Category Archives: quilting

Sightings of Orchid

I will confess to being a bit dubious when Pantone announced “Radiant Orchid” as its Color of the Year for 2014.  Quite a peculiar color, often accompanied by sounds of mock retching!  But the genius of The Pantone Institute is that when they want to bring attention to something, they just can.  Sometimes I wonder if they chose orchid because of these negative reactions, feeling ornery and contrary.  But as I was going through my myriads of photos from the Houston International Quilt Market last fall, I realized that orchid was already a going thing, long before the announcement.  (And, if you have access to, which I write for, you might have seen the video about the choice of Radiant Orchid as 2014’s color, and noted like I did, that it was filmed in February 2013).

What is so interesting about watching color trending is how the psychology of it all works.  Pantone twigged onto the fact that orchid was in use and still under rated, so they grabbed it and made a fuss, so it sells even more.  OR maybe Pantone set us all up for that.  Trends are interesting and trackable, and perhaps can be seeded into culture much like clouds are seeded to make rain, but for me, intuition is the most valuable resource I have and I am always paying attention to my peripheral vision.  What inspired today’s post for me was an emailing from mainstream craft giant Joann Fabrics about Radiant Orchid.  Clearly, this color is carrying through its destiny.  I don’t remember the same happening for 2013’s Emerald.

I have written at length for Pantone View about the color trends at the Quilt Market this past fall.  As it has not gone live yet, here is an excerpt from my article, on the life of orchid among savvy quilters.  Most of the images are drawn from the quilt exhibits, but some are from commercial vendors as well.

Orchid crept frequently into the mixes, adding a quirky and sophisticated twist to both muted and bright near primaries and deep pastels.  Grey works very well with orchid, either as warm neutrals or nearly inky cool tones.
Credits top to bottom (all photos by Laura Foster Nicholson):
1.       Chimney Sweep, Quilt by Kaffe Fassett (detail)
2.       Archicoop, quilt by Jenna Brand (detail)
3.       Night Sky, quilt by Tula Pink (detail)
4.       Striped Rice Bowls, quilt by Kaffe Fassett
5.       quilt by Aardvark Quilt Patterns
17-3020 TPX Spring Crocus,  17-3907 TPX Quicksilver, 17-1558 TPX Grenadine, 
19-3926 TXP Crown Blue, 13-1310 TPX English rose, 15-1247 TPX tangerine
In making a palette, I need to look carefully at the array of colors presented and choose the colors which for me, make the whole vision exciting.  Limited to six colors, it is tough to grab all of them.  In the end, the palette itself is the goal, and it becomes a whole new animal with DNA extracted from the assembled images and recombined to give a sense of visual satisfaction.


I have never pretended tp be a quilter — last quilts I made were in high school out of dressmaking scraps. They were pieced simply of squares but the colors were carefully chosen. I made one of pale fabrics, one of blue fabrics, one of red fabrics, then I learned to weave and never devoted much time to quilting again.

However I did leap forward last fall when it was announced that the annual Labyrinth Society Gathering would be held here in New Harmony (and that my husband Ben, and his sister Cordelia Rose, would be co-chairs of the event) and suggested that a community quilt be made from one of Ben’s square labyrinth drawings (see the page from his most fabulous sketchbook, above).

It seemed straightforward enough: I imagined a strip-pieced quilt with a few right angle turns. So I proposed it as a silent auction item and we invited the membership of TLS to come forward and help make it. 14 quilters + myself + Cordelia (who had not sewn since the 1970s, presumably when she left her position assisting in the Textile Department at the V&A — now there’s a recommendation!), have each received a section to make. Ben since converted the process into an intellectually simple, but physically somewhat challenging, method of using one, diagonally striped, square to piece the entire quilt. Elegant in its thought, but a bit tricky in execution as it makes nearly all seams on the bias.

I chose some fabulous fabrics from one of my favorite websites (
and after Ben had an architecture student draft the pattern, I cut the fabric up and sent it out. The blocks are beginnign to come back. They are gorgeous. Cordelia got together with her friend Sam Stineburg last week (an expert quilter who has tested the pattern for us and given us priceless advice) and she triumphantly wrote that their blocks are in the mail to me and here are photos of their process. Thanks to all of you quilters who are helping us achieve this!