Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Hmm, Fabric Change?

So, I previously posted that I was planning on making my orange peel quilt with dark background fabrics and lighter peels. Then Wendy, one of our quilt-alongers, left a comment pointing out that I could run into trouble with darker fabrics showing through the lighter ones. Hmm, good thinkin’, Wendy!

I really didn’t think of that at all, but of course she’s right. That could be a problem. I went through my fabrics in the daylight and tested out a wide variety of pairings. Yes, a few of the higher contrast prints did show through the lightest of the fabrics. I think it could be worked around by carefully choosing background and peel pairings, but it got me thinking about my fabric choices …

Back when I started choosing fabrics, I did this half-assed layout test to get an idea of what my fabrics would look like:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Fabric Layout Test

Ultra-scientific, no?

But then thinking about the light / dark fabric issue, I wondered if it might just be simpler to reverse the layout, using the more typical light-backgrounds-darker-peels combo:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Fabric Layout Test

Huh. As it turns out, my gut says that the pink backgrounds work better. But I didn’t want that to be true, because I’d had the dark backgrounds in mind since the start of this project idea, you know? So I did what any sensible person would do – I asked the only person nearby, who doesn’t sew / quilt / care … my brother.

Somewhat surprisingly, he actually gave it a bit of serious thought and said that he liked the pink backgrounds better. He said he didn’t know how to explain it in any sort of proper terms, but that the pattern was clearer with the pink backgrounds, while the dark-background-layout made his eyes work too hard to see the lattice-y pattern the peels make. Double huh.

I took another look and, gee whiz, I think he’s right. But I think the problem is not just because they’re dark, but because my darker fabrics actually have quite a lot of variation between them, which makes it less easy for your eye to see them as all one background. My pink fabrics are all closer in tone – they have enough print variation to make it interesting to look it, but not so much that they contrast much between them.

So it looks like maybe I’ll reverse my layout, in a move that surprises me more than anyone! Quilt-alongers: I don’t tell you this to say that you can’t have dark backgrounds or variation in your choices or anything like that. Playing with the contrast or non-contrast could be totally awesome. In my case my background pile already contrasts my peel pile nearly as strongly as it possibly could, and that’s what I’m going for. The variation between my blues distracts from that – but maybe it’d be awesome in yours?

Have you tested out your layout at all yet? Did it do anything to surprise you?

(Oh and by the way, for anyone waiting for the final part of my Crazy Quilting Sampler tutorials, that’ll be up tomorrow! later in the week, hopefully. I’m really sorry for the delay.)

10 Comments on Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Hmm, Fabric Change?

  1. Rachel
    August 25, 2014 at 15:35 (4 years ago)

    I agree–seeing the fabrics laid out like that makes it pretty clear that the pink background is a better choice. I’m so glad you shared this because now I’m going to lay my own out in a test pattern. I wouldn’t have even thought of it before. lol Now it seems so obvious.

  2. Robin Cassady-cain
    August 25, 2014 at 15:45 (4 years ago)

    I hadn’t thought of that. Haven’t quite got all my fabrics, and I think I’ve change my mind about one of them, but we’ll see!

  3. Rebecca Bell
    August 25, 2014 at 16:09 (4 years ago)

    Love, love, LOVE! It looks really good with the pink background, very striking. I’m seriously considering a fabric change. I scan my fabrics and then play around with the design in InDesign – as a result I’m not too sure about my fabric choices. I don’t think I’ll get rid of all of them but I definitely need to add something to the mix.

  4. Anne
    August 25, 2014 at 19:28 (4 years ago)

    Hmm, yes, I believe your brother is correct. Nice catch! I haven’t laid mine out, but my background fabrics are all very similar, so I think they will blend nicely as a background. But, I might lay them out tonight to see how it looks. I had considered the dark showing through light issue, but I decided that it could be fixed with a small scrap of while behind the light fabric, if needed.

    On a unrelated note, that blue fabric with the clouds and bikes is magnificent!! Do you know what it is?

  5. Julie S
    August 25, 2014 at 19:58 (4 years ago)

    i’m still poking my fabric stash for this. I’m torn as to whether I want to reassign a batch of Amy Butler fabric (most of my stash) or use the unnamed don’t know where I got them or who they are floral stash. I’m planning to narrow it down to one set of Amy Butler and the florals and take them both with me to the labor day sale at Joann’s this weekend for background fabric testing.

  6. Lucy @ charmaboutyou
    August 26, 2014 at 21:16 (4 years ago)

    I adore the navy on the pink, totally the right decision!

  7. Amanda M
    August 26, 2014 at 23:53 (4 years ago)

    That’s a really smart idea! I’m still trying to decide on fabrics but I’m definitely going to do this :)

  8. Karen
    August 27, 2014 at 12:33 (4 years ago)

    Oh my! I love both layouts, what a horrible choice to have to make! I know what you mean about the pink background being easier on the eye, but I know how much you wanted the dark backgrounds… not very helpful Karen :( On a positive note they BOTH look beautiful!! And I’m going to get my fabrics out and do that half-assed layout later :) xxx

  9. Melizza
    August 28, 2014 at 05:36 (4 years ago)

    I must go and test this out! Thanks for pointing this out.

  10. Phoebe
    August 28, 2014 at 17:29 (4 years ago)

    I really love the navy + pink either way. I’m finally getting my act together about joining in, so I’ve given absolutely no thought to fabric yet. Maybe I’ll just make up some guidelines and systematically work through my scraps (here’s hoping!). Thanks for hosting!


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