Working with Solids from 100 Days of Modern Quilting

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Solids.  They often play second fiddle but this week we’ll take a look at some quilts in which they play the lead role!

Baby Harvatine Quilt by Alissa Haight Carlton, 2010

All quilts are designed with composition in mind, but when you work with all solids, there’s no busy or bold prints to distract your your eye or provide movement in the quilt.  The design, piecing,  and color choices become the tools that do that work.

Solid Squares by Alissa Haight Carlton, 2009

Subtle variations in shape are featured and highlighted, and contrast in color value shines through.

Embracing Gray by Alissa Haight Carlton, 2010


And when a quilt is mostly solids, one patterned fabric is suddenly framed and featured.

A word of warning though: the more you use solids, the more you find you can’t do without them!  We hope you enjoy this Week of Solids!

Featured Quilt 1

This wonderful vibrant quilt, called “Zitronenfalter” (the English translation is “Brimstone Butterfly”) was made by Ulrike Kittel who blogs at liebingsdecke Quilts.

Ulrike was kind enough to answer a couple of questions for us.

What inspired the quilt?

Yellow and grey is my favorite color combination and I also love simple designs. Actually, when I stumbled upon this design (I am using the Electric Quilt software and find the Symmetry function the most useful tool), I wanted to go for a flying geese pattern. But then I found the flying geese too straight, even for my liking of tidy patterns. So I played around with the same block and literally stumbled upon this design. It is the same block all over but every alternate block is turned 90 degrees. It actually gives the quilt a nice twist.

What do you love most about using all solids?

I think using solids gives a quilt such a clear design – the eye is not distracted by the pattern of the fabric, but follows the lines of the block pattern. Also, I like to quilt by hand and like to see those lines, too.

Along with her blog, you can see more of Ulrike’s work in her flickr stream.

Featured Quilt 2

Mary Claire Allen who blogs at Splendorfalls made this fun and colorful quilt of all solids.


What inspired the quilt?
After a few guild members saw the Jelly Roll 1600 quilts here  we decided to hold our own race at a St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild sew-in. Quilting race?  I loved the idea.  Why not try the polar opposite of what quilters have traditionally been taught and throw caution to the wind!  Pedal to the metal?  Sign me up.  I happened to have a Robert Kaufman Kona Solids Jelly Roll in Bright and decided it was worth a shot.  Not going to lie here; a finished quilt top in just over a half hour sounded pretty enticing!  Rather than mitering my strips together, I chose to add in a grey square between each strip, hoping it would modernize the look of the finished quilt a bit.  It ended up taking me over an hour and I didn’t win the race, but still I think the payoff was pretty good and quite modern!
What do you love most about using all solids?
Solids are like the chameleons of quilting right?  If you need the design to shine, solids can do the trick!  Need your quilting to be the star?  Go with solids.  Is color play your thing?  Yup, solids.  Something else I love about solids is that they transcend all quilting preferences and styles.  Traditional, modern, art quilts, you name it –  can all put in the call to solids for a great show!  Go solids!
Featured Quilt 3

Next up during Week of Solids, we have Shea Henderson’s lovely lively log cabin block quilt.

What inspired the quilt?
This was my quilt for the Robert Kaufman Kona Challenge. This is my take on Malka Dubrawsky’s “Nate’s Quilt” in her book Fresh Quilting. The blocks in my quilt are larger, but the idea is essentially the same. I just divided the colors up into piles of warm and cool and grabbed whatever fabric was on top and started piecing. Here in Kansas City, we called it the “No Prints Allowed” challenge, so I used my charm pack as the center of the blocks, and used two brights Roll Ups to piece the outer portion of each block.
The handful of charms that didn’t make the warm/cool color blocks on the front of the quilt were used in a tiny row of 1″ squares on the back of the quilt– it is one of my favorite parts of the quilt! Piecing improvisationally does not come naturally to me, so this quilt was a fun break from my usual piecing methods. This quilt was also my first attempt at quilting on a long arm machine. I LOVED that!
What do you love most about using all solids?
There are so many things I love about using solids! My shelves are primarily full of shot cottons, cross weaves and solids. I often have specific colors and shades in mind for a quilt and with the amazing options out there now, finding just the shade I’m imagining is easy. In addition to being easy on the fabric budget, solids (to me) are timeless. Last summer, my grandmother gave me the very first quilt she ever made. She made it when she was thirteen and it is entirely hand stitched. She used only white and a light pink and if someone were to look at it today, other than the slight wear of time, they could easily assume it was made last year.

Shea is the president of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild and blogs at Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio.  You can also see more of her work in her flickr stream.

