10.05.2009

a lesson in color and contrast

Have any of you seen Timeless Treasures' new fabric collection named 'Lena'? And the pattern within named Daisies & Disks? Doesn't it look familiar? It should if you've been reading my blog over the past month. Remember that gorgeous feedsack I showed you from my trip to Kutztown a few weeks ago? This one—

feedsack

Well, I was over at eQuilter.com this morning checking out some of their new arrivals and came across the reproduction, available in three colorways—orange and purple (shown at left), and blue.

I'm not even going to get into how uneasy I feel about modern fabric designers 'borrowing' old designs, changing a few details and colors and calling it their own (it's happened before). Or the fact that five years from now you'll be seeing this on eBay being passed off as feedsack by someone who doesn't know any better (I've seen that, too).

What bothers me most are the color choices. I believe I mentioned when I first posted my photo how I loved that the very bright red-orange flowers popped against the subtle gray background. Now look at the two colorways shown here. See how the background is the first thing you notice in the orange example, and how the background and red flowers fight for dominance in the second.

And there's something missing, isn't there? The dark navy accent color used for definition in the flower centers and for the striped half circles is no where to be found. And it needs to be there. When you have colors that are the same tone, you need an element to provide contrast, and the addition of a very dark color (or black) would have helped with that.

They were probably thinking that if they swapped brighter fun colors for the original gray, it would appeal more to younger modern sewers. Personally I think the older colorway, which is perfectly balanced to my eye, looks more modern than any of the new variations.

And FYI, I'm a grump about old classic movies being remade to appeal to modern audiences, too. One of my favorites is Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. All I can say about the remake, also called Father of the Bride, is that Steve Martin is no Spencer Tracy :)

19 comments:

barncat said...

I couldn't agree with you more, your feedsack is gorgeous, the two new fabrics just so-so.

Agree with you on the movie too!

Patricia said...

Janet, I agree that the new colorways are disconcerting and look almost psychedelic - my eye recoiled, as a matter of fact. The original colorway is a much more soothing combination of color and design.

blushing rose said...

Out of the 2,500 feedsacks we have that are being copied all the time, the copies are nowhere as nice as the originals.

May your eve be full, warm & loving.
TTFN ~Marydon

Anna Lena Land said...

Isn't it nice we all like different things? I had a ball playing with the colors for the Daisies and Disk fabrics, and sales would indicate I'm not the only one.

Using and re-coloring old patterns is as old as printed fabric. That's why we call them "reproductions!"

Sally said...

I love them all -- the original feedsack and the new fabric. Reproductions are, by definition, "borrowing old designs." Most of us aren't able to make quilts from original feedsacks or fabric, and I'm grateful there are so many beautiful reproductions available.

Melody said...

Ya know the saddest thing that shows thru in your pics. The original material was made in America and the color is more saturated, woven in the background fabric. These cheaper looking copies..and they look cheap...was probably made in China and the print looks like its on top of the fabric..like it's silk-screened!

Loralynn said...

I know what you mean. Just because something is "old" doesn't mean it needs to be "fixed." As far as the movies go, I love the old black and white movies! I hate it when they colorize them!

jan said...

I don't think the new prints are awful, not my taste, but someone's, perhaps. I don't consider copies, using a different color, as reproduction. I would call them 'knock-offs'.

janet said...

Actually Melody, the original is printed onto the fabric, not woven in, but I agree that the colors are more saturated. There must be some difference in the cotton or the dyes/inks. I'm always amazed at how intense the colors of the feedsacks are for their age.

I'm working on an interview with a person who sells feedsacks and knows a lot about them (hope to post that within the next week or so) - I'm going to ask her about the printing. Marydon, you might be able to weigh in on that, too.

crimsoncat05 said...

I don't particularly think it's "wrong" to re-make fabric patterns, but the new patterns really aren't near as distinctive design-wise compared to the original... and yes, someone will probably be selling them as vintage sooner or later. (and I totally agree with your opinion about remaking classic movies!!)

{kimmymade} said...

AGREED! I'd be curious to know what you think of Denyse Schmidt's reproduction of feedsacks for her FMF and KJR lines without actually calling them repro feedsack prints...

janet said...

Kimmymade, I'm debating about doing a post on this whole subject. People have strong opinions on it, on both sides. It may be an accepted practice to borrow old designs but it still leaves me conflicted. Being inspired by something is very different from copying it exactly.

If Denise is doing this, and it appears that she is because I've seen some of the original feedsacks, then I have a problem with it, too. But I do like how she uses color (she has a graphic design background as I do) and the way she's created a coordinated line of multiple fabrics around those colors.

Another issue is whether or not these designers are actually designing the fabrics themselves or just lending their names to it for promotional purposes. I've heard this but have no idea if it's true.

And finally, I feel bad for younger textile designers who are doing original work. Just look at some of the gorgeous fabrics at Spoonflower. How do those up-and-coming designers break into the market. Is that even possible?

janet said...

Ooops, that should be Denyse not Denise.

lauradodson said...

you go girl. i totally agree.

Robyn said...

You are absolutely right about the fabrics. The colours in the 'new' ones blend too much. And don't get me started on movie remakes!!!

{kimmymade} said...

Janet, I completely agree re: Denyse's use of color and how she builds out lines. She does that amazingly well. The copying without acknowledging remains so very disappointing, though :-(

That said, the Japanese are doing some stunning repro work lately ... the textures and handfeel are very close!

janet said...

Sharon has some great autumn leaf feedsacks in her Feedsack Friday post. Notice the designs in the second grouping.

Here's the Free Spirit reproduction by Denyse Schmidt - Country Fair Dotted Leaves.

Strandi said...

and harrison ford is no humphrey bogart (if anyone has seen both versions of sabrina...)

janet said...

And Julia Ormond is no Audrey Hepburn either :)