In the spring of 2021, Berene Campbell of Happy Sew Lucky designed the Asian Love Banners quilt block pattern in response to the increase in hate crimes against people of Asian descent during the pandemic. The project was originally a fundraiser for a variety of organizations in Canada and the US that support Asian communities, and celebrates the diverse Asian cultures of the world with foundation paper pieced quilt blocks made into banners featuring the word for LOVE in multiple Asian and Polynesian languages.

Featured design: Fireflies by Cecilia Mok

In celebration of Asian Heritage Month this year, Spoonflower Ambassador Andrea Tsang Jackson chose to make the Chinese/Taiwanese/Japanese word for love: 愛. In this post, Andrea walks you through how she thinks about selecting fabrics from the Spoonflower Marketplace for this pattern. It’s important in this case that the words and characters don’t get muddled together in the Asian Love Banner blocks, but in another quilt project, you might want a certain shape to really stand out. The secret? Contrast.

How to Choose Contrasting Fabrics for Your Quilt Project

Andrea: For this Asian Love Banner, there are only two fabrics needed — the background and the character. So it’s a great way to hone your fabric selection skills!

Print vs. Solid

Solids against a busier print background allow the shape of each character, letter or shape to stand out. The edges remain “sharp” and uninterrupted. Spoonflower’s Petal Signature Cotton® Solids in 50 shades gives you a large range of solids to pick from.

Notice the different colours in the background fabric of the below photo. What colours can you see? Now you can narrow down a range of solid fabrics to complement.

Similarly, you can use a tone-on-tone fabric that almost reads as a solid, such as pink linen.

Dark vs. Light

If your background is light, a darker colour will stand out better, and vice versa. The print pictured below, Wild and Sandy Snakes with Cacti, is overall very light. Picking up on its greys, I wanted a very dark grey for contrast. This one is Petal Signature Cotton Solid in Graphite.

Warm vs. Cool

Generally, warm colours are reds, oranges, yellows; cool colours are greens, blues, purples. A light blue could go well with this floral print, but instead, a light pink (Petal Signature Cotton Solid in Blush) is warmer and gives a sharper contrast. It’s still a gentle combo, but a little bit more visually interesting.

Saturated vs. Muted

A light pink would give a nice contrast to this dark green floral. However, picking up on the yellow in the print at a higher saturation — that is, more intense — would give it more of a punch. This is Petal Signature Cotton Solid in Mustard.

Saturated. Muted. Warm. Cool. Do some of these color terms confuse you? Check out Andrea’s blog for some clarity, “A Glossary of Colour, in Pincushions.” 

The Final Choices

My final choice was Fireflies by Cecilia Mok for a midnight garden feel. There were lots of colours in the print to pick from, but this soft pink, Petal Signature Cotton Solid in Blush (a personal favorite, if you can tell!), brought out the rich colours around it.

A solid on print, a lighter color on dark, a warmer color on cool, a muted color on a saturated background. It feels like the “love” character is arising from the garden.