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There is Nothing Like a Quilt Plan, Stan!

How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Your Quilt

Stan has a quilt plan? No, I don’t know who Stan is either, but I do know that having a quilt plan is keeping me on track to finish this quilt by Christmas!

'Summer Blues' (Bed quilt in progress) ©Stephanie Boon 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Summer Blues. Basted but not quilted

I wrote my quilt plan just a few weeks ago and I’ve already made progress that I can actually see! Things are moving on with Summer Blues at last.

Summer Blues patchwork quilt in progress - being hand quilted. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Today in the low morning light

I’ve never written a quilt plan to plan my time before, but if I was ever going to finish this ‘7-years-in-the-making-so-far quilt’ I had to do something.  It’s not the best quilt I’ve ever made (don’t look too closely at the craftsmanship), but it’s still a pretty quilt that holds a lot of good memories. It seemed a shame to leave it festering for another 7 years. The trouble is that hand quilting takes a long time and I’ve moved on and want to get on with other things.  Maybe you know that feeling too?

I thought my best hope of motivating myself was to actually write a quilt plan for my time.  But how do you do that if you have no idea how long it’s going to take?

Writing a Quilt Plan

I decided I had to time myself.  I’d been procrastinating for years (literally!) about how I wanted to quilt this piece, but as time’s gone on I’ve eventually reached the ‘get ‘er done’ stage. This meant that the quilting would have to be simple and straight forward. I decided on stitching in the ditch around all the sashing (which I’d begun a few months earlier) and then outline quilting the inside of each square in the 9 patch blocks.

I timed how long it took to quilt one line of sashing and then one 9 patch block. With full concentration each 9 patch block took an hour.  When I had a film or something on in the background one block took an hour and a half! A quilt plan has to be realistic of course, and that boiled down to how many hours I was willing to devote to it each week.  I reckoned on 10 hours. Quilting 10 9 patch blocks a week seemed do-able.

Hand quilting a nine patch block. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Time how long it takes to finish one section

Then I  worked out the other things I had to do to finish the quilt and wrote them down in order, estimating what I could do in 10 hours each week. It added up to 12 weeks sewing. I counted off 12 weeks on a calendar and realised it meant I could just about finish it by Christmas: result! Here was my motivation in black and white.

Managing Your Quilt Plan

The good thing about a quilt plan is that you can turn it into a list, and I love a list – as long as it stays manageable. That means being realistic about it, as I already mentioned – and I’m not always so good at that bit! So I wrote the list on one condition: that I accept it’s not written in stone and might change (Christmas is coming after all).

How I made a quilt plan: work out how long it'll take you to finish your quilt and get motivated! © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Keeping Track

There’s no point in having a time plan if you don’t keep track of your progress and who doesn’t enjoy crossing something off?

What’s your favourite way to write a list?

Old school pen and paper?  A special notebook? Word or Pages? A planner like this one from Late Night Quilter? I’m going to let you into a secret: I’ve only recently discovered list-making apps – and I’ve fallen in love!

There is an App for That!

I’ve got two apps that I use all the time now: Wunderlist and Evernote. I wrote the list above in Wunderlist. It’s a really straight-forward app that lets you organise your lists in categories. You can add sub-tasks and notes to any list as well.  The items on my Summer Blues quilt plan (above) are actually sub-tasks on a list called ‘Summer Blues’. This is great because it means everything I need to do to complete the quilt is in one place. I can cross off each task as I finish it, then cross off the list itself when I’ve done them all. I can add a date to finish each list and reminders too if I want. But the best thing about Wunderlist isn’t just the crossing off of a task, it’s the totally satisfying sound it makes when I do! And there’s the added bonus that I can have the app on my phone and add to a list whenever and wherever I have a lightbulb moment!

If you’ve got lots of projects on the go Evernote’s really great for that, especially if you want to save stuff from the internet all in one place. As well as making lists and notes, you can clip and bookmark stuff like articles, photos and videos – and you can share them with other people too.

Both apps are free, but of course there are upgrades that you can pay for too. Needless to say, I use the free versions and highly recommend them both. Perhaps I should also add that I’m not receiving any compensation for loving these apps – it’s just the thrill of seeing a plan come together that’s got me so excited!

What motivates you to get a quilt finished? And how do you do it? Share your experiences with us in the comments and maybe you can help someone to finish their quilt too!

 My Favourite Link Parties

This week I’m linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social,  Lee at Freshly Pieced for Work In Progress Wednesday and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter for Tips and Tutorials Tuesdays. I’m looking forward to catching up with you!

For more link parties click the picture below!

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Happy planning!

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8 Improv Quilters – that Hand Quilt

Improv quilters that hand quilt? Is there even such a thing? Mention hand quilting and most of us probably conjure up images of traditional quilts full of beautiful, tiny hand stitches and breathtakingly complicated designs. Perhaps it’s what we all aspire to when we begin our quilting journey. Improv quilters probably don’t even enter our heads. But, hand quilting improv quilters do exist!

My textile pieces started out that way but I got sidetracked into exploring more traditional quilts where I improved (or tried to improve!) my craft technique. Lately though, all I can think about are the quilts in my head, which would probably be termed ‘improv’. It’s much more satisfying for me to make quilts that follow thought processes that are more like the fine art practice I started out with. And I’m finally beginning to feel I have the necessary skills to make them.

'Deepening' Finished improv string quilt top. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

‘Deepening’. Finished quilt top waiting to be hand quilted, 2015

I made a couple of improv tops over the last few months and I’m ready to get them stitched up, but I’ve imposed a ban until I get this traditional Summer Blues quilt well under it’s quilty way, otherwise I’ll never finish it. Progress has been good and steady though, so I’ve been entertaining the idea of making at least one improv quilt sandwich. Ok, so I went ahead and started the sandwich!

I am an improv quilter. And I hand quilt!

(I’m not really sure that what I plan to make will be classed as improv (because my thought processes aren’t simply ‘what if’: I have something I want to say!), but I’m just going to make them, you can call them what you like! Any hand stitching improv quilters out there will let me know I’m sure.)

