Go Underdogs Go!

Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids - Sample Card

About two years ago I went to The Quilt Store in Austin to cobble together a starter kit for my mom, who was just getting interested in quilting. I picked a bundle of solids and a fat quarter pack with some nice prints. A store employee surveyed my choices and I explained my mission. She looked at me piteously and explained how solids are boring and any quilter worth their salt poo-poos them. I bought them anyway, thinking that my mom and I weren’t salt-worthy yet anyway so what does it matter. The only quilts I could conceive of making at that point were nine-patches with alternating squares of prints and solids, so a good palette of solids seemed like a necessity.

The Denyse Schmidt book and The Modern Quilt Workshop book have changed my thinking completely. Solids are not starter fabrics, and they are absolutely not boring. In introducing the Plain Spoken pattern in TMQW, Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle write, “Solid fabrics are the underdogs of the fabric world. They sit alone in forgotten corners of quilt shops, losing out in the competition for your attention to shelves of flamboyant prints and trendy batiks. We designed Plain Spoken as a reminder of the power and beauty of solids.” And thankfully it seems like Denyse Schmidt never heard about real quilters and salt or any of that — she writes “Try to maintain a ratio of about 70 percent solids to 30 percent prints. Though certainly not written in stone, this approach tends to yield balanced designs that are both pleasing and surprising.”

I ordered many Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton solids for my Plain Spoken semi-blindly, only seeing the colors by looking on the web and in the Hancock’s of Paducah print catalog. I only went for this brand at first because of the selection, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, once you go RKKC you’ll never go back to $1.49/yard Joann’s brand. Anyway, the result of my ordering-from-afar meant that many of my choices were either not-Paletas-by-any-stretch or truly barfilicious*. I had been too excited to wait for a sampler card to come in the mail. When I realized that the Denyse Schmidt Way may be my calling for the forseeable future, I ponied up for one. So here it is. It just makes me so happy, like a pile of paint chips or a new box of crayons or a new pad of construction paper. If you are bored by solids, your inner child is dead.

* Of course no color is inherently barfilicious, I just have yet to find something that jives with 80s mauve.

Note: A version of this entry was originally posted on Dioramarama on February 20, 2006. See original entry for any reader comments.

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