Category: Technique:

Quilting Decibels

Anna Maria Horner explains her thoughts and feelings on how to use color in quilts.

My quilting, along with the industry's, has developed into something very different than it was just a handful of years ago. I feel I have become a lot more deliberate about color positioning and planning- even when improvising. Also, almost every quilt I've made over the last year includes solid fabric. The use of solids is not a totally groundbreaking thing, and we have all watched the transformation of the quilting landscape include them more and more over the past few years. "Low-volume" has proven the choice way to describe the use of solids, or nearly monochromatic fabrics in patchwork lingo. But as someone who designs printed fabrics for a living, the use of solids is something that warrants a bit of a pause in my thought and design process. I thought it would be fun to share some examples of my patchwork that include solid fabrics in various doses as a means of inspiring some of your own patchwork projects.


The Flight Map Quilt above and the Feather Bed Quilt each employ multiple prints + only one solid fabric. However you can see what a difference there is in the outcome based on the solid amount in each. The aqua solid in the Flight Map Quilt provides a serene but still saturated graphic punctuation, while the cream background of the Feather Bed Quilt transforms the whole quilt into something like a fresh piece of paper where it feels the feathers were painted into place.


Even if you boast an enviable printed fabric stash, including solids is hardly limiting yourself. You have the entire spectrum to choose from and endless combinations of solid color can do much of the design load for your patchwork. Both the Mother Goose Quilt and the Dowry Quilt above employ multiple prints along with multiple solids. Another thing that they have in common is that all the solids, including cream, appear throughout the quilts in a random way. The solids are just another piece of the patchwork and don't appear in a repeating position. This gives each of the quilts a sort of motion, another layer of design, the result of which seems to transcend the simple patchwork of which they are a part. The unpredictability of this sort of arrangement is both the fun and the challenge in it's creation. I would encourage you to take lots of time in arranging and rearranging in this sort of design process to find a balance that you like. Taking a quick phone pic of your design wall mid-process (so that you can see the layout smaller) is a great way to have a look at color and depth balance.

The Color Dive Quilt and the Mod Corsage block above are both equal doses of random and deliberate, which I really love. And the low-volume in these comes about not so much by just solid fabric, but also "tonal" fabrics or "almost solid". Which, for me, is so enjoyable when you are the actual owner of the quilt because there is something about it to also enjoy up close.

I'm so pleased to be sharing with you! And remember, even if the volume of your quilts is turned way up, as long as you love the sound, rock on!

xoxo, Anna Maria

Here are some resource links for you on all the quilts shared today in order of appearance (many of which are free patterns and/or have kits available):

Flight Map Quilt
Feather Bed Quilt
Free Spirit Solids
Mother Goose Quilt
Dowry Quilt
Color Dive Quilt
Mod Corsage