When I was looking for improv quilters that hand quilt to connect with or follow I couldn’t find a whole lot out there, so I’ve compiled a list of 8 Improv Quilters – that Hand Quilt who I’ve found inspiring or interesting (frequently both!). I hope that if you’re looking for something a little different you’ll enjoy the work of some of these improv quilters too.

They’re quite a diverse bunch, and they don’t all employ the big stitch hand quilting technique you might expect.

8 Improv Quilters – that Hand Quilt

  • Completely Cauchy Chawne Kimber
    I just love her work. Bold, brash or more muted and quiet, I get lost in looking.
  • Dainty Time Sherri Lynn Wood
    Perhaps Sherri is the queen of improv quilters? Her work is bold and graphic and her hand quilting adds another softer, unexpected dimension. Author of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously
  • Kristin Shields
    Colourful and unique, kristin often employs a mix of hand and machine quilting on the same quilt
  • Patty “The Quilt Lady”
    Patty has made quilts that include both machine and hand quilting. Her t-shirt quilts with hand stitching around the printed words are really unusual and effective
  • The Root Connection Sujata Shah
    Sujata’s hand quilted quilts root them deeply in the diverse traditions that influence her work. Author of Cultural Fushion Quilts, A Melting Pot of Piecing Traditions
  • Sew Slowly Kaja Ziesler
    Regular visitors to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy’s Quilts will be familiar with Kaja’s beautiful work. Kaja stitches all her quilts entirely by hand and it gives them a very distinct personality. The hand quilting makes the improv designs so appealing – you just want to snuggle up underneath them. (Not something that can be said about many modern machine quilted improv quilts.)

    From Dawn Chorus Studio's 8 Improv Quilters List: Hand Quilted improv quilt by © Kaja Ziesler, 2014 'Fine Feathers (Annie's Quilt)' (detail)

    ‘Fine Feathers (Annie’s Quilt)’ (detail) © Kaja Ziesler, 2014  www.sewslowly.com

  • The Silly BooDilly Victoria Gertenbach
    I’ve been following Victoria’s blog for years. I adore her work! She’s a very thoughtful maker and has an aesthetic that’s all her own that’s deeply inspired by the landscape in which she lives. Victoria often makes a series of quilts to follow her ideas through to their conclusion, which is an aspect of her work I love.

    From Dawn Chorus Studio's 8 Improv Quilters List: Hand quilted improv quilt 'Oversized Ninepatch' © Victoria Gertenbach, 2012, http://thesillyboodilly.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/oversized-nine-patch.html

    ‘Oversized Ninepatch’ © Victoria Gertenbach 2012, www.thesillyboodilly.blogspot.co.uk

  • Spirit Cloth Jude Hill
    Jude’s quilts are all about the narrative. I don’t know if you’d say she belongs with other improv quilters or art quilters, but she’s definitely one of a kind!  She certainly doesn’t use a pattern and her quilts are hand quilted and pieced – and they’re very inspiring too.

That’s my 8! What do you think, are there any of your favourite hand quilters in the list?  Do you know of any other improv quilters that hand quilt that should be included?  I’m always looking for inspiration, so if you do, please share below!

In the Hoop – Nearly!

I couldn’t help myself. I just need to have some improv quilting on the go, despite being a little behind with Summer Blues (not drastically though, so I’m not weeping about it yet!). This quilt top should fit the bill. It’s relatively small and because my son Kim gave me a lot of the pink/red prints for my birthday last year I plan to make it into a wall hanging for my bedroom.

Improv quilt top underway. Floating the Squares © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Blue Facing

This week I’ve added the blue strips around the edges that you can see in the image above. This is the facing, which means it’ll be folded to the back and won’t be seen when the quilt’s finished. It’s more usual to add a facing once the quilting’s finished, but I don’t want the extra bulk the wadding would add to the seams if I did it this way. I want the edges to be as smooth as possible because I envisage some of the hand quilting ‘falling off the edge’, if that makes any sense – a bit like that big pink square on the left appears to do – and I don’t want any distraction from that. I’m not going to square it up either; I like the slightly curved edges around the boundary. Keeping a soft boundary will enhance the design, a bit like a deckled edge on watercolour paper adds to the softness of the painting in a way that guillotined edges don’t.

I’ve been thinking about the hand quilting a lot lately and have decided to try a series of interlocking squares. Well, hand drawn ‘squares’! I love the way that I can create rectangles where the squares interlock. It kind of reminds me of the process of adding a rectangle to a square that I employed in the piecing.

Improv quilt top underway. Floating the Squares © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Marking the quilting lines in Tailor’s Chalk

I’ll soon find out if the idea works!  Actually, it’s one of the first times in a long time I’ve remembered to mark up the quilt lines before I’ve made the sandwich!  I’m hoping it’ll make life a little easier having a harder surface to draw them on, but I’m also convinced most of them will get rubbed off as I’m working!

What have you been up to this week?  I’m linking up with Kathy for this week’s Slow Sunday Stitching as usual and look forward to catching up with you there. I’m also linking up with Kaja’s new series Ad Hoc Improv Quilters AHIQ – have you had a look yet?  There are some great contributors and it’s really exciting to see people freeing up and trying something a bit different or out of their comfort zone.

Finally today, if my list of improv quilters hasn’t inspired you, don’t forget to head on over to the Blogger’s Quilt Festival where there are hundreds of fantastic quilts and quilters for you to discover.  You can also vote for your favourite quilts in each category. As well as the two quilts I’ve entered, you can vote for other slow stitchers’ quilts too – be sure to check out Deb of the Frugal Little Bungalow’s wonderfully colourful entry and Karen from Karen’s Quilting’s superbly stitched Granny’s Got Style!

My Favourite Link Parties

For more link parties click the picture below!

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Happy sewing and see you in the week.

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Bloggers Quilt Festival – Vote Today!

Hello, hello!  Hope you’re getting ready for a fun filled stitchy weekend ahead?  I’m just checking in to remind you that voting in the Bloggers Quilt Festival has opened.

Head on over to vote!

Place your vote in the Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015 - badge

There are lots of categories to explore in the Bloggers Quilt Festival including:

  • Mini Quilts
  • Small Quilts
  • Large Quilts
  • Applique Quilts
  • Art Quilts
  • Home Machined Quilts
  • Hand Quilted Quilts
  • Modern Quilts
  • Original Design Quilts
  • ROYGBIV (Rainbow) Quilts and
  • Scrappy Quilts.

