Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Continue the braid: Find a focus

  Picking the colors and finding the focus for the French Braid is where you start naturally, and it appears to be the stopping point for many.  Once again I will send you to check out some of the examples pinned to my Braid Quilt board.  Begin by looking for the French Braid quilts and note the color combos and the focus fabric each uses.  Lots feature blues, and I love the one using fall tones.

  When I made my French Braid, I had just begun blogging and did not take enough photos to show my progression in the fabric selection.    So I am going to jump to this year and use the French Braid table runner to illustrate how I chose the fabric I used.

If you are afraid to try the braid technique.....this table runner is just the size to start with.  I left the photo large so you should be able to enlarge it and really examine the fabrics, too.
   The large center square fabric was my inspiration and focus.  It has a range of blue tones on a darker background with some softer yellow tones.
   I found a bright blue that I used for the smaller accent squares that was a very close match.  I could have used the yellow tone or a much darker blue for the accent squares.  Either would have been good, and just given a different feel to the runner.
   I used 7 different fabrics to create the braid run.....2 very light, 2 medium lights, 1 medium, 1 medium-dark, and ended with the focus fabric.

    This is the same photo in black and white.  All the color is gone and you see only the value of the fabrics.   Taking a photo of your fabric selection for any quilt is always a good idea, as it helps you see more clearly if the colors blend or contrast, or if one fabric just doesn't fit in.  I also use this technique when I do a bargello quilt.   This trick is a good one to use, especially with the braid technique.

Tips for your color scheme:
  •   Find a focus fabric, or one you want to use as your color scheme.  
  •   Now find 4-6 more fabrics based on the first fabric---select by color or contrast color.   Example---a fall fabric of golds and red tones.  Add a green print or two, and maybe use a golden brown as the accent square on the light fabrics and a lighter yellow with the darker fabrics.
  •   Be sure to have a change in value in the chosen fabrics....working from light to darker or visa-versa.
  •   Take a photo of the fabrics.  Line them up next to each other and see what happens.  Convert the photo to black and white.  Eliminate anything that doesn't fit and try again.  

   I pulled together a couple of examples to show.  I began with the dark purple print, found a fabric that had the same colors for number 2.  Then I went lighter in the purple, and next moved to a purple and yellow print.  Finally I found 3 lighter prints in the yellowish tones.  I would use a dark purple accent with these!  :)

  From leftover batiks strips.....I pulled 9 together that just might work!  But then, I find most batiks work well together.  So if you use batiks, be sure to get one or two very dark ones in there for dramatic effect.  
   So all of this is really a repeat of the selection process I use in general.  How you find a few good pointers in it.

  A few construction tips:

  •   To figure or at least estimate your length for the braid, it takes a little math.  Remember your strips will end up on point, so a 2 1/2" strip will really measure just over 2 3/4" when sewn into the braid length.  So I would roughly calculate by deciding on the length and divide by 3 to determine the number of strips I would need. So for a 60" braid length, I would plan on 20 strips (and probably throw one or two more in for good measure ).   It pays to be a little flexible with this technique! 
  •   If you have 7 fabrics chosen, you will need 3 cuts of each.  The repeating of the color run is what makes the design exciting. so plan on it.
  •  Accent square......chose your fabric for this square to contrast with some or all of the fabrics.  
  •  Accent square.....The accent square is added to just one of each of the strips for each "round" of the braid.  I first cut 1/2 of the needed segments.  Then I added a strip of the accent square fabric to a section of each fabric.  From this unit I cut the remaining segments---this unit became the second strip of each round.  It just saves a little bit of time and effort. 
  • Spray starch is your friend.....starch the braid runs before you trim them.

   Once you have the fabrics selected.....go for it. Cut those strips and stitch away.  I think you will be wonderfully surprised at what you can create.

  I will be baking for a couple of days, and preparing the final information on the Faux Braid.  Let me know if you have more questions.  Happy stitching.


Vroomans' Quilts said...

Thank you for all the information you are providing us. I am enjoying this very much.

Janet O. said...

Now I wish I had time to stop with all of the holiday prep and make a braid. I love the "black & white photo" tip. That really brings "value" to life!

Freda Fields Alley said...

This is great info... I'm gonna bookmark it! I see a braid in my future....

Nicki said...

I hope you will put all of this information in your Tutorials section of your blog because I really want to make one of these beautiful table runners one day. I will have to refer back time & time again when I begin to make one. You have given us so much valuable information on how to make braids. Thank you so much for all the time & effort you put into trying to help us along on our quilting journeys.

Dana Gaffney said...

This is all wonderful info, I feel like I'm getting a taste of your class. Thanks for the heads up about the baking, this way I won't be bugging you with emails, LOL.

Lynne said...

I have saved these last three posts -- one day, when I'm brave enough, or have the right fabrics, I'll come back to them and study them in detail. Thank you so much for sharing the information and the tips.

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