Beyond Neutral Blog Tour

You might know John Q. Adams better as Quilt Dad, but I know him as Mr. April in the NGAQB. He was one of the first male quilters I stumbled across at the beginning of my quilt journey, and he quickly became a source of inspiration. It wasn’t until we became friends in the NGAQB that I got to see his talent first-hand. So when I heard he had a book coming out I approached him with something like, “Please, please, puh-lease, if you have a book blog tour can I be on it? Who’s more beyond neutral than Molli Sparkles?!” Thankfully, he said yes!

Here it is folks: Beyond Neutral, Quilts Inspired by Nature’s Elements by John Q. Adams featuring 16 quilt patterns and the inspiration for each. Now I have a small confession to make. This is the first quilt book I’ve ever looked through. Wha? I know. I’ve never actually seen a quilt book in the flesh, or even flipped through one at a book store. Thankfully, I was sent a digital copy of this book, or I’d probably never see it at all! I’m not sure how other publishers do it, but I think that is a pretty good service of Martingale to sell a Print Version or an eBook only version. 

As I read John’s book one of the things that stood out to me the most was his use of large scale prints.  Looking through my own stash, I notice I usually shy away from those in favour of the medium and small scale. So if you’re looking for some ideas on how to use your large scale prints that have been haunting you since 2008, this could be the book for you! He manages to use them in much more interesting ways than layer cake-esque squares too.

Glimmerglass (above) is my favourite because it utilises these large scale prints in multiple ways. There’s such movement and variety in the one quilt. You can easily see how there could be a multitude of “make it your own” style design changes to this pattern. That’s pretty typical for all of John’s patterns too. The foundations for each are easy to complete, and they give you complete flexibility to create outside of your typical constraints. 

One of John’s goals for this book was to show how you can go Beyond Neutral in your quilt making. That means, you don’t always have to use white or cream as that contrasting, neutral background. I know you see it everywhere, and it has become somewhat of an unspoken rule, but it is time to break free! You know I’m fully on board this colour train, but if you need more choo-choo in your caboose, check out John’s book for a full onslaught of colour inspiration. It’s time to turn your low volume world up, up, up!
(All photos courtesy of Martingale and photographer Brett Kane.)
I have an eBook copy of Beyond Neutral to giveaway! Let’s make it interesting shall we? To win, go outside and find the most interesting natural element that could be a source of quiltspiration. Trees, sunset, rosebush = BORING. Try again, then leave it in the comments. The most interesting and creative response wins, which I will reveal this time next week. Good luck!

61 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    My bunnies live in a wood hutch and run. The scattering of droppings, bits of straw and half eaten carrot slices could be very inspiring to a quilter who likes brown fabric. With orange half circles. And yellow strips. Perhaps not?

  2. Lisa E says:

    There's a very interesting playground in my town with some cool design elements. The angles, circles, and modular elements could become a great quilt.

  3. Karen Thurn says:

    Recently we lost a big tree branch after a storm. In ND we don't have a lot of trees so it was a big deal. As my husband was sawing it the rest of the way off, I noticed how interesting the tree wound looked; jagged and straight lines, browns and gray colors, smooth and bumpy. That tree had been through a lot and had a story to share, much like the quilts we make.

  4. On the weekend my husband hired a digger + dug 25 huge HUGE holes into which I will plant fruit + nut trees, it is the beginning of our forest garden. Right now the juxtaposition of huge hole + the itty bitty trees that they've been dug for inspire me to play around with scale in a quilt. In the years to come I expect the changing landscape from pasture to abundant food forest to provide me endless inspiration.

  5. It's raining here at the moment, so I think the most inspirational thing I see are the raindrop patterns on the ground and the various puddles of different sizes and shapes. I recently saw a beautiful quilt 'pavement puddles' by Melissa Gotliebsen (p 15 of soon to be released Make Modern Mag) a great application of puddle inspiration….

  6. Fun! I've just been outside and seen a slug trail, that's metallic inspiration I think! Nature sparkle! 🙂

  7. Suz J says:

    Not quite nature, but I have a pair of socks that would make a perfect quilt design. One day.

  8. The lizards with the neon blue tails that run around my yard in southwestern VA

  9. Tina Short says:

    Just come back from a long walk with the dogs and saw some wonderful foliage BUT also lots of litter – which Hubby collected, that contrast could be the start of of an interesting quilt.

