Colour Post: The Glowing Effect

Starry Night — one of the world’s most well-known paintings — has been subsumed into the image bank of my mind and probably influenced the design of my hoop quilt design, Canned Pineapples. In this post, we’ll talk about how to choose colours to achieve this effect.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night, by legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh, has inspired countless artists after him, such as musician Don McLean who wrote the song “Starry, Starry Night”. Besides the dynamic brush strokes that are Van Gogh’s signature technique, the emanating light around each star and the moon give the painting its mood.

Photo by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The 2019 Quilter’s Planner

The design was inspired by a summer’s night camping in upstate New York with my friends (amongst them my future husband — read the full story here). Fireflies — or lightning bugs, depending where you’re from — danced in the woods, glowing like I had never seen before. The quilt design takes a traditional pineapple quilt block and randomizes the colours of the radiating pieces a bit. The effect are glowing fireflies.

Pineapple quilt block, tiny sewing

Each pineapple block uses six colours to make the glow. All you really need is some scraps in the right colours. How do we choose the “right” colours?

Note that the colour code from the pattern is in parentheses below.

Because the pieces of the pineapple block are very small (approximately 1/4″ width), solid fabrics will show this effect best. Small-scale prints can also work well. The exception is the background fabric (N) — go as crazy as you want with that! 

Pineapple quilt block

Fireflies: Choose the colour of your firefly (YL). For simplicity, white works best. Yellow is a step up in difficulty, but you can use the colours in the pattern as a guide.

Background: Choose your background fabric (N). This can be a night colour like navy, a print with dots in your firefly colour or something that looks like a natural surrounding.

A navy, a Cotton + Steel sprinkle print, or a bold print like Anna Maria Horner’s “Imposter” from her Passionflower Collection (above).

In-between colours: Next, you will choose the four “in-between” colours (YM, YD, G, B). You will want to “bridge” your firefly colour to your background.

The simplest is using a white firefly. Find fabrics that form a tone gradient from white to the general colour of your background. Here, my background fabric is a blue-grey. I used a combination of solid scraps and a chopped up ombre similar to the blue-grey of my background. Use the swatch chart provided to keep track of your colour selection.

Fabric color selection, Canned Pineapples hoop quilt pattern
Bridging the white of the fireflies (lightest at left) to the blue-grey background.

If you’re using a yellow firefly, you will want to refer to the colour wheel. Identify your yellow and your general background colour and build a loose “bridge” between them.

CMY color wheel

This colour wheel comes as a free download if you’re a subscriber of my newsletter! Sign up here:

That’s it! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

X Sew-along: Week 1

Welcome to the Everyone’s Got An X Sew-along! We are gonna have a blast! Be sure to tag all your posts with #EveryonesGotAnX (either on Instagram or Facebook, or both!) – as this is how I will be selecting the weekly prize winners.

Aren’t signed up for the sew-along emails? Get all the updates here:

Photo by Deborah Wong.

Our normal week will run Monday to Monday – I’ll send you an email Monday morning to get you started on the week’s task. You can send me questions at any point in the week and I’ll have a Q&A video every Tuesday in our Facebook group. Feel free to post questions in the group as well and show us your progress! (If you’re not on Facebook, I’ll be posting the videos in a private YouTube and send you those links in the weekly email.)

This kick-off week is a bit extended to maximize your time to ponder and gather your materials. You’ll have a week plus a bit get your fabric ready.

Last month in Nashville, I visited Anna-Maria Horner’s brick-and-mortar shop, Craft South. I picked up the “Spinster” (seriously, that’s what it’s called) print from her latest fabric collection with Free Spirit Fabrics, entitled Tambourine. I’m trying to get in the habit of picking my backing fabric first, so that it doesn’t become an after-thought and really integrates into the design well.

I had already done a digital mockup of the quilt, so this was the perfect backing. A Pinterest search for colour palettes inspired me. Then I used and the PreQuilt web app to digitally colour my selection and see if it all worked. Read all about the my process here and give it a try!

I picked my solid fabrics for my X with the backing in mind. I went to my local independent fabric store and found what was closest to my mockup. Top to bottom: Kona Ice Peach, Kona Rose, Kona Plum, Free Spirit Solids Vino.

