Choosing Fabric – the importance of Contrast

Today I’m sharing a little bit about a new book, A Modern Twist: Create Quilts with a Colorful Spinby Natalie Barnes. Back in 2010 (where does time fly?) I was part of a Bee with a group of talented quilters – most of whom I had never met in person. Natalie was one of them. A couple of years later I meet Natalie randomly at quilt market and after chatting for a minute, put two and two together and realized we had both been part of that same Bee. It’s always so fun to make a connection like that with someone in real life!

Natalie is an avid quilter and pattern designer and now has this new book, A Modern Twist, with quilting design tips contributed by Angela Walters. Natalie asked if I would be interested in sharing some thoughts about her book.

Natalie as a strong personal style as well as design aesthetic honed by working for years as a professional interior decorator. She shares a lot of great tips for developing your own style by looking at the fundamentals of COLOR, COMPOSITION, and CONTRAST.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about the us of CONTRAST in quilt design.

For me the use of Contrast is fundamental to creating a well-designed quilt. There are three areas where I feel like Contrast makes a difference: Color, scale, and texture.

I love playing with color in my quilts. Since I love a scrappy style, I often employ a solid unifying color (most often white) to give the eye a place to rest and to create some contrast for the busy prints and colors. Here’s an example from A Modern Twist – the light background provides a great contrast for the colors of the circles. Also, having different shades of the same colors creates visual interest.

In the photo of the table runner above, the purple solid provides a nice contrast with the other prints, adding to the design motif.

Scale can also create contrast. Sometimes you may want to use a similar color palette for one quilt. By getting a variety of scales of prints, you’ll have more visual interest as the contrast between the different scales will best show off the prints. The fabrics in the above picture on the left, are all different, but the scale of their design motifs is very similar. It’s hard to see any contrast in those blocks. On the right, two of the blocks are placed in a similar four-patch layout with two contrasting colors – in this case the tan – which helps the design motifs in the prints really show off.

In this example from the book, there are a few high-contrast colors included, but most of the colors in the quilt are monochromatic. The scales of the prints however, is what brings interest and contrast.

Another form of contrast is texture. This pile of fabrics is all in very similar colors/tones. But the thing that makes it interesting is the variety of textures included. Such as the chenille, the linen fabrics, etc. There are also a few different scales of prints.

Employing contrast in design, is totally personal. It doesn’t mean it has to be high-contrast. Sometimes minimal contrast can make something more subtly interesting. It is fun to play with and be aware of the contrast in our quilts to make them interesting.

Modern Twist is available on Amazon, from the Martingale Store, or from your local sewing store.

Feel free to visit any of these other designers to hear more about Color, Contrast, and Composition or for chances to win a copy of A Modern Twist.

March 1 – Natalie Barnes
March 2- Victoria Findlay Wolfe + CONTRAST
March 3- Teri Lucas + COLOR
Generation Q Magazine
March 4 – Julie Herman + COMPOSITION
March 5 – Jenny Wilding Cardon + COLOR
March 6 – Rose Hughes + COLOR
March 7 – Amy Smart  + CONTRAST
March 8 – Carolyn Friedlander + COLOR
March 9 – Latifah Saafir + COMPOSITION
March 10 – Amy Ellis  + CONTRAST
11 March – Angela Walters + COMPOSITION
You can also enter to win a copy here. Just leave a quick comment. GIVEAWAY CLOSED I‘ll pick a winner by March 15. (International winner receives an ebook.)
Loved reading your comments about contrast. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book.
*this post contains affiliate links

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 5:05 am

    The book looks great. Thanks for the chance to win. (debbie at wowilikethat dot com)

  • Reply
    Rosalind Gutierrez
    March 7, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Unique style of color & contrast and I like the Circle quilt design.

  • Reply
    suzanne, dutchess county NY
    March 7, 2015 at 6:23 am

    I love the contrasts between the very low value fabrics with many different textures and the bright vivid colors.<br />So fun.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Thanks for the interesting discussion and the chance to win.<br />gigiv13@gmail.com

  • Reply
    Lindsay Rodems
    March 7, 2015 at 6:49 am

    That monochromatic quilt is gorgeous! Thanks for the great examples of contrast!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Would love this book. I always need help with picking out colors. Thank you for the giveaway.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Thanks for this post and the giveaway. I have a group of colors that I love to use but now all my projects are starting to look alike. I need to expand my repertoire to include other colorways! Always enjoy your blog!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:05 am

    What a great book with many wonderful projects and ideas! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:07 am

    I have not quilted in a long time but seeing this really puts me in the mood to do it again.<br /><br />I won&#39;t sign up for the giveaway because I just won something- I&#39;ll let a &quot;real&quot; quilter have my chance. xo Diana

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:33 am

    I would love to learn more about color, composition, and contrast. Looks like a great book.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Thank you for the lesson! I struggle sometimes with contrast and this is very helpful!<br /><br />I follow Natalie&#39;s blog and amazed at her work, just as I am amazed by yours. It&#39;s so neat that you met by chance!<br /><br />Sandy A

  • Reply
    Karen - Quilts...etc.
    March 7, 2015 at 7:41 am

    love those circles!!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:48 am

    I sometimes struggle with picking contrasting colors, so this book sounds like it could help. I especially love the circle quilt!

