fabric choices

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.)