Have a question? Let me know and I’ll answer it on Tuesday!


On Monday, March 25, 2019, I will draw a name from the #EveryonesGotAnX hashtag, so don’t forget to tag all your progress posts with #EveryonesGotAnX (either on Instagram or Facebook, or both!). Make sure your account settings are set to “public” so that I can see them.

This week’s prize is sponsored by Bijou Lovely. A beautiful brick-and-mortar shop and workshop space located in Iron Mountain, MI, Bijou Lovely’s online shop is a delightful experience as well. Up for grabs is a $50 Bijou Lovely gift card! (I got some Rifle Paper fabrics and an enamel pin from there!). Thank you, Bijou Lovely

Colour Post: Transparency x Digital Tools

Digital tools are a great testing ground for quilt designs before you purchase or cut into any fabric. This post shows you how to use and PreQuilt to help you mentally mix colours. In Everyone’s Got an Xhow translucent coloured stripes will look like on top of your bar and background. If you are looking to accomplish a simpler — but equally stunning colour design — that uses translucent white stripes, check out this post.

The pattern uses four fabrics to achieve the look of translucent stripes over a coloured bar on a background. When we consider using coloured stripes, we are introducing an invisible 5th colour — just as we don’t use any white fabric to represent translucent white stripes.

From Emily Peterson Studio.

To start we choose three colours: A background, a bar and a translucent overlay, which I am calling Colour Z. Using the above palette as inspiration, here are my picks for the exercise. I made up the colour names; they do not correspond with any fabric lines — they are simply for my reference.

I recommend using Design, or Emily Peterson Studio as a sources of colour palette inspiration. The hexadecimal colour codes are right there for you to use. You can also find lots of inspiration on Pinterest – here’s my colour inspiration board. At the bottom of this post, I’ll give you some general tips on how to choose these three initial colours for pleasing results.

We can always estimate what “looks right” in terms of colour mixing – what that bright pink will look like on the turquoise background. But some of us don’t have the sharpest colour intuition. And those of us who do have good colour intuition will be surprised by the technically “true” answers to our colour mixing questions. Using, we are going to use two equations to find out what Fabrics B and D will look like:

  • Fabric A (Background) + Colour Z = Fabric B
  • Fabric C (Bar) + Colour Z = Fabric D

Head on over to Enter the Background hex code + your Colour Z hex code. The tool will then spit out your mixed colour in hex code!

The result of mixing my turquoise background with the bright pink is a lavender. This will be the colour of Fabric B. I recommend you take a screenshot of the swatch so you have a visual reference. On a PC you will want to paste this in a Word document; on a Mac, you will save each of these images somewhere safe in your files.

Repeat the equation, this time with the Fabric C (Bar) hex code and the Colour Z hex code. This will be the colour of Fabric D. Again, take a screenshot for future reference.

The pure Colour Z on the left. Translucent Colour Z on top of the background/bar.

Digitally coloring in the X

After you have your four colour swatches (excluding invisible Colour Z), you can head to PreQuilt to see how these four colours (now without your initial invisible colour) look in the Everyone’s Got an X design! Here’s a video to walk you through how to digital colour your design by approximating fabric colours with your hex colours.

  • Click on “Design Now”
  • Hit the “Colour Book” tab
  • Hit the “Open Colour Tags” button
  • Select your preferred solids manufacturer under “Fabric Companies”
  • Select “A” which indicates Fabric A/Background and edit it by replacing the swatch with one that’s closest to your hex code colour
  • Repeat with the Fabrics B through D
  • See how it looks!

Tips on choosing your initial colours

  • Using analogous colours — which are colours adjacent to each other on the colour wheel — will always give you a harmonious look.
  • Using a medium to light Background and Bar colour will allow your invisible colour to show through with more clarity.
  • Using a darker Background will give your invisible colour a muted look. Here, a very pure red shows up a muddy colour on a dark background, in contrast to its effect on the yellow bar.

Using these tools, I got some really interesting results that I would not have come up had I just relied on my own colour sense! Have fun with it!

P.S. Some other colour/solid fabric tools to check out are Anne Sullivan’s Palette Builder (Moda Bella Solids) and Steph Skardal’s Digital Swatchy Tool.

