Monday, January 17, 2011

It’s a Jungle In Here!

A jungle in where?  My head?  Well, yes, but that’s not what I was referring to.

My current stitching project is actually a 6” block belonging to Lorrie R in our CQI Autumn Round Robin.  This is the naked block.  I love, love, love the colors in this block.  It is an incredibly busy block to start with, which is going to be a major challenge.  CQ by itself, even on plain fabrics, can tend to be busy, so I will actually need to tame this a bit before I start.

Therefore, I thought this might be a good piece to use to show you some of my thought processes as I work on a block.  This piece says “jungle” to me.  I know it’s supposed to be an autumn piece, but we’ll just have to compromise and call it Autumn in the Jungle, OK??

One of the color principals I learned in interior design was that you don’t want to have two (or three or more) colors fighting each other in equal measures.  One color must be dominant, and the other 2-3 colors should take lesser roles in the show.  We are not going into color theory or percentages here.  I’m not an art teacher or student, even.  Just suffice it to say that for my purposes, I selected green to be the dominant color. Red and yellow will be the supporting cast.  How, then, to “tweak” the colors?

Well, I first decided to take this block as a whole, instead of treating every patch as a single item to be stitched or “CQ’ed on”.  And since this will be my jungle, and we usually want to work from background to foreground, I knew I needed to lay a bit more of the green jungle down.  The first step for me was that the lower left two patches with the plaid and the orange leaf had to, um, be tamed!

To do that, I added some green lace along the seam, effectively covering some of the riot of color there.  And then, after auditioning lots of things, I decided that a loud foreground “flower” was going to cover most of the plaid.   In the meantime, I added green silk ribbon leaves to the lower left and right areas, and did some stitching in the upper right to cover some of that yellow with greenery.

That red flower is just pinned on for placement purposes for now.  Don’t you think those paisleys were just screaming to be beaded???  At this point, I have also added a trailing green vine, made from ribbon floss.  Are you familiar with ribbon floss?  Well, rather than me explain it to you, check out Sharon Boggon’s post on it here.  

So now, we have a jungle-y background that “reads" mostly green.  The red flower will be the natural focal point, so it will get some sort of special treatment, as yet undecided.  The yellow sun (and the button with “rays” in its center) is the where the eyes stop next, then on to the beaded paisleys near the bottom.  The vine helps your eye move around the block, although there are all sorts of button, bead and other flowers planned to cover it up.  But it’s a connector.  

Instead of fighting with the fabric by adding more CQ busy-ness right from the start and “making do” with the disparate elements, we have worked WITH the fabric and colors.  We used green to restore some visual harmony and give the eye more resting places.  The best available motifs and parts are still there for us to take advantage of.  We have a green base, with several repeating and relatively balanced spots of red and yellow.  Oh, one more thing.  The stitcher who worked on another one of these blocks before me included purple in her colors.  Purple.  I love it!  I will add bits of purple here and there to repeat those elements, as eventually all six blocks in the round robin have to play together nicely in a wall hanging!

So tomorrow, for better or for worse, I will show you the finished block! Remember your sunglasses!

Cathy maroon


  1. I looked at the paisley bits and thought apples....I like what you
    did.... I'll have to go look at the block before you... Gerry K..

  2. Wow, that is one busy block! Thank you for explaining as you went along on it, it helps me understand more how to think "design" on CQ :)
    I think I need to start working on collecting lace motifs and learning how to dye them, too!
    Wonderful work, i really like how it's turning out.

  3. I love how you described your process using interior design basics! Very educational for me as I sometimes get stumped on exactly where to start. I agree with using larger elements such as lacy appliques, doilies and the like to cover busy patterns that otherwise are hard to work in. Great post!!


I appreciate your visit to my blog and love your comments!