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Christine's Color Connection

A newsletter for quilters in love with color

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cover, small, june

The Quilter's Color Club has lots of info on every aspect of color. You can find my book on my website  
Super-Skinny Swizzle Sticks
Greetings, readers! Last time I promised to show you how to add super-skinny "swizzle sticks." This is the block I'll be working on: 

I start with three fabrics that have a "color connection." That is, they have common or related colors, but they don't match. Below are the ingredients, including the narrow black-and-white "sticks" (a Marcia Derse print).

It's essential to use Best Press (I prefer unscented) to stabilize your fabrics before you stitch and trim because some of the seams will be on the bias. It's especially important on the black-and-white fabric because the strips are so narrow.

I cut the fabric sections 4" x 9" and the strips 5/8" x 9".
First, decide on the order of the three sections. The gray ombré strips that surround the center unit shift in value, so make sure the left and right fabrics separate visually from the gray strips they will touch.

Start with the left section. Lay a B&W strip face down, at an angle. Stitch along the right edge using a barely scant 1/4" seam allowance.

Turn the excess fabric and the seam allowance on the strip to the back, with the strip opening out. Press. Trim the excess fabric from the back. (Hint: the seam allowances on the narrow strip must always go away from the strip, though it may seem more logical to press them toward the strip. Trust me on this.) .

Lay this unit face down on the middle section, at an angle or raw edges aligned (shown here), and pin. It's difficult to see, but I insert each pin under the seam allowance and up again. This keeps the strip straight. 

Stitch. (Tip: Using a walking foot for the seams that are pinned also helps keep things straight.) Open out the section and press. 

Lay the second strip face down on the middle section, again at an angle.  Stitch along the right edge of the strip. 

Turn the excess fabric and the seam allowance to the back so the strip opens out. Press. Trim the excess fabric. To orient yourself, lay the third section to the right of the unit. 

Turn the unit over, onto the third section, at an angle.  

Pin and stitch the strip to the third section. Open out the section and press.    
Make a 7" x 7" preview template out of card stock or heavy paper and play until you find the area to feature. Mark the rough perimeter with chalk. I then trim the unit using the lines printed on my mat.   

Here's the unit trimmed. (I'm saving the trimmings; surely I can use them somehow, someday?)  You can see that starting with larger-than-necessary fabric sections gives you more creative leeway when trimming. 

The "clean" center unit, ready for the ombré strips.  

Again, the finished block. I'm working on a quilt with nine different blocks, each one its own color story. BTW, the gray ombré is available in my online Store, Gelato #714.    

We'll be doing super-skinny swizzle sticks in my Artistic Alchemy workshop, "It's All About Color," at Zephyr Point in September. By then I will have perfected the curved version, which I learned from Rosalie Dace at Empty Spools two years ago. (She is an inspiring and wonderfully generous teacher. Thank you, Rosalie!)

And thank you for reading and looking at this special issue. I was at QuiltCon last week (I had a quilt in the show) and will share my impressions in the next newsletter. The experience was amazing!       

About This Newsletter   

If you've received this newsletter, you may have attended one of my workshops or bought one of my books, patterns, or color wheels. It's easy to opt out, below, but I hope you'll stick around to see what's in store. It's all about color, using it, enjoying it, and sharing it with other quilters.


Thank you! 

Contact Info

Christine Barnes