  • Reply
    Lisa Marie
    March 7, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Looks like a great book! I&#39;m especially intrigued by the neutral quilt with the pops of color. I haven&#39;t tried anything like that, but now I want to!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:31 am

    So many wonderful projects in this book! I also enjoy all the different tips the participants of this blog hop gives.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Sounds like a book that I would enjoy learning from.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:51 am

    This looks like it would be a great addition to my library. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Reply
    Kathy Davis
    March 7, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Love the gray prints and textures.<br />Kathy Davis<br />kdavis1@centurytel.net

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Great tips! I think it&#39;s neat when selecting fabric for a quilt when you reach that moment where it looks just right… Enough contrast with scale and color.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Following this blog tour is so much fun, It sure is a small world, huh! I cannot wait to own Natalie&#39;s book, it has to be great. Her booth at the shows always draw me in, I did not know she was an interior decorator! Thank you for your blod post on her book….. schorer.k@gmail.com

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 9:21 am

    What a fun book! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Thanks for the pictures to demo the point you are making. They are worth a thousand words!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Love the low volume quilt with the strips of colour. Thanks for the chance at winning this lovely looking book.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Definitely trying to use more contrast in my quilts lately. It really does make such a big difference. Right now I&#39;m working on my first white background quilt and I can&#39;t wait to see how it turns out!

  • Reply
    anna brown
    March 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

    love the book and your ideas are help full…….ty for giveaway…happyness04431@yahoo.com

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 10:59 am

    This book looks really interesting. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I love the ideas this book shares

  • Reply
    sincerely yours
    March 7, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Looks like this book has lots of helpful information! Would love to have a copy.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 11:49 am

    HI AMY! LOOKS LIKE A NEAT BOOK!<br />msstitcher1214@gmail.com

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    It looks like a fun book! And great comments on contrast–I think it&#39;s easy to forget that contrast doesn&#39;t have to mean HIGH contrast.

  • Reply
    Holly Rundberg
    March 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I have been looking for the perfect quilt design for my bed, and I just found it! The circle design is simple and unique at the same time. Love it!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Amy, thanks so much for the info on contrast! It&#39;s really helpful to me as a beginner.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I definitely must have this book. I&#39;m looking forwards to seeing all the lovely quilts in it.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for the ideas, and the chance to win. sarah@forrussia.org

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    This book looks so great! Would love to explore the whole thing 😉

  • Reply
    Carol Womack
    March 7, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    I love the idea of analyzing what makes a quilt &quot;be&quot;. Right now I don&#39;t like quiet quilts, so high contrast for me!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    I love all the grays.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Love the vivid contrasts! They motivate me to get back to making a baby quilt before the baby grows up! Thanks.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    What a fantastic looking book! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply
    Lauren Maedge
    March 7, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Such an awesome book! Hope to read more!

  • Reply
    Ann Dunn
    March 7, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    I&#39;m getting really inspired by visiting these blogs. Perhaps some of the tips provided will sink into my brain. Thanks for hosting today&#39;s blog. <br /><br />anndunn24(at)gmail.com

  • Reply
    vinaya pai
    March 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Oh what a gorgeous book. I&#39;m so happy to have a chance to win, thank you! !<br />

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    That triangle quilt is awesome! I&#39;ve been looking at triangle quilts and I think I&#39;ve found the perfect design.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Love Natalie Barnes hot pink table runner.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for this discussion on contrast. The photos show great examples of your points.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing this info…and chance to win this Book! 🙂 Love the pictures too..my Grangirlie would loooove the Circles! 🙂

  • Reply
    Teresa in Music City
    March 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I would LOVE to win a copy of Natalie&#39;s book!!! I enjoyed your thoughts on contrast very much. It&#39;s the one element of a quilt which makes or breaks it I believe. But I admit I had not considered the different sizes of prints or the fabric textures to be part of the contrast element. I can see I still have much to learn!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks so much for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    Gemini Jen NZ
    March 7, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing them!