To see all the quilts in each category on one page: check out the Bloggers Quilt Festival Viewer’s Choice page. You can vote for 3 quilts in each category – lucky ol’ you! 3 votes will make for a very tough choice indeed in some categories – there really are some wonderful quilts very worthy of your attention. Please go and check them out and show your support!

Vote for Norfolk Bricks!

I’ve entered Norfolk Bricks into the ‘Hand Quilted‘ category. You can read more about Norfolk Bricks here and vote here.

Place your vote for Norfolk Bricks in the Bloggers Quilt Festival. Lap quilt hanging on a farm gate. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Norfolk Bricks is entered in the Hand Quilted category

Vote for August Rain!

My lap quilt August Rain has been entered in the Scrappy Quilts category. Find out more about August Rain and vote for August Rain here.

Place your vote for 'August Rain' in the Bloggers Quilt Festival, © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

August Rain is in the Scrappy Quilt category

I hope you enjoy seeing all the quilts in the festival. It’s going to be a great way to discover some very inspiring quilters – and hopefully make new friends too.

Remember Remember!
The last day to cast your vote is
Thursday 5th November!

But don’t worry, I’ll remind you again next week.

Blog Poll – Results

Last week I ran a small poll asking if I should change the colour of the links on this blog – I wasn’t sure whether they stood out enough.  Thank you to everyone that clicked a button to vote.  The results?

It was a split decision with 9 for ‘yes’, 9 for ‘no’
and 2 for ‘I don’t mind’…

so it sounds like you’re as undecided as I am, haha! As undecided as I was, at any rate. I’ve decided that with these results I may as well stick with things as they are for a while longer. Instead of changing the colour of the links, I’ll try not to use so much bold text (which was a bit similar to the links) and use italic text to highlight things instead.  We’ll see how it goes – and of course I’m always happy to hear your thoughts. Thanks once again for helping out.

I have plans for another poll soon, with another burning question that I could do with some help on! Look out for it over the weekend.

Colour Series

This week’s post in the Thursday colour series has been a bit held up (I got somewhat excited about The Bloggers Quilt Festival. Must plan better in future, sheesh…). Rather than rush it through unpolished, I plan to post it next week instead. I want to make sure it’s the best I can possibly make it so that it’s fun and helpful – and worthy of being included in the series! Thank you all so much for following along and joining in with the challenges when you can. It makes me so happy that you do! Next week’s post will be on designing a winter colour scheme, so I’ll see you then.

I’ll be back on Sunday for some slow Sunday stitching with Kathy and friends. Until then have a great weekend.

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August Rain, The Scrappy Quilt Entry

The Bloggers Quilt Festival (BQF) is gaining momentum over at Amy’s Creative Side and today at the Studio it’s all about the Scrappy Quilt category. August Rain (below) is a very scrappy quilt I finished earlier this year.

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain', © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Scrappy String Quilt

Yesterday I showed the quilt I entered in the Hand Quilted category. August Rain could just have easily fitted that category too, because August Rain is completely hand quilted. However, I think the main focus of this quilt is the delightful scrappy centre panel, so, logically, I’m entering it into the Scrappy Quilt category!

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain' Big stitch quilting. © Stephanie Boon, 2014, www.DawnChorusStudio.com

August Rain detail (being hand quilted)

August Rain: Scrappy Quilt Details

  • String quilt with the centre panel made entirely from scraps
  • Hand quilted with ‘big stitch’ in perle cotton thread
  • 100% cotton (including wadding/batting and thread)
  • Started July 2014, finished February 2015
  • 51″ x 59.5″ (130cm x 151cm)

August Rain. It’s a very evocative name:

“So, there I was sitting on the studio (er kitchen!) floor, shuffling blocks around in the dull, grey light listening to heavy rain falling and ruminating on what to try next when it suddenly hit me: one of the layouts I’d tried before had reminded me of rain, or a child’s drawing of rain anyway.”  (August Rain and a Design Tip! August 2014).

And that was it, the name stuck. And the finished design developed from there.

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Scrappy strings becoming August Rain, 2014

What is a Scrappy Quilt?

To me August Rain is a ‘true’ scrappy quilt: it’s made of scraps. It’s not a quilt that’s made to look scrappy by simply cutting up fabric in a myriad of different colours. The fabrics in the centre were never intended to go together. There are some scraps from various previous projects, but a large quantity of them were given to me by friends. They’re either scraps from their scrap boxes, or their daughter’s dresses or partners old shirts. There’s even a pair of shorts in there somewhere! A goodly amount of these fabrics have been used before.

Part of making a scrappy quilt, for me, is making do with what I have, using up that blue that looks a bit too green or a bit too purple, or that print that I really don’t like. Part of the creative process, part of the fun, is trying to make them work well together, even if they don’t want to! I think this quilt shows that it can be done quite successfully. One of the ways to do that is to develop a theme: ‘rain’.

I carried the theme into the quilting too and there are some details in the photos below. I really hope you enjoy them!

Scrappy Quilt Gallery

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The finished quilt aptly photographed on an incredibly rainy day in February!

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The quilt back has some appliqué flowers drifting from the border

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Rainy flowers (being quilted, so there’s still basting thread visible and some de-wrinkling to be done at this stage!)

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Quilting ‘rain circles’ in the border

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

A touch of brightness on a dull winter’s day

I hope you’ve enjoyed this ‘tour’ through the process of making this scrappy quilt. It’s been fun to revisit it and remember the people that contributed their scraps and old clothes so that I could make something new, pretty and warm and give them a new lease of life.

Links to Some Previous Posts About August Rain

Please Vote For August Rain!

If you like this quilt too, I’d love it if you’d head on over to The Blogger’s Quilt festival and vote for it in the Scrappy Quilt  category. There are lots of other lovely entries to ogle and inspire you too.

Scrappy Quilt entry for Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: Blue string quilt 'August Rain'. © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

August Rain. A scrappy quilt basking in the summer sun.

