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Best Monochromatic Quilt Blocks

I love working with just one color family in my quilts! But, some results are better than others. Let’s take a look at the best monochromatic quilt blocks so you can make a stunning gift for someone special.

Monochromatic Quilts

The sampler I made for the 2021 Monthly Color Challenge from Patterns By Jen gives you a look at one style of monochromatic quilt blocks. 

Quilt reveal 2021 Monthly Color Challenge

Each block is made with a light and dark fabric from the same color family. The block designs have a strong graphic element that provides high contrast between the two colors.

Want to listen instead of read? Watch this video:

The BEST Monochromatic Quilt Blocks

I find that more complex quilt blocks give you more room to experiment with colors. Let me show you what I mean with some patterns from EQ8’s Quilt Block Library.

Start with the classic pinwheel block. Using a green shade for the pinwheel blades and a neutral color background is a traditional plan.

pinwheel quilt block

If we change the background to a lighter green, it fits the classic definition of a monochromatic block.

monochromatic pinwheel block

But, if I choose the Double Star block that has additional triangles in the design, then I can add another shade of green and it suddenly becomes much more interesting.

pinwheel best monochromatic quilt block


Let’s see how this works with another classic quilt block, the Double Wedding ring. The classic version has two colors in the rings, plus a background.

classic double wedding ring quilt block

Selecting a range of fabrics in the same colorway gives more depth to the design and invites the viewer to take a closer look.

best monochromatic quilt block - double wedding ring

full double wedding ring monochromatic quilt





Choosing fabrics for monochromatic quilt blocks

To build a monochromatic palette or group of fabrics, I think of a gradient, or stairstep of shades. With my Mini Log Cabin Star, I needed five shades of each color for the log cabin pieces. I started with the lightest fabric and auditioned a variety until I had a selection that looked good.

mini log cabin strips True Blue Quilts mini log cabin star

The details of that log cabin project are in this blog post: Marvelous Mini Log Cabin Star.

Optical Illusions

Let me share another example with Purple Angles, a quilt from my book, Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety, which is available in my shop.

With this paper-pieced design, you get a different effect in the blocks depending on the light and dark color placement.

purple angles monochromatic quilt

In some blocks, the ring stands out, while in others you see the X. 

We also pushed the definition of “monochromatic” quite a bit in this quilt. You can see plum and lavender and even bits of pink and grey, but the overall effect is definitely a purple quilt.

Remember to challenge yourself with the design when working with a monochromatic quilt pattern. Complex blocks with more pieces will give you a rich, glowing effect. Let me know what color family you are going to focus on!

About Author


Longarm Quilter, Pattern Designer, Teacher



  1. Love the monochromatic shading
    ….. can use different fabrics or 1 ombre fabric. I like many colors…. don’t know which I want to play with 1st!!!

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