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Thread: Choosing colors

  1. #1
    Norah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    How do you choose a pleasing color combination? Someone told me to use the colored squares along the selvege of my theme fabric to match colors. I always seem to throw in a few that I wish I hadn't later. :roll:

  2. #2
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Your not the only one. I go print crazy. I guess you are supposed to look at a color wheel. I keep saying I will only use 3 fabrics...... but its all so pretty. :D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Greendale Twp: Midland, MI
    I like to pick out what I call my focus fabric. This will have the most colors and the largest overall print.
    I then take that bolt and hold it up to the fabrics to check out whether or not I can find other fabrics that are pleasing to my eye.
    I look for at least 2 fabrics of each; light, medium and dark values.
    I also try to include small, medium and larger size prints.
    I stack these bolts sideways on the handle side of my cart.
    I then step back and see which ones speak to me.
    I also like to buy enough of one of the fabrics, usually the focus fabric to use for the backing.
    I always buy extra fabric for my stash. If I have 10 or 12 different fabrics that all have harmonizing colors then I can make entirely different quilts, but have only shopped once.
    I learned the hard way to never buy just 1 fabric at a time. Those pieces always seem to be my orphan fabrics.

  4. #4
    Donna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    I just joined today and have to tell you...... I am great putting two and maybe three fabrics together, but tell me I need more than that and I become color illiterate. I really do have a hard time with more than three. I went out and bought the color thingy, it is two pieces of clear plastic, one red and one green, it is supposed to help. Haven't had the opportunity to try it yet tho and won't til after Christmas. Good luck with your color choosing.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Denver CO
    The first three colors are the easiest to choose on any project. For the rest, I learned, while working part time in a fabric retail outlet, these guidelines to help speed up the choices:

    Choose prints, plaids, medley colors that related to those main three--don't expect to have all three in each, just one or two--that can be the same, darker or lighter in color intensity.

    If you need three more than the basic choices, lay out four or five, then eliminate that one or two that obviously don't add spice to the originals. The more colors you need beyond the original choices the more "leeway" is expected, but contrast (dark vs. light, bright vs. light) become more important.

    You might be able to make all selections in one shopping trip, but do not expect to do so. Staple a tiny piece of each choice to a card to carry with you to the second or even a third shop. Purchase one more piece/color than you really need for the project. You may be surprised which of all your choices you may end up using.

    Don't spend a lot of time agonizing over selections. Your natural first rections will be good. You will have a "feel" when a blue (or a cool tone) is needed within a selection, or when two prints are "too busy"

    Ask another customer to choose which of two she prefers...but she will confirm your thinking

  6. #6
    Super Member Minda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central PA
    I usually buy my fabric a a local quilt shop (the salespeople are all quilters) and the employees love to help pick color combinations. It's helpful to have someone else's input and they sometimes suggest fabric that I hadn't even noticed.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I like the sample card Idea I always get to the fabric store and say gee it would be helpful if I had brought some color samples. I tend to grab alot of the same color schemes that don't always match. If you know what I mean? :? . I am building a pretty good stash of a variety of fabrics tho. It has taken me five years to find the perfect backing for the quilt top I made five yrs ago. hoping to finish that before Christmas! :-o

  8. #8
    Super Member Yvonne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Humboldt County, California
    I took a 'color' class at a local quilt shop early on. It really did help. They used a book by Gai Perry, Color From the Heart, to teach the class. We made 5 different quilts during the class. One thing I learned while looking for a specific green, "All greens go together!" The teacher was adament about this. Same for red, blue, etc. Don't limit yourself.
    It was suggested that you add a little yellow and/or turquoise for a bit of spark to your quilt. It's amazing how those two colors can really jazz up a bland project.
    Later I also signed up for some drawing classes for the same reason. I just felt that I wanted to see what others had to say about color.
    Finally, I think your 'color style' will develope as you make more and more quilts. I used to ask others for their opinion but find I do it less and less now. I know what I want and what I like.
    Oh, one other project from the color class that really helped was to chose a picture or an item that you really like and then use the colors you see there to build your color pallet for a quilt.
    I own a color wheel and it does help also.
    Bottom line, just keep experimenting. There is no such thing as a bad color combination. Do you remember the saying "blue and green should never be seen?" Blue and green make a beautiful combination in my opinion. Thank goodness we got over that 'rule'!!!! :lol:

  9. #9
    Nina's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    San Antonio, Texas
    To keep from buying something I don't really need, I have snipped off a corner of each of the fabric I have and glued them to paper - then I take it to the fabric store and get what I need. It also helps me when I put together colors.

    Sometimes the prints are overwhelming in appearance and, since I can't picture a small piece, I bring a manilla folder that I have cut several 2" squares into, place the fabric I'm considering side by side on the table, place the "holey" folder over it and get a fairly clear picture of what it would look like.

    Did this with blues for the bluebonnets I'm getting ready to start. By the way, looks like San Antonio is going to lose a bunch of Hancock Fabrics - and they told me that Joann's is cutting back on their fabrics, too. Anyone know the scoop on this?

  10. #10
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    I guess having 20 years of artistic experiance is what helps me choose colors when I'm designing a quilt.

    You shouldn't have all dark or all light colors. Well, you could, but it'd be more pleasing if you had both dark and light colors in your design to contrast each other.

    Using neutral colors (black, white, grey) can help spruce up any color scheme and I'm finding using them in a quilt can make your quilt design stand out a little more.

    You can't go wrong with different values of one color.

    It helps if you sketch out your design and color it in so you can see if the color scheme you have in mind would actually work. Also, know what you like. For example, I hate pastels so I'm not going to want to make a quilt that looks like the inside of an Easter basket. But I love bold and dark colors so I'd probably quilt something that should be up on display at a Hot Topic store. If you don't like a color or how two colors look together you certainly don't have to quilt with them. Go with what you like.

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