Two-Color Quilts Shine In Their Simplicity
With the largest ever fabric palette in history available to us, it’s a wonderful time to be a quilter. Yet, two-color quilts, with their muted honesty, offer a welcome vacation from the high volume that life brings to us in this day and age. Amy from Sewn Handmade built her Scandinavian Series on monochromatic and two-tone quilts, and it’s worth a deeper consideration.
Speaking to minimalists, color enthusiasts and everyone in between, two-color quilts transcend trends and maintain their classic appeal— forever. At the same time, two-color quilts can transform a quilt pattern into a modern work of art. Both classic and modern, traditional and bold, two-color quilts shine in their simplicity.
Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by a black-and-white quilt, red-and-white quilt, or a blue-and-white quilt? Head over to the feeds of contemporary quiltmakers Megan Legrand, Lelie Lemon, Park Lane Studio for striking examples of modern-day, two-color quilts.
Building a fabric stash and arriving at fabric pulls is a common conundrum we quilters find ourselves in. With an ever-expanding array of swoon-worthy prints and solid colors made available to us in fabric stores, it can be overwhelming to know what to do next. Plenty of quilters stick to using fabrics in solid colors, yet that still leaves hundreds of options on the table. Throw in small prints, dots, or calicos, and unless you have an art education, decision paralysis can get the best of us.
With Amy’s black-and-white quilts serving as our guide, we recently caught up on all things quilting, and she shared some of her insights about the magic of two-color quilts.
Rebecca Bratburd: What inspired you to write patterns that work well with two colors?
Amy Schelle: When I decided to design a quilt pattern series that was inspired by each room in my house, I knew I wasn’t going to be sewing up any colorful quilts. My own design style is very neutral. I love soft, natural colors and textures, so when I went to pull fabrics, I was drawn to designing in black and white.
AS: I honestly selected black as the background for its practicality. With two toddlers in the house, I knew it would show fewer stains. We use our quilts constantly around here. I also knew it would photograph well for the cover of the quilt patterns themselves. I wanted the cover to be very simple in design with a white background.
RB: The more practical it is, the more a quilt will be used, which is what most of us hope for. How would you describe your thought process behind your monochromatic quilt pattern designs?
AS: I specifically go for black, white, and gray because that’s what looks best in my home. These quilts float around our entire house, so now it doesn’t matter what room they are in, they match! For my most recent series, the Scandinavian Series, I wanted to give people the option to add more color, so I intentionally designed these in more of a gradient. My hope is that this will also help people when they are trying to choose fabrics for their quilt by pulling their fabrics from darkest to lightest. I think it can be overwhelming for people to visualize and pull fabrics for a new quilt, especially when you are standing in a quilt store surrounded by a million beautiful options! My hope is that this will simplify it for them.
RB: You have a love for beautiful interiors. Before you make a quilt, or write a quilt pattern, do you first envision it in your beautifully-designed home or a room you saw on Instagram or in a magazine? I’m looking at The Citizenry, Design Within Reach, Muuto, etc.
AS: YES! I am always, always inspired by The Citizenry. As I mentioned, I consider what room the quilt will live in at my own house, but mostly I let myself get lost in Pinterest for a while and just explore rooms that speak to me. I love McGee & Co as well! Their interiors are so simple and clean, yet still interesting. I also find a lot of inspiration in tile designers like Ann Sacks or Fireclay Tile. My goal is to always design a pattern that will look fabulous in a well-designed space.
RB: If we looked at your current fabric stash, would we find a mostly monochromatic collection, or would we find that you, like the best of us, end up with a dizzying array of colors and prints?
AS: Everything I have is very neutral and earthy. I also don’t keep a huge stash on hand because I get very stressed out by clutter. I sort my fabrics by color and the two largest bins are black, white, brown, and off-white. If I have other colors, they are more natural colors like blue and green. I don’t really have any prints at all. I love to use a variety of textures, so you will mostly find a mix of solid cottons, wovens, linens, and canvas. If I use a print, it’s usually on the back of a quilt so when I order it, it goes right onto a specific quilt.
RB: You’ve released three of the four patterns from your Scandinavian Series. Quilt kits are available from Pasadena Quilt Studio, Rosie Girl Quilting, Lamb and Loom, and Rose Petal Quilt Shop. Some have two colors, some have more. How do these collaborations come to be? Why might these kits be a great option for beginners and seasoned quilters alike?
AS: All of these collaborations have happened organically with time. We have all found each other through Instagram! Some of these shops pull their own fabrics and sew up their own samples. Some of them let me select the fabrics, then they sew up the sample. If I am pulling the fabrics, I make sure it will vary from any versions I am making so that customers will be able to visualize a variety of options. Kits have become such a hit because it takes out the guesswork. Customers can see what the finished quilt will look like so it’s not as much of a risk when you’re buying all that fabric. You know it’s going to be gorgeous. For example, I have a friend that wanted to make quilts for both her daughter-in-laws, who aren’t quilters. This made it much easier for her to show them options before purchasing a bunch of fabric they may not like.
RB: Any last thoughts on two-color quilts?
AS: Quilt patterns with two-color cover quilts age better, I was recently told by a quilt shop that sells paper copies of my patterns. Patterns can appear dated more quickly if the cover version of the quilt is done in trending fabrics. Black and white is pretty timeless! They also said it helps their customers select fabrics more easily because it’s only two colors.