If you’ve entered a quilt in the festival let us know in the comments below so that we can head over and give you some support too.  Finally, many thanks to Amy and everyone that’s made such a lovely event possible, I feel really privileged to be able to join in the fun.

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015 - badge


See my other quilt entered in to the Hand Quilted category in yesterday’s post.

Don’t forget to vote for August Rain in the Scrappy Quilt  category.  Thanks guys!

Enjoy the festival.

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The Bloggers Quilt Festival – my entry

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015 - badge


Have you ever entered a quilt into a show or a festival?  I haven’t, but this year I’m going to join in the Bloggers Quilt Festival over at Amy’s Creative Side. I’m feeling rash! I’ve sat on the sidelines of the Bloggers Quilt Festival for a couple of years and enjoyed all the amazing inspiration coming my way, but now it’s time to jump on over into the game. This year I’ve actually got two finished quilts that I’d like to share. I know, two whole hand quilted quilts, a round of applause please, haha!

My First Bloggers Quilt Festival Entry: Norfolk Bricks

My first entry into the Bloggers Quilt Festival, 2015: Norfolk Bricks. Lap quilt hanging on a farm gate. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Norfolk Bricks lap quilt.

Bloggers Quilt Festival Entry Details

Quilt Details

Hand quilting © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Norfolk Bricks in progress


  • 100% cotton (including batting/wadding)
  • My own original design/pattern
  • Machine pieced
  • 100% hand quilted in big stitch with perle cotton thread
  • Size 55.5″ x 60.5″ (141cm x 154cm)
  • Begun in February 2015, finished September 2015

Hand quilted quilts are particularly special. Making one is obviously much slower, which gives you time to really appreciate and enjoy the process. What makes a finished hand quilted quilt really special is the texture. There’s something soft and comforting about them that I don’t think you get with machine quilting (not the few I’ve made anyway).

Norfolk Bricks has a lot of stitching. I wanted it to be durable because I’m sure it’ll be used a fair bit – I love it so much! I’m not just in love with the texture or the bright colours (which puts it firmly in the ‘modern’ category): stitching it helped me through a difficult time when my son Kim was very ill earlier this year. When I wrap myself up in it, it reminds me that we came out the other side.

Quilt Gallery

When I finished Norfolk Bricks I was keen to photograph it outside to get the best pictures I could. That week the weather was awful. Grey, wet and cold. But I managed to get a couple of shots that I thought made the colours sing under the grey skies. For the Bloggers Quilt Festival I took a few more shots that I hope show off the hand quilting to much better effect. I hope you enjoy them.

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: my entry 'Norfolk Bricks' (hanging over a wooden gate), © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The colours glow under dark clouds

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: my entry 'Norfolk Bricks' (detail mosaic), © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Quilting details

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: my entry 'Norfolk Bricks' (showing the pieced back hanging over a wardrobe door), © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The pieced back includes some scraps from the front

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: my entry 'Norfolk Bricks' (folded), © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Folded and still looking good!

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015: my entry 'Norfolk Bricks' (folded to show the binding), © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Binding detail

Please Vote For Norfolk Bricks!

The Bloggers Quilt Festival is a wonderful event that I’m so pleased to be able to take part in this year, especially with this particular quilt which means so much to me. Come and show your support by heading on over to take a look at all the fabulous quilts – and please vote for Norfolk Bricks in the Hand Quilted category. I’d be so thrilled if you do!

A Few Related Posts About Making Norfolk Bricks

Wrapped in a lap quilt on a wooded track. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Taking cover from the rain! Fittingly, this photo was taken by my son Kim.

If you’re entering the Bloggers Quilt Festival too make sure you let us know in the comments below so that we can come and support you.

Linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social this week – as ever, don’t miss it.

Have a happy Festival – and don’t forget you can vote for Norfolk Bricks in the Hand Quilted category. Thank you!

Addendum! Come and see August Rain my second Bloggers Quilt Festival entry in the Scrappy Quilt category!

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Seasonal Colour Scheme: Autumn

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)

Finding Quilt Inspiration in the Natural World

A seasonal colour scheme is a great way to put together a palette for your quilt – you’ve only got to think about the colour of autumn leaves to feel inspired! And it’s much simpler than you might think too. We can build on what we learnt on making a natural collection for quilt inspiration and tailor it to each season. This article focuses on autumn and will be followed by winter, spring and summer. Just as you’d expect.

What does Autumn Mean to You?

Spicy pumpkins and turning leaves perhaps? Or temperature inversions with willowy mists hanging above the river (Cambridge in autumn always conjures up this image for me), or perhaps it’s a walk in the woods foraging for seasonal fruits and mushrooms.  Whatever it means to you is what you need to try and capture in a seasonal colour scheme to make your quilt more personal, more loved and much more expressive of who you are.

The first step to creating seasonal colour scheme for autumn is to ask yourself:

What do you like to do on a perfect autumn day?

What is it that inspires you: what’s the weather like; where are you; what are the colours like?  Try and answer as many of these sorts of questions as you can. One of my favourite local places in autumn is Trelissick Woods – I can’t bear to miss it. The woodland walk hugs the creekside and I love the seasonal colour of the foliage: beech, sweet chestnut and oak, all changing their clothes for winter.  When low sunlight falls through the leaves it becomes incredibly atmospheric, but I love it just as much on a damp drizzly morning when the smells of autumn are intensified. I love to look for fungi and lichen, pine cones, herons on the water… whenever I think of autumn, I think of this place. This is what autumn means to me, what does it mean to you?

Creating a seasonal colour scheme: the woods at Trelissick (UK) in autumn (October 2015). © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Photographed at Trelissick last week – surprisingly green perhaps?

First Hand Inspiration

I strongly believe that the best, most creative and intuitive seasonal colour scheme (or any colour scheme) is inspired by first hand research. You can’t understand or get a feel for the subtle colour changes across the surface of a leaf, the intensity of its colours in the sunshine, or the way they change in shadow or low light by looking at a photograph in a magazine. That photograph, sumptuous as it may be, has been through umpteen hands before you get to see it: the photographer, the editor, the printer… and with each pair of hands that ‘touch it’ it holds something of that person and less and less of the original.  So make a promise to yourself that you’ll collect as much first hand information as you can.  Refer to last week’s post on creating a natural collection.

