I've been considering the pile of ugly fabrics and how to make them happy together. These are scraps so, of course, a scrap quilt came to mind. The problem was how to combine them.
I think the most successful scrap quilts are made from a simple two 'something' combination. One color/value playing against (or with) another color/value. I sometimes use a more complicated system when I am working with fabrics of my own choosing but the ugly fabric challenge is not that. These pieces of fabric are all over the map and they don't really like each other. What to do?
I decided to treat everything ugly as one half of my 'system'. I set them against white. White is clean and clear and lighter than everything else in the pile. Ugly = darker, white = light.
I decided to keep the design simple, using only 2" half square triangles (HSTs). I found a dandy tool for making the triangles and I'll share that with you in a later post.
I decided to try 3 different settings. Initially I placed the HSTs on the wall in three different patterns, paying no attention to the color of the ugly fabrics involved:
Not perfect (practically awful), but the third set is easier to look at. However, I'd like the finished quilt to be better than 'easy to look at' so I decided to try grouping like colors together…
In all of these settings, adding order to the chaos makes the pattern hold together better. Each one is more pleasing to the eye that it was before. I still prefer the 3rd set and that's how I will proceed. I have a lot of HST to sew together. I think it would be fun to applique circles or yoyos inside the white squares – and if I have time, I might do that.
Some time back Dianne, a faithful reader, asked me to talk more about clear vs. gray colors. This is a good time to do that. If you look at the set above, can you tell what's clear and what's gray? I'll bet you can but just so there's no mistake, the orange in the lower right corner is very clear – and there are other clear colors in the block.
There are some very gray fabrics. The one that sticks out the most to me is the upper right corner HST found in the lower left block, above. It's a purplish-gray-burgundy and it sort of looks like mud. Contrast that with the pink diagonally across from it. Gray vs clear. Something else you might notice is the clear colors come forward in space, gray colors recede or push farther away from you. You can use this in your quilts to imply dimension.
Most of the other fabrics lean either clear or gray in varying degrees. Often the clarity of a color depends on what it is next to. Value, too, is determined by what other values are nearby. Dianne (and anyone else who was curious), I hope that helps!