How to make a tassel for the Strudel quilt wall hanging

How to make a tassel for the Strudel quilt wall hanging

QUILTING & SEWING

by Astrid Bordush

When I saw the first draft of Xanthe’s Strudel quilt pattern, before even cutting my pieces, I knew I needed a wall hanging with a tassel!  I don’t know how to explain it… I’m not normally drawn to tassels – they make me think of old and heavy velvet curtains, which I would normally only appreciate in an old theater and not so much in my own home – but I find it just adds that perfect little twist, making it a gorgeous and unique wall hanging.  So here’s my tutorial for how to make a tassel for the Strudel quilt wall hanging.

Download the Strudel Quilt pattern today!

For members of the EU, for VAT collection purposes you can purchase the downloadable Strudel Quilt pattern in my Etsy shop.

Never made a tassel before?  Neither had I, but believe me, it is sooo easy! 

How to make a tassel

Materials:

  • Perle cotton thread, or similar
  • A completed wall hanging that comes to a point, like the Strudel quilt

In general, I would say a thinner thread makes for a more elegant tassel, a thicker thread gives you a more rustic look.  For my tassel I used DMC size 5 perle embroidery cotton.  I like the subtle sheen and I find it goes perfectly with the hardwood dowel and the cotton string I used to hang the quilt.  And, most importantly, it almost perfectly matches the colour of my binding!

Step 1: Decide how large you want the tassel to be. Cut a piece of cardboard to size or simply find something within your reach that has similar or slightly larger dimensions – you can always trim it later.  I used a 2.5” wide acrylic ruler and that worked out just perfect. 

how to make a tassel

Step 2: Wrap your thread around your cardboard, or whatever you’re using, until your coil is as thick as you would like your tassel to be (with my pearl cotton that was about sixty times), then cut the ends.  Take a 10 long piece of thread, feed it through the coil you just created and tie a tight knot. 

how to make a tassel

Step 3: Carefully slip the tassel off the wrapping device and fold it at that spot so that the knot is now at the top of the tassel.  Take a second 10 long piece of thread and wrap it twice around the entire tassel, about ¼” to ½” below the tip.  Try to create a somewhat spherical shape at the top of your tassel and tie another tight knot. 

how to make a tassel

Step 4: Cut the thread loops open at the bottom and trim the ends to the desired length if necessary. 

how to make a tassel

Step 5: Now you just need to attach your beautiful new tassel to your quilt.  Thread one of the two strings at the top of your tassel through a sharp embroidery needle and poke it through the binding of your quilt, front to back, about 1/8” from the edge, and tie a knot in the back. Trim the ends and voilà, you’re done! 

Now that your wall hanging is finished, you will want to hang it. There are several ways to do that.  I have a detailed tutorial on my blog for a rustic look with fabric loops, a wooden dowel and a string, like shown at the beginning of this post – head over to Apples & Beavers for a detailed tutorial! 

Once your new wall hanging is up, grab yourself a piece of delicious apple strudel and enjoy – both strudels!  What do you think about the tassel addition?  Tell me in the comments if you’ll be adding one to your Strudel quilt wall hanging!

Hello! I'm Xanthe...

Here at Wife-made you will find contemporary quilt and sewing patterns designed by me and inspired by mid-century modern design and the nostalgia of traditional handcrafts.  Have I inspired your creative journey?  Let me know in the comments!    

Guest Blogger

Astrid Bordush

Astrid is the creative behind Apples & Beavers, and has been an avid crafter since childhood.  Astrid is passionate about sewing, but quilting is the particular craft she leans on to recharge her busy-Mum batteries.

applesandbeavers.com

Quilt binding formulas for every shape and size

Quilt binding formulas for every shape and size

QUILTING & SEWING

Before we excitedly dive into a passionate mathematical discussion on quilt binding formulas, let’s joyfully reminisce about our schooling years for a moment…

Even as a self-confessed school lover/devotee/obsessive (What can I say?? My family rarely went on holidays!), never in a million years did I think that I would ACTUALLY use mathematical formulas (let alone QUILT BINDING formulas!) in my every day life.   I mean, c’mon, be honest now – how many of Present-You can honestly say that Past-You didn’t sit in a maths lesson and occasionally think, “WHY AM I EVEN HERE?  When am I EVER going to need to figure out the circumference of a circle while knowing only the diameter measurement, when I am a world-renowned hedge-fund manager/astronaut/opera singer*???  *hmmmph*”

*Ahem. Yes, I did actually want to be an opera singer. *sigh*  What talent the world missed out on… But also never in a million years did I think as a kid that I’d be a stay-at-home-mum to four kids who writes sewing patterns in her spare time.  So there’s that.  And turns out, that I HAVE had to work out the circumference of a circle using the diameter, along with several other mathematical formulas that once seemed completely superfluous to every day life.  So there’s also that.

