ChromaZone – How To Get To That First Reveal

ChromaZone, Paula Nadelstern’s 14th fabric collection for Benartex, will premiere at International Quilt Market in Houston this year. Benartex will give away one set of half yard cuts of the entire ChromaZone fabric line. Read more in this post.

Companies like Benartex who design and print our quilt fabrics are called converters, because they convert greige goods into the prints we buy in the quilt stores. Greige goods (pronounced gray) are raw fabrics before they undergo dying or bleaching.

ChromaZone Fabric Line

I don’t have an art or textile design background. My degrees are in Occupational Therapy with a Masters in Psych, although I haven’t worked in the field for a very long time. Until my accidental apprenticeship with knowledgeable Benartex designers, everything I knew about color I learned as a kid from my prized box of sixty-four kid-worthy crayons.

ChromaZone Fabric Line by Benartex

I work with the Benartex Creative Director and Stylist, Ruth Beck, and a clever, creative CAD artist who gets me. They help take my “What If” ideas all the way to the quilt shop. Ruth is responsible for marrying trend with design, color and technique. Equally important, she has production know-how and understands the nitty gritty of how to print on cloth (which is very different from paint or CAD processes) and how to communicate effectively with the Korean mill.

ChromaZone Fabric Line by Benartex

Keep in mind, I’m not only a fabric designer, I’m also an art quilter who uses fabric with luminosity and shading in her series of kaleidoscopic quilts, and I’m a teacher whose students’ success often relies on fabrics that mirror image. When I set out to design a new collection, I’m balancing these three aesthetics.

ChromaZone Fabric Line by Paula Nadelstern

My goal is to design beautiful stuff that can be used in a myriad of ways for anyone’s piecing adventure, not just to be used to make kaleidoscopic designs. I welcome color and motif inspiration whenever I’m lucky enough to notice it: an elevator door, a set of Italian dishes, a painting at the Met, the arabesque patterns in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a teaching trip to Abu Dhabi.

ChromaZone Fabric Line by Paula Nadelstern

From the start, ChromaZone was to be about color. Lots of it. The title was the product of a brainstorming session fueled by a lovely Sangria in Casa Hidalgo, a fish restaurant in Sitges, Spain where me and my three best quilting friends were exhibiting our Semper Tedium quilts—but that’s another story.

ChromaZone Fabric Line by Paula Nadelstern

It was also intended to be a relatively small group taking less time than usual because of my extensive 2014 travel schedule. With this in mind, I began by making mock-ups using artwork from previous collections. Since I don’t create on the computer, I physically cut and collaged actual fabric. The CAD artist scanned these and then skillfully used Photo Shop to move them toward a finished product. I sit at a computer a few feet from her so we can collaborate easily.

ChromaZone Fabric Line

Months later, an existing design called Dragon Feathers turned into Dragon Medallions, Magmatude evolved from Magma, and I re-colored a previous allover called Sunstone to work with the new group. Vox is brand-new artwork, taking on the role of a great ombré stripe which automatically slides the eye from here to there, forming visual pathways that instill an element of motion. We had ambitiously over-designed the previous collection, Fabracadabra, which turned into a collection too big for marketing purposes. The leftover, Filigree, was adapted for ChromaZone.

ChromaZone Fabric Line

I color the line on a computer in the Benartex studio using textile design software called Evolution.  As I’m coloring, I’m fascinated by the idea that I can cause different color ways of the same design to function in diverse ways. In one colorway, a contrasting motif might pop and create a visual line when it connects to its repeats. In another, the same motif may be colored in a hue that softens it so it recedes (rather than pops) or connects it to a neighboring motif (rather than standing out on its own).  Some of this is serendipity, some contrived by me but ultimately it means I have a bigger “vocabulary” to work with. You can see what I mean by looking at the four colorways of Magmatude.

ChromaZone Fabric Line

ChromaZone has five patterns in four colorways. I always do a Blue group (because I know it will be the most popular) and I always include a Multi filled with lots of different colors. The new direction this time is a Christmas color story, as true to the iconic colorway as I am capable of since I’m programmed to believe that when it comes to color, more is more. The Caribbean group was inspired by a teaching cruise to the Bahamas.

ChromaZone Fabric Line Magmatude

This collection has a more painterly quality than usual. In previous collections, most of the designs have a precise quality with clear definitions of the motifs because each element is outlined.  The outline keeps each color contained in its position. Without an outline, a painterly effect is created because one color might fall-on another producing a third color. This is called trapping. Fall-ons are less apparent when it’s a fabric with a single color story, like shades of yellows. The role of the outline is to separate colors that don’t make good neighbors, like orange and green which can generate an unwanted muddy brown where they touch each other. The painterly approach made a difficult job even harder for the stylist whose job is to make sure that what I create on paper can be produced on fabric. A good example of both of these effects can be seen in the pattern called Filigree. The colorful, painterly pattern in the background is not outlined while the prominent white scroll is outlined in black so the white stays fixed.