If, like me, your favourite autumn activity is a walk in the woods, go for a walk in the woods!  Go wherever you need to be to observe, absorb and collect things that fill you with a sense of that place in autumn.  Take a bag for your collections, take a notebook and a pencil for sketches or notes about the things you see, take photos – your photos. Remember, they don’t have to be works of art (that’s what your quilt will be!), they’re simply reference material, reminders of what it is that create that feeling of autumn for you.

Mood Board or a Sketch Book

Which do you prefer? I use both. If I’m creating a seasonal colour scheme I quite like to stick things on the wall or on a board as I’m mulling things over and then move them to a sketchbook when I’m clearer about the direction I want to go in, or even once the project’s finished.  Putting seasonal colour scheme inspiration up on the wall’s a bit like enjoying being surrounded by the tools of our trade: fabric, thread, quilts and so on, but much more focused.

When you’re creating a seasonal colour scheme it’s important to be surrounded by the original things you collected, notes you took, your photographs… you’ll unconsciously absorb them as you pass by or stare at them from your desk.  At this point feel free to add in any other inspiration you might have or come across: magazine articles, postcards, poetry or other text, pictures of other places that capture the mood you want to create, objects that encapsulate it. Even fabric! Just make sure you’ve done your first hand research too, because this is where you’ll find the detail and colour nuances that will make a seasonal colour scheme come alive.

How I Created a Seasonal Colour Scheme for Autumn

Let’s take this autumn cushion as an example:

Autumn Gold cushion, designed with a seasonal colour scheme by © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Autumn Gold

I actually made this cushion in 2010, but collecting the inspiration for the colour scheme is as vivid to me today as it was then. Of course it involved autumnal walks in the woodland around Trelissick.  I took a huge number of photographs, of which these four are just a sample that I was particularly fond of. They’re not great photographs, one of them isn’t even very well focussed, but it really captures the mood I was interested in, so I stuck it up on the wall.  I’m a great one for cutting off bits that I’m not interested in, or turning images around if I want to – third from the left is Virginia creeper climbing a house wall, cropped and turned on its side.  It really doesn’t matter – it’s the colour palette I’m interested in.

Designing a seasonal colour scheme: autumn. Colours of leaves and trees on a woodland walk in 2010. © Stephanie Boon, www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Designing a seasonal colour scheme: autumn. Group of autumn leaves on a white background. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Brought home for inspiration

I studied the leaves I brought home for inspiration in detail and went on to make a series of gouache paintings of them.

Inspiration for a seasonal colour scheme: Red Leaf. 'A Small But Beautiful Thing' watercolour painting on paper © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Red leaf

Inspiration for a seasonal colour scheme: Oak Leaf, gouache on paper 2010. © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Oak Leaf, gouache on paper 2010

Inspiration for a seasonal colour scheme: Maple leaf, gouache on paper. © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Maple Leaf. Watercolour 2010

I think there were about 7 – 9 paintings in the series which I stood up all around me at the time.

Choosing the Fabric

This next part of the process is obviously a very exciting one for patchwork and quilters! So where do you start?  Well for this project what I loved about the colours of my inspiration was the way in which the gold seemed to shimmer and stand out from the backgrounds.   I decided that gold would be my highest value colour, which means it would provide the lightest contrast in the scheme (note that there’s nothing lighter, no whites for example). I wanted red to be the most dominant colour, because for me this colour was providing the richness and warmth that I love about the season.  Looking at the photos, paintings and leaves that I’d brought home, I could see that there was some green in the palette too. It has the automatic association with leaves, but it’s not one of my favourite colours.  I decided to add some green just to hint at the idea of leaves and autumn, but to play it down overall in the colour scheme.


So far then I had:

  1. Golds Crucial to the seasonal colour scheme and ranging from golden yellows to light bronze.
  2. Reds Darker in contrast (value) to the golds, these would range from pinkish to almost orange.
  3. Greens A minimal smattering in a vivid green would catch the eye.

What I needed now was some strong contrast to really make the colours sing. The deep neutral blacks and browns I chose for the job would remind me of the shadows under the trees.

So, as you can see, I stuck to a relatively limited colour palette: just three colours, plus the neutral black.

This does several things. It allows me to play with the variations in hue that I saw in the natural world around me.  The leaves aren’t just one red, or one gold; they’re made up of lots of different shades. This gives the impression of lots of colours in my palette, but it’s much easier to control. There are even a couple of flashes of blue in one or two of the prints, but because the other colours are so coherent it doesn’t affect the mood, which is very important to me.


As for the types of prints themselves, I loved the idea of circles because it reminded me of rain on puddles and there are one or two prints that hint at leaf forms, but overall they’re pretty abstract. They all have a smallish motif to reflect the small size of the square patches I wanted to use.


Your challenge this week is to create a seasonal colour scheme.  If you’d like to take up the challenge, the first thing to do is to find the place that will provide you with colour inspiration for autumn. Then make a visit, take some photos, etc and bring home a few bits for your natural collection. Display your collection around you.  Think about what it is you love about it, which aspects of it capture the right mood.  Think about the values / contrast: which is the highest (lightest) and which is the lowest (darkest).  Now choose three colours, plus a neutral and put together a colour scheme using fabric from your stash.  No need to make anything from it if you don’t want to, but if you do, have fun!

Don’t forget the previous posts in the series for a refresher on value, proportion, neutrals and colour matching.

Share With Us

If you’ve got any questions or tips to share, leave a comment below! (Feel free to leave links to your own posts on the subject too.)   If you’ve put together a seasonal colour scheme come and share it on  Facebook and Instagram too!


Other Articles in the Series

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)

Links to all the weekly posts are listed on the Colour index page.

Inspiration for your Seasonal Colour Scheme

Linking up with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday once again.  Kelly has some fantastic quilt  inspiration for you this week – big and bold!

Check out my favourite link parties here:

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

If you’ve enjoyed this article on creating a seasonal colour scheme I’d love it if you’d share it with your friends via the links below and hope you’ll join me again next week for designing a seasonal colour scheme for winter.