  10. cakegirl says:

    New drain pipes were installed this past( it has passed 🙁 ) summer and the curbs are still missing. You see pavement with jagged edges, a row of rocks waiting for the concrete to be poured, soil where the grass was destroyed and then the perfectly manicured lawn. Each layer has a distinct color. One common thread…. The entire neighborhood is covered with a thin layer of dust

  11. Duluth Girl says:

    Late summer here with a sprinkle of fall. Corn yellow of wild yarrow. Off white of lady's mantle that is hanging on to summer. Burnt red orange of the first turning of leaves. Brilliant blue of the lake on a crisp morning. Rose hips turning from green to cerise. Bright green apples not quite ready for prime time. Deep, deep green of acorn squash in the garden. Fat red tomatoes ready for canning. Hot peppers turning blood red. Grey squirrels hunting for acorns.

  12. Annette S says:

    Coming down the road seeing corn rows all lined up perfectly then the power lines shadows from above outlining the rows.

  13. The dappled shadows on the huge boulder in our yard. When my husband was young his grandfather spent two days with a tractor moving it across the property so his grandchildren could play on it. Today my children play on it. The patterns of light and shadow as well as the history and perseverance is an inspiration.

  14. Lynda says:

    have you ever studied the underside of a steel bridge? Art deco and art noveau have always intrigued me but lately I have been drawn towards modern quilting. There is an old steel bridge close to me and looking at the underside of the bridge I discovered some great patterns and grids that would lend itself to modern quilt blocks….

  15. Havplenty says:

    There was a large red winged hawk that landed on the lamp post right in front of my home recently. Because he was large he immediately caught my attention with his beige, taupe, brown, tan, off white colors. Plus I was attending to my outdoor kitties at the time. So I started talking to the hawk about not bothering my kitties and how beautiful he was and how surprised I was to see him there.

    Well to my complete surprise he was listening to me and careened his neck around to stare directly at me and the kitties. Okay I have to say at that moment I had to shudder. His piercing eyes looking directly at me. After a brief moment he flew away and I got to see his huge wing span and all the colors of his feathers. Just beautiful!


  16. Hummingbirds fighting over my feeders, thanks

  17. This weekend we were at a downtown park and we sat down on the side of the creek. Even though you can get fined for it, enough people must feed the ducks because as soon as we sat they all started swimming straight for us, from all different angles. I think it would make a really neat flying geese variant. It also made me think of "The Birds" and it's rather creepy (though my toddler finds it fascinating, at least). I just have to remember to put in the one poor duck who was trying to take a nap in the middle of the chaos.

  18. Samina says:

    We just put in a pool & the pavers surrounding it makes a lovely pattern. The finish guys were slobs, so there are splatters of the finish on some of the pavers. It breaks up the pattern in a kind of a neat way.

  19. Katy Cameron says:

    I'm sorry, did the man with an all-white quilt *really* try and pull 'no-one is more beyond neutral than me'? Hee hee hee

  20. Vera says:

    How about fungus? Gross but interesting. Weren't the batiks inspired by it? So I go with orange peel fungus I saw recently on web while googling orange peel inspiration. It is beautiful!

  21. Janice says:

    Fancy brickwork can sometimes bring quilts to mind.

  22. There's a guy out back power washing the sidewalk and in the sunshine the cast-off spray looks like sparkly diamonds. Would love to catch that in a quilt!
    Thanks so much for the giveaway,
    Jacqueline in Pitt Meadows

  23. Francine says:

    My panties…they're a cool variation of greys to black stripes. Let me know if you need a pic 😉

  24. Paul Burega says:

    I have a set of 3 bonsai trees on my driveway, 70-80 years old, and maybe 18" tall at most. With some smooth rocks and a buda-ish statue, juxtaposed against 8 foot tall sunflowers in the garden. So the 3 bonsai's on an expanse of chalk black ashfault (snippets of green and gravel on an expanse of black – another neutral) with a sharp diagonal line of the green garden and the giant yellow/red/black sunflowers among the green leaves (green, another neutral on the right).

    So 2 triangular areas – reminds me of a recent M.S. quilt! except that both triangles are large and sparce of details, much like the kimono side of the fabulous M.S. triangle quilt!

  25. Orange mushrooms (Omphalotus illudens I think, but what do I know?) Every year about now, these pop up along my road and always inspire me to create something with orange, green, gold and red colors-like fall leaves around here.