ChromaZone by Paula Nadelstern

It takes a long time, at least 6-9 months, from the day the three of us meet to discuss the new line to the day it is sent to the Korean mill for the first strike-offs. A strike-off is a test length of fabric printed by the mill in order to check the pattern registration and colors. From strike-offs to actual fabric is about three months. I live in the Bronx (which is the most northern borough of New York City) and typically commute downtown to Benartex by subway for at least 3 months almost full time, broken up by teaching commitments. I don’t do any of the coloring at home because I don’t have the computer software or large format printers.

ChromaZone Fabric Line

Welcome to the ChromaZone.

It’s give-away time:

We have a give-away of one set of half yard cuts of the entire ChromaZone fabric line. Simply comment on the post to answer the following question: How would you incorporate ChromaZone in your next project?

A winner will be drawn randomly on October 26. Good luck!


Congratulations to our WeAllSew fan gloria! Enjoy your new fabric!

111 thoughts on “ChromaZone – How To Get To That First Reveal

  1. I LOVE this new color line ChromaZone! I would use the Caribbean group to make a new quilt for our guest bed. Thank you for the information above. Quite interesting.

    1. oh gosh, what project of mine couldn’t make grand use of these beauties, I myself?! Landscapes, pinwheels, backgrounds, collage to kaleidoscopes! But my first choice would be to use that crackled effect. Beautiful! Fascinating process – wow.

    2. I have always been partial to Paula’s choice of colors and amazing designs. These new fabrics would work well for a stunning quilt for my bed, as well as a super wall-hanging as an accent!

  2. These are absolutely breathtaking! Quite honestly, I’m not sure how I would use them, as I would need to lay them out and play with them (fondle them, as my husband says). I’m leaning toward kaleidoscopes, probably in an art quilt, but they may tell me they want to be something entirely different!

  3. I would like to use Filigree Red and Green with Sun Stone Fuschia to make a set of quilted placemats.
    The would be outstanding. Thank-you so mush for the new collection.

  4. I’m not sure exactly what I would do with this collection. I just know that on first glance, I’m mesmerized. I’ll think of something. Maybe a stunning table runner

  5. I love the colorways… I think I will need all of the colors… and I want to use some in a quilt and in a purse/bag and in a vest perhaps….

    Fun stuff!! so enticing!

  6. Hello Paula,
    I would use this collection by fussy cutting the Christmas Filligree and the Kaleidoscopes for a quilted Bolero and party dress for our 2 1/2 year old Grand-daughter for the Holiday season and on into the Spring with lace petticoat and Bolero Cuffs.

  7. How would I incorporate it in my next project? I would put it in my suitcase when I take Paula’s Kaleidoscope workshop in the Spring, of course!! (If there’s any left in the stash by then!!) Dazzling & Brilliant, can’t wait to play!

  8. I would use the Chromazone fabrics in a rectangular wall quilt to focus visitors’ and family’s eyes on the refreshing colors which draw us to the wall and reveal strong emotions.

  9. Thanks for all the behind the scenes information. Civilians have no idea how much work goes into fabric design and creation. This collection would be great for simple piecing as the fabric could do most of the work.

  10. Love this new set of fabrics a LOT!!! I can’t wait to get my hands on this line of fabrics to plug into the 60/30 blocks that you taught here in Wichita! Thank you for all you do to inspire us! xoxox

  11. Paula, this is an absolutely beautiful line, with outstanding colors and designs!! I would love to use it in making kaleidoscopes (of course!), and also a southwestern-style quilt I have in mind, and a wedding-ring-like-no-other for my nephew and his wife.

  12. These are beautiful works of vibrancy. I would sew simple panels to cover French Door glass panels, rotating the panel designs to complement what the eye sees beyond the panels with the changing seasons. Both functional and a work of art!

  13. Having seen the Strikeoffs, with Paula, I can attest to the beauty of the collection. Many of my sewing/quilting projects use little pieces of Paula Fabric over many years.

  14. I’ve always loved Paula’s fabrics and these are spectacular. I do small wall quilts combining fabrics and beads. Paula’s ChromaZone line is the perfect addition to the kind of dense, patterned, and shimmering textiles that I use.

  15. I want to make myself a lap size quilt with big squares of this beautiful material. I’d use my favorite fabric for the back. And, I’d free motion it very simply

  16. Awesome fabric – just love it!! Another beautiful reason to buy more fabric (as if we needed a real reason to buy pretty things!!!) I can see some fabulous quilts made with this – I have a New York Beauty Quilt in mind!!! 🙂

  17. Paula Nadelstern is my favorite designer full stop. I will be using this new collection to make Simple Symmetry quilts using Paula’s method. All my friends love it and want me to make one for them ? I put a bit of Paula’s fabric in all my quilts.

  18. I think I would make something reminiscent of stained glass windows. These colors just pop! I know I would have trouble cutting into them for a little while.