Until next time …

Happy leaf kicking!

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Natural Collection for Colour Inspiration

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)

How to Find Colour Inspiration in the Natural World

Welcome to post 6 in the series on how to design colour schemes for your quilt, without colour theory. This series is intended to help you build a more intuitive approach to colour. This week we’ll be taking a look at how you can find colour inspiration in nature and the natural world. It’s a vast and exciting topic!  We’ll continue to build on the skills we’ve been developing so far in the series: colour matching, colour proportions and colour values.

Pink Japanese anemone flower - colour inspiration for a quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com


Where Do I Start?

The exciting thing about finding colour inspiration in nature is that there’s just so much to be inspired by, from the colours of autumn to the colour of a tiger’s coat!  If you love the view of your garden or the majestic mountains, the deep blue-green of the ocean or the earthy reds on a dusty road, I’m going to show you how you can capture the essence of what you see and develop it into a palette for your quilt.

I know how incredibly overwhelming the thought of this can be – there’s just so much to see that it can be difficult to know where to start.  In this post, the first of several on this particular topic, we’re going to start very simply and I’m going to show you some ways of making effortless choices.

Bring Nature Home

Colour inspiration can be found literally anywhere. You can stare at a landscape endlessly and see so many colours that it can be really hard to distill into a workable palette for a quilt. To make it effortless we need to uncomplicate it and get rid of the distractions and extraneous stuff we’re not interested in. We need to bring nature home:

We need to create a natural collection!

Colour inspiration for a quilt from the natural world: create a nature table. This collection includes, shells, fossils, skulls, pebbles, birds' feathers, wings and nests.. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

My natural collection (or some of it!)

These are just some of the pieces that I’ve collected when I’ve been out walking (other than the fossil, which I bought). They really intrigue me and I love the tactile quality of the objects, as well as the soft colours. I display them in a cupboard or jars when I get home; I think it’s really important to be surrounded by inspiring things.  These objects, from shells, skulls and feathers hold personal meaning for me, stories if you will. As well as the stories they hold and the metaphors I make with them, they can make excellent colour inspiration for a natural or monochrome scheme, which I’ll show you below.

What Should I Collect?

Absolutely anything that you love.  Ideas might include leaves, flowers, seeds, bark covered with lichen, sheep’s wool caught on a fence, earth (take a jar along with you!) or grasses.

Colour inspiration for a quilt: seashells and a fossil in pinkish hues. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Soft pinks and naturals

Collect your objects together and make a note (mental or otherwise) of what you like about them. Perhaps the seashells remind you of a holiday, or you love the combination of colours in a bird’s feather you found on a local walk. Think about the mood the objects conjure up for you – perhaps the seashells make you feel calm and the bird’s feather makes you feel warm with thoughts of autumn, or joyous with thoughts of spring.


When we think of nature the natural flow of seasons surely comes to mind. Many of us have colours that we specifically associate with particular seasons, whether it’s green in spring, blue in summer, orange in autumn or red in winter.

It’s autumn time here in the northern hemisphere at the moment, which is my favourite season. When I’m out walking I like to look closely and absorb the colours that I see around me.  Autumn isn’t just about the rich golds and oranges of fallen leaves. For me it encompasses fine grey mists and washed out colours, the soft and subtle browns of fungi and the silvery threads of spiders’ webs hanging with dew or rain. When you’re next out for a walk look very closely. What colour inspiration can you see that contradicts your assumptions about seasonal colour? Pick up and bring home anything that inspires you and add it to your natural collection. Perhaps you could list the items you found according to the season.

Colour Inspiration: Pebbles

I made this cushion about 5 years ago; it was one of my earlier forays into improv quilting before I even knew it existed as a form!  My colour inspiration for the monochrome palette came directly from pebbles that I collected on a nearby beach.

Using pebbles for colour inspiration for a patchwork quilted pillow. G Stephanie Boon, 2015

The natural colours of grey and sand make me feel calm and think about wet walks on the beach in autumn.  If you squint at the cushion you can see that I used pretty much just three colour values, a medium sand and grey, a dark grey and black, and a few light greys and sand.  Limiting the contrasts means that your eye isn’t moving around so much, which creates a kind of stillness, a calmness.  If there were more contrast the mood would be busier and more exciting and I would have lost the calmness that I was trying to create.

Colour Inspiration: Autumn Leaves

These cushions were made around the same time and are very obviously inspired by the colours of autumn leaves!

Autumn leaves in red and gold: colour inspiration for a patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

For this project I decided to work with the two dominant colours in the large picture in the mosaic above: a berry red and a golden yellow.  I used various prints in different shades of these two colours and added in a neutral black to create a strong contrast. White would have created a similar contrast, but that would be too light and summery for the autumn mood I was after. The black creates interest and movement and the repeat of circular shapes in the prints remind me of rain on puddles – another strong autumn theme!

Autumn Gold Patchwork and Quilted Cushion, colour inspiration from autumn leaves. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Autumn Gold Cushion, colour inspiration from the autumn leaves in the picture above.

The detail of the autumn cushion below was obviously inspired by the same colour palette.  This section has less contrasting fabric than the cushion above, but note how the dark lines of the machine stitching are used to add contrast and definition instead.

Maple Leaf cushion (detail), colour inspiration from the pictures of leaves above


This week’s simple challenge is to go for a wander and pick up a few things that you find interesting. Bring them home and develop a monochrome colour palette from them.  Look at your stash and try and colour match some fabrics to the objects you found.  Work with just one colour (remember we’re starting off with something simple!) and then add in some neutral black, white and or grey.  Adjust the proportions of each and see what happens to the mood of the palette you’ve created.  Take plenty of photos as you work through the process and perhaps stick them in a ‘colour inspiration’ journal for future use.

Sharing is Caring!

Share pictures of your nature table or your thoughts on the process of using nature to create a colour palette below. Feel free to leave a link to your own blog.  You can leave pictures on any of my social media accounts too – Facebook and Instagram are a great place to share.


Other Articles in the Series

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)

Links to all the weekly posts are listed on the Colour index page.


Linking up with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. This week Kelly is showing a finish based on a warm/cool colour scheme.