  26. Lee says:

    Bats flying around my apple and pear trees is what I see – my little black dog just sits and watches them! Would make a great fall quilt 🙂

  27. Helen says:

    We have a large rock retaining wall that used huge slabs of limestone dug from our property. The pieces are not uniform, and although the colors are definitely neutral, the dips, holes and fossils in the stone are so beautiful.. Add to that the "volunteer" purple and burgundy columbines growing in tiny spaces of the wall are an amazing contrast to the neutrals.

  28. Last year, at my local farmer's market, one of the produce vendors had row upon row of various veggies. Mini eggplants, zuchinni (corgets in Aussie, I think), sprouts. They were in green pressed cardboard baskets that looked just like sashing. I snapped a pic on my phone and keep coming back to it as a future quilt idea!

  29. Farm Quilter says:

    Looking down a long wheel line (irrigating alfalfa), circles within circles, ever smaller, with small spokes dividing the circles, disappearing in the distance, with arcs of water spraying out 20 feet from the center pipe. Silver against the green with sparkles and rainbows as the sun hits the water.

  30. The O's says:

    I'm facinated at the moment with the fallen camillia flowers neatly plopped in the holes in our paving stones. The harsh sharp angles of the bricks and the soft gentle curves of the petals on the flowers, the brown dried out (or saturated and slightly rotten) edge petals through to the brigh hot pink still fresh petals in the centre of the flowers. You could have loads of applique fun layering shades of pink or fussy cutting flowers from a Laura Gunn or Tula Pink printed flower.

  31. Tubaville says:

    The hook worms we just discovered in my dog. These must inspire something, if only fear.

  32. I was thinking that everything in my immediate area qualifies as boring so I started wondering about things you see in nature but aren't always around like snowstorms. Dangerous while they are happening-flurries everywhere layered over whatever was there before create movement. Also the aftermath creates unique shapes and sparkles where there were none. Even the slush and "ugliness" show a world surrounded by a darker neutral. Lots of possible color stories can come from all phases of a snowstorm.

  33. Suze says:

    Thunderstorm. It was so violent that we have power outages and even schools in the area are closed due to power outages. Now, that is beyond neutral. I think storms can be very inspirational. All my senses are heightened by a storm.

  34. Jen Barnard says:

    We have purpleish-grey slate chips covering the borders in our garden, they make a great background for all the colourful flowers, maybe for a quilt too!
    jen dot barnard at btinternet dot com

  35. Janie says:

    The only inspiration I got today was my puppy slobbering on my slacks when I went outside! LOL Thanks for the chance.

  36. aus_chick says:

    I like sewer (as in drain!) covers on a wet day! the reflections of light on them, plus the text makes them look quite interesting.

  37. The iridescent colors on beetle shells–I know, there is an "eeeewww" factor to insects–but really there isn't much that creates gorgeous, shimmering metallic colors more beautifully than sunlight on beetle shells. Trust me, they aren't boring–all you have to do is see the dance I do when I run into one unexpectedly in the garden! 🙂

  38. Yay, I love it when two of my Quilty Rockstar Idols (QRIs) overlap like this! I discovered QuiltDad back when I was teaching my then-6-year-old son to sew and quilt. I wanted to give him some awesome male role-models in a female dominated world.

    From where I sit at the moment, I am watching two Tuis (NZ birds) fighting over the left over toast I threw out on the lawn for the birds. While the two big birds are having a go at each other over one small scrap, the little sparrows are having a field day flitting in and grabbing all the big bits. It looks so comical with the wings fluttering everywhere.

  39. Ella says:

    We're having flash flooding right now. Can I count the large puddles in my backyard as an abstract pattern that is worth of quilt inspiration? I'm pretty sure it would be modern. It would definitely not be white, what with the Georgia clay.

  40. Colleen says:

    My dad found this ginormous dead beetle and gave it to me (hello teacher librarian has her parents well trained). Three inches long! It has deep blue shiny eyes and a black back that reflects a rainbow of colors on its shiny surface. It has fuzzy auburn antenna and hairy legs. Im picturing it paper pieced against a bright green sketch background with hand quilting in a rainbow of pearl contons on its back and yellow aurifl #40 quilted on the green background used to quilt large free motion quilted words-'It's dead Jim"

  41. Lynn says:

    That copperhead that I know is out there in my garden waiting for me to come out and pull some weeds. Beautifully patterned and scarily venomous.

