Triangle Madness

Well hello! I’m feeling a little shy after not posting for such a long time. Turns out I needed to disconnect for a little longer than I thought! I pondered different ways of re-entering the blogosphere, including an epic catch-up post, but my plan is to do one work-in-progress and one finished object post a week and see how that goes. As you can imagine, I have quite a stack of finished quilts to show you!

The quilt I’ll show you Friday was actually a prototype for what I’m working on now.

Triangle quilt in progress

I got a little obsessed with the idea of color gradient triangle quilts, after seeing this pin on Pinterest. Being the occasional uber-geek that I am, I had the sudden flight of fancy to write code to generate layouts for these quilts. This is handy because you can generate a whole bunch of possible layouts without physically moving around all the little triangles on a design wall!

At its most basic, my code randomly selects triangle orientations and colors, subject to the constraint that two triangles of the same color can’t touch. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Random triangle quiltYou can also specify an ordered list of colors to be spread across the diagonal of the quilt. There’s a way to control the degree of mixing along the gradient. Here are two layouts with different degrees of mixing.

Triangle gradient quilt layoutsThe fabrics I’m using come from the Denyse Schmidt’s new Modern Solids collection, leaving out only the purples. I extracted the RGB information from this photo, and then I extracted just the hue information, discarding saturation (colorfulness) and value (brightness). This made for a pretty neat effect in the gradient, which is that the neutral colors are interspersed between the bright colors, according to their hue. So, for example, there are warm grays and cool grays in different places. This was the sequence of colors I used, after ordering by hue. There are 66 different colors.

Modern Solids color gradient

And this is the final layout I’m piecing now.
Modern Solids Gradient QuiltI also made a baby quilt version with fewer and smaller triangles, which I’ll post about later this week. In the meantime, I’m digging into these stacks.

Triangle fabrics

Finally, I just want to say it’s good to be back! There’s been a lot going on around here since I last posted, most exciting of which was this:

beach wedding

We got married on the beach in Hawaii with 25 of our closest friends and family and it was awesome. And yes, I did make that shawl. :)

All About Palette Builder: An Interview with Anne Sullivan from Play-Crafts

Friends, I’m so excited to share today’s post with you! Like pretty much all quilters, I love playing with color and thinking about different color schemes. A few times on the blog I’ve mentioned Palette Builder, a fantastic online tool I use to draw color inspiration from photos. The creator of Palette Builder, Anne Sullivan of Play-Crafts, generously agreed to answer some questions so we can all learn more about this tool and how it works. Let’s get right to it!

Tell us a little bit about your background and what your motivation was for creating the Palette Builder.

Horse Palette

I’m an artist and a programmer, which is fun but is also kind of like having two kids in my head that rarely get along. I recently got my PhD in computer science, and my focus was on game design. Some friends and I got together in our last year to talk about The Future ™ and chatted about making a crafting game over wine and cheese while sitting in an old Victorian (the setting seems really important for some reason.) We were all crafters and gamers, and thought it’d be fun to marry the two. As we got further into the wine bottle and the night progressed, we were deeply enraptured with the idea of creating some game that when you were done, you had some sort of pattern or even crafted design when you were done. Which still does sound neat.

However, at one point, one of us sat back and said “You know what’s fun already, and doesn’t really need a game to make it more fun? Crafting!” We all laughed, but it was true. And that turned our thoughts towards creating design tools with playful, almost game-like interfaces. My friends went on to get “real” jobs, but I decided to try to make these playful tools a reality, and two of them co-founded Play-Crafts with me.

Palette Builder was the first tool created because I love color, and it seems so integral to all the other tools we want to create. Being able to go from inspiration to design to finished product is not necessarily an easy process, but having a way to find colors seems like a good first step!

Without giving away any secrets, can you describe a bit about how it works? For example, I’m curious how the initial colors are chosen when I upload a photo.

If you can read javascript, you can actually see how it works by viewing the source of the webpage. So there are no real secrets. :) This is a simplification of the process, but we look at every pixel in your image, and sort them into color buckets. Then the bucket with the most pixels in it is the first color in your palette, the bucket with the second most pixels is the second color, and so forth. There is a bit more to it where we make sure the color buckets aren’t too similar in color (so you don’t end up with a palette of 10 almost-the-same-exact-shade of blue), but that’s the basics of it!

Palette Builder code

Tell us about the new features. I’m particularly excited about being able to choose Kona colors!

The very first version of palette builder we created had the ability to “crop” the image to zero in on one part of the picture, and to change the “variety” of the colors in your palette. The variety was basically changing how different the color buckets needed to be (described above.) Most people didn’t notice or use the cropping feature, and the variety slider seemed to confuse a lot of our users.

So I decided to revamp the tool completely and make it more fun, since that was the underlying goal. So now there is an initial palette chosen, but you can have much more control over the colors by choosing them directly from the image. I knew I was going in the right direction when early user testers would write to me and say how much fun they had using it! Success! :D

Grass Fabrics

Matching to Kona fabrics was always something we wanted to do, but I wanted the tool to be refined enough that I wasn’t embarrassed to show it to Kona. Fortunately, they were as excited by the idea as we were! And now that the framework is in place, we should be able to fairly easily add the ability to match other solids as well as thread, floss, yarn, paint, whatever. We just need to get permission first. So hopefully you will see more choices in the future!

How do you use the Palette Builder in your own projects? Have you come up with any particular color schemes you’d like to share?

