Adding Color to My World

October 10, 2010

Students often tell me they are not good at choosing colors for their quilts. I don’t believe they are truly bad at it, I’m convinced these quilters just need a bit of confidence boosting and encouragement.

When a painter begins a new project he/she has only individual colors to start with, whereas quilters are blessed with many wonderful fabrics that talented designers have already created for us and these fabrics provide a good jumping off point. By picking a multicolor print that is appealing, a good color scheme has already been chosen for us. Pull colors from this print and good results are almost a given!


 A color wheel is another safe way to choose good color combinations. There are many great quilting books available on this subject and they cover the different color wheels much better than I could.

I’ll share my personal ways of choosing colors on Thursday. Until then, please let us know how you deal with this topic. Do you stay within manufacturer’s fabric lines? Do you ask for help at the quilt shop? or do you just buy kits so you don’t need to deal with it :-)?


  1. I love your blog Chris. As for color, I tend to work instinctively, but then I refer to the color wheel for ‘ideas’.

  2. I like scrappy quilts and with those the more the merrier. The more different shades of a particular colr you have the more they go together and go with other colors. I think I have pretty good color sense but do occasionally refer to a color wheel to tell me what will make a quilt design pop.

  3. I love to play with color, so far I’ve done pretty well, I had an awsome teacher who gave me a few pointers and really haven’t had too much trouble since. I don’t do scrappy (drives me crazy) but I usually go with my favorite first and add from there.

  4. When you find that multi-colored print to use as your jumping off point for colors in a new quilt…look on the selvage. There are dots of color that show the different dyes that were used to make that print. Sometimes that helps people to isolate the colors that would go with that print. Don’t worry about getting to matchy matchy as it is often more interesting if a color is a bit lighter, darker, or more textured than what is shown in that dot.

  5. For the most part, I don’t like kits or sticking within one manufacturer’s line. I like to do my own thing and use fabrics that I love, not something chosen for me. I do rely on my color wheel (or Chris’ eye)for choosing fabrics – sometimes I bring a select few fabrics along with me to class that I think will work for a particular project, then talk to Chris about the final selection.

  6. I concider myslef color challanged! So I never buy kits and force myself to chose. I also use the dots on the salage and love bright colors. I will ask anyone who is around at the time. A lot of time others like my quilts better than I do but then it might be that way for them also. I participate in block exchanges and get ideas from them.

    • Making yourself do the choosing is a great way to improve. Good for you :-)! The color dots on the selvedge can be very helpful.

  7. So far,I do not have much of a problem with color. I love to choose the colors for a new quilt and have liked the results.

    I do not stay within within a manufacturer’s line except when it really works for me.

  8. I do believe that the manufacturer’s collections have greatly improved. When I started quilting, the collections were so well matched that they offered little variety. Now we see collections with greater appeal but to truly make the quilt unique, add your own choices to the mix.

  9. I have a hard time with colors, I have so many “orphan” pieces of fabric that I loved and now have to figure how to fit into a pattern with other colors. The dots and color wheel do help.but it is still hard for me. Also I seen to pick the same color families and all my things are looking the same.

    • We do tend to lean towards our favorite colors…and there’s nothing wrong with that :-). The orphan pieces might need to hang around until you have the right additional orphans for them to play with. Sharon Rotz talks a little about this on her recent blog and she has some past articles and photographs that can free up our thinking a bit when it comes to color: http://sharonrotz.blogspot.com/

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