  • Reply
    Laura T
    March 7, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    I&#39;m always drawn to texture in fabric. For me that is what makes it sing! Great discussion and information! <br />LauraT

  • Reply
    Judy Cinerari
    March 7, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Any book which gives me more confidence in choosing fabric (eecially colours) is a winner for me. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    I am a big fan of Natalie and it is such fun to see so many other quilters I admire singing her praises as well. (See? Hear? My metaphor is mixed, my admiration is pure.)

  • Reply
    Naomi Raimon
    March 7, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    love your comments about contrast, and the book looks beautiful! thanks for the chance to win it.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 12:09 am

    I love the table runner and I&#39;d really enjoy the book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Wow. I love that table runner.This would be a great book to have, such important lessons – and – beautiful examples! Thanks.

  • Reply
    Susan Wietzke
    March 8, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Love the table runner. This book looks to be just the thing to improve my skills. Thank you for this chance.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Your comments about contradt are so very helpful.

  • Reply
    alicuz quilts
    March 8, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Great tips. Thank you!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Looks like a good book/resource. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply
    Bernice Crane
    March 8, 2015 at 6:10 am

    So much to think about when planning a quilt!

  • Reply
    Ruth Bradford
    March 8, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Hi Amy, thanks so much for your info on contrast. It is probably the area I have the most trouble with; however, you have made it easier….I didn&#39;t think about using texture for contrast. Thanks again.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I would love to win this book.

  • Reply
    Bobbi D.
    March 8, 2015 at 7:11 am

    That circle quilt! So pretty. thanks for the chance

  • Reply
    kay bowen
    March 8, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Put me in the giveaaway. Love color but intimidated !!!!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Great post about contrast ~ I&#39;m loving the triangle quilt with the pops of color! <br />Thanks for the sweet giveaway!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Good info here. Thanks for sharing, Amy.

  • Reply
    Thread Head Clare
    March 8, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Thanks for the chance to win the book! I sometimes struggle with how to shake things up with my quilting color choices – often playing it safe and keeping to tried and true combinations. This book would be a welcome wake up!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 8:08 am

    This looks like a great book. Thanks for the review.

  • Reply
    SV MQG Retreat
    March 8, 2015 at 8:28 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Thanks so much for the info on selecting colors/fabrics/etc. I love to mix both but always need the guidance … especially mixing different types of fabric. Love chenille and never mixed it with other fabrics. Great book with great ideas Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I definitely need help in this area. However, I am learning, bit by bit! Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  • Reply
    Kelly O.
    March 8, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    this was an interesting post as contrast isn&#39;t something I&#39;ve given much thought to in my quilting career…. that being said I do often look at a my quilts and determine a need for a solid fabric here and there… this book looks like it needs a place on my sewing shelf!

  • Reply
    Greta Honeycutt
    March 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Love that grey triangle quilt! Thanks for a chance to win.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Natalie&#39;s book looks great – thanks for the chance to win.<br />Andee the

  • Reply
    L Finney
    March 8, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    That book looks awesome. Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    Julie in GA
    March 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    That looks like a great book. Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    Karen N
    March 8, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Texture is a great way to add contrast and something I would not have thought about. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Carrie P.
    March 8, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    thanks for sharing about the fabric choices. Looks like a great book.

  • Reply
    Lisa E
    March 8, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I definitely could use some help with contrast in my quilts. The books looks very interesting!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    thanks – this is something I have to watch – I tend to get a little too matchy when putting my fabrics together

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Mommy Time – I remember the days! Love your book. Look forward to sewing Circles!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you for the giveaway. I really enjoyed your post and am going to check out the links.

  • Reply
    Kathy Sue
    March 8, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Loved reading your comments about contrast. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book. kathleendotlutzatcomcastdotnet

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you! Would absolutely Love the book!

  • Reply
    Kay Losh
    March 8, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    would love to have the book. I find that contrast in scale is really important especially in a monochromatic color family.

  • Reply
    Jenny L
    March 8, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I&#39;d love a copy of this book! I especially like the table runner on the cover. It&#39;s very colorful! Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Reply
    Renee G
    March 8, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    This sounds great. I think I would get some great ideas from this. I like the idea of texture — usually everything I produce has a single texture. Now, I want to go experiment.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Love this subject in fabric…would love to read

  • Reply
    March 8, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you!<br />Great post!<br />(Would love to make that stunning table runner, too!)

  • Reply
    Sandra W
    March 8, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    What a lovely colourful book. I would love to have it in my library.

  • Reply
    Emily Kim
    March 9, 2015 at 7:19 am

    This is what I stress about with each quilt. The &quot;picking out colors that work together&quot;! This books looks like a lovely read!

