Thursday, January 10, 2019

Value Study in Fabric

This project was just an experiment to see how this idea would pan out. With all the books I've read on Color Theory, I was thinking a lot about how to create different values in solid colored fabrics without having to hand-dye different color lots to get the desired effect.

One night when I wasn't sleeping (and thinking about color, fabric, and quilting - doesn't everybody?) I had the idea to try an overlay of near-transparent fabrics on top of solid colors to create the look of tints and shades of value with one solid colored hue.


So this is the project I worked on the whole weekend of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild fall retreat last October. I love retreats for concentrating on one project, there's no real reason to stop sewing if you don't want to!

I selected a fine netting from the special occasion/bridal section at the fabric store (after spending an entire afternoon looking at different transparent fabrics). Some of the fine tulle netting had a sparkle finish, some was super-shiny, but this kind had a matt finish which seemed like it would blend well with solid colored woven cottons.


In the photo above you can see the layers of the tulle in black and white on top of the same color blue cotton fabric. From farther away, the white and black blend with the solid color to create the illusion of a tint and different shades of the same hue.


After a full day of doing nothing but experimenting with bits and pieces on this technique, I discovered that basting the netting to the cotton worked best to kind of hold it all in place while stitching together the patchwork.


I think it took another day or so to complete all the basic squares in the design, which I organized in a kind of 12 step color wheel in the photo above. I used the CMY color wheel as my inspiration, and matched the 12 colors on the outside of the square to the CMY color wheel. The four squares inside are all achromatic, from white to black and a few grays. Which kind of makes this a CMYK min-quilt!


Here's what it looked like after stitching all the squares together.


The top REALLY pops with color and value, better than I imagined.

Part of this experiment was to see how the netting worked in the process of patchwork and quilting. It is a fragile material, will tear easily if you catch it on anything, and is difficult to press. I put a few small holes in (not that you can really see them) just from working with this piece. Some holes were from not being super-careful when moving the piece under the sewing machine needle, one was from thread snips, and one little hole was from a seam ripper.


At first I just stitched in the ditch, but it was clearly not enough quilting. The layers of netting created bumps and funky shadows over all the pieces. This is where I had to rip out the facing and add more quilting to each of the squares - it's just 1/2" quilting echoing each hue in the piece.


I wasn't sure if the netting would be shifty or slippery and puckery when quilted, but it actually did pretty well! And looked much better after adding the extra quilting.

The only downside was that I lost a bit of  area along the entire outside edge because it got a bit frayed and funky after I ripped off the old facing, and I can tell the outside edge isn't as nice and straight as it was at first.


But, since this was purely an experiment, it's all good! It looks great on my design wall, and I'm looking forward to trying this technique out again in the future. But first, there's 3 other in-progress pieces that need my attention!


Erika Mulvenna
Value Study, 2018
Cotton woven fabric, nylon tulle, cotton quilt batting, polyester and monofilament thread.
22 1/2" x 22 1/2"

1 comment:

Clipping Path said...

Nice post. I really enjoy reading it. Very instructive, keep on writing.Thanks for sharing.