  19. With a background in math and a love for drafting original designs, often circular ones, with access to these fabrics, I could have endless “playtime” in my studio, “fussy” cutting in just the right spots to create my own versions of mandalas. I’ve admired Paula Nadelstern’s work for a long time and recently I nearly fell over when I answered the phone and it was Paula, calling to tell me she would like permission to use an idea from one of my quilts! Totally made my day!! Of course, I said, YES!

  20. Beautiful colors. I would make an art quilt made with this ChromaZone fabric cut in unique shapes.
    Thank you for all the information about how your fabric was created.

  21. I love the Christmas colorway. It reminds me of old-fashioned tree ornaments. I can imagine making beautiful tablerunners or a tree skirt using this fabric. Love it!

  22. I can’t say which color way is my favorite! I would probably use the multi for the beautiful ornaments I saw in class, and some of the others for the larger version of simple symmetry. Or I would add it to my collection and admire it.

  23. Swoon! Chromazone is amazingly beautiful! I love the colors and intricacy. This is one of the most exciting fabric lines I have seen in a long time. I would use this to make a kaleidoscope quilt, and then the scraps would find their way into small art quilt projects. Thanks for the chance to win, and thanks for the great post too – fascinating information about the process.

  24. I would add all the fabrics to my ongoing La Passacaglia quilt..I am only using Paula,s fabrics in my quilt as the main focus fabrics..EPP it sure takes time but looks great with earlier fabric lines.

  25. I love all of Paula’s work, and just finished my first Paula-inspired kaleidoscope quilt this year. I am looking forward to added some of these new fabrics to my stash for my next project. They are GORGEOUS!

  26. My next quilt will be a large wall hanging, a fabric manipulation sampler. I would love to see how the Vox (ombré) design would appear differently in each block. It could be interesting to alternate those blocks with kaleidoscopic images pieced with the filigree fabric. Lovely collection, and yes, my favorite is the blue!

  27. Paula,
    Congratulations on this stunning collection! I’m an artquilter and the collection is speaking to me to represent a nighttime volcanic erruption I once witnessed. All the colors are present in your collection. And even the filigree reminds me of a more complex Hawaiian quilting motif. I’d love to work with these and see if I can get them from mindseye to wall quilt! Thanks, Ellen

  28. OMG, yes! I would definitely use the Carribean Group as a Christmas tree skirt. The colors absolutely GRABBED me and made my brain smile ;} I love, Love, LOVE these!
    Thank you for the opportunity.

  29. Just love this new fabric! Can’t wait to see it at the fabric shops. Will use this to do kaleidoscopes, sixty thirty & simple symmetry that Paula teaches.

  30. The fabric line is beautiful! I would use it in a Mariners compass quilt for my daughter. Loved the post, I enjoyed learning about what went into creating the fabric line.

  31. I’m a quilter, so naturally this beautiful fabric would become a quilt of some sort. I’m thinking maybe some sort of a stained glass wall-hanging to begin with and then, who knows? So much beauty to inspire me.

  32. This line has so much inspiration. I would love to create a Millefiori quilt with it, but then it is saying use me for large hexagons. Beautiful thank you for sharing.

  33. Lovely design and color. The designs look like they allow a lot of versatility to use the I in my art quilts. I look forward to including them in my fabric color palette.

  34. This fabric line is fabulous and so exotic! I would use it with some coordinating solids to make new pillow covers for my guest room. If any fabric is left, it would be made into a bed runner. I love it!

  35. I loved the covered foam balls and made several with the Patternista collection. Would love to make more with this new collection, but I also see the Chromazone pieces in a fantastic quilt border, they would miter spectacularly.

  36. I’ve been following Paula for years. I have a print of one of her quilts hanging in a prominent place in my living room. So if I win this I will definitely try my hand on a kiladascope quilt.

  37. I would combine with Jane Sassaman stitching techniques to do a Libby Lehman circle quilt. Indeed a salute to all my favorite artists. Thank you for making the commitment to complete these designs. Can’t wait to see in stores but would be LOVELY to have my name drawn!!

  38. I love it all! I’ve worked with Paula’s collections for a long time. They make the most incredible kaleidoscopic designs!! Somehow, even if there are scraps left over, they always work with scraps from previous PN projects so I never seem to quite run out of fabric… But I always need more!

  39. These are the most amazing collections of fabric I’ve ever seen! 😆 😆 😆 😆 I love all the colours and I’m not sure which one I love best. 😮 BUT if I had to choose….just 1….it would be Caribbean group. It’s so colourful and I can imagine myself making a beautiful kaleidoscope quilt with this one. Close 2nd is the Blue colorway.

  40. I love the colors in ChromaZone and would use them in a quilt design I would create to emphasize their beauty and lines. Never fear, all of the fabrics would be used somewhere. I envy your chance to do the designing.

  41. Beautiful line of fabrics. I am working on an interesting new art project that I am sure this fabric could be a wonderful part. I am looking forward to this line becoming available in my LQS. Thank you for an enlightening article.

  42. The ChromeaZone Blues absolutey “sings” to me and now that I am about to acquire a new scooter (blue in color) I am longing to make myself a jacket to match using this fabulous fabric.

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