How Do I Know What Colors Go Together?


We explore the color wheel, primary, secondary, tertiary, analogous, complementary, split-complimentary, and double-complimentary colors in an easy way.

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How Do I Know What Colors Go Together?

Many people have trouble when deciding on colors for their quilts. They look and look at fabric, then decide that “looks alright.” A better way to take the mystery out of color selection is to learn to use a color wheel. You can take classes for years about color theory, but not everyone is interested enough to do that. Most of us just want to make a quilt that looks nice! Choosing colors that fall into one of the following categories will assure that your colors work together.

How to choose colors for my quilt project?


Color Wheel & Color Schemes

The color wheel makes it easy or you to see which colors will work nicely with each other. Here is a color wheel.

Color Wheel


Primary Colors

Primary colors are colors that cannot be made by mixing other colors. There are only three: red, blue, and yellow.

Color Wheel Primary Colors


Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors. There are only three: orange, violet (or purple) and green.

Color Wheel Secondary Colors


Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are a mixture of primary and secondary colors.

Color Wheel Tertiary Colors


Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors bring out the best in each other.

Color Wheel Complementary Colors


Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are located next to each other on the color wheel.

Color Wheel Analogous Colors


Split-Complementary Colors

Split-Complementary colors are one color plus two colors equally spaced from the complement.

Color Wheel Split Complementary Colors


Double-Complementary Colors

Double-Complementary colors are two complementary color sets.

Color Wheel Double Complementary Colors


Tints, Shades and Tones

Things would be a bit boring if we had to use all colors at their full saturation. That’s where tints, shades, and tones come in. Tints are any color with white added. The more white added to the color, the lighter it gets.

Shades are any color with black added. The more black you add; the darker the shade becomes.

Tones are achieved by adding black and white (grey).

Tints, shades, and tones are a nice way to add variety to your color scheme without adding another color. Just select numerous tints, tones, or shades of the same color.

You can find numerous color wheels online that you can download, or you can purchase an interactive color wheel. If you have not played with one before, or if you could use a refresher, you should spend a little time with a color wheel. You might be surprised at what you learn!


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Color Wheel
A circular device that has colors marked on it so you can see the relationship between primary, secondary and tertiary colors and the tints and shades of each.
Complementary Colors
Colors that are directly across from each other on the color wheel.
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