Why Contrast Matters Part 2 …Can This Quilt be Fixed?

We’ve all have had THAT quilt that we were sooooooo EXCITED about that we just couldn’t wait until we could get to cutting and piecing it and see it come together! And then… the moment we were waiting for… to SEE it before us in all it glory! But…but…but… what happened? It’s NOT like I imagined it! It looks… Meh. Where did it all go wrong?!

There’s nothing quite as disappointing to realize that the quilt you just KNEW was going to be SO amazing just fell flat flat as pancake. No “WOW!” NO  “Amazing!” No  “Best ever!”.

But the fabric was just perfect and so beautiful and your piecing and appliqué skills were right on. So what happened?

Well in my last post I started discussing how the lack of planning for contrast can really sabotage your best hopes for that most amazing quilt ever. The two types of contrast that flatten a quilt the quickest are VALUE contrast and COLOR contrast. Shapes and texture also factor in, and maybe I’ll add those in, but the two hardest in my opinion are value and color. And I gave you an exercise to try …did you do it?

Here’s mine! I did the value sketch I should have done BEFORE I started cutting and sewing it all together in a mad rush.


Fall Quilt Black Black Line BW Pumpkin

You’ll notice I did not stick to my original drawing totally either (don’t say it) and that’s ok…sometimes. But making too many changes can also cause problems (i.e.making the composition to busy) so do try to check it out with a new sketch first if you start changing the main elements and their placement. I changed the gourd on the bottom right to leaves and added a few more leaves to the upper right which did not mess with the main focal point. If I make this into a pattern, I will have to redo this master but for fixing this quilt we are OK.

The main difference between the two quilts is the massive improvement in the background of the value sketch compared to the actual quilt!

  • The grouping of pumpkins are much more visible
  • They sit on the darker bottom area of the background
  • The background still has three distinguishable parts – one dark, one light and one is just slightly darker.

I did not want three very distinct pieces in the background again – the two that read as (close to) one value keep it interesting …three very distinct values would make it too busy again and we need the lighter value behind the top pumpkin.

Now that I see a change in the background can save this quilt, I have to find a fabric to do that. There are a few ways to view fabric values before cutting:

  1. Place the fabric and view it through red and green lenses of some type to cut the color and reduce it to value (red for warm colors and green for cool). The glasses would be fun in a store! The photo on the end has red cellophane over it to give you an idea.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 5.33.44 PM     Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.18.42 PM          IMG_4194

  1. Place the fabric and take a photo of it together and desaturate it to the grays values again. Here you see my four fabrics that could work as far as value goes. The elements will show up more.

However when I compared the colors of those four, three of them did not have the right color contrast. I will get into color contrast in another post but for now suffice it to say one DID  work! I will explain why in that post but now at least we know I do have a light enough fabric to change the background out and we know how to determine the right value a little more easily and why it can make or break a quilt composition.

It’s a little hard to see the colors but if you enlarge them you might be able to see that the two on the left are too yellow and the next one is too warm (pinkish). the one on the left is the one I chose because it is the best transition to the light color already there with a touch of blue that really helps the odd looking teal pieces which I will also discuss more with Color Contrast.

In the next post I will show you the process I went through to replace the background! I did it and YES! It worked! Just hold on for one more post and you’ll see it!

Do you have a question about a quilt you are working on? I’d love to hear about it!



About Sew Laura Artisan Quilts

Longarm Quilting Service, Digital Designs, Free Motion Quilting, Custom Quilting, Quilting Patterns
This entry was posted in Applique, Art Quilt, Designing, Ideas For Art Quilts, Quilted Wallhanging, Quilting, Raw Edge Applique, Thread Painting, Thread Sketching, Tutorials, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to  Why Contrast Matters Part 2 …Can This Quilt be Fixed?

  1. Your a great teacher Laura !! Love your works of Art.

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