Fabric Friday Contrast and Compare

52 comments
I have been wanting to post a "do" and a "don't" for fabric for a while now. But it takes guts to show everyone my "worst" quilt. But bad experiences are sometimes the best way to learn. If you read my blog regularly you know my motto is "more is better" in just about everything. But we all know sometimes less is more. So here is my example of fabric "don't". My family kindly refers to this quilt as "mom's clown quilt". It was a good idea and pattern (I still think) gone bad. Can you see why? It is harder to tell in photos. But, in person this quilt really comes at ya way too strongly.I love polka dots. And I've made several quilts using mostly polka dot fabrics or all polka dots in one quilt. And you know that I love yellow and red together. So when I drew up the pattern for this quilt and picked out my fabric I never thought it would end up being just TOO MUCH!
The reason they call it a clown quilt is pretty obvious. The yellow stripes, the carnival/clown yellow with dots paired with the red dots - over the top. When it was finished and I was trying to convince myself it wasn't too bad. I had the quilt laid out looking at it with squinty eyes and my daughter said "Mom! It looks like you killed a clown and then made a quilt from him."
Ugh. Sad but true. I have a hard time even looking at the quilt. It stays upstairs in a spare bedroom in the closet tucked away from sight. I think this is a good example of too much of a good thing in fabric. The centers of the stars should have remained red and that red dot probably should have been just a plain white, or something less busy like a very pale yellow. Some fabrics together do not work out. And a yellow striped border does NOT work. It just screams circus or bumblebee.
So I put away my red and yellow fabric and moved on. Soon after we had a fabric exchange at our Alpine quilt group (several years ago). We exchanged polka dot fabrics and I used the exchange fabrics to make a polka dot quilt using fabric from my friends.
I cut out white squares and hand appliqued circles the size of a cereal bowl onto the blocks and then sewed them together. There are pastels, brights, and jewel tones. And you might think that all those wouldn't work together. But in this case I think it does.
I used the scraps left from the fabrics, along with some of my own dot fabric, to make the patchwork border. All the fabrics in the border are dots too. So even though there are tons and tons of fabrics, colors and scale of dots in this quilt it works because of the balance of white to color and open space to circle. Even the border in squares balances out the shape of all the circles.

I really like how this quilt turned out in contrast to the other dot quilt. In fact, my daughter Chelsey picked this quilt to be her HS graduation quilt 3 years ago. And I can tell it has been well loved and used. The dots just bring you into the quilt and make the pattern pleasing to the eye.

So to contrast and compare the fabric/quilts, the clown quilt really has less going on than the circle quilt. But paired together the clown quilt fabrics do not work.

Sigh. I do love fabric. Don't you?

-nanette
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52 comments

Sherri said...

I love the second polka dot quilt...and yes, sigh...I love fabric!!!

Stephanie said...

Killed the clown...too funny! LOVE the polka dot quilt.

Patricia said...

Love the polka dots and the lesson about fabrics, That is one area I still need to learn about! It's nice to have someone else make the mistakes. lol. Love you tons. Tricia

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Nanette, I COMPLETELY (and humbly) disagree! I LOVE that first quilt -- I might not have put the stripey border on it, but I LOVE the center -- step back a little -- the red and yellow are great together!!! Just you wait...you're going to love it someday too!

And I REALLY Love that circle quilt. I've been wanting to do a circle quilt -- yours is fabulous -- thanks for sharing!!!

Dawn said...

Aah, yes I do! Great object lesson. Love the polka dot quilt too!

Nan said...

That comment about killing the clown is hilarious! I don't know that I'd go that far, but I salute you for showing a quilt you consider to be a "don't". I think it's fun! I agree with Anna - take away the striped border (it's just a tad distracting) and it's adorable! I have always loved red and yellow together. The circle quilt is gorgeous, and made even better by all the love it's been given. Thank you for sharing!

Nan said...

p.s. I LOVE fabric, too!!!!!!!

Kim said...

I'm sure someone would be very happy with your "clown" quilt. I think it's happy and fun just like a clown. I have a few quilts too that aren't what I envisioned in my head so I do understand.

I love the polka dot quilt too. Who wouldn't? It's gorgeous!

Kim said...

I agree with Anna and Nan. You know, You could just cut off the yellow striped border like others have said and I could see myself doing that and then re-do the binding.

Maybe that would make it one of your favorites again.

Annette said...

Your first quilt is so cheerful I bet a child would adore it. I love fabric and colors but it is sometimes a challenge to put them together nicely. I like that challenge. It's fun to see how things turn out and I learn something every time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very helpful.

Colleen said...

