Tips On Picking Colors For Your Quilts


Almost all quilters have struggled with color at one time or another. Is this blue too yellow? Is this red too orange? Here are some suggestions.

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Tips On Picking Colors For Your Quilts

We don't want the colors in our quilts to say "boring", but we also don't want them to clash. I've seen shoppers in quilt shops spread their choices of fabric on the top of the rows, on any table not in use, and even on the floor. They will gather their fellow shoppers for opinions. Choosing colors for a quilt is such a struggle that the quilter resorts to a variety of solutions.

Tips On Picking Colors For Your Quilts


Often, the first solution is to purchase fabrics from one fabric line by one designer. These fabrics are made to go together, and a quilter can't go wrong. The second solution is often to purchase a kit. Some kits are from a manufacturer, or by a teacher and others are put together by the quilt shop employees.


There are several online sites that feature color palettes and there are even color palette generators. These might replace the popular solution of paint chips from the local paint store. The paint chips show shades and tints of color that will go well together. For obvious reasons, this isn't popular with the stores.

paint chips


Some quilters even resort to taking courses in color theory. They learn that analogous colors are next to one another on the color wheel and that complementary colors are opposite. Some quilters, like me, carry a small color wheel in their purses. They learn the meaning of tint, shade, tone, hue, and value.



If this is all too much for you, as it is for me, here's another approach:


Remember the days of Color Me Beautiful®? You may still have the book on your shelf. The theory behind color me beautiful is that you can wear any color, but it's the shade of the color that makes the difference. The color palettes were arranged by season: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The program determined which color palette looked best on any individual.


If you still have your wallet of color swatches, you are in luck! This is a lightweight way to carry color samples in your purse. If you know the season of the person for whom you are making the quilt, you can easily make a quilt that is beautiful, AND will appeal greatly to the person receiving it.



Color Me Beautiful® is still in business, so if you don't still have your wallet, you can order one. In fact, beautiful fans of the colors are also available. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your favorite quilt shop had them for reference at the cutting table? You could look at the color palette before you shop and verify your choices at the cutting table.



Of course, you can always make a scrappy quilt, which is beautiful no matter the color!!


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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.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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