Dreaming in Color with Jean Wells - Hot Summer Nights

Dreaming in color
Our summer here in Central Oregon has been lovely with some really warm weather, but very few summer storms. Last spring, Val and I went a little wild when we received our Free Spirit order with both Anna Maria Horner’s floral fabrics and Kaffe Fassett’s stripe fabrics. The shapes in the Gateway quilt pattern, from Everyday Stitches are simple and intriguing and I felt it could be a wonderful "scrap" quilt with these fabrics.

As a quilter, I like projects where I get to make decisions during the whole process of making the top. We picked over 40 fabrics from the new collections, with a few others added in, for lots of room to experiment and play during construction. 

With Quilter’s Affair and Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show right around the corner I was not able to get started until mid July. What a thrill it was to pull out all the fabrics and start pairing them up for the blocks! Value as well as color came into play and I wanted to make sure I had enough contrast to make the quilt interesting.

Gateway Quilt
There are a lot of florals from Anna Maria Horner who is a storyteller with flowers large and small. If you follow her on Instagram you will see that many of her ideas come from her own garden. Her imaginative representation and playful graphics are full of energy.

Hot Summer Night Quilt close up jean wells
As I worked with the colorful florals, I found that I needed some duller fabrics as well as solids and solid like textures. It is worth mentioning that the character of a fabric, the style of design whether it is graphic like stripes and dots or a solid, gives the brighter florals a chance to shine, and the viewer a place for the eyes to rest. For me when working like this, with many different patterns, once I discover something that works for me, then I start repeating it.

Hot Summer Night quilt jean wells
Notice some of the different pairings...
Small scale print with larger scale print
Stripe with a floral
Graphic print with a solid or dot

    At first my pairings felt very busy, but once I had enough blocks stitched together and I could see repetition in the design it calmed down. I had not made a scrap style quilt in a long time and forgot what it is like. As I worked color combinations started presenting themselves. I found myself going out the studio door to my garden for ideas.

    Zinnia flower
     orange zinna flower
    Look at the difference in how yellow presents itself in the orange zinnia compared to the pink zinnia. The yellow is more dominant in the pink flower. Clues are everywhere for you to keep discovering color.

     Yellow Sunflower
    Pink cosmos flower
    Look at the role yellow plays in the Sunflower center compared to the Cosmo center. In the Cosmo there is just a bit of yellow in the center, but it is enough to get your attention. Where with the sunflower the petals and center are both yellow, so it comes across monochromatic. What makes the sunflower interesting is the textural difference in the center and slight bit of underlying green there.

    How fabric designers, as well as you as a designer, use a color in a composition makes a difference. Proportion in the use of color is something worth paying attention to.

    As you move away from close-up views in the garden green comes into play. To me green is nature’s neutral and some form of green will go with any color you put next to it. It has saved the day for me many a time, as it did in my Hot Summer Night quilt. I ended up adding more green as I worked on blocks. It was calming.

    Take a look at the different greens and you will notice that some are cool, some warm, some dull, some intense, etc. The color vocabulary words I love to work with in design all apply to green.

    Daisies Grass Flowers
    garden flowers
    flowers garden
    succulents garden
    When it comes to summer it is hard to ignore flowers, even the tiny little sunflower that sprouted up in the gravel in the path. I keep small vases for these little treasures. When it comes to a garden party for the neighbors, anything that is blooming gets to come to the party. To me all the colors work together because of green.

    We put together a kit for any of you who would like to make their own version of my Hot Summer Nights quilt.

    Hot Summer Nights Quilt
    Of course, we also have the fabrics, pattern, and required templates for those who want to select their own combination.

    We also have two new pencil packs this month inspired by my work that are mostly bright and garden like with a bit of stone too. 

    pencil pack
    pencil pack