Tuesday, 25 June 2013

City Sampler Blocks 7 through 12

I made these a while ago, thankfully so because I'm still just up to date with Sara's City Sampler Sew Along. These are blocks seven through 12 - so I need to get 13 to 15 done this week. If I can stop at three ;o)

xx Jess

Monday, 24 June 2013

Colour Theory 101: Colour Context

Welcome the the third part in the Colour Theory for Quilters Series. Today's guest post is all about Colour Context - basically how different colours play together. A huge thank you to Jennifer of Secondhand Dinosaur for putting together this most excellent post.  

The physics of color theory and interpretation as applied to color context, part one.

Just kidding, ha!

I'm was excited about the invitation to contribute to the Color Theory series. Thanks for having me over! Now I do have a degree in the Fine Arts and Photography and it seems like I’ve been paying attention to color since I could first walk. As children we would get carted from museum to museum, at times falling asleep in front of almost every painting when we paused for a moment. We kind of believe in enforced cultural enlightenment in this family.

We’ve learned about color from the two great posts so far: The Color Wheel and Understanding Colour Terminology and then Color Harmony, that there are basic colors and hue/saturation/tints/shades of color. Let’s take this to the next step. Purpose. Knowing about what colors do, when they are cozying up to each other, allows your color and design to be exactly what you envision. In order to sew color with purpose, you need to know why colors act like they do. 

Basics of Color

All things reflect light. What does light have to do with color? Everything. Light waves reflect off of objects making what we see as color. You too are reflective but not enough for a walk on a dark road at night, k? 

White - reflects all colors of light. White can help designs look clean, light or lend contrast. 

Black - absorbs all colors of light. Black can aid in contrast and sets off colors and can seem to sink in or retreat. Black holes and all that. 

We can’t see the actual waves of light but we can see the effects. Here’s picture of what I’m talking about in my interpretation of color wavelengths. 

Red has the longest wavelength. It is a strong color in that it has big visual impact. Fabric that is red will pop or seem to be closer to the viewer. Blue colors have a shorter wavelength, they get scattered more easily. Blues can look like they are receding or are farther away. There is so much more blue than red in the picture below but your eye gets stuck looking at the red. Go ahead, take your eye off the red and try just to look at the blue. I bed your eyes will want to jump back to look at the red. 

This is what it looks like with yellow that has a shorter wave length, meaning it seems less intense than red.

And one in white. This one has less visual tension or may feel more restful because of the white.

There is a theory by Michel Chevreul about simultaneous contrast which is basicly states that complementary colors look the brightest and most vibrant next to each other and the same color can look very different depending on what it’s next to. Which takes us to one of my all time favorite books on color in the whole universe. Joseph Albers’ Interaction of Color and it’s available in the latest edition from Amazon. It’s a small book that is full of pictures or graphics that will show you how to look at color. This is my interpretation of one of Joseph Albers examples 
The X’s are the same color but each X color looks different because the orange and grey that are around it. Does it seem like a color you pick is vibrant until you mix it with other fabrics? Try a different shade or tint of the same color (lighter or darker) and it might look great again. Here are two cushion covers that use blue and red but different shades. See that red and green looking all complementary :) . What effect are you looking to have with your creation?

Contrast, or light near dark, is also important to consider with colors. There’s high contrast like black and white next to each other, and low contrast like a super light grey and white. Low contrast is sometimes called low volume and the next color theory post is all about that! One is not better than the other, just use contrast with purpose. This is one design with variations on high and low contrast. I think on this your eye will still try to jump to look at the one with bright colors. 

I hope this all helps you look at color relationships and be able to create exactly what you want! If you have questions feel free to stop by my blog and drop me a line. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A lovely surprise

Over the last month or so, I've been getting regular squishy mail in the form of bee blocks from my Scrappy? Sew Bee It girls. They have outdone themselves on these blocks - so many favorite fabrics have been used, and they are looking fabulous all together. I'm still not sure what layout I'll use - it's a lot of fun playing around with them though.

