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.
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.