Before we excitedly dive into a passionate mathematical discussion on quilt binding formulas, let’s joyfully reminisce about our schooling years for a moment…

Even as a self-confessed school lover/devotee/obsessive (What can I say?? My family rarely went on holidays!), never in a million years did I think that I would ACTUALLY use mathematical formulas (let alone QUILT BINDING formulas!) in my every day life.   I mean, c’mon, be honest now – how many of Present-You can honestly say that Past-You didn’t sit in a maths lesson and occasionally think, “WHY AM I EVEN HERE?  When am I EVER going to need to figure out the circumference of a circle while knowing only the diameter measurement, when I am a world-renowned hedge-fund manager/astronaut/opera singer*???  *hmmmph*”

*Ahem. Yes, I did actually want to be an opera singer. *sigh*  What talent the world missed out on… But also never in a million years did I think as a kid that I’d be a stay-at-home-mum to four kids who writes sewing patterns in her spare time.  So there’s that.  And turns out, that I HAVE had to work out the circumference of a circle using the diameter, along with several other mathematical formulas that once seemed completely superfluous to every day life.  So there’s also that.

Quilt binding formulas = quilt math

As it turns out, quilt math IS a thing.  So all you rebel school kids who spend your maths lesson daydreaming about the quilts you could be making, maybe you should pay attention because you do actually need to know some basic algebra if you want to be a quilter!  Righto, my quilty rebels, let’s do this!

Exactly what mathematical equation do we use to figure out how much fabric to cut to make enough binding to bind a quilt?  Well, first of all we need to figure out the sum of the lengths of the edges of the quilt, because the binding is attached to the perimeter of the quilt.  And what do we know about the word ‘perimeter’?  It’s a mathematical term, and there are mathematical equations we can use to figure it out!  *and the crowd roars*

There are a few different equations we can use to determine the perimeter of an object, and, wait for it…. each equation suits a different type of quilt!!  Maths is amazing, amiright?????  *heads nod enthusiastically*  Yay for quilt binding formulas!  Let’s start with the basics.

quilt binding formulas

Square quilts

Just like the shape, square quilts have four sides of equal length (give or take, depending on how accurate a quilter you are).  To obtain the perimeter of a square, we multiply the length of one side (L) by four.  That is,

Perimeter = 4 x L

Eg.  The perimeter of a square quilt with a side length of 40 inches = 4 x 40 = 160 inches.

Traditional rectangle quilts

Technically, there are lots of different types of rectangles, but we’ll start with the one that first comes to mind for the average human – that is, the one with 2 pairs of sides that have different lengths. (If that’s not what comes to mind for you, then you are not an average human.  Take it how you will.)  Two sides are the width measurement (W), and the other two are the length measurement (L).  To obtain the perimeter of this type of rectangle, we simply add the length and the width and multiply by two.  That is,

Perimeter = 2 ( L + W )

Eg.  The perimeter of a rectangle quilt with a length of 40 inches and a width of 30 inches = 2 x ( 40 + 30 ) = 2 x 70 = 140 inches.

Quadrilateral quilts

Now this one is for all my modern improv quilters who like to make quilts that aren’t bound to traditional shapes!  A quadrilateral is a shape that has four straight sides.  This is the only qualification, meaning that the sides don’t have to be the same length.  To figure out the perimeter of a shape like this you simply add all the sides together.  That is,

Perimeter = a + b + c + d

  Eg.  The perimeter of a modern quilt that has four unequal sides, measuring 43, 29, 21 and 33 inches = 43 + 29 + 21 + 33 = 126 inches.

But what about quilt binding formulas for more than four sides?

