Monday, April 3, 2017

Modern Quilt Along with Simple Simon and Company – Solids!

April is here, which means it's time for the next stop in Simple Simon and Company's Modern Quilt Along, and this month, it's all about solids!
When Liz and Elizabeth asked me to be part of the quilt along, I jumped at the chance. It's always fun to take a closer look at what makes modern quilts modern, and using solids is one of my favorites. Sure, there are a million great modern prints out there nowadays, but nothing compares to the freedom that comes from using solid fabrics, not to mention the variety of shades and colors you can draw from.
Seriously. Robert Kaufman now offers its Kona solids in 303 colors, Moda's Bella solids come in more than 200 colors, and many of the other big manufacturers offer hundreds of colors in their solid lines as well. You can even get organic solids from Cloud 9 or Birch Fabrics. With so many colors available, there's no limit to the combinations you can make, whether you're going for a rainbow or honing in on a smaller portion of the spectrum.
Solid fabrics can free you from the trouble of having to find just the right print in just the right shade. You don't have to think about direction or scale and can instead just let the color guide you. Solid quilts are bold and impactful, letting the fabrics speak for themselves.

For my Cascade quilt, I worked with a rainbow palette of 32 colors, mixing and matching until I got just the right combination for my full spectrum.
Using solids in my Cut Glass quilt helped to disguise the seam lines and smooth the transitions between the blocks, enhancing the visual impact of the design.
In my Tessellation quilt, I used 25 solids in a more limited color palette of pinks, purples, teals, and blues. This quilt really showcases the range of shades you can find in solids -- 25 shades of just four colors (and, believe me, I could have used a lot more).
Conversely, I scaled back to just three solids in my Fly Away quilt. Here, the simplicity of the design needed to shine, and that impact would have been lost with too many colors or distracting patterns.
When working with solids, it's even more important than with print fabrics to pay attention to the tone of your fabrics. Try to look at your options in a room with good daylight to get the most accurate sense of the hues. Keep like tones with like tones. Colors that have more gray in them will pair best with other colors with a gray tone, for example. And incorporate more tints or shades of a color to show range within a limited color scheme. The hedgehog in the mini quilt below and my Texas Forever quilt after that are good examples of this.
Finally, incorporating small amounts of a print into a mostly solid quilt can be a great way to make both the prints and the solids pop. By using just a few patterned triangles in my Birch Triangle quilt, you see mostly the calmness of the blue and aqua solids, but then your eye occasionally wanders to and settles on one of the patterned fabrics, providing movement and interest without overwhelming the senses.
A few more pro tips for working with solids:
  • Since solids don't have labels on their selvages like print fabrics, when you get a new color, label the manufacturer and color name in the selvage using a Sharpie. It'll save a lot of headache when you try to match it or buy more in the future. Some online shops add sticker labels to their solids, which is so helpful.
  • Keep a list of your favorite solids, especially basics that you use a lot (like your preferred shade of white), for future reference.
  • Try out the solids lines from different manufacturers to find which you like best. Just like printed fabric, solids from different manufacturers can have a different hand and weight, and you may find that some are more or less interchangeable (I often mix Konas and Bellas), while others really work best on their own.
  • The printed fabrics from manufacturers match their solid lines, so if you're trying to pair prints and solids and looking for just the right color, a good starting place is that manufacturer's line of solids. Some manufacturers, like Robert Kaufman, have even started creating bundles of solids that specifically coordinate with their printed collections (for example, here and here).
  • If you find you really like using a certain line of solids, consider investing in a color card, which makes pairing and finding the right colors easier when buying more or sorting through your stash. Consider cutting the card apart so you can move the swatches around more easily when you're putting together a new palette.
This month's theme inspired me to curate this delightfully springy bundle of solids, which I started cutting into for a new project almost immediately. Keep an eye out for the finished piece in a few weeks. I'm excited about this fun quilt!
And if you're looking for more solids inspiration, I recommend checking out these wonderful designers who use solids in inspiring ways in much of their work:
Finally, be sure to head over to the Simple Simon and Company post to link up your favorite solid quilts for a chance to win this month's giveaway! 


  1. OK - really!! -- you should write a book. Your posts are so inspiring.

  2. I love solids. They are such timeless classics.


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