Monday, 4 November 2013

The Colour Brown

Over the months I have been reading the blogs I follow, and have come across the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, which sounded heaps of fun.  Each month they pick a colour for you to sew up using your scraps, and this month the colour is brown.

Well this sounded to me like a perfect excuse to use up some of the 3" squares that came in the big bag of scraps I was gifted with a few weeks ago.  These are the ones I had sorted into the brown pile ready to go beside my machine:

So I began to sew them up into pairs, with a plan of making 4-patches and then sashing them.  I will need 49 x 4-patches to make up a lap sized quilt for Stitching Hearts.  We are currently making what seems like a gazillion lap quilts for the residents of the Minnamurra Nursing Home.

And here is the first batch of pairs ready to be ironed.  I will count the pairs to see if I have enough before making up any more.

While sewing up the first batch of pairs, I realised just how many varieties of brown there are!  I also realised that something which had initially appeared brown to me, and was therefore sorted into the brown pile, was in fact a green or red, or yellow. 

So I have decided to have a chat about the colour brown.

If you go back to primary school art classes, you might remember that brown is made up of red and green, and green is in turn, is made up of yellow and blue.  So each shade of brown is therefore made up of varying degrees of the three primary colours red, blue and yellow, and may include white (to lighten it) or black (to make it darker).

Here I have pulled some of the pairs I have sewn together.   If you look carefully at these colours, you will see that going from left to right and looking at the top row, we have a dark brown with a definite red shade, which is a warm colour; then a lighter version of red based brown; then a brown with a green tinge, which is a cool colour; and lastly a brown which is almost tan i.e. there is a lot of yellow in it.  Have the colours come out well enough for you to see them properly?

If you try to put a red brown with a tan, it can look truly awful, but put it next to a green brown it is OK.  The green brown is also happy next to a yellow brown.  So the two pairs on the left are matched up with warm colour light browns and the two on the right have yellow based browns with them.

That is what people are talking about when they use the term "tonal value".  "Shades", on the other hand refers to how dark or light a colour is.
So that is how I choose my fabrics for scrappy quilts.  I choose a base colour e.g. blue, green or whatever, then I use fabrics of the same tonal value.  I find that way you can put scraps of truly awful fabrics together & end up with something that looks pretty good, despite the fabrics.

Has all that technical stuff bored you rigid??  I hope not. 

Here is the first of the completed 4 patches.  They don't look all that bad.  I must say that I winced as I was picking up some of them to pair up.  LOL.  One of the drawbacks (and challenges) of working with fabrics donated to the charity group!

I have decided to link up this post with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Why not head over there and see the inventive things that some of the others have done with the challenge.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching


  1. Very interesting! I never really thought about it but I do notice that the things I cringe to put together end up being the things that make me smile when a quilt is completed or when I look at 'old' quilts. It sounds like you are very busy with some charity quilts. Glad you decided to join the challenge. It is so fun to play with those scraps left over from other projects each month.

  2. Good points. I plan to make more very scrappy quilts so I can use most everything in my scrap boxes. So glad you are joining the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I love this challenge :D


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