a little more visual interest and their quality is superb. In fact, for My Blue Heaven block of the month, this is the wool I used.  Take a look: 


 I'm also a new fan for In The Patch Designs.  They have these adorable 5" charms that come in packs of five.  These are all dyed on different weaves so you automatically are purchasing a gradation in value.  It is brilliant.  You don't have a huge investment but you get exactly the value you need in a color, or even an assortment of colors within the charm pack.  It makes it so much easier to find the shade or color of wool you need for your project.  The quality is just as good as Weeks Dye Works and Wooly Ladies.  

When I tell people things about why I like and carry a specific product I so often feel like I am "selling" which makes me very uncomfortable.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I am just trying to inform you so when you do spend money on something you don't regret it.  I think nothing is more frustrating to me that investing my money and finding out it isn't what I needed.  There is sits, looking at me until I shove it under the bed.

That, by the way, can be a real fire hazard.  Try to put them in plastic bins first!!

Okay, here I go now... I broke down at Market and signed up to receive pre-cut and kitted wool fabric.  Again, these are already coordinated.  If you are nervous about starting out with wool it's a great way to get started.  The kits are very reasonably priced and I am kicking off my new commitment with them by offering a deeply discounted price. You can purchase as many as you want until they are all snatched up.

Do you have questions?
Do you need help?
Just leave a message so I can get back to you.  I want you to be SUCCESSFUL!  Color is so key.  I'm happy to give you my opinion (for what it is worth, anyway).  

Share what worked for you, too.  Maybe you can help someone else!

Until I write again.  


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