I thought you’d never ask!  Turns out I like to design quilts that are a little out of the ordinary (Exhibit A: the Flag version of my Strudel quilt).  So to determine the perimeter of the Strudel quilt we use the same equation as above, except we keep adding letters to match the number of sides of the quilt.  For the Strudel quilt, which has five sides, that would make the equation,

Perimeter = a + b + c + d + e

Eg. The perimeter of the twin sized Strudel quilt that has one side that measures 65 inches, two sides that measure 86 inches, and two sides that measure 38 inches = 65 + 86 + 86 + 38 + 38 = 313 inches. And this same equation can be used for any number of sides and sizes!  We’re living in such a topsy-turvy world these days that quilts can be any shape you want! 😉

Circle quilts

In the case of circles, the perimeter is called the circumference.  Depending on what measurement you have you can work out the circumference of a circle two ways.  If you know the diameter of the circle (which is the measurement of the width of the circle, from side to side and passing through the centre) the equation is,

Circumference = πD where π (or Pi) equals 3.14

Eg. The circumference of a circle quilt with a diameter of 30 inches = 3.14 x 30 = 94.2 inches. If you have the radius of the circle (which is the length of a straight line from the centre of the circle to the edge), the equation is,

Circumference = 2πr where π (or Pi) equals 3.14

Eg. The circumference of a circle quilt with a radius of 15 inches = 2 x π x 15 = 2 x 3.14 x 15 = 94.2 inches  

quilt binding formulas infographic

Quilt Binding Calculations

 

Minimum required binding length

Once you’ve figured out the perimeter or circumference of our quilt you can figure out the length of binding needed.  To make sure you have enough binding you need to take into account any corners in the quilt, joins in the binding and how much we need to make the final join in the binding when we attach it to the quilt.  My personal preference is to add about 15 inches extra to my quilt’s perimeter or circumference, which is a simple equation,

Binding length = Perimeter or Circumference + 15 inches

Eg. The minimum length of binding needed for the twin sized Strudel quilt = 313 inches + 15 inches = 328 inches

 

How much fabric do I need?

The amount of fabric you need to cut the required amount of binding is just another simple maths equation that requires three measurements to calculate –  the minimum length of binding (MLB) required, the width of the fabric (WOF) you will be cutting your binding from and the width of the binding you are making.  The equation is,

Amount of fabric required = (MLB / WOF) x WOB

Eg. Going back to my twin sized Strudel quilt, the amount of fabric required for the binding = ( 328 inches / 42 inches) x 2.25 = (7.8, rounded up to 8) x 2.25 = 18 inches Working backwards you can see that 8 strips of fabric that are 42 inches long will give us a total length of 336 inches, which should be enough to bind the quilt, when taking into consideration joins and corners. So that, my friends, is quilt binding calcs for quilts of all shapes and sizes!  And because we all love something to pin to a Pinterest board (check mine out here), here’s a Quilt Binding Calculations Cheat Sheet!

 

Now, tell me how to work out the circumference of an oval quilt

Ok, smarty pants, you’re on your own.

But seriously folks… have I covered everything in regards to quilt binding formulas?  Let me know if I’ve forgotten something in the comments!

 

Hello! I'm Xanthe...

Here at Wife-made you will find contemporary quilt and sewing patterns designed by me and inspired by mid-century modern design and the nostalgia of traditional handcrafts.  Have I inspired your creative journey?  Let me know in the comments!    

How to bind 120 degree angles

How to bind 120 degree angles

QUILTING & SEWING

Once you’ve finished piecing and quilting your Strudel quilt you may find yourself looking at the beautiful flag shape wondering how to bind 120 degree angles.  Sure, you could just wing it and go for the quick and dirty approach… Or you could just follow this simple tutorial and have perfectly mitred corners!  I know what I’d be choosing (particularly since I’ve done all the hard work for you!).

And let me tell you something: this tutorial will make you a master binder for ALL kinds of angles!  Just keep in mind to line up your binding strip with the next edge of your quilt when creating the first fold – and you will have a perfectly mitred corner, not just for 120 degree angles but for ANY obtuse angle. 

To be honest, I haven’t encountered any other obtuse angles in my quilting adventures so far, and I’m guessing that sticking to somewhat traditional quilt blocks and layouts I won’t come across any completely random shapes, but I can’t help it, my background in engineering just makes me appreciate the broad validity of this concept.  So please excuse my bragging… 😝 

 

Download the Strudel Quilt pattern today!

For members of the EU, for VAT collection purposes you can purchase the downloadable Strudel Quilt pattern in my Etsy shop.

But enough talking, let’s start! 