The latest one to arrive today was from my lovely bloggy friend Janine (Rainbow Hare), who didn't just send me her block. Oh no - she added this AMAZING mini to the parcel. I'm absolutely gobsmacked with this quilt - the detail is amazing. The faerie's arm actually moves, so she can point to 'eat', 'sleep' or 'sew'. Honestly, the photo does it no justice at all - the faerie is three dimensional, and Janine has added a lot of hand and machine embroidery. Seriously beautiful - thanks so, so much Janine, you've made a dreary week a whole lot happier!

xx Jess

Kate Spain Blog Hop

Welcome to my stop on the Kate Spain Blog Hop - huge thanks to Alyce for asking me to play along. 

I can pretty much blame Kate for my fabric obsession - Fandango was the first designer quilting cotton I ever bought when I first started sewing back in 2011. I wasn't actually quilting back then, I was mostly making clothes for my then baby daughter. As a matter of fact, my inability to finish stuff off was a problem even then - neither of these garments are actually finished. The jacket needs bias binding around the cuffs still (I gave up when I couldn't actually fit the sleeves on my machine to sew the binding on) and the skirt hasn't got elastic in the waist. The skirt would probably fit her now, but she blankly refuses to wear skirts or dresses. Sigh. If anyone has a baby girl and would like these, just let me know - I'm happy to send them to a new home :o) 

The skirt was my first time sewing charm squares - and is probably largely to blame for my quilting addiction.

Once the quilting bug had bitten, I made this little baby quilt (which I donated to a fundraiser for some very sick girls last year). I have to admit I don't like this quilt much at all - my style and tastes have changed a lot, and I don't think it was a good choice of pattern for the scale of the fabrics. 

Thanks for visiting - enjoy the rest of the hop! You can link up anything you've made using Kate's fabrics and be in the running for some great prizes - check out Alyce's blog for all the details :o)

xx Jess

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

WIP Wednesday

Wow, I've been unusually quiet around here, haven't I? I've sat at the computer a few times to write a post, but haven't really had much to say. It's been incredibly grey and rainy for the last week or so, which makes me perpetually grumpy - and it seems to affect my motivation to blog, and read blogs (I have around 750 unread posts in my blog reader. I will get to them, eventually!) I have been sewing a fair bit, but most of what I've been doing I can't show you yet. So it's just some sneak peeks today ;o)

This one has a name (at last!!) and is 90% quilted - I'm hoping to knock over the last bit tomorrow, and get the binding on, fingers crossed.

I've started another (secret) project as well - using this stack of loveliness:

I've been wanting to make a quilt using this palette for a long, long time (plus, it gave me an excuse to buy some of Denyse's Shelburne Falls ;o) ) Most of them are Shelburne Falls, but I've added a few other blue and navy fabrics, and paired them with some low volume greys. Between taking this photo and starting cutting, I have actually changed my mind on a few - but you get the idea.

I hope everyone is having a great week. I'll be back tomorrow with my post for the Kate Spain Blog Hop!

xx Jess

Monday, 17 June 2013

Colour Theory 101: Colour Harmony

It's time for the second installment of the Colour Theory for Quilters series. Today's post is by my lovely friend Jess of Quilty Habit :o)

I'm Jess, a teacher and an avid quilter/modern fabric collector, and I've been blogging at Quilty Habit for almost three years now! When my bloggy friend Jess asked me to post as part of her series on Colour Theory, I was completely honored and got very excited. :)

I can't pretend to be an expert, but I have been practicing my colour skills lately with the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild. Without Jessica Levitt, our president and my good friend, I would know very few of these things - so, thanks Jess. :)  (Didn't realize until now how many Jess's were involved with this post!)

This is a picture of our May meeting "analogous complimentary" colour scheme challenge mini quilts, which I'll discuss more below:

May 2013 002 
Photo by Laura Bennett, our photographer

Last week, Molli (hilariously) taught you how the colour wheel works. I'm going to take you a step further on the wheel to show you how colour can come together and work beautifully - even if you have doubts. I had a lot of fun putting together bundles for this post, so I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do! Anyone can make colours harmonize together :). Promise!