I have made fabric mistakes too and am trying to learn to do better. Thank you for the lesson. I have never incorperated white or off white into a quilt. I need to do one sometime. They do turn out pretty. I love your circle quilt.

amber johnson said...

I actually thought the first quilt was pretty cute too! But I love how you compared the two quilts and showed pictures - it helped me to see the pros and cons of each one better. Thanks for sharing!

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Ahhh an excellent lesson that one can only learn by doing. Your “clown quilt” I do like it but I can see how the stripes might have put it over the “big top” where I can see that even though you used a lot of color in your circle quilt, our eyes had a chance to rest on the white. Thank you showing what you thought was a not so good quilt. I would never be brave and show some of the disasters I have made! Have a nice weekend.

PamKittyMorning said...

I think the quilt photographs nicely, but probably in real life.. yeah, I know what you mean. I did a red and yellow quilt as well, I love the combo too. In the end, ugh. I don't know if I even still have that quilt. I was so dissapointed. Now I need to see if I still have it or did I give it away.I'm thinking I gave the top to someone who had fan of the 49'ers (I think) in the family.. I'm pretty sure I even did a similar pattern. Que the spooky music!

Libby said...

I too like BOTH quilts. Personal taste is always subjective, of course, but I think the "clown quilt" is lovely, and I like the fabric combos. To each their own! But don't be so hard on yourself, seriously.

quiltmom said...

Nanette,
Killing the clown made me burst out laughing -I have a quilt for you to see when I get the borders on it-
It is hard when you have an idea and the combination does not work the way you thought it would - sometimes it works the other way where it is much better than you imagined and other times well - maybe one should give up while one is behind.
I like both your quilts - the one may never be your favorite quilt but it was made with love and has a great story.
Thanks for sharing.
Regards,
Anna

Elaine Adair said...

Oh, for gosh sakes, it's not THAT bad! It's cheerful, bright and ...

Maybe you could push the envelope about "Killing the Clown" and applique a few dead clowns in that wide border, like a bunch of them falling out of a little car?

Really, it's still a very good quilt, and now has a good story behind it. 8-)

Dionne said...

You are so brave. Its hard to show our mistakes to the world, but it's true that often we are most critical of ourselves and I must say that the quilt is FUN!

And if it bothers you too much, it will sure brighten the day of a sick child!
Cheers,
Dionne

Muddling Through said...

I DO love fabric!
Too much sometimes. And even what you consider not a great quilt is still a beautiful accomplishment. Most people would be thrilled if they could put together one that pretty. :)

Jan said...

Ohhhhh Nanette, I think the first is so bright and cheery :) I love red and yellow together too; and those colors get an OMG when they're polka dots :) Absolutely adore the 2nd quilt also!!! I've had "circles" in my mind for quite some time now ... just not enough hours in the day! Yours turned out sooooo nice :)

I've only run across one quilt that needed to stay in the closet. It was squares cut from my hubby's DGF's old leisure suits (LOL). The pattern was great, but the fabric (polyester) got an "OMG, what was Granny thinking!!!" (LOL)

Nedra said...

If that is your worst quilt, then you are a fortunate lady. I don't think it's that bad either. Maybe the photograph tones it down, but honestly, it's OK! It could always be a charity quilt.

Joy said...

That's your worst????!!! I really dont think it's that bad - to me it just looks "happy". But your daughter's description is hilarious ROFL ;o).
Hugs,
Joy :o)

madrekarin said...

Just because it's a clown quilt doesn't mean it can't keep you warm and cozy you know. Who cares if it "doesn't work"? I think it should stay out of hiding.
Love them both.

Jackie said...

Funny, it looks great in the first photo, but I guess I see what you mean. Although, in the photos it really doesn't look that bad. I guess I would have to see it in person. I just love the other quilt. Just perfect. Hard to believe you have a "worst" quilt.

Rumi said...

Clowns and circus' are fun and so is your quilt. It's probably just the thing to haul out when it is a cold, dark and dreary winter's day. Label it the "snow day" quilt and cuddle in it while watching movies and eating popcorn when there is a blizzard outside!

Karen said...

We all need and have some clowns in our lives;) Your ,Chelsey's, circle quilt is stunning;) I love the polka dot circles and the polka dot squares...another case of the 'same, but different'...Love it;)

Lisa Boyer said...

Nanette, I just love everything you do. Just love it. Thanks for all the inspiration. I'm a devoted fan.

Oh...and I keep meaning to blog about and thank you for the wonderful pink book! I've had a such a busy summer--so sorry about the delay in letting you know that I received it and totally LOVE IT, too. I can't wait until this craaaazy hectic summer turns to Fall so that I'll have a chance to actually make something from it! Thanks again.

em's scrapbag said...