Colour Post: X, Transparency & Space

Everyone’s Got an X features transparency, with translucent “white” stripes overlaid on a coloured bar on a darker background. First up, a couple of definitions and then we’ll get to how we can achieve this effect in our own versions!

  • Transparent: allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.
  • Translucent: allowing light, but not detailed shapes, to pass through; semitransparent.

Translucency is a degree: 100% translucent is transparent. Any degree of translucency is semi-transparent (not fully transparent).

Everyone’s Got An X is composed of three layers:

  1. A background layer (Fabric A)
  2. An opaque coloured bar crossing from left to right/top to bottom (Fabric C)
  3. Four translucent white stripes crossing on top of the other two layers (Fabrics B and D)

This effect is achieved with just four different fabrics! The first version used a dark grey background layer (A) and a pink bar (C). The transparent white stripes are, in fact, not at all white! They are made with a lighter grey (B) and a pale pink (D).

Photo by Emma Poliquin.

The same reasoning was applied to this earthen tone version above. You may be able to see that the “white” stripes are a bit stronger —meaning they are more opaque and less transparent. This means that they are quite pale in tone, with a starker contrast from the colours “behind” them.

Pieced, quilted and bound by Anja Clyke. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

How about using prints? Here’s how I approached the fabric selection for the baby version above:

  • I determined the background fabric first.
  • Secondly, I picked a print from the same collection that contrasts the background. It reads as a blender (or “near-solid”).
  • Lastly, I picked solids for the stripes — one that looked white stripes obscuring the background and bar. 
Pieced and bound by Brenda Harvey. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

This green one — it looks straightforward enough, right? A monochromatic version. But look closely here: What is going on with the layers? If you think about it as we have with the other examples — background, then bar and then stripes — it doesn’t work. However reordering the layers makes the colours make sense: The base layer is the dark teal, then the transparent white stripes are placed on top of that and lastly a translucent green bar lays on the very top. Josef Albers book Interaction of Color talks about this as “space” — even though we are only working in two dimensions.

From Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color.

Playing with the dominance of one colour over the other, the blue looks like it’s on the top layer (top image) vs under the green (bottom image).
From Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color.

In the next post, I tackle coloured stripes in lieu of white stripes using digital tools to mock them up!

PreQuilt x 3rd Story

In the fall, I had the privilege of meeting up with Laura Henneberry in Toronto. Laura is half the mastermind behind PreQuilt, a web-based app that lets you pre-colour a quilt to test out ideas before you start cutting into fabric. The other half is her husband Gar Liu, who is the web developer. Together they developed this tool for quilters to be able to visualize their quilts without expensive software.

You can create a quilt from scratch using a library of blocks or use existing designer patterns and re-color them. I am so pleased that my design, Banner Year, is available for “pre-quilting’!

Abby Glassenburg of While She Naps wrote a piece about PreQuilt when they launched in the summer: “For designers, offering a pattern on the PreQuilt app gives their customers an obvious value-add – the ability to easily see how the finished quilt will look made in an infinite array of different colors. It’s often challenging for customers to visualize how a pattern will look in colors other than those pictured on the cover photo, but PreQuilt makes it easy and fun.”

PreQuilt offers solid colour palettes from major fabric manufacturers like American Made Brand, Kona, RJR, Michael Miller, Moda, Riley Blake,  AGF, and Free Spirit. Choose your favourite or explore a manufacturer that’s new to you — or mix it up! As a web-based app, you don’t have to download anything — you can simply play around on the site and save an image of your quilt design when you are happy with it. Here’s a clip of how I played with it:

Patterns are currently available from designers such as Laura Henneberry herself (Commonwealth Quilts), Rebecca Burnett, Rachel Hauser (Stitched in Color) and Krista Hennebury (Poppyprint) — with more designer collaborations coming soon. When you purchase the pattern through the PreQuilt shop, we share the proceeds. Give it a go and have fun!

Laura and Gar’s quilt design Vocal as it appears in the PreQuilt app

Our Song, in Kaleidoscope by Alison Glass

Earlier this year, designer Alison Glass released her line of shot cotton solids, Kaleidoscope. I had the privilege of exploring these saturated colours in a second version of Our Song, Your ReflectionThe result was a blazing sunset on a contrasting cool colour palette for the water. This quilt is all about texture, texture, and more texture.