A note - Color Scheme Designer 3 is my go-to tool online for quilty color schemes. All the pictures are screenshotted (screenshot?) from this fabulous website. You can actually click the buttons to show you the combinations I'll demonstrate, and then whirl the colour wheel around to your liking - how nifty is that? Okay, go play for a minute, then rejoin me here :)

Analogous Colour Scheme
On the colour wheel, this is when you choose three colours in a row. This is probably the most "harmonizing" of the bunch, since the colours are right next to each other. Here's one combination I love:

Now I'm definitely inspired! SO want to make a quilt with these.

Dark blue to blue to green - the right fabric is actually more turquoise than it looks (it doesn't have to be exact!). As you can see, analogous colour schemes are easy to put together and really make your quilt beautiful.

A complement is when you choose two colours directly opposite of each other on the colour wheel. Often, one of the colours may be off by one or two notches on the wheel, but it can still be considered complementary.

Purple and yellow - the colours with the most contrast. This combination can really intensify a quilt, but it also looks good balanced out with white. I also like balancing it out with orange, which is somewhat of a split complement colour scheme (see below).

A lot of people love the orange/tangerine and blue combination - also a complement. Red and green, the typical Christmas colours, are complements too - which is why they look so striking together!

P.S. In case you haven't noticed, I LOVE Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelet line! Ever since they came out in a gazillion colours, they work with everything! If I make a quilt without a piece of it, the whole thing feels empty. :( Anyway... moving on!

Analogous Complementary
This is one of my favorite combinations, and the one I've been experimenting with the most! I never would have picked the scheme I did without playing around with the colour wheel. This one is called "accented analogic" on Color Scheme Designer 3. Don't let the complex name scare you - it's awesome.

Here's my contribution to our May swap, Fruit Punch, which is inspired by the above colour wheel.

I started with this bundle of fabric and worked from there! I was pleased to find that I had so many fabrics in my stash that fit. You can click here and here to read my posts about this mini quilt!


Split Complementary
 As you can see on the colour wheel, this is when you choose a main colour and the two colours on either side of its complement. The split complement is not as harsh, if you will, as the direct complement described above, but it is very unique and will add variety to any quilt.

The possibilities really are endless. Try not to get bogged down in the names and technical aspects -  it's all abut having fun and making those colours really "go together." Like I mentioned, the colours don't have to be exactly in order for them to harmonize! It just takes practice and a bit of patience (and some extra fabric shopping ;) ).

Here are some links that will help you further with colour harmony and combining:
 June 12, 2013 post from Design Seeds - LOVE this soft, summery combination. Seriously, try this website out right now!
  •  At Colour Palette Generator, you can add the URL of a picture from the 'net, and it will give you the colour scheme. How cool (and useful) is that, especially with Pinterest at our fingertips?
  • Also, at the Big Huge Labs Color Palette Generator, you can do the same, but for a picture from your own computer. I took a picture from my 2011 trip to Prague and tried it out:

I tried to do a more "colourful" picture and, unfortunately, it didn't pick up the bright colours too well. But you get the idea - this tool can really help and inspire!

The rest of the Colour Series for Quilters:
Colour Context – Monday 24th June - Guest post by Jennifer of SecondhandDinosaur
Value, including low volume – Monday 1st July - Guest post by Rebecca of Making Rebecca Lynne

Thanks so much again, Jess, for allowing me to blab about colour :) Please feel free to ask me questions about this post and/or visit me over at Quilty Habit for a good time for a constant fabric bonanza, as well as some quilty WIPs and finishes :)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Modern Mini Quilt Challenge

I've decided to enter Tesseract into the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge at Ellison Lane Quilts. It was a toss up between this one and my PTS10 pillow - but Tesseract won out, the main reason being this challenge was all about trying something new, which I did on several levels with this mini.

