- Quilt by Mary Vallere
One of the most common concerns I hear from new or wanna-be quilters is: How the heck do I pick the colors for my quilt? I am terrified I will make the wrong choice.
First of all, let me assure you that this is not rocket science…really. Don’t make more of it than it deserves. You can do this!You can’t make the wrong choice. If you like the colors and think they look great together then you’re good to go. Ignore the ‘quilt police’ in your world and do what you like. And yes, I know that is easier said than done. So here are some ideas about how to choose colors for a knock-your-socks-off quilt.
First—and the easiest. Use the colors that the quilt designer used in her quilt pattern picture. Easy-peasy…you can’t go wrong. And chances are you’ll make little changes as you create your own version of her illustration. You can also purchase a kit that is already put together for you. No fuss—no muss…Then you can concentrate on your sewing skills and go ahead and make a beautiful quilt.
But let’s say that you want to be a little bit more adventurous. One of my favorite strategies is to choose a so-called ‘focus fabric’ that features colors that you love together. You then take that fabric to the quilt shop (or your quilting stash) and start pulling fabric. Let’s take a look at the fabric below….It’s a doozey, isn’t it? I got it as part of a challenge a number of years ago. Never got around to doing the challenge but it’s still in my studio because I love the colors and the craziness of the design elements.
As you start looking at the fabric you see a yummy purple, a nice teal, a rosy red, black , tan, and white. Now you don’t have to use all of these colors but you could choose, say purple and teal as your main colors with and black and/or tan as your ‘eye-resting’ colors. And if you’re feeling really daring, use some red with that purple and teal! Or not… I would.
Here’s a photo of the fabrics that I pulled based on my focus fabric.
As you can see, I didn’t try to match the colors exactly but pulled some fabrics based on colors in the focus fabric. From here I can pick and choose what I like. And I do like this palette…hmmm, I may be starting a new quilt with these fabrics soon. Besides color, you should also consider the print or pattern on the fabrics as well. But that is another blog post…for now let’s just love on these colors. ❤ And while I’m handing out helpful hints, notice the little tape pieces on the two fabrics on the left? I use 3M Post-It labels on a roll and I write the yardage on my fabric so I don’t have to unfold and measure it before I decide if I can use it. You’re welcome.
Oh, and one more thing, just because you selected a focus fabric, that doesn’t mean it has to appear in your quilt. You might just want to use the great colors for inspiration. On the other hand, if you have a yen for a geisha girl with a skull perched over her shoulder and a pet snake fawning at her feet….GO FOR IT!
Now onto strategy #3. Use a color wheel. Below you see a picture of my color wheel. I also noticed how crappy my cutting mat looks but let’s call that a badge of honor. I use it a lot.
If you want to select colors that have the stamp of approval from ‘those who know’ about color theory, then this is the method for you.
To choose colors, just follow the arrows on the face of the color wheel. The wheel also has directions on the back if you get confused.If you look at my color wheel you see that there is a starred triangle at the top. If you want to know what colors would look good with that goldy, yellow color, simply follow the arrows to the bottom triangle with a star. That arrow points to a deep blue shade. If you want some coordinating colors just look to the other pointers on the wheel face. You can’t go wrong. These color wheels are easy to find at craft or art stores. I have a small one as well.
Now strategy #4 is a really fun one. There is a wonderful design site called Colour Lovers. I love to go to that site and play around. I have created palettes, original colors, and designs. One of my favorite creations is a palette called ‘Armand.’ Here’s a picture:
I just love these colors together. So if I wanted to get creative with some new color combos I would use this palette as a basis for a quilt. Wouldn’t that be cool? In fact I may do that…just not this month. Too many other projects. If you’d like to try your hand at some creating, here’s the link: http://www.colourlovers.com/. And if you’d like to see my creations, search under “AmaraAnn”
Feeling reassured and inspired yet? I hope so.
And once you get all of those quilt tops ready for quilting, think of little old me and my longarm-in-the-basement. Her name is Gertrude after my grandmother though the name sounds ever so much better when said in Italian…but I digress.
If you don’t live in Pennsylvania, don’t worry. The US mail works just fine. Go to my Facebook page to set up an appointment to talk. https://www.facebook.com/quiltingondarlin/