  • Reply
    Amy Deason
    March 9, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Very interesting read! I&#39;m a fairly new quilter an would love to learn more about contrasting, color, and textures. Thanks for the give-a-way. Can&#39;t wait!<br />The Stitchery

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I love this post! Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    King's Lady
    March 9, 2015 at 8:01 am

    So many things to consider when choosing fabrics! Need this book!

  • Reply
    Vikki Gray
    March 9, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I looks like an interesting book!

  • Reply
    Donna Cutting
    March 9, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I love that she uses textures in her quilt. This is an amazing book. Thanks

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I love to play with contrast in my quilts. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I love reading your blog, Amy, I always learn so many things! Thank you!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    It would make my day to win a copy of this book – warmer weather finally here and some great inspiration for quilting modern with a twist!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I love the circles quilt!!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Great quilts in this book. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Love the table runner. Thank for the great giveaways

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the contrast lesson. I&#39;m starting to experiment with low contrast neutrals.

  • Reply
    Mom C
    March 9, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    That looks like an interesting book. If I have an issue with a quilt, it is usually with the contrast. I think I have a good idea what it will look like but sometimes the colors aren&#39;t what I imagined. Mostly it&#39;s like the 4square pictures, all mushed together without definition. So I&#39;m trying to work on that. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Happy Cottage Quilter
    March 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    This book looks fabulous! Love all the color! Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    What a fun bunch of quilts. Love all the color! <br />Thanks for the chance at the giveaway.

  • Reply
    Susan Stanton
    March 9, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Your explination of contrast was right on. Natalie&#39;s new book looks like a winner!<br />yoyopattycakes at hotmail dot com

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 1:51 am

    This book looks gorgeous. So much to learn from, and beautifully presented.

  • Reply
    Material Girl
    March 10, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Love, Love, Love that tablerunner. Thanks for the chance to win the book.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 7:36 am

    I love this book! Very educational and gorgeous quilts to boot!

  • Reply
    Sandra Jantzi
    March 10, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I am working on expanding my confidence in choosing color for my quilts. This books looks like it will be a wonderful resource in learning more about colors choices.

  • Reply
    Gloria Cotten
    March 10, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Great blog! Thanks for the info on choosing fabrics and for the heads up on the book.

  • Reply
    Karen in Breezy Point
    March 10, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I learned about contrast the hard way–so important! I love the triangle quilt-very cool!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Thank you for the helpful hints and for the chance to win the book, looks great!

  • Reply
    Hilary Florence
    March 10, 2015 at 11:02 am

    looks like a really useful and inspiring book

  • Reply
    Donna W
    March 10, 2015 at 11:10 am

    This book looks fantastic and would be a great addition to anyone&#39;s home library.

  • Reply
    one line lane
    March 10, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Texture is a fun way to add contrast. I enjoy using scale mixed in with texture as well.

  • Reply
    Fiber Babble
    March 10, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Our guild&#39;s guest this evening will be speaking about what makes a modern quilt modern. I&#39;ve been looking forward to the program for quite a while – I still haven&#39;t gotten a clear idea of what&#39;s what!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you so much for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you so much for the chance to win!

  • Reply
    apple blossom
    March 10, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    thanks for sharing contrast with us today.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I love everything about colors. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

  • Reply
    janna sutherland
    March 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    This book looks like a fabulous quilting resource! Thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  • Reply
    March 10, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Looks like some great ideas. thks. pjrquilter at msn dot com

  • Reply
    Margo Yang
    March 11, 2015 at 2:21 am

    Love contrast in a quilt! The book looks great!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2015 at 11:13 am

    This book looks great so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Reply
    Steven and Ginger
    March 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    What a great guide!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Natalie&#39;s book looks wonderful! Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Great review of the book – makes me want to go right out and buy it.

  • Reply
    Sewing Sue
    March 12, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Great explanations for things, thanks for reviewing the book!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you for reviewing the book! Modern design has moved me out of my comfort zone of primarily primitives and children&#39;s prints. I&#39;m loving that dots quilt, so I would love a chance to win this book.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Loving all the posts on this book – looks like a good one!<br /><br />

  • Reply
    March 13, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I&#39;d love to add this book to my quilting inspiration library!

  • Reply
    Rachel D @ Just Sew Y'all Know
    March 14, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I struggle with the right balance when it comes to contrast, so this was helpful. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Ahhh I am so terrible at picking fabric colors, and it always stresses me out. I am so jealous of people who seem to get it right every time. 😉

  • Reply
    A Modern Twist – Blog Hop – Giveaways | QuiltShopGal
    March 19, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    […] 07 March – Amy Smart + CONTRAST Amy Smart […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.