Christine's Color Connection
A newsletter for quilters who love color
February 2021
Spring, Almost
I've been on hiatus for the last few months; well, more than a few. But early spring is a time of renewal, and I have a number of new projects rattling around in my brain and on my work table. It's still winter here, but I see and feel the signs of spring. My mother planted primroses this time of year, and I like to carry on the tradition. They come in such vibrant colors, reminding us that color is good for the soul.

This newsletter is about combining prints and solids, something quilters tend to avoid. The original plan was to redo my "Urban Ombrés" quilt in brighter, more modern colors and fabrics. But as you'll see below, I took a slightly different turn. I like to think that when you're on a creative journey, you're never lost.
Mixing Prints and Solids
Here is my original quilt, which first appeared in Modern Patchwork magazine. (The PDF pattern is in my Etsy shop and a hard-copy version in my Store.) The low-intensity colors in the centers of the blocks are rich and moody, and they paired well with the neutral gray ombré. When I taught this quilt as a workshop I was taken by the brighter fabrics some students used, and I tucked that idea into my mind, where it stayed for several years.
What About . . .?
Recently I took a deep dive into my stash of modern fabrics from designer Tula Pink. Who can resist cat-food cans? Or red polka dots on pink???
Here's the first block, per my "Urban Ombrés" pattern directions:
That was fun, but I wanted to swap Tula's violet print for a blue-violet ombré, and the mustardy-green print at the top for a lighter, brighter yellow-green. I like the look of these simple, near-solid fabrics, and they make the block feel more like me.
Then I decided to put a print in the center of each block, surrounded by solid-color fabrics. This stylized bird print is by Brandon Mably. The solids are from different sources.
Below is the finished block, which you may have seen on my Insta and Facebook pages. Notice that the solids don't exactly match the colors in the print. It's next to impossible to do, and that's good—slight differences, such as the darker-value teal and the less-intense red, make the block more interesting.

Tip: When adding the solids around the center, I considered the values of the colors in relation to the values in the gray. In the block below, for example, the dark teal strip might have blended into the darker gray if I had placed it where the yellow-orange strip is. If you make these blocks, strive for good contrast with the gradated grays when you arrange the solid-color strips. To do that, you'll need to cut the four gray strips (from one WOF strip) and audition the solids next to them.
Four more center units waiting to be framed by the gray ombré. The prints are all Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics.
Here are two of the finished blocks. Thank you, Kaffe, for Tiddlywinks!
And thank you, Brandon, for the fish. You guys, along with Philip Jacobs, spoil us rotten!
Prints with small- and large-scale motifs offer opportunities for isolating areas of the design. I cut three different rectangles from this busy Kaffe Fassett print.
I went with the rectangle on the right, but I added the solid strips in the wrong order when I stitched the block, below. (Duh!) I do like the simplicity of the larger motifs; when cut up,
the look is intimate and inviting.
I'll try again with the center piece and solid fabrics shown below. (I changed the green one.) I prefer this orientation, with the pink and orange strips almost blending. The yellow-orange and yellow-green also have a connection; each contains yellow.
I haven't made this block yet, but I'm confident it will be one the nine blocks in the finished quilt. Only four more to go!

I wish you a sense of wonder and renewal as we transition from winter into spring. And (of course!) I hope you begin a new favorite project.
One More Thing . . .
I'm still working on my online color class, which will include basic color concepts, the color wheel, and special effects like transparency, luminosity, and luster. My objective? To show you how to apply classic color principles to make quilts you love. With patience and perseverance, you can do color!
Contact Info
Christine Barnes
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