How to bind 120 degree angles

Materials:

  • A unbound, quilted project with obtuse angled corners, like the Strudel quilt
  • prepared double-fold binding to fit the size of your chosen project
  • matching thread in sewing machine
  • matching thread and needle for finishing the binding

Step 1: Whether you’re machine or hand-binding your quilt, just start like you always start – pick one of the sides of your quilt and start attaching your binding strip (I usually start somewhere in the middle, leaving about 10 inches of binding hanging to be joined later).  As soon as you are about four inches away from your first 120 degree corner, stop. 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 2: Fold your binding to the right, so that the edge of the binding and the next edge of your quilt form a straight line (see dashed line in picture below). 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 3: Depending on the colours of your fabrics and your light conditions, a good finger press might be all you need to create a sufficiently visible crease. 

how to bind 120 degree angles
how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 4: But if you want to play it safe, feel free to use a temporary marker to enhance the visibility of the crease you just created. 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 5: Now, continue stitching until you get to that line, then stop with your needle down and lift your presser foot up. 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 6: Pivot your Strudel quilt clock-wise around your needle, lower your presser foot again and finish sewing your seam on the line you just created towards the corner of your quilt, two to three stitches, depending on your stitch length. Back-stitch and cut your thread. 

Step 7: Your seam should now look like this: 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 8: To continue, refold your binding on the previously created crease, then fold it back along the next edge of your quilt – the two folds should meet at the corner of your quilt – and secure it with a pin.  

how to bind 120 degree angles
how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 9: Starting at the pinned corner, continue to sew on your binding strip along that next edge until you get to the next corner. 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 10: Repeat the previously described steps for the remaining two 120 degree corners, then finish attaching your binding as usual until you have completed the entire round. 

Before stitching the binding down on the back of your quilt, suggest gently pressing it towards the seam you just created. This way it will be much easier to fold it over evenly. 

Step 11: Now finish the binding with your preferred method, by machine or by hand. For a wall hanging I personally would not want to see that extra seam in the front that’s typical for machine binding, so I suggest hand-stitching the back of your binding. You can do a less noticeable whip or ladder stitch, but since I’m currently finishing all my quilting projects with a chunky hand stitchthis is what the pictures will show. 

How to bind 120 degree angles AND finish with perfectly mitred corners!

Again, attach your binding along one of the edges of your quilt, until you get close to a 120-degree corner, about half an inch away or so, then stop. 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 12: Fold the next side of your binding over, creating a neat mitered corner and pin it in position. 

how to bind 120 degree angles

Step 13: Then, continue your seam until you approach the next corner. Repeat the described procedure until your binding is completed.  

how to bind 120 degree angles

Turn your quilt over and admire your perfectly mitered corners!  Thanks for following this tutorial on how to bind 120 degree angles.  Let me know your thoughts and comments below!

how to bind 120 degree angles
how to bind 120 degree angles

Hello! I'm Xanthe...

Here at Wife-made you will find contemporary quilt and sewing patterns designed by me and inspired by mid-century modern design and the nostalgia of traditional handcrafts.  Have I inspired your creative journey?  Let me know in the comments!    

Guest Blogger

Astrid Bordush

Astrid is the creative behind Apples & Beavers, and has been an avid crafter since childhood.  Astrid is passionate about sewing, but quilting is the particular craft she leans on to recharge her busy-Mum batteries.

applesandbeavers.com

The Leilani Quilt Pattern: retro but modern!

The Leilani Quilt Pattern: retro but modern!

The Leilani quilt pattern is here! Finally! Finally! It’s here (if you’re in the EU)! It’s here (for everyone else)! Yep, you heard it here first, folks, the Leilani quilt pattern is now available for download in the Wife-made shop.

Inspired by the beautiful tiled splash-backs that grace many a 70s abode, the Leilani quilt pattern is actually a pattern that lends itself to whatever style you want to make of it. Vintage? Umm, totally. Modern? Absolutely. AND with a special nod to retro. Pretty? Easy peasy! Minimalist? Can do! Yep, Leilani is an all-round style workhorse, which wasn’t what I intended when I first started out, but I can say, with full conviction, that I am definitely NOT NOT happy about it! 😉

Wife-made pattern style…

If you’ve been following along on the Wife-made journey for a while, you may have started to notice that I have a bit of a soft spot for patterns that doesn’t involve typical construction. But that’s because I am ALL about the design. When I’m writing a pattern I’m constantly thinking about the best way to put something together. Not the fastest way. And not necessarily the easiest way either (hello curves!). Because sometimes the easiest way isn’t the best way. I try to focus on finding the way that will look the best at the end, when the finished product is in your hands, as well as ensuring the creative process is enjoyable! It has to be fun to make, it can’t be a monotonous process, and it has to look good! Both my previous quilt patterns, Lovebird and Palma, are perfect examples of this, and Leilani follows suit.

So what’s so special about the Leilani quilt pattern, you ask?

