Start with a Border ~ Grand Central Mystery Lesson #1

Day 8 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge, and I'm putting this week to good use.  I want to take you step-by-step through picking the correct borderWhile this lesson is designed for my next Mystery series, Grand Central, it really could be applied to any quilt.
Starts January 17th
Grand Central Mystery Series will officially kick off on January 17th, with Clue #1.  However, there is a bit of work to do prior to then.   You will need to pick out your fabric.  I want to help you with that and easing the stress involved in selecting fabric, especially for a Mystery.

I want to provide guidance on selecting to proper BorderThis is the starting point.  This will give you some time to purchase or dig through your stash and find one that will work for this mystery.   Then, we will move onto picking out the accompanying fabric during these next two weeks.

Last year, for my Sunset on the Sound Mystery Series, while I provide guidance in the Overview document, many didn't understand or choose not to adhere to the guidance.  Therefore, at the end there were some who were unhappy with their Border selection.    I have to say the majority loved their original borders, and I think everyone was thrilled with their final quilts.

However, like any good process improvement professional, I took this as a challenge to see if I could improve this process.  So, over the next two weeks, I will take you through a lesson in Color, Border selection, and accompanying fabric selection.  I will attempt to do this in "digestible" bites.   

However, this still requires that you follow along and listen to the advice given. 😁

Let me state this up front.  
  • Mystery Quilts are not for everyone.  If you are a person who needs to know what the quilt is going to look upfront, this may not be the project for you.   
  • I will be providing fabric color and value recommendations, but I will not be telling you what will go next to what, it is a mystery.  
  • You will have to trust that I know what I’m doing, and you must follow the color/value instructions very carefully, especially if you are going with a different color plan.
  • I will not be able to give everyone fabric selection assistance.  
  • I will do my best, especially if you are in a class or retreat with me, but I will not be able to handle an insurgence of emails, FB messaging, texts, etc. with photos requesting immediate feedback because you are in a store.   
  • Instead, I hope that you will read the advice I provide on here on my Blog.  You can also show the Blog post(s) to a Quilt Shop, and most of the ones I know, will gladly help you.  If you need a referral, I'm happy to help. 
I highly recommend joining the Grand Central Facebook Group, this is the ideal setting to upload your potential border fabrics and get feedback.  I challenge you to display your 3-in-1 Color tool on the fabric (lesson is below), when uploading your photo.  Who knows, I might use your fabric in a future Blog Post.

Grand Central Quilt Mystery - Start with a Border Fabric

While the Quilt design was inspired by the architect of Grand Center Terminal, my fabric selection was based on the brilliant flower carts found throughout Grand Central Terminal.  Many of Thursday nights, the commuter trains are fill with the floral fragrance from the commuters and tourist taking home a bouquet for a special someone.

Quilt Sizes - You can select from two sizes:
  • Large Throw - 82" x 82" 
  • Queen - 100" x 100" 
Note: Due to the design, this quilt is not easy to re-size, especially given it is Mystery.  I elected these two sizes, as the design works in these two sizes.  I do not recommend re-sizing and I can not help you with it, if you choose to do it. Sorry.

Border Fabric - You will need to following:
  • Large Throw - 2 1/2 Yards*
  • Queen - 3 Yards*
*If you think you will want to use the Border Fabric within the quilt, as one of the fabrics, you will want to have an additional 1/4-1/2 Yards available. 

The rest of the yardage will be given over the next two weeks, right now, I want to focus on the Border fabric first. 

Now for the FUN!

Color Plan - Split Complementary
The quilt is designed and will look best with a Split Complementary Color Plan.  Given this is a Mystery, I highly recommend you follow my Color Plan or at least follow my advice on selecting your Color Plan.

You probably have some questions:
  1. What is a Split Complementary Color Plan?
  2. How do I start?
  3. How do I determine if a  Border Fabric has a Split Complementary Color Plan?
Let me help. 

1. Split Complementary color plan means that half of the colors in the border fabric are from one side of the color wheel, with the other half of the color in the fabric being from the opposite side.  This is beautifully displayed in my Border fabric below.
  • The Main colors in my Border are in the Blue Family, and are on one side of the color wheel.
    • Blue (11), Aqua Blue (8), Aqua Green (7)
  • The other colors are from the opposite side of the color wheel.
    • Magenta (17), Yellow-Orange (22).
The numbers following the color names above are from my favorite tool, the 3-in-1 Color tool.    

2. Start with a Border that you love.
  • Pull a few borders fabrics that you love and that you think will work and let's take them through the identification process below, to see if they have a Split Complementary Color Plan.
3. Identification Process -Determining if your Border Fabric has a Split Complementary Color Plan
  • To figure out if the Border selected you want will work.  You will want to work through this exercise for all of your "audition" borders and your final border, 
  • To determine if your Border has Split Complementary Color Plan, you need to first determine the colors within your Border.   
You have at least two tools that will help you with this activity.   Today, I'm going to talk through the 3-in-1 Color tool.    Stay tuned for other options in the week to come. 