Featured Quilt 4

Today’s quilt is called Ingrid, by Krista Fleckenstein, who blogs at Spotted Stones.  The quilt is a wonderful example of how lots of solids can make little bits of patterned fabrics truly pop and shine.

What inspired the quilt?
One of Ingrid Press’ quilts that was photographed in the Birmingham Festival of Quilts inspired my quilt, which is why I also named it “Ingrid.” I loved her use of a single pop of color inside each block, surrounded by different neutrals. I did want to shake it up a bit, and gave my bee members guidelines to use both solid shot cottons and a print for the inside of the block and to keep the construction a lot more improvisational. It resulted in blocks that have the same feel as Ingrid’s original quilt, but each block is also very unique.
What do you love most about using all solids?
I love using a lot of solids in my quilts because they allow individual fabrics to shine. The solids give your eyes a place to rest when they’re paired up with busy prints. I also like that solids aren’t limiting– when using multi-colored prints, I find it harder to stretch my color palette because I don’t want to vary too far from what has already been designed. But when I use solids, I find myself picking more unusual combinations.
Featured Quilt 5

Today we are featuring a quilt made by Juli Ann Donahue whose work you can see in her flickr stream.  This quilt is a great example of how solids allow you to be creative with your use of color.

What inspired this quilt?
This quilt was my answer to the Robert Kaufman Solids Only Challenge.  The St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild was given the classic palette of Kona solids and as soon as that lovely, little stack of fabric was in my hands I began humming Somewhere Over the Rainbow.   I played around with several designs, but my mind kept coming back to “If happy, little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh why, can’t I?”  Our guild set the guidelines that you could use the charm pack plus two other solids, of which  I opted for a white background and added an orange.  From there, I basically used each charm square for a letter or two in rainbow order.   That challenge was such a fun, little puzzle that we each got to figure out how to put together ourselves, which I feel is the genuine spirit of  modern quilting.  There are no set rules or restrictions.  It’s just creativity, imagination and oh, such gorgeous fabric!
What do you love about using only solids?
Opening a color card of solids is like opening up a brand new box of crayons!  So many gorgeous choices… so versatile… so stylish… so timeless.
Solids are your utility player and your superstar!   What I love most about using only solids is that it instantly gives a quilt a very bold and graphic quality, which is a design that I’m always drawn to.  The quilt design gets boiled down and has a really beautiful clarity.
Featured Quilt 6

Today we are featuring this wonderfully graphic quilt, “Racing Stripes” by Valerie Luberecki, who blogs at Between Quilts.

What was your inspiration for the quilt:
Would you believe this was originally the back of my Kona Solids Challenge for the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild? I had designed a top based on a “road” my son had built with bristle blocks for his cars. I thought racing stripes on the back of the quilt would compliment the front perfectly. I wanted a look that felt sleek and contemporary, which I tried to convey with the angular seaming of the colors and graduated size groupings of the strips. I loved how it turned out! I was stuck at this point in terms of quilting, because what would work for the “front” (a much busier layout) wouldn’t work with this “back”. I had an incredible opportunity to get some feedback on this quilt from Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, who suggested I actually had two separate quilt tops here. Of course! I don’t know why the thought hadn’t occurred to me before, but it made total sense and Racing Stripes became it’s own entity, as it was meant to be!

What to you love about working with solids?
Working with solids is such a great way to let colors speak for themselves. I love how each hue gets to play it’s own tune while being part of the whole symphony of colors in a piece. I also feel like the design element is very vivid and striking with the use of solids. And of course, they pair so nicely with prints too. What versatile additions to any stash

You can also see more of Valerie’s work in her flickr stream.

Featured Quilt 7

The final quilt featured during this Week of Solids was made by Jane Fitts, the talented graphic designer who designed the Modern Quilt Guild logo.

What inspired the quilt?
I made this quilt for the Robert Kaufman Solids Challenge with our local guild.  Around the same time the challenge was announced, my brother lost his beloved dog Bamboo to leukemia. It was a difficult loss for my brother so I wanted to make something special to honor Bam’s memory. I was inspired by the work of the Gee’s Bend quilters and made this quilt using improvisational techniques taught to me at Denyse Schmidt’s workshop.  I worked off of a loose sketch and started by cutting the charm squares into three pieces, then matched them together again mixing the colors, then sewing them into longer strips within the blue solid.  I continued to cut strips apart and piece them, cutting and piecing until finally I ended up with a design that I liked, which turned out to be a queen.
What do you love most about using all solids?
As a graphic designer, I love working with color in so many aspects. I find straight color, without interference of a print to be very inspiring. I love mixing solid colors together and the ability to set a specific mood or tone this way.

You can see more of Jane’s work in her flickr stream.