Why are rainbows so appealing? For one thing, the colors of the rainbow create visual harmony when placed together (a "six tone chord" in color theory). And then there's the symbolism of the rainbow, denoting hope and prosperity, and inspiring many songs and movies (including Over The Rainbow, Finian's Rainbow, and Rainbow Connection, among others). If you like rainbows and quilts, as we do, then we think you'll like today's post. We've curated an inspiring collection of quilts in rainbow shades, in a wide range of styles and designs. At the end of the post we're also revealing some of our favorite fabrics, color wheels, and some fantastic color matching tools (and we'd love to hear about your favorites, too...)
Pinwheels, 47 x 47, by Martha Tsihlas, Del Sol Quilts
Martha Tsihlas is a quilter and fiber artist in Austin, Texas, whose outstanding work has been featured in galleries and in juried exhibits, including Textile Twists in 2010. Her Big as Texas quilt graced the cover of the fiber arts exhibit at the Texas State History Museum. We love "Pinwheels", an original Martha Tsihlas design, which features interlocking pinwheels in all colors of the rainbow. Each hue is represented in several different shades and textures, adding further interest to this beautiful quilt. For more information on Martha Tsihlas and her artwork, visit her blog, here.
Batik Wheel Dance, 45 x 56, by Carol C. Britt, as seen at Sew What Fabrics & Batiks, Etc.
In the beautiful Batik Wheel Dance, above, the colors of the rainbow are arranged in diagonal bands, and each color subtly blends into the next. The overlapping circles look like Cathedral Windows, but are made on the machine! The totally ingenious pattern, called Circular Patchwork, was designed by Carol C. Britt, who is the owner of Sew What Fabrics & Batiks, Etc. Also see the Island Batik Color Wheel Collection, later in this post.
Northern Lights, by Joen Wolfrom, at JWD Publishing
When it comes to color, Joen Wolfrom wrote the books (literally). Here we're showing "Northern Lights", which is one of Joen's classic designs. The lustrous effect is created by subtle value changes—using light to dark hues in each block, creating a wonderful sense of depth. We've seen this pattern done in black and white, too, with stunning results. Also note the beautiful sun-shaped quilting design, which is visible at the top of the quilt. To read about the pattern, visit JWD Publishing.
Flying Around the World, 48 x 60, by Liz Schwartz & Stephen Seifert, at eQuiltPatterns
We love the fact that this design team has created patterns inspired by the simple elegance of Amish designs. Amish quilts are known for their pure color play, in which simple shapes in solid colors are arranged against a dark background. "Flying Around the World", above, is reminiscent of a traditional Trip Around the World quilt, but with the visual effect of an op-art painting. The pattern can be obtained here; to see more designs, visit eQuiltPatterns. (For a contemporary rainbow quilt, also see "Cool Rainbow Weave", at Quilts With Style).
Skewed Nine Patch, 53.25 x 52.5, by Janes Wilson, at Jane's Quilts
Jane Wilson (Brisbane, Australia), has come up with a sensational "Skewed Nine Patch" quilt in a rainbow of colors. There are 100 different nine patch blocks, and each block is constructed of three different fabrics; the blocks are surrounded by a grid of navy blue sashing. The skewed lines of the blocks create vertical and horizontal movement and a lively pattern. We also love the back of the quilt, shown below, which has one enormous skewed nine patch block (it's a work of art, in and of itself!) For more details, and to see the quilt at her online store, visit Jane's Quilts. (Note added 2-5-2011: this website is no longer active)
Shazam, 27 X 37, by Linda Everhart, Quilting Among Friends
Linda Everhart is a designer and nationally-known teacher. Her dynamic rainbow quilt, above, has circles and ovals that zoom out from the background; a flock of flying geese that travel from corner to corner; and a border of rainbow squares, reminiscent of a film-strip. To facilitate the construction of quilts like "Shazam", Linda has developed a neat technique called FUSIQUE®: a raw-edge reverse fusing method that enables speedy assembly. For the pattern, visit Quilting Among Friends. (Note: although the quilt may or may not be inspired by the ancient wizard of the same name, we like the story of 'Shazam': S stands for the wisdom of Solomon...)
