C is for Contrast is the second chapter in my book Scrap Quilt Secrets. For the first post on sharing secrets go here and the second post go here.
Most quilters do not have an art background, or a degree in design, and most quilters (when asked) will say that they are not creative. That makes me so sad. I really (more than anything else) want to give quilters the tools to help them recognize that they are creative.
So when I'm teaching and I start using terms like "Contrast" I see some folks start to fidget, others get a little worried look on their faces and some just completely zone out. That's why I think contrast is a great place to start when talking about quilt design. Because contrast is easy!
Contrast is simply how light or how dark something is. Contrast is light vs. dark! Everyone gets that. Everyone can look at two fabrics and decide which one is lighter and which one is darker. The next step is recognizing that one fabric may be light next to another fabric, but dark when compared to a second fabric. The relationship of light vs. dark is then mastered!
Woohoo! We have the concept of contrast mastered now. While this may seem silly to you, it opens doors for many folks. It totally helps some people see fabrics in a whole new light (pun intended!) so I shared three quilts that all demonstrate a different aspect of contrast in this chapter.
Tipsy Tac Toe has no colors other than white and black. It's the perfect example of light vs. dark. The center of the quilt has very light whites (with little to no black prints on them) and the blacks have little to no white on them. This makes the center of the quilt very high contrast. The lightest lights and darkest darks are next to each other. This makes the patchwork pieces appear to be very defined or very geometric. The border on the other hand, is very low contrast. The white fabrics have lots of black on them and the black fabrics have lots of white print on them. See how it creates a very blendy look? The blocks in the border run together and soften the lines of the patchwork.
Neither high contrast or low contrast is better than the other, it is simply a tool to use to get the look you want. Do you want a crisp geometric design, or do you want a soft blended look? Now you know how to use contrast to create those.
Crazy Daisy is an example of patchwork without any regard for contrast. The fabrics are mostly mediums, some lighter and some darker, but the random placement gives an overall balanced feel. The patchwork really just creates a colorful frame for the flowerbed borders.
Zephyr is fun because the blocks are divided by light and dark. Half the blocks are all light and the other half are all dark. One border is all light with the applique leaves and the other border is all darks. See how the setting of the light blocks and the dark blocks create a design on the overall quilt. If light and dark strips had been included in each block, that overall pattern would not have appeared. So no contrast in the blocks, and high contrast between the blocks creates this look. How fun would this be in all greens and all creams? Same placements, but a very fresh spring like look would result.
I hope that you are thinking about contrast in a new light (another pun, get it?) Contrast is a great tool to use when you are deciding on fabrics and fabric placement. Each quilt has tips and tricks for making the piecing and quilting fun and easy with impressive results. There are also multiple piecing methods offered for triangles as well as applique. Each of these quilts are beginner friendly without looking like beginner designs.
I sincerely hope you enjoy every stitch!