The sheer volume of color/pattern combinations is staggering. It’s easy to wander the aisles of your local fabric store feeling utterly and completely overwhelmed. You go in, thinking you’ve got an idea of what you want (a maroon quilt with coffee accents) and suddenly you’re confronted with 87 hectobazillion different patterns: Maroon and tan with blue accents; maroon and tan with beige accents; maroon with beige and tan accents; maroon with flecks of tan and black (you get the picture.)
While I tend toward the bold, one also needs consider the subtle. To make a successful quilt, we need to have a blend of dark and light colors, small and large patterns, and contrasting colors. Two patterns that, individually, may make your eyes shriek for mercy might looks absolutely spectacular in a quilt.
You gotta think small and large.
Small, in there will only be small strips or squares of that HOLY CRAPOLY pattern that’s so overwhelming on the bolt.
Large, in the blocks will form a larger pattern when assembled.
Take this example:
Were I to see this orange/red fabric on the bolt, I would immediately keep walking, nay, running:
However, taken into its context, it’s not as alarming:
These photos, taken from 19th century quilts, illustrate why we need to develop a sense of small/large. Being able to zero in on fabrics that will catch the eye without permanently damaging it is a skill I hope to hone quickly.
There’s also the “I really don’t like the looks of this block, but WOW does the finished product look cool” aspect of quilting. Being able to think zoomed out is important. I’m not good at that yet. I’m not good at any of this yet. I’m still all bamboozled and floundery, like a newborn filly. Wobbly, but determined.