Listen to Meaghan Smith’s song that goes with this quilt.

Quilted by Sheri Lund of Violet Quilts. Photograph by Quilt Photography Co.

The Our Song, Your Reflection pattern releases October 11, 2018. Be the first to know about its release by signing up for the newsletter!

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Everyone’s Got an X

Last year, I had a few people around me see the end of their marriages. The sadness hit me pretty hard as I put myself in their shoes. Life as you imagined it is no longer. It’s a time of grief; it’s the loss of what you dreamt of. During those difficult times, there is a need for comfort in grief and a need to create a new home for a new start.

Quilts are often gifted to mark an occasion – a wedding, the arrival of a new baby. These are times of celebration and joy. The Double Wedding Ring quilt functions as a symbol of two lives intertwining. Pen and Paper Patterns’ Vegas Wedding quilt is a fun and quicker take on the traditional design. The Free-Wheeling Single Girl pattern by Denyse Schmidt is a great modern spin on the design and celebrates singleness rather than marriage.

When it comes to divorce, we think of things falling apart. But it is also a new beginning. A rebuilding of a new life. A new place to live, maybe. The design for Everyone’s Got an X came from this new start. Why shouldn’t a new divorcé get a new quilt for a refreshed home decor?

Image courtesy of Quilt Con Magazine, Modern Patchwork

The design is ultra-modern – there is no grid or repeated block. It’s large-scale piecing, mainly in the form of strips. The translucent white stripes ‘overlay’ on the coloured bar to create; in fact, because of their translucency, they are not at all white. Here are the Kona colours that I used:

  • Background: Kona Charcoal
  • Coloured bar: Kona Bellini
  • “White” stripes: Kona Pearl Pink, Kona Iron

This design, Everyone’s Got an X, is fitting for other life events, too — such as the arrival of a baby (everyone’s got an X chromosome), a tenth birthday or a tenth anniversary (Roman numeral for “ten”). The binding on the quilt adds serifs to the “X” on the quilt, an optional finishing touch.

This quilt will always be nicknamed “the divorce quilt” and it will always bring me back to this place of empathy and contemplation.

Everyone’s Got an X appeared as a pattern in the 2018 Quilt Con Magazine by Modern Patchwork.

Banner Year: Colour Considerations

Banner Year is the first 3rd Story Workshop pattern that is traditionally pieced, and not paper pieced! This is a beginner-friendly pattern that comes together quickly and fits a nursery, pre-teen or teen’s room or a living room depending on the colour palette you choose. The pattern comes with instruction with a “spectrum” colour option and a “scrappy” option. The spectrum is a rainbow with rows in different hues, as shown below.


Quilt by Adrienne Klenck of Seam Work.

Here are some other colour options to consider:

First up is a staggered rainbow. It takes all the same fabric selection and block construction as the original “spectrum” option and rearranges the colours for a diagonal colour arrangement. It’s just as orderly but gives is a different sort of pizzazz. Here it’s shown in with neutral backgrounds to let the happy colours shine in all their glory.

For the lap size (shown at left): Take one banner from each colour grouping for each row, starting with the following colours:

  • Row 1: Pink
  • Rows 2 & 3: Yellow
  • Rows 4 & 5: Teal
  • Rows 6 & 7: Purple

For the twin size (shown at right): Take five (5) pairs of banners from each colour grouping for each row. Each row will start with a different colour, as in the original pattern.

Above, we have some monochromatic schemes with dark backgrounds. The blue lap sized pictured at left has all banners in each row using the same fabrics for the banners. The dark green to the left has is more randomized. It could be a scrappy selection of fabrics all in the same hue/colour.

Here, we see a neutral and monochromatic colour scheme to the left. Each banner is constructed with the same fabrics all the way through. To the right, we see a monochromatic and scrappy selection with a neutral background. Here’s what that could looks like in a finished quilt:

Is there a sports fan in your life? There is certainly a couple that live in my house. Using a complementary background colour with a monochromatic set of banners makes them look like pennants.

You can see how Banner Year could be really sophisticated or fitting for a fun kid’s room. It represent different things depending on your fabric selections. Play around with some fabrics from your stash and have fun with it!

