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Pulling fabric for Big Wheels block 10.

Pulling fabric for Big Wheels block 10. My “color strategy” was to make the circles gold and the background green.

I have to admit I’m one of those people who doesn’t ordinarily struggle with color.

I usually pick colors or fabrics based on what I feel like working with. And, up until recently, I didn’t limit my palette… all colors and fabrics in my stash were fair game.

A couple of years ago, my Guild had a challenge to use fabric based on the color of crayon you drew and either black or white.

Since then, I’ve been picking three or four colors that “make an overall impression” to use in my quilts.  This, of course, doesn’t mean only 3 or 4 fabrics

I think limiting my palette works especially well in “album-style” quilts were all of the blocks are different design.  (I find it a bit too confining, and, dare I say, boring, when making a quilt where all the blocks are the same design.)

Big Wheels Block 8 is based on a Double Wedding Ring, but based on the "Improved 9 Patch" by Nancy Cabot Lodge

Big Wheels Block 8 is based on a Double Wedding Ring, but based on the “Improved 9 Patch” by Nancy Cabot Lodge


These days I’m working in blue/grey/gold/white (Grandmother’s Choice) and green/gold/beige (Big Wheels.)

I chose the colors for Big Wheels because I started it February and wanted green around me.

February in New England is kind of dreary which is why I chose a light background (also because I found a really nice piece of yardage in my closet that I thought would work well.

I had used up most of my yellows and golds on The Quilt That Shall Remain Nameless, so the yellows and golds I bought to replace them were just begging to be used in something…

Big Wheels block 10 is based on a New York Beauty block.

Big Wheels block 10 is based on a New York Beauty block.

And that’s how I chose the colors!  How vague and general? How arbitrary, right?

But, having that palette makes it easy to pull fabrics for a particular block.

After I draft the block, I color it. (I don’t always do this, since the colors of my pencils are limited, but my fabrics are much less so.) What I am doing with the color pencils is coming up with an overall strategy for the block.

In the case of Block 10 of Big Wheels, I wanted the outside triangles to be green and gold. I worked outside in pulling fabrics to keep the points and adjacent pieces contrasted enough to see the pattern.  The center yellow is the same fabric as the outside yellow, pulling it all together.

Ed likes green, but he thinks I have enough now...

Ed likes green, but he thinks I have enough now…

Of course, how I work with color is mostly based on my stash (which is not as extensive as some) and what is in my stash is based on how I buy fabric.

In as few words as possible, I buy fabric based on what I like. This is not to say that there are not ugly fabrics in my stash, but, to me, they are interesting ugly fabrics (and usually end up being the most useful.)

I also “review” my stash periodically for “balance.” If I see that my “oranges” are low and the ones that are there are reddish-orange, when I go shopping, I’ll concentrate on buying  oranges that sit more towards yellow on the spectrum.


Note for the March-A-Long: I spent most of my last week drafting blocks, although I did complete the two Big Wheels block down, and another one from Grandmother’s Choice.

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