Should I Go Bold Color Quilt Design?
Quilting is a subjective art. That can probably be said about any art. The choice, whether to go bold in color, lies in the creativity of the artist or quilter. Last year, I went to a quilt show and I was amazed at the complexity and color of the quilts. However, there was something else, I noticed. I observed a lot of use of color, granted colors and patterns that were perfectly matched, but sometimes…yes, sometimes, an overuse of color. So much so, that at times, I had trouble distinguishing the actual design or theme of the quilt.
Looking at Antique Quilts
So, I started a journey of looking at some of my old and antique quilts. The ladies who created quilts years ago, used the fabric that was available such as feedsacks and old shirts or clothing. There is something about those old quilts though. They often went together. The colors were not always bold, but the overall design was impacting.
On this antique pink quilt, the small squares are of clothing, fabric that they had on hand, and feed cloth. They are in general, a variety of colors and patterns. The pink is bold. While the quilt is bold and the design is clear, it is not overwhelming to the eye (unless you really hate pink.) One can distinguish the design. The design pattern has been called many names including postage stamp quilt and the Spirit of West Virginia. Although I am not a fan of pink, I like this quilt, because I can see the overall design. I remember as a kid exploring each and every little square on the quilt.
In this next antique hand quilt, the designer used an off white to balance the bold blue colors. Having blue circles was pretty bold against an off white background, but the quilter balanced the design with blue patterns in the flowers giving the quilt a balanced and bold presence. If the quilt had been all blue circles on white, the overall design would not have been very interesting. While serviceable, it would not command the eye to look further into the quilt. In contrast, if the design had been all flowers, again, the eye would not know where to go. By combining the blue circles and flowers with a neutral background, the observer can clearly see and explore this quilt.
When using color and balance of design, remember that being bold with color doesn’t always mean using every bold color you can find. Bold is promoting a clear design that is pleasing to the eye. If you go bold on color, think about balancing the overall design.
I like bold quilts, especially when I can enjoy the design.