  • Curves, for a start. I LOVE curves in quilts. But if you’ve never sewn curves before, don’t let that stop you from trying Leilani, because I will be writing a post on how to piece accurate curved blocks for the Leilani quilt pattern soon!
  • An off-set pattern. Visually, I think an off-set design totally trumps a ‘straight on top of each other’ design. It creates direction and helps the eye move around the quilt.
  • The pattern includes baby, cot, throw, twin and double sizes, AND the flower motif can easily be made into a cushion, as you can see above!
  • Opportunity to feature details like hand-quilting and a tied finish. Or pom-poms! Because we all need more pom-poms in our life, right?!

Let’s talk about the Wife-made versions

This Winter I’ve definitely gone over to the dark side – when it comes to fabric at least! I have made two quilts this season that feature navy and I am not mad about it. Usually I tend towards to the less saturated tones, but I have really loved working with a deeper palette.

For the cover version of the Leilani pattern I used a number of solids from Spotlight. (I’m leaning more towards solids at the moment. Not sure if I’ll stay there for long, but I’m enjoying it at the moment…) I’d like to particularly mention the pink I used in the stamens – it’s an organic Japanese cotton and boy oh boy is it soft and snuggly! It has a very tight, fine weave, and definitely lives up to my expectations of Japanese fabric.

Detailed finishes

As is pretty usual with my pieces I have finished the quilt with some big stitch hand-quilting, but I just felt it needed something extra… so I used a traditional quilt tying method to mimic the stamens in the centre of each flower. I love those fluffy little stamens! Stay tuned for how I did mine!

Wife-made Leilani Quilt Pattern

After working in a darker palette for quite a while I clearly needed a lighter fix… These cushions were thrown together using leftover fabric I had in my stash (oh those random polka dots, I love them so!). And, don’t you love it when you create something you love by using up what you already had?

Wanna know another thing I love? A pattern you can have a bit of fun with, and which introduces you to different elements you may not have considered or tried before! I’m specifically referring to the ties and pom-pom additions to the finished Leilani quilt and cushions. I mean, what little girl doesn’t want a cushion with a pom-pom on it?? Or boy, for that matter?? And can someone tell me why I feel like the pom-pom might even ‘toot’ if I give it a squeeze…?

Wife-made Leilani Quilt Pattern
Wife-made Leilani Quilt Pattern
Leilani pattern testers call out | New quilt design

Leilani pattern testers call out | New quilt design

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been working on a new quilt pattern called Leilani, and I’m now at the point where I’m now looking for Leilani pattern testers!!

Wrap your peepers around this Illustrator mock-up version, in the double size. I think I’d like to make this in a throw size. I’ve never made a quilt with a dark background before, and I’ve got some hand-quilting ideas I’d like to have a play with in a rust coloured thread which I think could work really well with this colour palette, maybe…?

What do you think? Would you like to be one of my Leilani pattern testers?

Wife-made Leilani Pattern

Leilani was a name we had on our list when we first started having babies. I loved the name from the first time I heard it – so gentle and feminine. I believe it’s a Hawaiian word meaning ‘heavenly flower’ and I think it’s such a perfect name for little girl. In the end we went with Rose, as you may know, but I’m glad I got to use it for one of my ‘quilt babies’ {hee hee!}.

Leilani is a modern nod to those beautiful kitchen splashback tile patterns from the 60s and 70s, often seen in mission brown and that really bright orange. {Aaaaah! My eyeeeeeeeees!} Which I have nothing against as colours on their own, but I think some things from the 60s and 70s can do with a bit of updating…

I’m intrigued by how the use of different colours and combinations of colours in the flowers and stamen petals give an optical illusion of movement or spinning in the floral motif. It makes me feel like I have wobbly eyes!

If you would like to be one of my Leilani pattern testers, you should know that the pattern includes curved piecing for the petals, plus regular straight edge piecing for the diamond motif and the stamen block in the centre of the flower motif. Despite what it looks like in the pic below, the pattern is not constructed in straightforward quilt blocks, which I’m realising is becoming a bit of a signature style for me (aka, I like to make things difficult for myself haha!).

Wife-made Leilani Pattern

I’m now at the point where I’m ready to send this pattern out my selected Leilani pattern testers. I have been thinking a lot about the services that pattern testers provide people like myself (in my case – a work from home Mum trying to make a few extra bucks to help with the family budget) and I’ve decided to start offering incentives such as free fabric, gift vouchers to fabric shops and discount codes. If you’d like to learn more about this and be kept in the loop about future Wife-made pattern testing opportunities, please sign up here.

If you’re interested in being one of my Leilani pattern testers, here’s what you need to know!

