Christine's Color Connection
A newsletter for quilters who love color
July 2020
Candy Color!
How's your summer going? Mine is fine and dandy as I work away in my studio. I have a project-in-progress to share this time: a new take on my "Best Friends" quilt, in the mock-block stage. It all started when I discovered the newish Kaffe Fassett stripes—it was love at first sight. (Where have I heard that before?) I'll show you several of my new candy-colored blocks that combine KFC prints and stripes—in a 180-degree modern twist.

Then you'll see my trick for cutting dotted fabrics to make half-square triangle units so the dots are not "chopped" by the diagonal seams. That extra bit of planning and cutting makes the blocks crisper and more orderly. I like orderly and crisp when there's an abundance of color and pattern coexisting in a quilt.

But first . . .

I'm Published!
My article "Classic Concepts, Modern Color" appears in the new issue (August/September) of Quilting Arts Magazine. It's always an honor to be included in a publication, and QA has such a great reputation and following. You can find it now on newsstands, or here's the link to order the digital version. You can also order the print edition soon through Quilting Daily, but only for a short time.
It Starts with a Fabric
Many of my quilts begin with an inspiring fabric that shouts, "Choose me!" In thinking about a variation on my "Best Friends" quilt, my mind went right to the "Contrast" colorway of Kaffe's new stripe, "Promenade." (This stripe and the "Sunny" colorway reminded me of candy, hence the new-quilt name.) The plan was to use a section for the skinny triangles (half-rectangle triangles). Here's my fave part of the stripe:

In the original quilt, the skinny triangles were cut from a largish charcoal-and-white dot, as shown below. (This block isn't in that quilt; I just wanted to show you the fabric for the triangles.) Why not use "Promenade" stripes for the skinny triangles???
For my BF pattern, I created "Piecing Papers" to accurately paper-piece these triangles. But for mock-blocks, you need to cut finished-size pieces (no seam allowances). For two mock-blocks, I cut four rectangles, then cut each diagonally so the triangles "lean" left. Below are two cut rectangles.
When you cut four rectangles in this manner, you get four skinny triangles with the charcoal gray at the base, and four with the charcoal gray at the tip—enough for two different blocks. (Aren't these fun? I love looking at these mini "sails"!)
Then I thought it would be interesting to rotate the HST units 180 degrees, so the KFC prints are in the outer corners and the small gray-and-white dots are toward the center. This major change made the skinny triangles stand out and separate from the KFC prints.

The next two blocks illustrate the results. The block below uses the skinny triangles with the charcoal gray at the base, and Kaffe's "Tiddlywinks" in the corners.
Below is another block with the other set of triangles, where the dark gray is at the very tips. Such different effects using the same striped fabric! Isn't the Persimmon print fabulous with this stripe? I love the "color connection"—slightly different versions of orange, pink, yellow, and gray in both the print and the stripe.
Here are two more mock-blocks made from the "Sunny" colorway of "Promenade." In this instance, I auditioned different KFC prints with the same four skinny triangles. That's the beauty of mock-blocks: once you glue down the pieces that don't change from block to block, you can audition different corner fabrics on the same "master block." In this example, I love the "Paint Pots" print. But there's a lot going on here.
For the actual quilt, I'm going with the combo below. Through auditioning, I quickly realized that when the skinny triangles are bold and simple, the corner fabric can be ditzy (small and busy) without overpowering the block. Also, the skinny triangles advance because the colors are more intense than the corner print (an oldie but goodie, for sure).
More blocks coming soon—you should see my messy studio—hopefully in the form of a quilt top.
And Now, a Solution to a "Dot Problem"

When making mock-blocks like these, I don't mind if the dots get "chopped" by what would be diagonal seams. They are, after all, quick fabric sketches. However, for a "real quilt," it's well worth the time it takes to keep the dots out of those seams. (I don't worry about the dots on the side edges—we can't have everything, right?)

For sewn units, I found a way to preserve the dots using Thangles:

Cut a fabric strip somewhat wider and longer than specified in the Thangles directions. You'll need to figure out how much wider and longer, depending on the size and spacing of the dots. With these dots, I needed to cut the strip approximately one-half inch more all around. (Note that the fabric strip is wrong side up here.)

Reminder: Work with the Thangles papers to determine how wide and long your fabric strips must be before you cut them!
Next, cut a Thangles strip apart on the horizontal line. Find two rows of diagonal dots on the fabric that will allow you to pin the Thangles papers separately, with their diagonal cutting lines directly over the diagonal dots. (I marked two diagonal lines on the fabric for clarity.)
Note: In the next step, you'll also need a same-size strip of the print fabric underneath the dot fabric, rights sides together.

Pin the Thangles papers to the layered fabrics, aligning the lines precisely. Proceed to sew on the dashed lines, then cut the units apart on the solid diagonal lines and trim the outer edges.
When you open and press the resulting units, the "chopped" dots will be in the seam allowances, and the dots near the seam will be whole, for a clean, crisp look. Here's a unit from another block:
One More Thing . . .
I'm mulling over a big-commitment project: creating an online color class , which would include the three main color concepts and the color wheel, along with special effects like transparency, luminosity, and luster. My objective? To show you how to apply classic color-theory principles (which can be scary :-) to make quilts you love. You can do color—it's more about practice than talent! Stay tuned.
You'll find "Best Friends" in my Store as a printed pattern. It's also available in my Etsy shop (badge below) as a downloadable PDF pattern, along with five other patterns.

If you don't already follow me on Instagram, I invite you to come along. I post new work there more frequently than I produce this newsletter. Never enough hours . . .

As always, thanks for looking and reading. For maximum health and happiness, hang out with your fabric and stay glued to your sewing machine!
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Christine Barnes
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