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Pinpointing Your Own Style

This lesson is adapted from a chapter in my now-out-of-print book, Scraps, Blocks & Quilts. There are some important considerations here, and it's a subject dear to my heart as I've been working on my new book, The Creative Pattern Book

DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Each of us, as we create a quilt, makes certain decisions that affect the way the quilt looks. The entire process is a symphony of choices. Consider: When you choose a block to make, that's just the beginning of your decisions. Next, there's a color scheme; then, the decision of whether or not to use scraps. Selecting a fabric palette and determining where to place each fabric in the block or quilt are two more things to think about. How should you quilt it? These are questions that come up every time you make a quilt. When viewed over a series of your quilts, the sum of these many decisions is your personal style.
 
There are probably common threads, if you will, running through most of your quilts. Do your quilts reflect a country look? Would someone say you're smitten with stars? Are all your quilts green? The fact is you've been making choices all along (whether instinctive or the result of considerable effort), and now the quilts in your closets and on your beds make a very loud statement about your style. If you understand the elements of that style, you can help it to flow easily into your quilts. If you're like me, you like some of your quilts more than others. These are the quilts that best reflect your current style. Getting to know your own style can help you make quilts that you love.
 
I've devised a basic way for you to look at your quilts and get a feel for what it is that makes up your style. I call it by the rather bulky name, The More-Busy, Less-Busy Continuum. When you put it in words, you know what to think about, and it's much easier to work through something that doesn't quite satisfy you. And if you just plug into the M-B, L-B Continuum, you can help yourself out of a style rut when you're ready to move on to something a little different. I don't know about you, but I've been face first in a few of those pesky style ruts over the years! 

THE MORE-BUSY, LESS-BUSY CONTINUUM

More Busy………….…………Less Busy
high contrast……………………blending, low contrast
strong colors……………………soft, muted colors
fabrics that read as prints……..solids or prints that read as solids
multi-colored prints……………..tone-on-tone prints
many different colors…………..few colors
many different fabrics…………..few fabrics
broad range within a color…….each color narrowly defined
complex block…………………..simple block
lively set…………………………simple set
many shapes……………………similar shapes
little repetition……………………much repetition
shifts in the value pattern………uniform value
secondary patterns………………distinct blocks
 
 
Let's face it, too much busyness is usually overwhelming. Conversely, too much repetition is boring. When a quilt makes you squirm for either of these reasons, you will know the problem at a glance. Of course, a quilt sometimes doesn't make you squirm; it just leaves you feeling a tad (which is more than a smidgen) dissatisfied. The busyness/repetition factor may be just a little bit outside your comfort zone. Try studying a variety of quilts at your next quilt show, or just look at quilt photos in books to get a good idea of what your own personal comfort zone is. 

A QUESTION OF BALANCE 

The elements above can be mixed and matched to make a block or quilt in your own style. Remember this above all: Style is a matter of personal taste. There's no right or wrong to it. All I'm talking about is achieving an understanding of your own style. To pinpoint your style, think about how busy you like your quilts. There is a point where you will say a quilt is too busy and another point at which you will say it is too repetitive. Between these two extremes is your individual comfort zone, with your perfect balance of busyness and repetition. You will probably want to include items from both lists to strike the perfect balance for you.


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