I often use the palette builder as a jumping off point. I’ll play with it and find a palette I love, and it helps inspire a future quilt. I don’t always follow the palettes religiously, but I enjoy seeing color combinations I may not normally have thought of that make me want to work with those colors.

I have recently completed a quilt and a quilt top using the palettes from Palette Builder, which I’d be happy to share! The first is a jumbo star quilt that I created for a charity auction. My friend, Adrianne ( posted a photo of some flowers she liked on Facebook and I just loved the colors, so I immediately asked her if I could use it for a palette. At the time, Kona matching wasn’t implemented, and it was right after I finished that quilt that I made the time to get it to work!

Jumbo Star fabrics

Jumbo Star Quilt

(Note from Cari: I remember seeing this quilt on Anne’s blog and absolutely falling in love with it. You can read more about the design process and check out the amazing quilting job she did on it here.)

I also just finished up a quilt top last week before I left for Sewing Summit. I was looking for a color palette that captured the summer to fall transition without being the traditional fall colors. I remembered that I had a photo of a red dragonfly, and dragonflies are sometimes used as symbolism for this time of year, so it seemed a perfect fit. I chose the palette and used the Konas to help choose my prints as well. It made me so happy that Kona matching was working, and I admit I never would have used Kona Ochre (the golden color) had it not shown up in the palette!

Dragon Fly Fabrics

Herringbone Stack

Red Dragonfly Quilt Top

Thanks so much for all the great questions! I really enjoyed talking about the tool, and I’d love to hear how others use it. :)

AnneThanks to you, Anne, for taking the time to share with us, and for creating such a great resource! Readers, be sure to check out the Play-Crafts blog for more inspiration. Although she didn’t mention it, you may also be aware that Anne’s herringbone quilt pattern (above) is currently taking the blogosphere by storm, with lots of participants in the Molli Sparkles Broken Herringbone Quilt-Along. I recently used Palette Builder to create the color scheme for my Penny Sampler (still getting caught up on that!). Feel free to post any links to your own use of Palette Builder in the comments; I’m sure we’d all love to see some more examples!

Clashy Bright

I’m jumping on the Clashy Bright bandwagon! If you haven’t seen Rachel’s new mosaic contest over at Stitched in Color, it’s a fun one. Inspiration from Rachel’s post:

In the summertime life runs along at a brisk and boisterous pace.  And the colors of summer, clashy and bright, are a celebration of that life, crashing and colliding, stumbling upon beauty in serendipitous moments.

Here is my choice of 12 fabrics.

clashy bright mosaic

This challenge took me a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I really love this clashy combination! (According to my spell-checker, “clashy” is not a word, but doesn’t it seem so much more appropriate than “clashing?” Even the word “clashy” is kind of clashy, right?!) Perhaps inevitably, I now want to buy all these fabrics. (Interior commentary: Ooh, and self, you already own three of them!)

I tried to choose fabrics with a summery feel to them. My inspiration for the main colors was this lovely bit of crochet from Sarah London’s blog.


Pretty unique, huh? So I thought, but it turns out I must really like this color combination on a subconscious level, because when I went to my Pinterest color board, I found two other examples of clashy brightness very similar to it! There’s this amazing quilt by Applekrisp, via Flickr.


And finally this mixed media piece by Annie Flynn, which skips the burgundy but brings in the lime green.


So go check out the contest if you’re in need of summer color inspiration! Two other entries I’m loving are Melissa’s and Sarah’s. Happy weekend, friends. I’m off to concentrate on not buying fabric.

Impromptu Fabric Selection

I decided to join the Impromptu quilt-along going on over at I’m A Ginger Monkey. Impromptu is the name of the pattern, from Rachel Griffith. It has a vintage-modern aesthetic that I love. Here’s the fabric I chose.

Art Deco Florals

I thought it might be fun to tell you about the method I used to pick the fabrics. I needed 21 prints (which I’ll cut into the 42 10″x10″ squares called for in the pattern) and I wanted an “art deco florals” theme.

Let me tell you first what did NOT work, which was to pull all the florals I thought might fit from my stash and then try to eliminate the ones I didn’t want. The theme by itself wasn’t specific enough to produce a consistent color scheme or the right mix of big and small prints. I came up with multiple sets where I liked every fabric individually, but the whole just wasn’t working.

Things got easier when I decided to base everything around one fabric line. This is the “Stile” collection from Liberty Lifestyle in the pastels colorway.

Stiles fabricAren’t they great? “Art deco florals” pretty much sums it up exactly. (Actually after some googling I found that this line is considered “Art Nouveau,” but I’m calling it good.) This also gave me a palette to work with: medium blue, light green, pink, and yellow.

Maintaining a Balance of Fabric Complexity

Note that the fabrics can be divided up into high, medium, and low complexity. The fabrics in the left column all have a lot of different colors in them, and they’re larger scale. The three in the middle column have a more limited set of colors and a medium scale. The ones in the right column have two colors and are small to medium scale. I needed 12 more prints, so I decided to choose four more at each level of complexity to maintain that balance. This also simplified my job, because I now had a much smaller number of prints to choose from at any given time.

Ok, so for each level of complexity let me show you some fabrics that don’t work, followed by some that do. [Read more…]

Creating Kaleidoscope Patterns in Adobe Illustrator CS6

Hello! Today’s post is a link to a YouTube video I created about how to make repeating kaleidoscope patterns in Illustrator. See how easy it is to go from this…

kaleidoscope shapes

… to this!!

Creating Kaleidoscope Patterns in Illustrator |

If you’re unable to watch the embedded video, you can watch it on YouTube here.