Saturday, October 15, 2011

What's wrong here?

The other day I plotted a new project with a simple 1.5" square patchwork pattern.  I felt wide open on the color scheme, so I poked around in my stash until something stood out at me.

inspiration fabric


This is a print by Michael Miller that I bought earlier this year from Sew Love Fabrics. I adore the cute little shape, which would show off well in small patchwork!  I've used this print before in my Brick House baby quilt with an overall warm color scheme.  See:

easy peesy, but super cute quilting!


But at this time of year I was feeling something that would bring the turquoise into focus, peppered with pops of gray and black.  Cause lately, I can't get enough of black with COLOR.

my fabric mix

Well, I spent a lot of time with my fabrics.  Not surprisingly, they convinced me to pull the other colors in my inspiration fabric.  So, I included prints with mustard yellow, olive green and burnt orange.  And while I love the inspiration fabric, this mix left me feeling utterly "blah".  Totally unconvinced.  As in, hold the phone people - we're not cutting yet!

I slept on it and came back to it next day.  Still nothing.  I've stared and stared and really can't put my finger on what is bugging me about this group of fabrics.  So.... I'd love to know what you think is going wrong with this fabric mix?

Thanks, friends!

65 comments:

  1. I'm wondering if that Anna Maria floral print is the problem. I think the brown in it brings everything else "down".

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  2. I kinda feel like it's that AMH print. I think because everything else has smaller patterns and then you've got this great big floral out of nowhere. Maybe. I don't know--I like the whole stack and I don't think there's anything wrong with it so it's hard to say.

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  3. My first thought was busy, busy, busy. But I have put my thumb on each fabric and shake my head...no not that one...

    But then I remember you said 1.5" and maybe it is the fact that the fabrics are large. Can you cut a few little squares just to see what they look like in perspective?!?!?

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  4. Now that the ladies said it, I agree..the brown does bring it down a bit, but maybe if you concentrated your cutting on the brighter colored portions?

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  5. I would need a zinger...one fabric that's going to pop the colors of others (chartreuse green usually works well), or perhaps you need to create blocks and offset in white to bring out the colors.

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  6. They all look like medium tones to me - even the black and white dot, there is enough white that it reads medium when I squint. More contrast! Maybe even play with bringing in some solids in the darker or lighter ranges of the color?

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  7. I think you don't have enough contrast. I would also bet that the value of most of these prints is pretty similar and that's why it feels a little ho hum.

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  8. I agree with Adina. I'd take out that brownish loulouthi print and the one to the right of it. The rest I love.

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  9. I agree with Karen -- all these prints are mediums, the "mush" together if you look at them from a distance.

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  10. You've got a really interesting mix of fabrics there Rachel... but for me it'd the prints that aren't working together. That Michael Miller is one of my all time faves and I love it's simple graphic quality... maybe try a layout with just similar style prints from this wee collection you've laid out. I would take out the florals and text prints and replace them with similar colours but with simpler print patterns...

    I hope this helps a wee bit, even if it just sends you off on a completely different tangent of inspiration... !?

    Have a wonderful weekend my dear,
    Emma, x

    ps ~ I'm thrilled you like my tweedy stitches... I can't put this project down today!

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  11. I agree with Emma Lamb: the big flowers and text out, more graphic prints in. En certainly that brown one out.
    But just do as you wish, you could surprise us with the result...

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  12. I agree on the lack of contrast. All the colors blend together. With a better range of your color choices, I think it would be much more dynamic. :)

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  13. Yeah, I'm with everyone else. The brown fabric is bringing the energy level down, and I think you need a pop of something. Everything is kinda running together—not enough contrast. Do you have any more of that yellow butterfly fabric from the first quilt (bottom left corner)?

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  14. ok...for me the two gray prints and the large amh brown background aren't working. i also wonder if there are too many dots? i think you might need more contrast in color and shapes.

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  15. I like the selection even the ones that make it look like it doesn't work. I think it's missing a real zinger to simultaneously bring it all together and do a shouty out thing to the whole look.

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  16. I agree with several others that the brown and the black text may be the problem fabrics. Also I think the addition of some white would be helpful. Part of the reason the first fabric works is because of the white background. Or at least I think that accounts for it to some degree.

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  17. I think I would replace the brownish fabric with another red similar to the one with the circles. I would also replace the blue fabric two to the right of the brownish one with a stronger turquoise. The blue in the bottom right also has a larger pattern than most of the others. I would stick with the blue but in a smaller pattern. Other than that, I really like the grouping. There is an overall midtone muted feeling, but you have a couple of lights and a couple of darks (four is you count the reds) that will make this a very cool quilt.

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  18. Yup, count me in with the group saying that the large AMH floral is what I keep coming back to and feeling like it's out of place. I'd ditch it and see how you feel about the palette then.

