Do you pick fabrics for a new project based on the designer’s sample? Do you struggle to choose colors to make a quilt that reflects your own taste? Developing color confidence for quilting is basically trial and error. The more you practice and reflect on what you DON’T like, the easier it becomes to put together a pleasing combination of fabrics.
Color Theory Basics
There are lots of places to study color theory. In fact, Bryan House Quilts offers a course to help you develop color confidence. It helps me to think of the rainbow shades (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) and then divide that into warm and cool families.
Quilts are built on contrast so remember that each color can become darker or lighter. I explored quilting with just one color in my book, Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety. Don’t be afraid of the extremes – a dramatic pop of unexpected color can turn an ordinary quilt into a showstopper.
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The quilter’s color tool is a lens that helps you see shades. Sometimes, we think there is contrast in between fabrics because we put certain colors together, such as yellow next to blue. But depending on the intensity, these may both be “medium” shades. Designs get lost when there is not enough contrast between the elements. If you don’t have a tool, try the black and white setting on your phone.
One of the handy tools on the internet is a website that pulls color from an image. Let’s say you have a photograph of a gorgeous sunset on the beach. Upload the photo to a site such as colorexplorer.com, and it will tell you the various colors that blended together to create that stunning vision.
The above photo and color palette were created in about 3 minutes on colorexplorer.com! You can then use those color swatches to find fabrics in a quilt shop, and feel confident that they go together, because you have the proof in nature’s beauty.
Just be yourself
In the end, color choices for a quilt are a personal decision. Don’t let picking fabrics become an obstacle to creating something beautiful. You will build color confidence for quilting with every project you make.