  • The Leilani pattern includes curved piecing.
  • Leilani pattern testing turnaround is 4 weeks.  Due date for completed test quilts is Sunday, 23 June 2019. 
  • First drafts of the pattern will be emailed to selected testers on Monday, 27 May 2019.
  • I am looking for 3 – 5 pattern testers who can offer services including testing key elements of the pattern, and providing photographs of WIPs and completed projects up to throw quilt size.
  • Incentives for testers will be determined based on the quilting and photography skills of selected testers.
Wife-made Leilani Pattern

If you are confident sewing curves, or interested in having the opportunity to learn how to piece curved quilts AND (most importantly!) you are able to complete your test quilt and provide feedback and edits by Sunday, 23 June, I welcome you to express your interest in testing this pattern by sending me an email to discuss. Please let me know which of the following testing services you can offer in your email:

  • A – pattern checks and edits + WIP photos that can be shared in Instagram stories
  • B – pattern checks and edits + completed baby sized quilt + WIP photos that can be shared in Instagram stories OR high quality WIP/completed project photos for use in stories and Wife-made Instagram feed and blog
  • C – pattern checks and edits + completed cot sized quilt + WIP photos that can be shared in Instagram stories OR high quality WIP/completed project photos for use in stories and Wife-made Instagram feed and blog
  • D – pattern checks and edits + completed throw sized quilt + WIP photos that can be shared in Instagram stories OR high quality WIP/completed project photos for use in stories and Wife-made Instagram feed and blog

Once I have a list of interested Leilani pattern testers I will approach 3 – 5 potential testers to discuss further.  The incentives I offer will vary according to the level of pattern testing and photography services provided.

I’m looking forward to hearing from interested Leilani pattern testers, as well as sending this new design out into the quilting world and seeing what everyone makes!

Finding Colour Confidence | Lolli & Grace and colour psychology

Finding Colour Confidence | Lolli & Grace and colour psychology

Today is the last day of the ‘Finding Colour Confidence’ blog series!  Like any trip overseas, it has come to the end {far} too quickly, we all feel like we didn’t eat enough of the amazing local food and we’ve all come home with a few extra kilos {thankfully this time it’s just knowledge we’ve gained haha!}.  

Colour really is altogether pretty amazing, don’t you think?  And wouldn’t you agree it’s amazing that we can often associate the way we {feel} with colour?  That it actually stimulates something in us that makes us FEEL something about it!?

That colour can have a physical impact on us is nothing short of mind-blowing.  And in case you didn’t already know, there are actually scientific reasons behind why businesses use certain colours in their branding – red for this, blue for that, black here and orange there – and it’s not just aesthetics!

But before we go any further, let me introduce today’s guest – the lovely Anne from Lolli & Grace.  Anne is a creative who specialises in hand-stitching her drawings and creating patterns for others to create with.  When I look at Anne’s work, it makes me feel so happy!  {I mean, would you just look at her?? How could she not? Doesn’t she just radiate and embody joy and happiness??}  Her use of colour is joyful, playful, warm and inviting.  Her designs feel fresh and fun.  It’s colour psychology {in action}, folks, which happens to be today’s topic!  But before we look into that, let’s hear from Anne!

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
The oh so lovely Anne!

Interview with Anne from Lolli & Grace

Do you have a favourite colour?  

This one’s easy, because the answer is yes – PINK!  It’s difficult for me to not include some form of pink in my designs, whether it’s full-on fuchsia, rosy pink, hot pink, blush pink or even a combination of pinks.  But I will also say that when I’ve made a conscious decision to use a color palette that is different from my usual “go-to” colors.  I’m always invigorated and excited to play with colors and combinations that surprise or challenge me.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How would you describe your personal aesthetic and how does it relate to your use of colour?

My personal style, as in the clothes I like to wear, usually tends towards a deeper palette of the same colors I like to use when I design.  For instance, I like to wear deep pink or maroon shirts, often with a scarf that has teal, slate blue or spring green in it. For my embroidery designs, I use those same colors but they are BRIGHT!

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

When I look at your designs and the way you use colour, it makes me feel happy!  And while your designs use lots of bright and bold colours your designs don’t feel overbearing.  Why do you think that is and what does it have to do with the way you use colour?