Pizzazz, by Joen Wolfrom, JWD Publishing
"Pizzazz", above, is a dazzling half-rainbow quilt that reflects a brilliant design by Joen Wolfrom. Of course there is color: the radiant colors move subtly from yellow to violet in diagonal bands. And then there is movement: the bands of color create undulating waves. And then there is the construction: this quilt’s block is constructed with four shapes and only three straight seams. The "waves" are an optical illusion created by straight piecing lines that intersect at wide angles, resulting in a gentle zig-zag pattern that ripples across the quilt. Finally, there is another illusion: the arrangement of dark and light values of the triangles within each block creates a three-dimensional appearance, similar to a pyramid. For more information, visit the Pizzazz webpage; to see all Joen Wolfrom Designs, click here.
Garden Rainbow Quilt, 82 x 76, by Roberta Horton for Kaffe Fassett, as seen at Tennessee Quilts
"Garden Rainbow", by Roberta Horton, is one of the lovely quilts featured in Kaffe Fassett's Country Garden Quilts book. Although the pattern is straightforward, there is genius in simplicity: the horizontal stripes are comprised of floral prints in a muted rainbow of colors, while the vertical stripes are comprised of matching florals, solids and stripes laid in an alternating dark/light brick pattern, giving the appearance of a complex geometric design. Tennessee Quilts has the complete quilt kit, as well as the kits for dozens of other Kaffe Fassett quilts and, of course, Fassett's fabrics.
Color Wheel Quilt, 56 x 56, by Joelle Hoverson, at Purl
This clever quilt has become a design sensation ever since it appeared on the Purl Bee. The project is from the book "Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson, the co-owner of Purl Soho. The colorful bundles of fabrics, below, contain 52 different cotton prints to assemble the color wheel (or use them in another colorful project!) See the original description of the quilt at The Purl Bee and the updated version of the fabric bundles here. The book can be found here.
Color tools and other fantastic finds
In honor of color wheels, rainbow quilts - and quilters everywhere - here are a few of the color matching tools and products we love:
3-in-1 color tool, by Joen Wolfrom
In 2002 Joen Wolfrom developed the 3-in-1 Color Tool for selecting colors and fabrics; you can just take it along to the fabric store to find fabrics that work together. It's been called "indispensable", which pretty much sums it up. For details and product reviews, visit C&T Publishing, here.
Island Batik Color Wheel Collection, as seen at Batiks Etc. & Sew What Fabrics
These beautiful cotton batiks are available in handy fat quarter bundles: 25 fat quarters in cool colors and 24 fat quarters in warm colors.
Hoffman Bali Color Fan, as seen at Batiks Plus
This is impressive: a color fan with a tiny swatch of all the Hoffman Bali batiks; there are over 300 colors. The color fan is available at Batiks Plus.
Fabricmatcher, at Moda Fabrics
Moda Fabricmatcher is an extremely clever online tool for finding fabrics in particular colors: and it is easy and fun to use. Just two clicks and you're there - there's no program to learn! Fabricmatcher will either match fabrics to a color you pick from a large palette (see color matcher), or it will identify key colors from a photo, then allow you to search for fabrics based on the key colors (see upload an image.) We selected a photo of red begonias from our photo album, and here's what we got (click on the screenshot image, below, to see a larger view):
Not bad! Keep in mind that the tool detects an average for each color. The green leaves in the photo - which were partly in the shadow - showed up as a very dark green, but the orange-red flowers are well matched. The next step would be to select one of the five colors, a theme, designer and collection, and Moda will show all of the fabrics that match. To try it yourself, click here (and let us know what you think!)
Image credits: All images are used with permission of the artists.