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  19. There's a lot of medium values going on in there...and they all kind of lose each other because they are all busy prints. Perhaps a spot or two of something kapow in colour that has very little print (maybe a tone on tone or a solid) Pretty much what everyone else is saying...and yes, the AMH print muddies it up too.

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  20. It's all on the same semi muted playing field. You don't have any depth to it - highs and lows in your color palette. While, yes it all does go together, it just lies flat. You need to add some punches of vibrant shades or deep jewel tones give it a bit of weight.

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  21. All fab except second row down third from left. Take that out and then take the pic again. That's my prognosis!

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  22. The first thing that popped in my head was the value was too similar in a lot of the fabrics. What if you replaced a few of the medium value prints with some that had higher contrast and pops of red.

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  23. I agree with lots of the posters above - I think the values are all fairly close so you need more contrast. Have you tried looking at it in black & white? That is sometimes helpful to veto one or two selections. I do like the original color palette!

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  24. A flat palette. Nothing really pops or enhances the colors in any print, they all sort of blend into the next.

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  25. Hey Rachel, don't shoot the messenger...but I think you need to take out the whole left column of fabrics, the grey floral and the AMH large floral. Then look at those. I think you'll have some more saturated colors left and lights and darks, plus a mix of patterns.

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  26. the overall seems a bit too busy - especially if you were looking to pop the turquoise in the original fabric. some of those prints are too busy in themselves and there's no good place to let your eye rest.

    i like the metro circles in red, the green herringbone, definitely! the black & white/color prints.

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  27. okay...maybe you can keep the black polka dot too. lol. I'm obsessed.

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  28. I'm no colour expert but my first thought was it's all the same tone fabric. You need a few lighter and a few darker options. That's my 2c worth anyway!

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  29. As Megan said, it's a flat palette. The light blue at the top is the lone bright spot, so I think you need something else to bring the energy level up. The red and yellow on either side of the light blue help. I think the AMH brings it down.

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  30. LOL I rather like them as they are. I think a 1.5" shot of each fabric will break them down even further and allow each to sing. The AMH will break down to blues oranges pinks and browns which to me would tone in well with your other picks, but if you can I recommend chopping a few and playing to see how you feel about them on a small scale.

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  31. I think its too grey/blue-ish, if that makes any sense! And if it were me, I'd see if some solids in there would make a difference - there's lots of teeny tiny stuff going on. But I'm no expert....

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  32. FWIW, I agree with the people who say it is too muted. The only real punch is the red with white circles in the bottom row.

    But then, combining this many prints is not my strong suit :)

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  33. The first thought I had was that the AMH print was not working. Turns out, I'm not the only one. Then, the blue print two over from the AMH print is not working for me either, Maybe the checked portion, but not the rest. Also, I agree, the text print does not work as well as I'd like it to.

    Of course, I do not have your color style and I blunder on color more than get it right. So, take my advice with a large grain of salt

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  34. EeeGads, that last comment was not my son, it was Me. So sorry, that is the plight of sharing a computer with a pre-teen!

    Anyway, I did have one more thought. The fabrics you have chosen seem to fight against one another in context. What do I mean? Some look sweet and old fashioned and some look modern. It's hard to figure out how it will all come together. But, that's me talking again. I tend toward matchy matchy things and have trouble veering from a specific line.

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  35. I think there's too little contrast in value. It might need more dark, deep colors to offset the others, and maybe add something brighter in for a pop. And maybe get rid of the two really light/whitish fabrics? Those seem somehow out of place here. And I'm in the minority, I think :) but I disagree about the AMH print - I think it works. If you want the turquoise colors to pop, orangey hues are a good way to go, and the colors in that print work for me. Or... what do you think about getting rid of the yellows? It's good as an accent here but might be too much as is...

    Well, this has been kind of rambling, but those are my thoughts. :)

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  36. I'm not a color theory expert, but here's my two cents' worth: The focus fabric has only a hint of black, and a lot of white. I'd try for more lights or brights and a little less black. (I may be in the minority, but I love the Anna Maria Horner print. I'd leave it in the mix.)

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  37. I'm not a color theory expert, but here's my two cents' worth: The focus fabric has only a hint of black, and a lot of white. I'd try for more lights or brights and a little less black. (I may be in the minority, but I love the Anna Maria Horner print. I'd leave it in the mix.)

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  38. Values are too similar - they pretty much 'read' the same.

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  39. In my opinion, you can do a lot of busy prints if the colors are more similar, or do a lot of different colors if your prints aren't too busy and competing with each other. It seems like you've got too many different colors and too many busy/competing prints.

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  40. How about using some solids? You could keep what you have there and just add some solids, in the colors in your inspiration piece.