Don't you just love it when your family is so blunt with you? I really like the poka dot quilt. Very good job!

Pat said...

I am with the group who says the yellow striped border is the only thing wrong with that first quilt as the rest of it I think is very nice. The dotted one is great, too.

thestitchinchicken said...

I agree with the majority, the first quilt is bright and cheery!

Thanks for sharing!

dokiquilts said...

that was really fascinating! i liked how you dissected the whole color theory around the first quilt. i did something similar too in that the _idea_ of the quilt and the _result_ didn't quite match up--luckily i don't have a picture of that quilt anymore--i thought if i just put together ALL my polka dot fabrics, regardless of color or value, then the quilt would work just fine. obviously it didn't. but the recipient (a baby) didn't mind too much :-) (btw, it was a "circus" quilt) i love your second quilt and have been hoping to do something similar (with japanese fabrics :-) one day. i might be stealing your patched border idea!

Micki said...

I love the polka dot quilt...It is just lovely!
Micki

Cheryl said...

I have to say I like both quilts..the polka dot quilt I love, and when you posted it before I did make a copy of your picture and put it in my to make some day file!!!! I have a huge colleciton of polka dot fabric just waiting to be made in to your quilt!

Shari said...

I kind of like the clown quilt - did you every think of tea-dying it to 'antique' it? And I like the circle quilt too. Thanks for a timely lesson on busy-ness of fabrics!
Hugs - Shari

Jodie said...

I still love the smished clown quilt ...but i can tht the dots are more balanced.... I get it ,truly I do - but I might not be inclined to follow it.

Joyce said...

Nanette,
Even your mistakes look great! I have made quite a few in my day.. I think when we put things together that don't work we always learn something! Keep your chin up and remember we think you are the BEST! I LOVE reading your blog!

jacquie said...

aren't our children brutally honest with us...killed a clown...yikes...it must be really in your face, but it doesn't look that way in the pictures. i love all the polka dots in the second quilt...i think it's the circles that bring it all together. and yes...i LOVE fabric.

MichelleB said...

I like the first quilt! And I LOVE the circle quilt. I love that pieced border. Just wonderful.

jen duncan said...

Great lessons Nanette. I made some of the same mistakes on a small ABC quilt I paper pieced last year. OH it makes me sick--the fabrics I should NOT have used, but of course I can never throw it away because it was all about my grandkids! Maybe I should try again. hmmm.....

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

The polka dot circle quilt is just gorgeous! Perfect!

Michelle said...

I love polka dots. Thank you for sharing your quilts. I have one that did not turn out so well. I will have to show it one day.

Sandi said...

The "killed the clown" quilt was so funny as it really "fit". Yes, it did look like you had sewn up fabrics that might have been used in clown costumes but I actually like it. I think you should donate it to a hospital children's ward because kids would really love all the colors. I like the circle quilt and have been thinking of making one similar to your quilt. Only "thinking", as I have too many unfinished projects right now so can't start a new one!

Sherry said...

I love this post & reading all the comments. We all see things differently & that makes life interesting. Love your blog, always inspiring...thanks Nanette

pratima said...

Thank you for the lessons in color and fabrics :)
The circle quilt is so beautiful. But I like the first quilt too. It is very charming and the fabrics are lovely.

Millie said...

I do love fabric and thanks for the color lesson. I like both quilts.

brigette said...

i too, have a crush on polka dots. but i rarely see a polka dot quilt that works for me. yours works!!!!!!

sewtakeahike said...

I do love that circle quilt Nanette and the "killed a clown and made a quilt from him" comment is awesome! I'd like to know how fabrics do and don't go together better. There must be a science behind it. I think I'm going to research that at some point!

Jenny said...

I took my first quilting class last Tuesday. It was wonderful, next time we meet we will start our first project. But have to tell you that I still feel like I learn so much from you when you share things, like your mistakes.

Candace said...

Hmmm...I happen to really like the clown quilt, Nanette - and I think if you were to offer it to a group of real clowns, they would fight over it!! I do hear what you're saying, though and I've had my share of these issues - but I always feel they make me a better quilter in the long run!
Cheers!

dee said...

Wow, maybe there's something wrong with me but I love the "clown quilt" and further would love the striped border on it. Love the dots as well but then I've never not loved what you do.

About Me... said...

Thank you so so much for posting this. I am new to quilting and am really scared about wrong fabric colors.

The circle quilt is awesome. I read about everyone having quilt clubs and fabric swaps but have no idea how to join one. I take quilting classes at the only local quilt shop and never hear a peep about a club or swap. Oh well, I guess that is what online friends are for right?

Mel said...

LOVE the polka dot quilt! I want to make one so badly!

Always great stuff here at your place!