In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, Spoonflower Ambassador Andrea Tsang Jackson made a quilt block featuring the Chinese/Taiwanese/Japanese word for love, 愛, as part of the Asian Love Banner project. In this post, Andrea walks you through how she thinks about selecting fabrics from the Spoonflower Marketplace for both this project and quilt blocks in general because different projects bring challenges and things to think about. In the case of making the Asian Love Banner block, it’s important that the sections of the character don’t get muddled together; however, for other quilt projects, you might want a certain shape or section to really stand out. The secret to either? Contrast.

About the Asian Love Banner Project

In the spring of 2021, Berene Campbell of Happy Sew Lucky designed the Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese LOVE quilt block as part of the Asian Love Banner project, which was created in response to the increase in hate crimes against people of Asian descent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was originally a fundraiser for a variety of organizations in Canada and the United States that support Asian communities. This quilt block celebrates the diverse Asian cultures of the world and features foundation-paper-pieced sections to be sewn into a banner that says the word for LOVE in multiple Asian and Polynesian languages.

How to Choose Contrasting Designs for a Quilt

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

(Note: This post mentions Petal Signature Solids, which we sunset in June 2023. However, your projects will still work perfectly with Petal Signature Cotton®—it’s the exact same fabric and can be printed with any Spoonflower Marketplace design! To find colors similar to what Andrea is using below, we suggest searching for the color name and the word ‘solid’ after it to find similar solid Marketplace fabrics.)

How to Pair a Design with a Solid Fabric

Solids against a busier print background allow the shape of each character, letter or shape to stand out. The edges remain “sharp” and uninterrupted.

Notice the different colours in the background fabric of the below photo. What colours can you see? You can narrow down a range of solid fabrics to complement a design by using colors already in each print.

Similarly, you can use a tone-on-tone fabric that almost reads as a solid, like ivieclothco’s Petal Pink Linen.

Several pieces of folded fabric with floral designs lay underneath several smaller pieces of folded fabric in solid prints, along with a paper quilt block piece with the Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese symbol for love and some assorted small quilting supplies.

How to Work With Darker Colours vs. Lighter Colours

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

Choosing Between Warm vs. Cool Hues

Generally, warm colours are reds, oranges and yellows; cool colours are greens, blues and purples. A light blue could go well with my floral print Floral-Multicolor-Dark Blue, 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.

Want to Learn More About Color Theory?

Working With Saturated Tones vs. Muted Tones

A light pink would give a nice contrast to the dark green colorway of my Floral-Multicolor design. However, picking up on the yellow in the print at a higher saturation—that is, more intense—would give it more of a punch. Here’s how the yellow gets pulled out of the design with the Petal Signature Cotton Solid in Mustard:

Saturated. Muted. Warm. Cool.

Do some of these color terms confuse you? If so, check out Andrea’s blog post “A Glossary of Colour, in Pincushions” for some clarity.

Andrea’s Fabric Choice

My final choice was Fireflies – Small by ceciliamok 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.

With a solid color on a print, a lighter color on a darker tone, a warmer color on a cool one and a muted color on a saturated background, this finished block feels like the “love” character is arising from the garden.

On the left half of the image, Andrea holds up her finished floral quilt block banner with the Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese symbol for love in white. On the right half of the image are the supplies she used to create this block.
A floral quilt block banner with the Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese symbol for love in white lays on a table along with small quilting supplies.