I designed this for the Emerald Challenge earlier this year, and used a new-to-me block (the Kaleidoscope block) for it. The greens are all Oakshott cottons, and the background is a mixture of low volume grey fabrics (Architextures, Simply Colour grey ombre and a Sweetwater text print). The inspiration for the layout comes from emerald gems, and also Lizzy House's Diamond Mountain quilt, which uses these blocks in a similar way.

I used two layers of bamboo batting for this mini quilt - I love the extra loft it's given without the puff that comes from polyester batting. I didn't want too much puff on this one, but did want the greens to pop a bit more than they would with a single layer. Having said that, I'm not sure that it was such a good plan to go down the no-binding path. Getting it to fold over at the back was a bit of a challenge. Also, my corners are quite rounded, and I'm not sure how flat it will sit when it's hanging. Which it still isn't. Ahem.

It is pieced and quilted entirely using Aurifil 50wt thread (2021 and 2865) - I love that the quilting blends into the background so well (although it blended so well while quilting I did have a bit of trouble seeing where I was going ;o) ) I really loved doing angular quilting too - a first for me, but definitely not the last. I really want to make a triangle quilt and quilt it like I did the green bits on this one.

Quilt Details:
Fabric - Oakshott greens, various low volume grey prints for background.
Size - 24" square.

xx Jess

Monday, 10 June 2013

Colour Theory 101: The Colour Wheel

I'm super excited to introduce today's guest blogger, Molli of Molli Sparkles. Possibly the most entertaining blog I read, I think! So, over to Molli...

Lord Latifah knows I love a rainbow! But what would a rainbow be without colour? Well, Jess from The Elven Garden and I were having this very conversation, when she said, “Molli, why don’t you tell us all about it in an upcoming Colour Theory series I want to host?” Well, Jess, thank you for the invite, and don’t mind if I do!

Just so you know I'm not blowing glitter bombs up your ass, I do have some training in what I'm about to tell you. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, and then my Master of Visual Arts (Photography) from the University of Sydney in 2007. Combine that with the genetic brilliance of Grandma Sparkles, and you should have 95% certainty that what I'm telling you is correct. The other 5% is because sometimes I just flat out lie--but I'm sure you'll be able to figure that out. 

Let's get started!

So what is the colour wheel? Simply put, it is a diagram of pigment colours, AKA hues, that shows how colours are created and the spectrum in between. It is most often referenced as a wheel because of its circular nature, however, you may see it in other forms as well. I want to point out, that for our purposes, we are only talking about pigment colours, as opposed to the spectrum colours of light. (Light spectrums become more complex, so we can save that for another day!) Not to bore you too much, but light spectrum colour theory dates back to the 17th century with Sir Isaac Newton, which was followed on by pigment colour theory and its psychological effects by 18th century writer, politician and (thankfully!) artist, Goethe. The colour wheel we know today is probably most attributed to his investigations, and his Theory of Colours, published in 1810. Okay, lovelies, you can wake up again. Chop! Chop! History lesson, over!

Sparkle Colour Wheel

Why don’t we dive into some colour!? Along the colour wheel there are three types of colours: primarysecondary, and tertiary (sometimes called intermediate). You'll see in my sparkle colour wheel above (exact colours may vary due to computer screens!), there are six large circles for the primary and secondary colours.

Primary colours are base colours and can not be created by combining other colours. They are: red, blue, and yellow.

Secondary colours are created by combining two primary colours. They are: violet (red+blue), green (blue+yellow), and orange (yellow+red).

If you have kids in school, you probably helped teach them this, or they came home with a colouring sheet and taught you about it! What may be new, however, are the tertiary colours, which are created by combining a primary colour with a secondary colour. The primary colour is always listed first. They are: red-violet, red-orange, blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-orange, and yellow-green. Tertiary colours should be your go-to colours for adding depth to your quilts, otherwise you run the risk of looking like a cheapskate who only bought an 8-pack of Crayola crayons. Tertiary colours are usually the ones that look rich and sophisticated, and are natural blenders. Your stash is probably full of them, and you didn’t even know! Coral? Teal? Wine? These are all names for variations on tertiary colours!