First of all, that’s pretty much the best compliment you can give me!  I think the true measure of success for an artist is that they are able to evoke emotion in their viewers.  For me, I’ve chosen to imbue happy, cheerful feelings into my work.  There’s already enough darkness and bad stuff happening out there without me trying to create more of that, ya know?  But to answer your question (which is a fascinating one, by the way!)…in a recent Instagram post I said that I honestly feel that colors and color palettes trigger an actual chemical reaction in our brains.  (There is science to back this up.)  I use colors that appeal to me personally, but the combinations are somewhat based on long-standing color theories about which colors work well together because of the color wheel (such as, blue and orange are good colors together). But mostly I just pick the ones that make my eyes happy, and I’m lucky that other people like them too.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

Something that a lot of us struggle with is being afraid to use colour (including me) and I think it is because we worry too much about whether our choices will be considered acceptable or technically correct (at least it is for me!).  Do you have any exercises or tips you can share with us to help us overcome this fear? 

I fully believe that THERE ARE NO WRONG OPINIONS.  If you like certain colors, then they are right!  As an example, there are certain combinations of colors that I adore (fuchsia pink/yellow green/turquoise/orange) and some that just make me say, “eh, no…boring” (primary colors used together – red, blue, yellow). But if someone likes primary colors and detests pink, that does not make them “wrong” – it’s absolutely right for them.  However, I’ve found that it is really easy for me to get too comfortable with my favorites, which is not a good thing. 

I’m learning to make a conscious choice to be open to colors and combinations that might at first not be something I would use.  Pinterest is a rich resource for this, because it allows me find all sorts of inspiration from a variety of sources – plants, interiors or fashion, for instance.  And I also have to remind myself not to automatically label colors as unappealing, because that’s limiting as well.  For instance, you know that color that is sort of green and sort of yellow? Chartreuse almost, but with a bit more yellow?  Years ago I would have written that off as a “puke-y” color, lol.  But now, I find this color to be so interesting, and versatile too.  So the short version of my advice is this – there is no “wrong” or “right.”  There is only what speaks to you. And remain open to new (to you) colors and new ways to use them, even if previously you thought differently about them.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

Do you think it is important to have a technical understanding of colour, or is intuition enough?  What is your knowledge and use of colour based on – intuition, technical understanding, or a bit of both?

It depends.  I think having some technical knowledge is never a bad thing.  But intuition is huge, right?  I have a general knowledge of the color wheel, but I’m not chained to it when deciding whether colors are “acceptable,” nor am I classifying colors as secondary or complimentary or whatever.

Do you have any tips for people who want to develop their sense and understanding of colour?

One thing that I think has helped me was painting with watercolors.  Watercolors are all about blending transparent layers of color, so you spend a lot of time learning about subtle gradations of color.  Which colors look good when they’re mixed, which ones turn muddy, how to indicate shadows (and light) with color… things like that.  You basically immerse yourself in color.  And just like any mental or physical skill, the more you exercise your brain (and muscles) working on that skill, the more adept you become at it. There was a book I spent a lot of time studying when I was first learning about watercolor.  It’s called “Blue And Yellow Don’t Make Green” by Michael Wilcox.  There’s a somewhat scientific section at the beginning of it about color and light waves and all that, but the latter part of the book is truly about how to get the color you want by mixing two colors (or shades of a color) together.  I found it very interesting and helpful.

But for a more simple and quick suggestion, spend some time perusing Pinterest for colors and color palettes that speak to you. Sometimes you don’t know you like something until you see an image that makes that “happy” connection in your brain.  You don’t have to just pull combinations out of thin air.  Gather up some inspiration, immerse yourself in it, and gradually you’ll find yourself gravitating to the colors that work for you.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How do you choose a colour palette for your artwork?  

The very short answer to this is that I choose the colors that make me happy at the time I’m designing something.  Most often there is a bit of inspiration I’ve seen or stored away that makes me say, “Oh yes! Those are the colors I want to work with right now!”  And usually, I can’t wait to get started… my fingers and eyes and brain are itching to work with those colors.  I’m also very influenced by nature.  The colors with which I want to work generally get brighter in the summer, more subdued in the fall and winter, and gradually take on a lighter tone in the spring.  And flowers… always flowers.  They always get my creative juices flowing!

Thank you so much Anne!  What a perfect interview for a discussion around Colour Psychology!

Colour Psychology

Put simply, you might say colour psychology is the study of how colours feel to human beings.  Which is kind of weird, because we don’t literally feel colour.  We see it.  But in reality, colour does actually have a physical impact on our bodies. 

Put not so simply, colour psychology is the study of colour (or hues, as we learnt here), in relation to how it is perceived by the human body, and the impact it has on our behaviour.

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How does colour psychology work?

Well, we don’t really know, tbh.  There hasn’t been a lot of study on it, and a lot of the evidence we have so far is anecdotal, but in general, colour seems to cause a physiological reaction in our bodies that makes us to react in similar ways.  