Banner Year in V & Co. Ombre Confetti. The instructions for this baby quilt in these fabrics is included in the pattern as a special insert.

A Hamilton Bundle for the Design Star Challenge

Round 3 of the Stash Fabrics Design Star Challenge is on, and I picked a relatively personal subject this time. Beth at Stash Fabrics gave us the prompt of “Man Quilt.” What immediately came to mind was plaid, navy, forest green, taupe and brown. Totally legitimate choices, but not my style. She went on to explain, “Curate a bundle for the man in your life – brother, father, husband.” I don’t get overly personal here at 3rd Story Workshop, but when the prompt asks you to think about a significant person in your life, it gets personal!

My husband is not one to have strong likes or dislikes. He’s not loud. He’s quiet and unassuming. But one thing that he is very passionate about is… Hamilton, An American Musical. He knows all of the words — all 20,520 of them. He has a Hamilton quote for every situation. He has listened to it every second he is in the car without the kids for the last two-and-a-half years (explicit lyrics!). We had the privilege of going to see it this past summer at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. It was a mind-blowing experience — as a friend described, “Exactly what art should be.” The costumes, the emotions, the innovation, the limits that were pushed in terms of casting, convention, staging and choreography… It was so much more than I could have imagined having listened to the soundtrack.

This bundle is inspired by the themes, songs and characters of the story. Some of the elements include writing with a quill and ink, New York City, graffiti, cobbletones, The Schuyler Sisters, battles, guns and ships, and It’s Quiet Uptown. I would make a quilt for him with these fabrics in a heartbeat.

Here’s the “set list” (L to R, top to bottom):

I really wanted to make the colour palette have personal significance as well. Our home is fairly neutral, above is a shot of our bedroom which was featured in The Coast’s 2017 Homes Halifax publication. Black, white, texture, wood. I searched for fabrics that could interpret the themes in a colour palette that would suit our home. The Stash Fabrics “Design Wall” tool is very useful in helping you visualize a bundle together, but weights them all equally in dimension. I would probably use the brighter colours in smaller quantities in proportion to the black and white.

My work is intentionally separate from most other parts of my life. Through this exercise, I was able to connect my quilting to my husband, who is outside this quilting world.

Modern Marks Blog Hop + Giveaway

[GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED} Christa Watson‘s debut fabric collection with Benartex, Modern Marks, is filled with saturated colours. These fabrics are useful for a bold punch of hues wherever needed. The abstract markings are also in strong colours, making for some great colour combinations!

For the the Modern Marks blog hop, I chose a limited palette, as is my way of doing things. I was excited to use all the values of blue. I scaled up one of my new Dancing Narwhal patterns by 150% to 24″ square to let those prints tell their story. The “solids” are from Benartex’s Color Weave collection, which read like a solid with a bit of texture.

I decided to change Dancing Narwhals #2 a little bit to animate the background — the narwhal jumps out of some icy arctic waters. This will become a baby quilt down the road… (The road that leads well into 2018, that is!)

Modern Marks screams fun – think of all the rainbows and confetti you could make with these! In fact, there are a couple of colour-bright patterns that you can download for free, Rainbow Taffy and On Your Mark. I like that the assortment of 28 prints really spans the spectrum so that you can treat them like a painter’s palette.

Along with being a fabric designer, Christa is also a fabulous teacher. She is an expert in domestic machine quilting and she wants you to be, too. I learned a ton from her Craftsy class, “A Quilter’s Path”.

{Giveaway CLOSED}

Enter for a chance to win a bundle of 8-10 Modern Marks fabrics by leaving a comment on the blog post. The giveaway is open through Monday, December 4th, at 11:59 PM Eastern. Giveaway is limited to U.S. residents (sorry, compatriots!). Because of the size of the giveaway — 11 bundles! — Benartex is limiting it to U.S. only to keep shipping costs down. I will notify the selected winner and they will have 48 hours to reply with their shipping address. Good luck!

Visit all the stops on the Modern Marks blog hop!
Hollyanne @String & Story
Hilary @Aurifil
Andrea @3rd Story Workshop <– You are here!
Stephanie @Modern Sewciety