Check out my favourite link parties here:

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

If you’ve enjoyed this article I’d love it if you’d share it with your friends and hope  you’ll join me again next Thursday. Next week we’ll take a look at finding more inspiration in nature. Until then…

Happy colouring!

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Design a Quilt: Using Colour Value

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)


Talking Colour Value!

This is the fifth article in our series on developing an intuitive approach to designing a colour palette for your quilt and today we’ll be looking at ‘colour value’. Colour value is a relatively simple concept, but one that seems to easily confuse.

Norfolk Bricks. Lap quilt hanging on a farm gate. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Strong contrast in colour values are what help the 9 patch border and blocks in this quilt stand out from the background.

So What is Colour Value?

Colour value is simply the relative contrast between colours.

When you discuss the value of a particular colour it will always be in relation to another colour: the difference between black and white is the strongest contrast there is. The difficulty seems to arise when colour values are closer, between red and blue for example, which we’ll look at below.

Why is Colour Value Important?

Exploring colour value will make your patterns come alive!

The colour values are the first thing the eye notices: contrast gives depth and distinguishes one shape from another. You can create quilts with great visual effects like kaleidoscope or watercolour patterns by playing with the value between different shapes. We’ve all seen those quilts that don’t quite pull it off and it’s simply because there isn’t enough contrast between the shapes.

What is Tonal Value?

In a previous article Design a Monochrome Colour Scheme we discussed black, white and grey in detail. Think of ‘tonal value’ in the same way as colour value – only without the colour! In tonal value you’re comparing the relative contrasts between black and white and all the greys in between.  It can be much easier to determine tonal value rather than colour value (see below).

How To Find the Value

There is an extremely simple way to see colour value that I learnt in art school and use to this day: squint!  It may not do much for your fine lines and wrinkles over the years, but your quilts will thank you for it!  Try this: put a selection of 4 or 5 fabrics together, randomly.  Now squint at them and try and put them in order from dark to light.  Semi closing the eyes reduces the colour and highlights the values.

There are of course other ways to look for contrast in your fabric choices and the easiest way is to convert the colours into tonal values:

  • Put samples into a photocopier and print them off in black and white
  • Scan samples into your computer and use a photo programme to convert it to ‘greyscale’
  • Cover your fabrics with a red film or clear red plastic and the values will become apparent.
Converting the image of a quilt top to greyscale highlights the colour values. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Converting the image to greyscale highlights the values

When I was making my improv quilt top Deepening (above), I was especially interested in using colour value to create rhythm across the surface.  I used darker value prints to create blocks of colour and strips that would accentuate the vertical. I played with breaking the rhythm by adding light value strips through the dark areas, reminiscent of the effect I experienced of light changing behind winter trees.  I didn’t have a specific plan of how this quilt top would look before I started it, so I spent a lot of time squinting at it as I built it, moving around the lights and darks until the effect was what I had in my mind’s eye.  In fact I made this quilt in much the same way I would make a painting or drawing.

Red and Blue

A pure red and blue have an interesting anomaly: chromostereopsis.  If you squint at them next to each other they have a similar value, but without squinting there is the illusion that red comes forward and blue recedes. This illusion is something you might want to consider and play with when you design shapes for your blocks.

Looking at blue and red colour value in an improv quilt Floating Squares © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Experimenting with red and blue

This composition plays with colours of similar values with the addition of some very deep reds which appear to throw the blue into relief.  If you took out the very dark reds you would end up with a fairly static composition: it is the contrasting colour values that create movement (and interest) across the surface. I think the greyscale version of this composition shows that even a relatively mid-dark value colour range can still be lively and stimulating.


It’s play time!  Have a look at some of your quilts, squint at them and see if you can identify different colour values and how they help create pattern.  Why not take a photograph and change it to grey-scale to see the values clearly. Ask yourself if you were to make the quilt again would you change any of the colour values?  How could you affect the mood of the quilt, could you enhance or play down patterns if you made changes to the values?    Why not try making a quilt block several times using different values for each component to see what happens.  It’s all about experimenting – and squinting!

Share your Values!

Share your thoughts below and feel free to leave a link to your own blog posts that explore colour value.  You can leave pictures on any of my social media accounts too – Facebook and Instagram are a great place to share.


Other Articles in the Series

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)

Links to all the weekly posts are listed on the Colour index page.



Grey Scale by The Color Wheel Company

Grey / Gray Scale

  • Have you seen one of these before?  I hadn’t! The Grey Scale and Value Finder was brought to my attention by Ann of Fret Not Yourself. Visit Ann to read her description and review of this amazing tool. It looks like the perfect helping hand to have in your sewing box to me!  Thank you Ann!
  • Red, white and blue kaleidoscope quilt top by J Davis – try squinting at this to see the difference in value between the red and blues: are there any?
  • Playing With Blocks This post by Victoria of The Silly BooDilly features a series of blocks that you can purchase to help you explore colour value without committing yourself to cutting in to your fabulous fabrics!
  • Design a Watercolour Quilt Tutorial by Stitchin’ Therapy – distinct use of colour values
  • Best of The Bargellos by Quilt Inspiration  Great inspiration for playing with colour values in your quilts

Linking up with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. This week Kelly is sharing a fabulous quilt by Laurel and Pine that successfully explores tonal values, please take a look!

Check out my favourite link parties here:

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

If you’ve enjoyed this article I’d love it if you’d share it with your friends and hope  you’ll join me again next Thursday. Next week we’ll take a look at finding inspiration in nature. Until then…

Happy colouring!

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Create a Digital Colour Palette for your Quilt

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)


Going Digital

Welcome to the third article in our series on developing a practical and intuitive approach to designing a colour palette for your quilting projects. This week we’re taking a look at digital palettes and how they can help you.

If you feel a little timid about designing your own colour schemes digital palettes can be really useful. You can experiment with colour without costing yourself a fortune in fabric – always a bonus! They do have limitations, but we’ll talk about those later. First of all let’s look at one of the simplest, beautiful digital palettes there is:

Design Seeds

If you’ve seen a stunning photograph of nature with a colour palette underneath, it’s likely it was made by Design Seeds.  Jessica creates colour palettes that capture the atmosphere and emotion of the image, rather than simply the colours in the photo. It’s a perfect way of putting together a fabric scheme using an expert’s eye – even if you don’t have one yourself!