In saying all this, colour psychology is not an exact science because we are not robots!  The impact of a colour on an individual can depend on a number of variables, including culture, gender, age and plain old personal preference.  And this is the part that I LOVE because it confirms that there are no right or wrong colours! 

Because we {feel} colour, our {PERSONALITIES} actually influence our reaction to colour!  If you are someone who is reserved and quiet then you may not feel comfortable with colours that are bright and overbearing; and vice versa, if you’re someone who is loud and vivacious, you might lean towards the brighter, warmer end of the spectrum.  Of course, because we are all individuals, this might also be the complete opposite!  

Over time we have learnt that colours do tend to cause some consistent physiological reactions, however.  For example, red tends to stimulate while blue soothes.  White is generally associated with purity and innocence, while green is often associated with envy.  You can delve into this more deeply here and here.

So then…

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

How about colour psychology and design?

Since we now know that colour impacts the way we relate to or perceive something, it follows that at times we may need to consider the colours we use in design a little more closely than just using whatever happens to be our favourite colour of the moment.  And not only do we need to consider the colour we use, but also the tone!  {Gosh!  So much to think about!}

For example, if you’re making a gift for someone who has lost a loved one it might be thoughtful to use colours that soothe and express love, like soft pinks, blues and yellows.

If you’ve designed a simple pattern that doesn’t contain a lot of movement, you could liven it up through a palette that inspires action with bright red or orange.  

Or perhaps, if you have a child who won’t sleep at night, you should reconsider the orange and yellow room accents and head toward the cooler end of the scale with blues and greens that tend to tone down the energy level.

Can you think of any other ways you can use colour pychology personally, or in your work?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below, if you can!

Finding Colour Confidence with Lolli & Grace
Image credit: Lolli & Grace

In the end…

The psychology of colour is really just another useful tool we can use as creatives to help us in our artistic endeavours.  How much we use it is up to us, and it is important to remember that the way that we feel about a colour may not be how another person feels, for many reasons, including OUR individual personalities!  Nevertheless, colour psychology is an element of colour theory that can most {definitely assist us} in adding depth and meaning to our creations, which in the end will help us to connect more deeply with those our artwork is intended for.  And if you’re like me, that’s most definitely going to give a boost in confidence!  

Colour Confidence FOUND!

And that is it for the Finding Colour Confidence blog series!  *dusts off hands*  {S0} how do you feel now about colour now?  Because the goal was simply to open up some ideas around colour that might help you find your confidence in using it.  Because I wasn’t confident using it.  And I figured if I wasn’t, then there were probably others out there who weren’t as well..? 

Colour is subjective

Since I started researching colour and how to use it successfully just a few short months ago {and I use the term ‘successfully’ loosely, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned in this series, it’s that colour is SUBJECTIVE!}, I now feel much more at ease, and well, CONFIDENT {dang it!} in creating a colour palette!   

And, to me, that’s really wonderful, because previously I didn’t feel that way.  Previously, I was constantly second-guessing myself, researching palettes in Pinterest for hours on end {so much time wasted!} and worrying about what everyone else was doing.  And all that was nothing short of frustrating!

BUT… I can honestly say I’m past that now!  As a result of knuckling down, learning the basics and putting my newly acquired knowledge into practice, I’m actually pretty sure that both my skill and confidence in using colour has improved significantly!  {YAY!} 

And here’s another BUT!  99% of the time when I’m working with colour, I don’t sit down with a book of Pantone swatches and a colour wheel to do a thorough analysis of the technical relationships between the colours I have selected.  *Nope-ty Nope!* 

Trust your gut!

Mostly, I’m just trusting my gut!  {Huzzah!}  For me, colour confidence has meant getting a general and very broad understanding of the concepts of colour relationships so I can use them to build and express, and as a result, {ACCEPT} my own personal style.  And that’s what really excites me!  

I am so grateful to all those wonderful creatives who participated by giving their time to answer my questions.  And I hope it’s been an enjoyable way for [YOU} to dip your toes into the amazing world of colour!  But remember, there is so much more out there when it comes to colour – this series was just a drop in the ocean, so keep going with your learning, and keep trying new things!  I know I will be!

Further reading:

  • Fiona Humberstone of The Brand Stylist has a number of resources on Colour Psychology for creatives and businesses who subscribe to her email list.  
  • As per Anne’s recommendation of playing with watercolour to strengthen your colour muscles, Watercolour Magic is a Skillshare class which I enjoyed taking – maybe you will too! 
Finding Colour Confidence with Wife-made