Winter Dreaming – Working with gradated fabric

I love working with my multi-colored gradated fabric. I feel like I am working with a watercolors palette. One color blends into the next and gives the appearance of depth and dimension to my work that would otherwise look flat and I think a bit less lively. 

Let me share with you how I often work.

I will start out by designing my quilt.

Here is the original sketch for my pattern called Winter Dreaming.

FA_WinterDIt is a portrait of my kitty.kitty sketch

I caught a quick sketch of her sitting on my bed. But I didn’t want the composition to be on my bed.

She would often sit at my back sliding glass door in the winter and just look outside. If I opened the door to let her out she might venture onto the deck, but if I closed the door and left her out there she would cry at the closed door to get back in. Hence the name “Winter Dreaming”. She dreamed of going outside, just not “stuck” out there.

The background fabric that I choose for this design gradates from Violet all the way down to lime green. Easter Egg is it’s name.

Easter Egg

I feel it is very important when working with design to get clear and visible contrast in your work. So often it is easy to fall into the mucking middle range of colors and not see distinct definition of the design. I strive to use darks and brights together or contrasting colors to create definition in my art pieces.

I used the lower two thirds of this gradation for the border area around my kitty and window. This had some darker blue at the top and a lighter greenish tint at the bottom. I put the darker blue at the bottom of my design and the light green at the top. I often like to “anchor” my compositions with a darker color at the bottom. This allows the eye to move from lighter to darker and from top to bottom.

I used the top 1/4 violet color of the gradation to create the trim around the light blue window that kitty is looking out of. I changed the sliding door to a window because it was an easier subject to portray.

Originally I had made kitty out of a tan and brown fabric because my kitty was a lovely little calico. But when I put that onto the background it just didn’t stand out. Yes I could have changed my background fabric but I liked the color I was working with because it made me think of dreary winter weather. Here in the mid-west January and February are very dark grey months.

SO after some thought and a bit of trial and error of laying different color fabrics against the border fabric I decided to make kitty purple. Most cats think they are royalty anyway and by making kitty purple she became generic – not one particular bred of cat, but representing all  KITTIES as the Royalty that they are!

I wanted the cat to have some variety of color, so I used a gradation of fabric that went from purple to lavender  That gave me the darker purple core kitty and then a lighter outline around her. While she was a calico and not a tiger kitty I didn’t really want big dots all over the design it just didn’t look as nice.

The lighter lavender brighten the composition as well. I also added in brighter foliage on the plant that is growing up the window frame. The leaves are cut from the end section of my rainbow strip fabric.

rainbow gradation

Working from the lime green end to the middle blues and turquoise. It gives a nice bright element over the darker border fabric. Lights and darks always work well together.

To give the composition a little more depth I added the woven rug and lighter planter at the bottom. This creates the scene and also weights the bottom of my composition.

I find I have so many possibilities working this way and so much more movement in my quilts.

3 responses on “Winter Dreaming – Working with gradated fabric

  1. Bonnie

    Thank you so much for your insight. I have drawings of things I would like to make into quilts but then get stuck on making them interesting without being over fussy. I love your cat. We have two cats that have a cat door to let themselves in and out of but they would prefer that we stop whatever we are doing to let them in or out! Especially out…staring hopefully at the door handle…almost willing it to move of its own accord!

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