Friday, 29 June 2012

Colour Block of the Month: Brown

Many quilters have a serious aversion to the colour brown. The thought of making an entire block out of brown would probably discourage most, if not plunge them into the depths of depression. In fact, two of the awesome browns below came to me from Alli during the fugly fabric giveaway. She disliked them enough to send them out of the country! And it is with that in mind that I bring you this month's Colour My World Challenge block.

Luckily, I'm a fan of brown. I used it as one of the principal colours in my music themed sampler quilt, as well as my Spotted Dinosaurs baby quilt. I think it's an excellent neutral, with a lot more depth than grey, more colour interaction than black, and much less chance of getting dirty than white.

Since I had so many browns to choose from, I decided to make this month's block an improvisational attempt at the Bargello technique. I've seen some incredibly complex quilt designs made this way, but there's very little information available online on how to actually do it. I decided to start with the basics and try to figure it out for myself.

The first step was to cut some long strips of brown fabric and arrange them to form a colour gradient. I used only four fabrics to keep the size reasonable, since each fabric will be used twice in each row. I sewed the two lighter strips together, and the two darker ones, then put those strips face to face and sewed down both sides to form a tube with all of the seams on the outside.  

I laid out the tube and sliced it width wise every 1.5" to 3". It doesn't actually matter what size you make your cuts, as long as there are an even number of sections of each size. I ended up with 18 pieces of tube: four sections at 2.5", eight sections at 2", and six sections at 1.5". 

With my tube sections grouped into pairs, I started taking them apart with a cut either in the middle of a colour square or at a seam. The most difficult part for me was figuring out how to lay all of those strips out to form a graduated design. There was a lot of confusion and frustration before I finally ended up with this:

Theoretically, I know that there are at least twenty different ways that these strips could have been laid out to form a coherent pattern, but this is the only one I figured out. I quickly sewed them all together before I could forget where the pieces went, and added a border to finish it off. Here is the completed block:

This is probably the least improvisational looking block of the series, but it does still fit the criteria since I had no idea what the end product was going to look like when I started. I learned a lot about Bargello with this experiment, and I plan to eventually follow it up with a larger scale project and a tutorial.  

We are now halfway through the colour challenge, with my favourite colour still to come. Here is an update on the blocks I've constructed for this quilt so far:


  1. You rocked this challenge, MC, it looks fabulous! I love bargello and have made many -- you figured it out perfectly. Your blocks look so great together together. I meant to do a collage of mine as well, but forgot. Yours look really sharp with the solid border fabric! Thanks for linking up!

  2. I love this block!! I have made a couple of Bargello quilts myself and they are so much fun! I am loving all your blocks!

  3. Great block and actually brown is one of my favorite colors, love that earthy look!