Bear paw quilt block surrounded by fabrics used to sew the block

This is not just any book about colour, this is The Quilter's Field Guide to Color by Rachel Hauser.  I am not exaggerating when I say that this book is a game changer for me. I have learnt so much from reading it and not only through the practical advice Rachel gives but the actual EXPERIENCE of working through the exercises in the book. It's so much more than just information about colour (although it has got lots of that), it is packed full of genuinely helpful topics around colour. With excellent examples, tips and exercises to get you inspired to work with your fabric and create well thought out colour combinations and palettes. The book even contains a pull out of colour swatches that you can cut up and keep in the handy envelope at the back of the book, allowing you to play about and use them with the exercises Rachel gives. It is the most thought provoking and mobilising quilting book I have encountered.

Today is my stop on the book hop and I chose the exercise 'Context'. This is about the relationships fabric form. Ever notice how one fabric print can look completely different paired next to other fabrics or colours? That's context. 

The Quilter's Frield Guide to Color book open with color swatches in the background

I started with a print that I like but hadn't yet used in a project, the mustard/yellow/pink floral - Little Honey, Folk Song by Anna Maria Horner. From there I chose similar prints with yellow / gold colour (not the exact same shade), some paler prints, some brighter prints with bits of pink and a couple of  greeny/blue prints. OK so I also auditioned plums, browns, brighter blues and possibly more. After some time spent using the colour swatches and pulling out most of my stash from the cupboard this is what I picked...

a fabric pull - a selection of quilting fabrics

And then I played with variations from this pull. I have always liked the go big or go home philosophy and often put as many different prints into a project as I can! What I discovered through this exercise from the book, is that even within what I consider to be a small fabric pull there are so many variations and removing just a couple of the prints can change the context and present a different look to the palette. Small adjustments create totally new vibes.

a fabric pull - a selection of quilting fabrics

Combined with other fabrics the Folk Song print could blend in or stand out, looking more golden/bright or more autumnal/rich. The subtle changes were even more apparent when you move the fabrics around and position them differently, which is interesting because of course in a quilt you might create blocks made from a variety of the prints (rather than the one you place it directly next to when you do a fabric pull). So I also tried eliminating fabrics, creating smaller fabric groupings, and it changed the overall feel in ways I hadn't necessarily expected.

a fabric pull - a selection of quilting fabrics

My instincts would lead me to the bottom right selection but the grouping on the left is actually my favourite. The lighter more neutral prints showcase the brighter florals and it looks much more modern and fresh to me. It's more balanced and prettier as a result. The putty colour of the top Dottie print also tones well with the vibrant purples and pinks.
Still I wanted to challenge myself and go for a combination that was more of a step away from my typical taste. That thinking lead me to chose the cooler green/blue prints but it felt a bit too matchy with the other mustard print in the top right photo above. I swapped it out for the 'low volume' pale pink/yellow print - which in other combinations looked lighter but in the finished block it becomes more yellow and tropical.

bear paw quilt block hung on slats with metal clip

The book has instructions for bear paw blocks and variations of patterns you can create. I chose a simple block to show the result of my context exercise. It's so different and such a unique way of working with fabric, what I really love is I can see how I got to this point. Making it felt like a journey, rather than jumping to a destination with no real appreciation for the path taken.

The Quilter's Field Guide to Color book and color swatches

This is a guide that I will be turning to again and again. Continuing to experiment with colour and hone my instincts.

I have been a huge fan of Rachel's blog Stitched in Color for a long time and adore the beautiful quilts and projects she creates. Visit her blog, check out her instagram @stitchedincolor and then go order your copy of this awesome book!

Makers are sharing the results of their colour exercises from The Quilter’s Field Guide to Color!  Follow the hashtag on Instagram #quiltersfieldguidetocolor or follow these creators:

AMY FRIEND @duringquiettime
NATALIE SANTINI @sewhungryhippie
ALLISON HARRIS @cluckclucksew
JENNIE PICKET @cloverandviolet
SAIJA KIISKINEN @saija_elina
HOLLY DEGROOT @bijoulovely

JO AVERY @joaverystitch
ASHLEY NEWCOMB @filminthefridge
JODI GODFREY @talesofcloth
LUCY BRENNAN @charmaboutyou
CAT @tincatsew