Picking Colors for Your Quilt
I wanted to start off by saying THANK YOU for the big, warm welcome and for all your comments on my first post last week. What a fun start to this new gig - I already feel so connected to all of you! I have made notes of the suggestions I received for future posts, and I’ll do my best to work them in down the line. Keep ‘em coming!
This week I’m excited (have you started to pick up on the fact that I’m almost always excited?) to talk about color! Specifically, how to pick a color scheme for your quilt.
In my mind, there are two ways to approach picking your color scheme for your quilt - “scientifically” and “intuitively”. Let’s break it down.
Is it possible to call something you learned in elementary school art class “scientific”? When it comes to color, I think yes. Because, really, are we ever more advanced or in-tune with colors than in first grade? I think not.
I can’t imagine I was the only one who learned about The Color Wheel when I was in school. It seems so simple, but I have heard that it was actually designed by Sir Isaac Newton himself (see? SCIENCE!). The theory is that any of the colors on the wheel will pair well with each other.
Colors exactly across from each other are called “complementary colors” (purple and yellow, for example). Choosing complementary colors for your color scheme is quite bold. If you choose this route for your quilt, I suggest introducing some quieter neutrals as a backdrop for the bold colors, like a gray or a cream, to tone it down so as not to shock the eye so much.
If you pick three colors right next to each other, you’ve selected “analogous colors”. This is, I think, my favorite scientific approach. It gets you a subtle almost ombre effect, and isn’t as intense as complementary colors.
Another 3-color option is to select a triangle of colors. Like perhaps a green, orange, and purple combination. This approach is a compromise between complementary and analogous - it gives you the fun color variety, but with a medium contrast instead of the stark opposites of complementary colors or the subtle variation of analogous colors.
Truly, you can’t go wrong with pairings on the color wheel! That’s the beauty of it - they all play nicely together.
But when it comes to picking a color scheme for quilting, the color wheel may not take you all the way. We’ve all shopped for fabric before and the options for colors are seemingly endless! The human eye is capable of seeing 2.8 million hues, and the color wheel has only 12 colors.
So, okay. Where do we go from there? The simplest answer is - the internet! I found a super handy color calculator which can be used to tell you what colors go together. Check it out, but be warned - it is addictive!
Remember those human eyes that can see 2.8 million hues? You, my quilting comrade, are most likely in possession of at least one human eyeball, if not two! Trust those eyeballs of yours!
Intuition is my personal favorite way to pick colors. The best part of using your intuition is that it is so fun and creative. For me, it gets my heart beating and gets me excited about my newest project.
And if you use your intuition, you may even develop a unique, identifiable style. My sister-in-law (AKA the Quilter’s Mart Boss Lady) is one of those people. She has a way of picking colors that I, myself, would never imagine together. Every time I see one of her quilts, I wish there was a way to learn how to pair colors like she does. We'll do a feature on her eventually, keep your eyes out for it!
But intuition can’t be learned, and I’ll never pick colors like my sister-in-law. The good news? I have my own intuition, which is unlike anyone else’s! Here are a few of my quilts, with my color selections made by (pun alert!) my own Carolyn-tuition!
The moral of the intuition story is, have fun! Let the colors lead you, and if you find a color combination pleasing, others will too!
Whatever method you use to select your color scheme, your quilt will be beautiful if you piece it with love. Feel free to share your favorite way to select your colors in the comments! Or, if you have a project you would like us to feature, please email us HERE!
- Carolyn Knees