Colour Palette and image © Design Seeds. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

With Design Seeds’ palettes all you need to do is find a picture you love and then match your fabrics to the band of colours underneath.  This will help you build the colour matching skills we practiced in the first article in the series: Design a Monochrome Colour Palette.

Design Seeds also create palettes from photos submitted to their Instagram account, so there’s plenty of inspiration at your fingertips. Head on over to Design Seeds, dive in, fall in love with a palette and start matching your fabrics. You can rest assured you’ll be working with a palette designed by a human, not a computer algorithm (which is how most digital palettes work).

Creating Your Own Palette

There’s a good number of palette builders online where you can experiment with colours to your heart’s content. They’re based on mathematical formulae (algorithms), so to get that ‘human touch’ be sure to play around and mix it up. Add in some unexpected colours, play about with proportion…have fun! Here are 5 palette builders for you to try:

My Top 5 Digital Colour Palettes

  1. Design Seeds
    See above for details. Search for palettes by colour or theme:

    Design seeds colour palettes - screen shot © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

    Design Seeds

  2. Photocopa by Colorlovers
    Import your own photos and design a colour palette with this great tool. See the next section for an example of how to use this tool.

    Design a colour palette from your photos with Photocopa - screen shot © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

    Photocopa by Colorlovers

  3. Colorlovers
    A great community where you can create a palette from ‘basic’ (shown below), ‘advanced’ or ‘photo’ (see Photocopa) tools. Give your palette a name, save it, download it, share it with others in the community – or simply use someone else’s palette for inspiration:

    Design a digital colour palette with Colorlovers


  4. Adobe Kuler
    When first you open this palette designer you’ll see a colour wheel. Open the Colour Rule menu on the left of the screen and click ‘custom’ to experiment with your own schemes.  Use the sliders to change the tones, tints and shades; drag and drop to change the colour order. Save your scheme and explore 1000’s more:

    Screen shot from Adobe Kuler colour palette maker © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

    Adobe Kuler

  5. Palette Builder
    From Play Crafts. Simply upload your photo and let Palette Builder design you a palette and match your fabrics to it (but don’t do that bit – it defeats the object of learning to colour match and develop your own skills!!!) If you love this tool, why not visit Porch Swing Quilts every week for Color Mondays and link up your palette – head on over to check it out!
Palette Builder by Play Crafts - screen shot © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Palette Builder


Photocopa – turn your photo into a colour palette!

Photocopa is an easy digital tool for creating colour palettes from your own photos (or any you find on Flickr).  First of all you need to open an account, which is free, so no worries there!  Next you find Photocopa under the ‘Tools’ menu. After the canvas opens you click ‘photos’ and type in the address of your image (or find one using the Flickr option).  I’ve imported a scan of one of my own drawings:

Hedge. Pastel on paper. 2015 © Stephanie Boon, 2015. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

‘Hedge’ © Stephanie Boon 2015


Screenshot from Photocopa, designing a colour palette from a photo, © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The ‘dashboard’ showing my imported drawing

Once you’ve imported your photo a colour sample is automatically loaded with a range of suggested palettes below it (‘bright, ‘muted’, etc – see the panel on the right in the image above).  But it doesn’t stop there!  You can easily design your own palette from the automatically loaded colours. Click on one of the ‘colour not set’ blocks directly under your photo, then click on one of the colours from the colour palettes on the right.

Screenshot from Photocopa, designing a colour palette from a photo, © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Designing my own colour palette from the colours on the right.

Carry on filling in the blocks until you have all the colours you want. Another way to do this is simply to click into a block and then on to the photo itself to select an exact colour.  Next use the ‘slide’ above the blocks to change the width of the blocks. This will give you an idea of how your palette will look using different proportions of the colours you’ve chosen (remember last week’s article discusses proportion in more detail). Click on the tiny square icon below the colour blocks to see your palette at a much larger size.  Feeling happy? Click ‘save’!  And if you love your palette you can share it with the community too.  Once you’ve created a palette try adding other colours – experiment and add a bit of ‘you’ to the mix!

The drawing I’ve shown above above was the main colour inspiration for  Deepening, my latest improv quilt. I developed the colour palette intuitively to try and reflect the mood of the drawing, but it’s interesting to see how it relates to the digital palettes I played with afterwards. There’s a bit too much purple in the digital ones for my liking!

'Deepening' Finished improv string quilt top. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Deepening 2015


Digital palettes are a great way to experiment with different colour combinations, but there are a couple of points to remember. If you print off your palette to take to the fabric store, your printing ink may not be a good representation of what you see on your computer screen.  You might get a better result by taking along a smart phone and matching your colours to your palette on that instead.

Don’t rely on digital palettes to help you develop an intuitive approach to colour – you really need to look up from your screen now and again and look at the colour combinations around you!


This week’s challenge is to take a photo of something you see that inspires you, import it into a digital palette and develop two or three different schemes from it.  Try and create different moods with the same palette of colours.  It’s important to use one of your own photos because this will help you relate what you see on the screen to what caught your eye. If you have time, continue to develop your colour matching skills by trying to match fabrics from your stash/scrap bag to your digital palette.

Share your Palette!

If you have a go at the challenge leave a comment below and let us know how you got on (feel free to share a link to your own blog post). You can also share a photo on one of my social media pages, which are linked at the top right of the page. Sharing your experiments is a great way to get ideas and see how other quilters approach the same task, so don’t be shy.  Let us know your recommendations for your favourite colour palette builder too!

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed this post I’d love it if you’d share it with your friends by clicking the links below the post, thank you!


Other Articles in the Series

Graphic: How to design a great colour scheme without colour theory! Stephanie Boon 2015, www.DawnChorusStudio.com (original colour wheel graphic by Sakurambo via Wikimedia, altered by Stephanie Boon, 2015)

Links to all the weekly posts are listed on the Colour index page.


Linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social and Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday. Check out my favourite link parties here:

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that you’ll join me again next Thursday. Next week we’ll explore ‘value’ in relation to colour. Until then…

Happy colouring!

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