Posts Tagged ‘contrast’

Make an Impact with Value

Last week we talked about the power of color and what an impact certain combinations make on a finished project. I’ve learned that value is just as important. The value of a color is the amount of white or black that’s been added to its true color. Value is what separates one fabric from another and moves the eye across the quilted surface. The value of one fabric is dependent on the values of the other fabrics in the quilt. A medium blue will appear dark when placed on a pale blue. Conversely, a medium blue will appear very light when placed on a midnight blue. It is the difference in value that makes appliqués pop from their surroundings. Applique fabrics that separate from the base fabric give the most impact. Consider using a value finder – a red or green piece of acrylic that eliminates the color in a fabric. You’ll see only its value.

Remember the popularity of watercolor quilts a few years back? (Okay, so it’s been a decade!) The success of a portraying an image in those types of quilts was dependent on the value of the fabrics. Definition of shapes was attained by the grouping (or separating) of 1” squares of fabric with similar value.

I use that same concept when selecting applique fabrics. In embroidery, I almost always want the applique to separate from the base fabric. I audition applique fabrics on the base fabric and critique the combination. Then I move on to the technical details of some applique fabrics. For instance, dark base fabrics might bleed through lighter applique fabrics. I can still use this combination but I would fuse an interfacing to the wrong side of the applique fabric.

When working with black and white fabrics, such as in New York Beauty, I used value to make contrast. I separated the fabrics into lights and darks and those selected a fabric from each pile to create a typical New York Beauty block. Light fabric goes on one corner and dark on the opposite corner. Working with black and white fabrics really gave me a good understanding of value.

If you take another look at the Lady Liberty quilt block, you’ll notice how not only the color pops, but so does the value. In corners A and C, the points are much darker than the base fabrics. In corners B and D, the converse is true. All of the quarter circles are a much lighter value than the points they are stitched next to. Once I had one block designed (there are actually four blocks in the image), it was fairly easy to follow those rules and select the base and applique fabrics.

You’ve probably noticed that machine embroidery design companies are masters at this technique – getting the applique to really pop off the base fabric. No wonder, they really want you to SEE the applique. Just check out what our friends at Five Star Fonts have been up to.  They select bright and cheery applique fabrics that really let the embroidery be the star.

Do you want to win a gift certificate from Five Star Fonts?  Simply leave a comment telling us if you are on Facebook or not.  All comments will be entered into a drawing for a $100.00 shopping spree at Five Star Fonts!

Last week we asked you what your favorite color combinations were.  The winner of Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique is…Kate Rayburn!

“I like the boldness of complementary color selection so I tend to use that the most often. If I’m trying to go for something more subtle I tend to go with a more monochromatic scheme.”

Congratulations, Kate!

Working with Prints – It’s all about Color and Scale

Combining embroidery with patterned fabric is challenging but here are a few tips for a successful outcome.

• Add a plain fabric as the base for the embroidery.
• Take your color cues from the printed fabric.
• Differentiate the scale of the embroidery

In this tunic, I selected a base fabric (manufacturer unknown) that matches one of the colors in Valorie Wells Free Spirit Jenaveve Linen print. Notice it contrasts in color and value from the background of the print and defines the embroidered area.

Use the colors in the fabric as your guide for selecting threads. I selected a dark, very dark, brown thread that pops off of the medium value plain fabric. That same dark brown thread is also the same shade as the background of the print creating a unified schematic.

Rarely is it a good idea to introduce another color scheme when balancing embroidery with a large scale print. Of course, you want the embroidery to be visible so select threads the same color as the print but of a different value. It’s the contrast between the base fabric and the thread that makes the embroidery visible.

Now select the embroidery design. Make sure its one that coordinates in style with the large print yet contrasts in scale. If the main fabric in the garment is a large print, then stitch a simple, medium-sized, repeating design. Large prints draw the eye across the fabric while the embroidery here frames the face and adds a touch of texture on an otherwise flat surface. Audition different sizes of designs – too small and the embroidery will be completely overpowered by the large scale print. Too large and the embroidery will battle with the large scale print for center stage.

But what about small scale prints? Apply the same principals keeping the focus on the embroidery, not the print. I made this jacket (Indygo Junction Midtown Trench) with Ty Pennington’s Impressions sateen fabric, Kimono, in taupe.

Way too busy of a print to splash embroidery across, I opted for a black collar washed with open, airy embroidery designs.

I selected black for the collar because black is the smallest element in the Kimono print. Next, I used taupe and silver thread to stitch the embroidery. The threads coordinate with the fabric and most certainly separate from the black base letting me achieve my ever present number one goal – let the embroidery be seen! The large designs, built-in on the Brother Quattro, do not fight with the Kimono print, rather they complement it very well.

I enjoyed making both of these garments and learned quite a bit about working with luscious, printed fabrics – both large and small! It’s always good to stretch your creativity and get out of your comfort zone.

So tell me, have you noticed all of the large scale prints in the quilt shops now? Do you love them, or do you prefer more subdued fabrics? Leave a comment and you’ll have a chance to win an Embroidery Tool Kit – my favorite set of tools! Can’t stitch without the Angle Finder and new target rulers! You’ll love it too.

The winner of Stipple Butterflies is…Mary Kvam!

“I just bought a Babylock Embroidery Professional which is totally new to me. My goal is to learn how to use it and to make a small picture to start with to show off to my husband for bragging rights! I just love colorful butterflies and was planning experimenting with different designs.”

Congratulations, Mary!