Tertiary Colour: Blue-Green

So those variations, right? We’ve really only talked about twelve colours, and we all know there are more than that!  Additional hues (remember, means the same as colour) are created by adding white to create what is called a tint, or adding black to create what is called a shade. Collectively, this is referred to as its lightness. For instance, we all know red+white=pink. Pink is thereby a tint of red. Blue+black=navy, so navy is a shade of blue. If the colour gets lighter, it is a tint, if it gets darker it is a shade. I always remember because: I’m a shady lady, who always wears a dark smoky eye! Work, momma, work! Again, these tints and shades add visual interest to your quilts. I keep hearing navy is the new grey (don’t know about that yet!), and low volume fabrics (many of which are just super-tints) are all the rage, so definitely make room for them in your stash. You probably already have them, but at least now you know what they are called.

Moda's Get a Clue with Nancy Drew: Tints and Shades of Blue

Now, last but not least, is my personal favourite, saturation. Do you ever get some fabrics and they look a bit, dull? Not, dull, as in boring, silly, but dull, as in a bit greyish, or washed out? Conversely, do you have some fabrics that are super intense and have a really deep colour? That’s the hue’s saturation level! I am a big fan of saturated colours, but be aware, if everything you use is intense, it might wear the average viewer out. (Not me, bring it on, I say!)

Jeni Baker's Color Me Retro: High saturation, balanced by white.

So, have you got all that? I know, I know, it’s a lot to absorb in one sitting. My suggestion to you is go grab a random piece of fabric and see where its colour(s) fit into all of this colour theory mumbo jumbo. (Do this while drinking a big glass of cabaret, which as we learned is a shade of a tertiary colour!) 

It is important for us quilters to continually educate ourselves so we can improve our quilting. I mean, who wants to send a hot mess out there into the world? There’s so much that can be done with colour, and once you know a bit about it, you can really turn your own quilts into works of appealing art. The more you know, the more you grow, the more you sew!

Over the next few Mondays, see how these colours can be combined into various colour schemes to really put your skills to work! You're gonna go from black and white zero, to rainbow hero!

Colour Harmony – Monday 17th June - Guest Post by Jess of Quilty Habit
Colour Context – Monday 24th June - Guest post by Jennifer of SecondhandDinosaur
Value, including low volume – Monday 1st July - Guest post by Rebecca of Making Rebecca Lynne

A big thank you to Jess for organising such an educational series, and inviting lil' ol' me to tell you something about it! And, if you ever need a hand with colour, drop me a line, because anyone can sparkle@mollisparkles.com.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Coming soon to a blog near you

There are a bunch of bloggy happenings going on in June, some of which I'm taking part in. I mentioned Alyce's Kate Spain Blog Hop the other day, which is happening from now until the end of June.

Beth of Plum and June is hosting another Let's Get Acquainted series for 2013. I participated in the series last year as a newbie blogger, and it was a really great way to find some new blogs and connect with other crafty people in blogland. The full schedule can be found here - it's running from now through to the end of July.

As part of the series, Beth has asked me to do an advice for new bloggers post. I said yes pretty quickly, and then started freaking out a bit. I have a few ideas about what to talk about, but I thought I'd ask you guys if there is anything in particular you're interested in? I thought I'd cover a bit about my experience with running a QAL and a bit on building your readership, but other than that I'm pretty stumped. Questions on a postcard please :o)

Another one starting soon is the Prism QAL being hosted by Amy who blogs at 13 Spools (formerly The Cute Life). The QAL is making Faith's fabulous Prism quilt and there are a bunch of fantastic prizes up for grabs.

It's a paper pieced pattern, so Amy has also organised a Paper Pieced Meet and Greet (starting on the 15th June with yours truly).

And last but certainly not least, the Colour Theory for Quilters series kicks off here tomorrow, with an awesome post by the fabulous Molli Sparkles. There will be a proper button tomorrow - thanks to Molli for designing the image :o)

Happy hopping!

xx Jess