Warm Up Your Home with Patchwork Patterns

Fall has definitely arrived here in New England. Time to haul out the patchwork comforters, haul in the firewood, and make sure there are plenty of cocoa fixings in the cupboard.

patchwork project by yoko saito
This Village Table Pocket patchwork project by Yoko Saito reminds me of my neighborhood.

The woods behind our home are ablaze with fall foliage now. When the leaves fall, the landscape will change to neutral colors of browns, off-whites, and shades of black. At first glance, that color scheme might seem mundane and lifeless, especially to a fiber artist who usually surrounds herself with bright colors.

But what I’ve noticed is that when you look at the scene day after day, you start to see all the tiny variations in color and pattern. Not to mention a clear view of the wildlife scampering on the rocks and flitting from tree to tree.

In her book Japanese Quilting Piece by Piece, fiber artist Yoko Saito wrote this about using a neutral color scheme in quilting:

“A neutral color scheme may sound boring, but don’t be fooled: a quilt composed entirely of neutrals is often more fascinating than one with dozens of bright hues because it draws you in and invites you to examine the nuances of color.”

Yoko does enjoy adding a dash of color to each of her patchwork projects, however. She has this advice for combining neutrals with brighter colors in your patchwork quilting designs:

Using Neutrals in Patchwork Quilting

  • When selecting fabrics, decide on a main color first, then select coordinating fabrics. I adamantly believe that balance among the entire quilt should take priority over using a favorite fabric.
  • If a color is too bright or a print is too busy, I will often use the wrong side of the fabric to achieve a softer, more muted effect.
  • Using an array of similar colors may be easy, but you won’t learn anything from it. Play with your color schemes and try using many different shades. Not only will you add an unexpected depth to your quilt, you will gain experience and confidence.
  • For even more depth, I often choose to sew several small pieces of fabric together, even for large areas such as borders. Using scraps from your stash will contribute to the one-of-a-kind element of these designs.

Her latest book, Housewarming Patchwork, includes 77 patchwork pattern motifs from traditional to contemporary to inspire your quilting and sewing projects. Most have a neutral or autumnal color scheme that, if you choose to follow, will warm your home up for fall and beyond.

Just add cocoa and comfy chair by the fire.

P.S. Do you quilt with neutrals? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Easy Quilting, Quilting Daily Blog

5 thoughts on “Warm Up Your Home with Patchwork Patterns

  1. No, I don’t use these colors. I don’t know how to handle this color palette. I used to sit beside a girl from Hong Kong in my painting class, and she used ocher, sepia, raw umber, gray and black, and I was madly splashing around in red, and yellow, blues — anything bright. Other quilting acquaintances from Japan had similar color palettes. I can’t wear these neutrals, and I think that is one reason they have no appeal for me. But, that means there is still a horizon to conquer in quilting.

  2. My local quilt store had a BOM quilt a few years ago and one choice of colors was in the neutrals. I have all 12 blocks done. I’d already been thinking of breaking the alternating blocks into pieced ones, to avoid appearing too big but will have to see how that looks. I have not done anything further with them.

  3. I am in the picking out fabric stage of making one – creams and tans with a touch of mossy green and burgundy! So exciting to see her work – guess I’ll be shopping my stash to find more values in my creams and tans!!