  42. Vine Lines says:

    I'm finding two things particularly beautiful at the moment.
    First off, the rainbow lorikeets that are flying around our garden. They're a burst of concentrated colour.
    Secondly, I love the very first cherry blossom buds that have appeared on the trees, signifying spring is here. The pop of life coming out of the dormant tree is low volume but a joy to see.

  43. Agnes Wong says:

    Though I love the scrappy look, my brain loves the repetitious patterns of nature. Shells, mountains, river beds, snowflakes and peacock feathers. Chaotic but orderly or is it orderly yet chaotic. Something about the same pattern at different scales really makes my heart beat a little quicker.

  44. Carmen N says:

    Chicken feathers. We have them all over our backyard and they come in a variety of colors

  45. Lyn says:

    It rained a little here in San Antonio, less than 1/4 inch at my house, but since we're in a drought, every little bit helps. I walked around my front yard admiring the jewelike drops of water pooled on the agaves, hanging from the prickly pear tunas, decorating the leaves of my containered plants, doting a spiderweb. Rain droplets would make a neat quilt, either a group of small ones, or one large one, reflecting the world around it…

  46. Luna Moth. Flowing curves, deliciously green.

  47. Gill says:

    I live next door to a churchyard – the lichens growing on the gravestones is fabulous!!

  48. The coral sunset with our palm tree standing tall in the fading light offers gorgeous mother nature colors for a quilt color inspiration.

  49. Louise says:

    I live full time on a boat with my husband and our two cats. I'm typing this comment from three miles off shore (ah, the magic of internet via cell phone!). The way the ocean curls and foams around our bow, then swirls and follows in our wake behind us fascinates me. So many colors and textures: the ever changing, changeless sea.

  50. Rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds

  51. The flight and the damn wasps themselves who have made a nest under my roof!

  52. bookworm says:

    My cherry tomato plant: the different shades of green leaves, with the green, orange and red tomatoes grouped in clumps along the vines. Color sparkle!

  53. Pam says:

    I love my garage. It's a straightforward two car, two door, two window, super practical structure that I will turn into a quilt studio should I ever win the lottery. In the meantime it's a great place to store garden tools.

  54. mascanlon says:

    We have transforming our garden in the wake of the drought in So California to many succulents. The dusty greens and very unusual shapes are so intriguing . Just for one today called Stone faces which is tiny but looks like 6 little variants of Easter Island rocks and another that is oval splitting in half …bam…this am the. Brightest fluffy yellow flower appeared from the center crack and the whole thing isn't more than 3 in in diameter. You' maybe right…roses boring compared to these new garden anchors.

  55. Nicky says:

    I love all the lichen growing on trees here – from palest aqua to full on bright orange!

  56. Julia Floyd says:

    We have a big compost with worms, I don't know why, but I find it fascinating!!! I would make a quilt with bright solid colors like brown, green, yellow, etc and with beautiful worms ♥

  57. Jeneta says:

    I actually came to visit to ask you a question (what do you use your Frixion pen for?), but I'm going to play while I'm here. Do I go with the dead yabbie (it came home from school with my son but only lasted 12 hours) that was recently buried in the herb garden? No, not enough colour. Perhaps the bright green aphids on my roses? I do love a bit of lime green, but I think I'll go with the chickens. Their earlobe to be exact. They are bright red around the outside, fading to white in the middle – a bit like they've been tie dyed. Very cool! Shall I send you a photo?

  58. Kathy says:

    I have a Rose of Sharon tree in my year that is what I would use

  59. Mokki says:

    I've just come back from the seaside and I brought some pebbles back with me. One of them is made up of different (how do I describe this?) round 'splodges' in lots of colours and sizes though the pebble is completely smooth. Some of the splodges are bright and stand out, others are softer and fall into the background, and there are some splodges within splodges. I brought it back to add to my collection in a glass vase but now you've got me thinking and getting all inspired! Thanks mollie!

  60. I'm loving the large prints and how they can fall into the background or come alive w/colored sashing.
    Turquoise and Terra Cotta are my new choices to try on anything nature inspired. I know there's a lot more out there for me to try. Thanks for sharing your creativity Molli. Thanks for sharing the Beyond Neutrals E-Book opp.

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