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  41. if they are going to be in 1 1/2 in squares the AMH fabric that everyone doesnt like is going to give you some pops of blue and the burnt orange and it wont appear like it does there. It will appear as 3 or 4 different fabrics and all of them work.

    I would actually lose the whitish looking fabrics top left corner and bottom row 2nd from left, they seem to wash it out, and add two more choices with the deep burnt orange to bring the energy up a bit.

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  42. Hey Rach! I just read through all the comments and I actually think this could be beautiful with just a little shifting around -- separating the two polka-dots in the upper left and the word fabrics that are next to each other on the bottom right? Maybe add it another metro circles print in a grey tone somewhere if you have one? To me, it feels warm and I like the idea of these red, blues, and yellows with the grey and black. :)

    Are you adding solids or sashing?

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  43. I would get rid of the brown and pop some narrow strips of white or light grey in it....yeah, that's what I'd do. :)

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  44. I would probably use more of the blue tones- even some turquoise to bring out the other colors.

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  45. Your values really aren't bad (I copied the picture into a photo software and changed it to black and white). I would remove the brown floral print and the two at the upper left corner (red dot and bright turquoise). That leaves you with a palette of mostly black/white, mustard, olive and soft aqua, with a single bright red to add zing. The other thing you could play with is scale. You have mostly medium sized prints, with a couple of very small light tone on tones. If you add anything I'd suggested darker tone on tones in a smaller scale. If you're using very small pieces, you don't want to go any bigger in your prints.

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  46. It was interesting reading the comments! Lots of ideas for you, but here's what I'd do. I think this bunch of fabrics is great fun. I'd keep every single print including the AMH big brown roses. I just the love that big floral in there with all the other slightly smaller prints. The only thing I'd do is add some solids. Maybe a couple of the warmer browns, reds, and yellows, and some solid black.

    A few solids just gives all these yummy fabrics room to breath! But hey! remember to do what you like and the rest of us will love it whether you followed our advice or not!

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  47. It needs some zing. It's very brown and drab. Some orange maybe or even white might work. Bright green?

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  48. I think it's all too dark, the brown print especially and the dark blue don't go. I'd swap them for some red.

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  49. Too much white in the backgrounds.

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  50. I feel like something with a pop would help. Like one brighter print or a white dominant print.
    But I also agree that several of these are large scale, so at 1.5" they'll read differently.

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  51. I like them, but I'm not sure about that AMH. It is very dark. What if you pulled some more of the orange?

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  52. I go with most others saying AMH is not well fitting here. I recommend for replacing it by another turqouise of a higher luminosity than the other fabrics to get light and contrast and sparkle in the combination

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  53. I thought the brown floral was the ONLY print that was really making me focus on the one you started with. I would look at colors that are brighter than the ones in your start pattern but matching: a brighter green/chartreuse, a brighter turquoise, a brighter red. The problem with matching the scale on the other prints is that this one disappears into the background.

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  54. I agree the brownish LouLouthi print has to go. I don't like the black with white printing on it with this mix either.

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  55. I love the mix of fabrics, I just think it's too much pattern - a few solids in there will give your eye a place to rest.

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  56. I would take out the middle AMH fabric (too brown with all the blacks, IMO). Add a solid or two.

    And I like the black fabric with the words on it, but not with this mix of so many other prints.

    That said, I've loved all of your stuff so I'm sure however you arrange the fabrics will be awesome!

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  57. Looks like a case of "the mediums", not enough contrast. Something I am OFTEN guilty of. :)

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  58. More blue and red and ditch the black, (sorry, I know you've been liking black lately). More contrast needed and your black isn't doing it. (But, what a load of gorgeous fabric you have there).

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  59. It just needs a little more POP. Like the light blue in the top left. If that was more dominant your piece would come to life more. :)

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  60. For me, it needs some solids thrown into the mix to balance all of the 'patterns'. I love patchwork it's my favorite style, but to me all the other 'patterns' are sending the eye all over the place. They grey is brining it down for me. Yes grey is in your inspiration fabric, but maybe let that accent ONLY be in there. Replace the grey and dare I say it even the black fabrics :) with some solids of the blue and even some white and that could improve the balance of color. Hope this helps!

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  61. Yep, I agree with removing the Loulouthi print. It's not quite right with the others, I think! Beautiful fabric mix, though. I'm itching to cut into my Violet Craft fabrics!

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  62. Jsut my two cents:

    Row 2 - 3rd fabric from left - delete

    Row 2 - 5th fabric from left - delete

    Row 3 - 1st (grey & white) & 4th (words) fabric from left - delete.

    I love all the colors - I would rearrange them a bitty bit. Move them around a bit more and Ithink they will work

    Good Luck - can't wait to see your decistion

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  63. i am not sure but maybe some solids would help.

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