Beyond Neutral – A book review

Today I’m excited to share with you all the beautiful book Beyond Neutral by the talented John Q. Adams aka Quilt Dad.  This is not John’s first book nor his last I expect…he is a man of many talents and one of the forces behind the Ezine Fat Quarterly.  (And they have a couple of books too!  Check those out!  I really want their latest one on color!)

Pieced By Kristen Danis; Quilted by Angela Walter

I like, like many women, find John’s take on the quilting world fascinating.  Let’s be honest.  Men are in the minority when it comes to the demographic of quilters.  So his choices of patterns and fabrics are always interesting to me.  There is some overlap, but I love to see a masculine perspective on quilting.  And this book gives you that.  John is not afraid of “natural neutrals” as he describes the colors of nature that balance out life.

The main premise of John’s book is about using nature as an inspiration color palette for the backgrounds of his quilts.  John rather aptly describes the “fear” that so many quilters have in using a background other than cream or white when piecing a quilt.  And he boldly embraces the use of other colors that he sees commonly in nature, knowing that these colors will work in quilts because they work in nature.  Our eyes are accustomed to seeing these “natural neutrals” all the time already.  So why not use them in quilt backgrounds?

Katmai, Pieced by Cathy Reitan; Quilted by Angela Walters

I love that when I look at John’s designs, I see quilts designed by a man.  Because his quilts will be appealing to men.  And we all know how hard it can be to find quilts that men will love…err…tolerate. 😉 His color palettes may well appeal more to men too.  I would suggest showing John’s book the boys and men in your life that you are dying to make a quilt for.  I bet they will find a pattern that they like!!

The quilt pictured above, Pacific Crest, the cover quilt, is easily my personal favorite from the book.  I keep telling John that I’m going to make this.  And I swear that in this lifetime I will.  I just adore it.  The dark blue background and the selection of colors is right on.  But for me, it is the movement that this quilt has that makes it so special. I feel like these are shooting stars or arrows raining down on troops.  It brings out my fanciful side and I like that.

And the Cape Lookout quilt is a inspired by a sunrise or sunset.  But I see a rainbow that will actually appeal to people who don’t care for “Rainbow quilts”.  You know what I mean. The navy background is grounding this quilt in a way that white can not.  It pulls you in rather than popping off the quilt.  Both techniques are valuable to have in your pocket of color selection.  And I’m inspired to continue using any color I want as the background for a quilt.  I personally adore a robin’s egg blue for a background color and can make that work with any color scheme…just challenge me! lol<

118 thoughts on “Beyond Neutral – A book review”

  1. I'm still working out the negative space thing! But I've never used the some color twice. I love the dark blue of the cover quilt, even though blue is far from a go to color for me.

  2. You mean there are people out there that don't care for rainbow quilts??! Gasp! I feel a sudden drive to make rainbow minis for all!
    I was getting sick of gray for backgrounds, but then I used gray grunge and it has changed everything!

  3. I love black as a background. It makes the design of the blocks kind of 'float' on the quilt top. Thanks for the opportunity. I think John's book looks VERY interesting. Hope I win!!!

  4. At the moment I'm in love with using Kona coal grey as a background/neutral fabric for my quilts – especially the ones I've been making for my little boys. I love John's perspective of quilting and use of colors!

  5. I generally use white as a background. But I am trying to branch out and I chose a dark gray for the background of a quilt that is nearly finished. Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. Beautiful quilts! Another great book for the must-have list, hehe. I love quilts with white background. They always look so fresh!

    Thank you for a super giveaway and a chance to win.


    1. John's quilts are great love the navy backgrounds must try this with my next quilt, I usually use colour backgrounds but mainly pinks for girls and blue for boys etc……j

      Thank you for a chance to win this wonderful book I have had it on my wishlist.

  7. I love these quilts and John's interesting use of color. My favorite colors to use as a background are white and grey, but I saw a beautiful quilt with a Ruby red background that I want to try!

  8. I love to quilt with bright colours and LOVE a good black background! I want to do a deep aqua soon! I'm in love with it and on the hunt for the right pattern!! (I think John might have nailed it!!)

  9. I love what I've seen of John's book so far! I've been using a lot of grey for background lately…but I'm loving the navy backgrounds I've been seeing, so I'm going to do it too!

  10. Oh, dear. I'm a white girl by nature! *g* I just love shabby chic and white painted furniture and blousey roses in glass jars and they shout white backgrounded quilts! But I do try to use other colours – that navy is amazing!

  11. I think gray (any shade). Black or navy would also be my choice as they ground a quilt nicely. I always try to use some black in a quilt whether it be in the binding or small accents. Thanks for the chance to win! shopgirl7232(at)yahoo(dot)com

  12. Thanks for such a great review, Angela. I've been coveting this book for a while now and almost picked it up last time I was at a LQS. I love using Kona Ash or Medium Gray for my neutrals or scrappy low volume, but I've been wanting to try a Navy neutral lately too! I hope colors become the new trend in backgrounds, this book should definitely help!

  13. Looks like a really great make-a-quilt-for-a-guy book. Your review of it is great, and thanks for sharing pictures too. White is my go-to background fabric. I have a whole bolt of Kaufman Kona White to keep me going. Thanks for the chance to win!

  14. Definitely an intriguing book and a challenge to think outside of the box with backgrounds. I currently love various shades of grey and black. And I find the dark brown and navy to be simply stunning!!!

  15. Bright white is my favorite but I want to learn to be more bold! I've promised myself that my next quilt background will be something more unique, like gray or maybe mint green.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. Cream/Tan is actually my favorite—that natural, not-quite-white color. PS This post was really funny to me! My husband "hates!" my quilts… unless they look like "something." I made one for my sister that literally has a drawing Nan Lawson did of her and my BIL on it, and he loves that because it looks like "something!" So funny!

  17. I like color and mottled basics best as background. I like to have some pattern present in the background. Basic Grey's Grunge prints suits me just fine. I would choose a dark taupe/khaki with flecks over beige or white for my backgrounds.


  18. Honestly, I'm new to this quilting gig and haven't used a background color yet since I love just going for bright colors in a basic block and an allover pattern.

  19. Well, I don't know if I have a favorite; I am intrigued by using prints as background. In the quilts I've made I've used black, white twice, pink ginham, light blue with white damask print, forest green, cream with yellow floral, green/pink/white, navy blue, and now I'm using white with grey dots. Interesting to think about!

  20. I most often use Kona white & snow as background but have make a few quilts with Kona ash. I feel like I need to break out of my comfort zone & be a bit more adventurous in my fabric choices. Thanks for the chance to win this awesome book!

  21. I love to use chocolate brown as a background on my fallish quilts and I recently made one with a deep orchid purple for my daughter…. but my favourite is a dark denim… it adds interest… honestly I haven't used much white and I often make quilts that don't have a sashing or border…

  22. Black with glow in the dark ships (Star wars print), for a Star wars mini quilt. Found this book at my Local Quilt Shop (Quilter's Paradise) while looking for some inspiration for the New Star wars prints that came into Joann's Clovis today.

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