If you need a 3-in-1 Color tool, you can find them in my Etsy shop, or many of your local Quilt Shops carry them.   I also use the Color Wheel Companion along with my 3-in-1 Color tool.  
  • The 3-in-1 Color Tool is great for detailed work
  • While the Color Wheel Companion helps me with the holistic view.  
  • This will all make sense in a bit.  Promise. 

Use the 3-in-1 Color Tool to determine the Colors in the Border Fabric.

We are going to take the 3-in-1 Color Tool directly to the Border Fabric and use the Color Circles on the Selvage to help pull the colors.  
  • Check to see if your fabric has the Color Circles on the selvage that were used in the fabric.  Mine did.  These are a great starting point.  I elected to pull from stash, I went with a earlier line of Amy Butler.  It is Meadow Blooms.  It is still available in several shops. 

  • Next, match the circles with the proper tabs in the 3-in-1 Color Tool.  If your fabric doesn’t have the dots, then you will need to use areas within the fabric.
  • I started at the left circle, locate the proper tab, by auditioning the tab's left side/edge along the selvage.  If you go through all the left side/edges and don't find a close match, try the right side of the tabs, these are the same color family but have tints of white, black and gray. 
  • I usually find, that more than one circle is on that tab, as the designer often uses 2-3 shades/values of that color in the fabric.   Therefore, as I work my way across the circles, I will skip the ones that are already on the another tab.  See below, 4 of the circles are on one tab, just different shades/values. 
Notice the Pink line, matching the Circles to the one Blue Tab (11)
  • Make your way to the next circle that needs a match. 
Aqua Green tab (7)
  • Continue through until you have located all the tabs for all the circles on the selvage.  I was able to locate all of my colors on 5 Tabs.  Your fabric may net 6 tabs.  Its rare for there to be more, most likely those colors are shades of tabs you have already pulled. 

Aqua Blue tab (8)

Magenta tab (17)

Yellow Orange tab (22)
  • Now let's look at the tabs and determine if any of your colors are directly across the color wheel (or 12 tabs apart).   These would be Complementary Colors.  

  • If not, is there a combination that is just one or two away of being directly across from each other, this is Split Complementary.  
    • You can determine this either by looking at the back of the 3-in-1 Color Tool Tabs or at the Color Wheel Companion.   
Back of my Border's Color Tabs
    • Let's take a look at mine.   Above is the back my Border's 3-in-1 Color Tool's Tabs.  Below I've marked my color tabs on the Color wheel Companion Tool, with my Mini-Clips. 
My Border's Color Tabs Marked with Mini-Clips.
    • On the Color Wheel Companion, it is a little easier to see that the Blue (11) is almost across from the Yellow Orange (22) and that the Magenta (17) within in a few tabs of directly across from the Aqua Green (7).   
    • While on the 3-in-1 Color Tool, you can locate the "Split Complementary" section on the back and determine that sure enough Blue (11) and Aqua Blue (8) are listed as a Split Complementary color to Yellow-Orange (22).

    • And that Aqua Green (7) is listed as a Split Complementary color to Magenta (17).

So, all the colors in my Border fabric are Split Complementary to each other.  I do not have any colors, in my Border, that are not a split complementary color to another color in my Border.  Therefore, my Border has a Split Complementary color plan and is an excellent choice for this project.  

So, does that make sense?  I hope so, I invested a lot of time to try and put this together in a manner that could be digested easily.  

I don't expect you to learn it in one day, which is why for the rest of the week I will cover some other tools and exercises using other fabrics, ones that work, others that don't.   However, I need your help to do so. 

Please post photos of potential borders in the Grand Central Facebook Group. I may elect it to used them on a future exercises on the Blog this week (I will not mention names unless you are comfortable).    

You will need to: 
  • For Picture 1 - Post a nice clear close up of your potential Border Fabric 
  • For Picture 2 - I challenge you to display your 3-in-1 Color tool displayed on the fabric (from our lesson above).
  • Let me know if you want your name mentioned or not. :)
That's it for today.  The rest of the week the posts will not be as long.  I wanted to get this one completed on Sunday, since it was so long.  

Hope you enjoyed it, feed back is always appreciated.

Keep Stitching,


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Really great information Michelle. I need to read it a few more times to digest everything. I have the 3-in-1 color tool and find it very helpful.

  3. I have had family in for a couple of weeks so just getting caught up. What a great artical to help people understand color selection.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Ticker Tape Parade Clue #6 and Color Lesson #4 Picking the perfect Border

Grand Central Mystery Quilt Series- All Aboard - Clue #1

Woohoo! Ticker Tape Parade - Clue #1

Stashbuster #2 Turning Up Pumpkins