Creating with Solids #1

Solids offer so many possibilities for the modern quiltmaker and textile artist. Although I had played around with hand-dyed fabrics, marbles and batiks, my early stash was dominated by prints and tone on tone fabrics. It wasn’t until I took an improvisational workshop with Nancy Crow in 2006 that I developed an appreciation of the qualities of creating with solids.

Creating with Solids - Unplugged by Brenda Gael Smith
unplugged! 100 cm x 125cm ©2006

A typical supply list for a Nancy Crow workshop includes “4 yards each of SOLID BLACK and SOLID WHITE…1 yard or more each of SOLID OPAQUE COLORS – wide range in light, medium, dark values so you can be free to work – commercial and/or hand-dyed reds, blues, greens, browns, teals, yellows, oranges, rust, pinks, etc…“.

Nancy advocates that her students build up their composition skills by working in black and white fabrics before introducing colour. You can read more details about the evolution of Unplugged but here is an overview:
black & white line study
Line is fundamental to design and provides a structure for compositions. Cutting freehand (without a ruler) creates organic lines and working with solid fabrics reveals the full expressiveness of our own personal marks. Solid coloured fabrics work like paints and make the lines and shapes in the design more visible. With solid fabric, seamlines show and edges are sharp.

I encourage you to pull out some commercial or hand-dyed solids and try out some line studies for yourself.

Related posts:

Look out for my forthcoming Quilters Companion DVD – Modern Quilts: Improvising Using Stacks of Solids. Out on 12 December!
Improvising Using Stacks of Solids


  1. […] Creating with Solids #1, I remarked upon how working with solid fabrics reveals the full expressiveness of our own personal […]

  2. […] thought I might take a bit of advice found on Brenda Gael Smith’s Blog who spoke about a workshop she attended with Nancy […]

  3. […] Creating with Solids #1, I remarked upon solid fabrics reveal the full expressiveness of our own personal lines and marks. […]