Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sewing Basics -or- Combining Colors & Patterns

Today's basic sewing advice is in regards to combining colors and patterns. You can find a great post about how to do this on The Handmade Home. But I'll give you my two cents as well!

Find Inspiration

Anyone who has seen my home knows that I am not afraid of color. We get comments on our paint colors quite often. See, when we bought our townhome six years ago, we were excited to stop renting a place with nothing but dingy white walls. Our first order of business was to jazz our new home up with some wall color. We have a vintage-y looking poster hanging in our living room that we both love, so we pulled a color out of that to use as our wall color. We painted our living room orange. Every person who comes to our house for the first time comments on the orange walls. After six years, I hardly notice them any more.

The poster that inspired our wall color.

Here's my point: find something that you love and use a color from it! Our orange walls work because the color came from some of our existing decor and we have kept our furniture fairly neutral.

Contrast Is Your Friend

Obviously, this will depend on your personal taste, but I think you can't go wrong by introducing a little contrast into your decor. You can use contrast with color or pattern (or both at the same time). Check out The Handmade Home post for examples of how to do this.

When In Doubt, Try It Out

If you find yourself struggling to make a decision on a bold color or pattern, see if you can get a swatch of the fabric or sample of the paint so you can try it out in the space for a few days. Buy a fat quarter of the fabric and make a throw pillow first. Or incorporate the most bold elements in smaller doses. And if you make a big change and end up hating it afterward, don't be afraid to admit the mistake and try again!

When we first painted our kitchen, we chose a medium green (Sherwin Williams "Tupelo Tree") and painted all four walls.

We forgot to factor in the lack of natural light in our kitchen. We have no windows in the room except for the French doors on one end. With the darker paint, the other end of the room ended up gloomy, especially on the countertops under the cabinets. We lived that way for six years before finally lightening it up earlier this year. We chose a much lighter shade of green and painted three of the walls the lighter color. It brightened the entire room!

In sewing projects, it is much simpler to "try it out" even before buying. I feel like a hoarder when I visit the fabric store because I'll find a print I like and carry it around until I find something to go with it. Sometimes, I end up carrying 5 or 6 bolts around trying to find coordinates. When choosing two or more fabrics for a project, hold them next to each other and see how they look. I often snip a small section off a larger piece of fabric from my stash and take that with me when I go shopping so I can find something to go with it.

Bigger Patterns for Bigger Area

As a general rule, I try to stick to using smaller patterns for smaller areas of a project. Otherwise, it just gets too busy. Using large patterns on small areas can give mixed results. So when you're choosing patterned fabric, try to look at it in terms of what size of cut you'll be using in your project. When selecting the fabric I used to recover our dining chairs, I could only find a print I liked online. It's awesome to buy fabric online because you can find great deals, but pay attention to the scale! Some online fabric stores will always show 1 square foot of the fabric while others show more or less. So make sure you look at the scale and compare it to the intended project.

Here is an example of different scales. Both of these images are from FabricGuru.com. The fabric on the left is what I used to cover our chairs. Without looking at the rulers, you might think the prints are the same, but when you zoom in, you'll find that the print on the right is much larger. When I was trying to decide which fabric to order, I printed out a few sheets of each print, taped them together, and set them on my chair so that I could see how the scale of the print would look with the scale of the chair.

My best advice is to go with your gut, be brave, and go for it! You can usually fix it if it ends up being a mistake.

{Linked on Willamette Valley Wonder Woman, Sunshine and a Summer Breeze, Artsy-Fartsy Mama, Live Laugh Rowe, Rhinestone Beagle, Endlessly Inspired}

1 comment :

  1. What a great post! There is so much good info here! I love the idea of "printing" the fabric to see how it will work. I have never bought fabric online because Im scared it wont look like I imagined.


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