Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

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Art: Color, Color, and More Color!

A while back I mentioned we’d be starting a non-consecutive series on using artistic principals to use reproduction fabrics in a contemporary quilt. The first element I wrote about was Deconstruction.  However, several people told me it was really the use of color that made it contemporary, not my structure.  So, that seemed like the perfect topic for the next article.


Usually when working with reproduction fabrics, the textile designer tries to replicate the colors originally seen in that period quilt.  Frequently a lot of browns are used and a sepia tint is even given to other brighter colors to give those colors “age.” Remember that some chemical dyes turn brown over time, particularly if fugitive. Note the colors in this reproduction palampore by Mary Koval available for purchase in our etsy shop.  It’s beautiful with colors appropriately aged.

However, if the designer is replicating colors as they were originally seen in a sample book, the colors may be bright and brilliant. (If you haven’t read our previous blog article on sample books, check it out, it provides glimpses of the original color.) Not one to shy away from color, I decided to take some reproduction fabric and paint it.  I mixed my textiles paints to get the exact color I wanted, giving a nod to the colors of the past, but always bringing in some of today’s colors.

You can also select from existing reproduction fabrics, only choosing fabrics with a modern color sensibility.  For example, grey is very popular now to provide a backdrop to whatever color palate you choose. Or you can intentionally add color trying to get completely away from the reproduction color palate. A word of warning, in this closeup of my latest center medallion, I just had fun with the color.

However you choose to let color inspire your quilts, just remember there are a variety of techniques available to allow you to get the exact color you want. Don’t let the fact that you can’t find exactly the color fabric you want stop your creative process. Instead remember that dyes, textile paint, fabric markers, or colored pencils are all available to start from scratch on pfd fabric or alter existing commercially printed fabric for the perfect color. Have fun!