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Thread: Do you have an 'Eye for Color'?

  1. #1
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Do you have an 'Eye for Color'?

    I don't. If I go to a quilt shop and try and pick out fabric for a quilt that isn't a fabric collection, I make bad choices. I choose warm and cool colors that don't go together. I choose reds that are purplish and orangish. I choose greens that are bluish and yellowish. I can't seem to tell how wrong they are unless someone points it out to me and even then I don't see it.

    I usually have to have the gal behind the counter help me pick out my fabric and lots of times I don't care for what she selects, so I'm stuck with lots of fabric I'll never use.

    I am one of the people who buy quilt kits because I can see them and know i like the pattern and fabric. But I would like to choose my own fabric and pattern and make my own quilt sometime. So I have to buy fabric lines in order for my quilts to look nice.

    Is there a way to 'learn' to have an eye for color?? Any tips? Anyone else out there that doesn't have an eye for color?
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  2. #2
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    If I am stuck when picking out colours, I use the colour dots from the selvage to help. The manufacturer puts the dots along the selvage of every colour that is printed in the fabric and you can't go wrong if you choose fabrics that match the dots. I usually try to pick a variety of small and larger scale prints in those colours to add some variety to the quilt top but sometimes I just go with blenders or solids too.

  3. #3
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    If I have the fabrics next to each other I can tell if they will look good together. Lots of times I can match by memory as well. My main issue is getting too many that are in the medium to dark range and not enough in the lighter range.

    I've been matching colors for as long as I can remember so I don't really know if it is a natural talent or if it was something learned. I do know that I've gotten better over time with the memory matching. So there is a "practice makes perfect" component.

  4. #4
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
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    You can get books on color theory...try your local library.

    I used to have some trouble with putting colors together. But I started working in a LQS 5 years ago, and have grown in this area by observing my employer (who is an expert). I like to begin with a focus fabric, and then choose other fabrics to go with it. The selvedge dots help, but it really takes practice.
    Cindy

    Curator of an 1889 Singer model 27 Fiddlebase Treadle, a 1951 Singer Centennial Featherweight, a 1956 Singer 401A, and a 1982 Bernina 830 Record.

  5. #5
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    This was posted by someone in the last few months...

    http://design-seeds.com/index.php/search
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  6. #6
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    I don't know as if I'm good, but I've always loved color. I seem to do ok. All my friends tell me I have a great eye for color. I know what I like together. If I choose something, and when I get it home, it doesn't look right, I either go out and buy more ( ), or I find something in my stash. You could try the color wheel. I don't use it, but there are many who swear by it. Also, if you do scrap quilts, you can put anything in those, and they'll blend.
    Another suggestion would be to get out your crayons or colored pencils and make samples of colors you think go well together. Take those along with you to the fabric store.
    Have fun!

  7. #7
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    I've been told that I have a very good eye for color by my teachers and friends. Sometimes it take s me a while though. My favorite thing to help me is that I lay different color combinations together and then take a pic of it and look at it awhile to see if I like it. You can also get a color wheel to see how different colors go together. I rarely ever buy kits because I rarely like all of the fabric as a whole. Even when I took the BOM for the civil war quilts and we got the fabric for it each month, I rarely, if ever used all of the fabric they chose. I quickly got a civil war stash built up and would chose what I wanted to see. Just have confidence in yourself and remember that it is only important for you to like it if it's for you and if it's for someone else they normally pick out the fabric.
    Judy

  8. #8
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    If one has some types of color blindness, one doesn't perceive colors the same as most people do.

    If one has cataracts, that can distort how colors look.

    Also, different lighting can affect how a color looks

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bilben's Avatar
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    Jcrow, I'm like you. I can't seem to match colours at all. What I think are dark might actually be medium, what looks red to me looks orange to the LQS staff. I totally understand the need to buy fabric collections, and then i'm stuck with designs I wouldn't have selected myself.

    Tartan, that's good information about the dots on the salvage, I didn't know that. I'm going to try to use that info today at my LQS. I need to get some reds today to try make a patriotic quilt and maybe, just maybe, I can do it right.

  10. #10
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    I use what I like that others do not think is right. If it is right for me then it is right. I have never gone for all this detail and have loved quilting for over 30 yrs
    A friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway.

  11. #11
    Super Member quilter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    This was posted by someone in the last few months...

    http://design-seeds.com/index.php/search
    This is a fabulous resource. Great color ideas.

  12. #12
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    At one time I thought the colors had to match EXACTLY! - and then I bought a book by Jinny Beyer about selecting colors - where she would take the main colors of a design - match them - and then use other colors to 'bridge' between colors - and then remove the 'exact' matches - the results were a lot more vibrant when she did that.

  13. #13
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyquiltmom View Post
    You can get books on color theory...try your local library............
    Plus there are phenomenal resources at the tips of your finger .... just google around!


    And like many things ..... practice practice practice!!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  14. #14
    Super Member HillCountryGal's Avatar
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    Think sometimes a person can get overwhelmed by all the choices.
    It's not that you don't "have an eye for color".
    If you go with what you like/makes you smile. That's good enough.

  15. #15
    Super Member Wanabee Quiltin's Avatar
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    My eye for color is too acute. I see how people mix up color and it is a shock to my senses. I do not know how I developed this sensitivity to color, but I do know that I started sewing about 56 years ago and slowly learned the differences between orange red, blue red, brown red..... I have noticed that there are many people who don't have an eye for color, so please don't feel alone.

  16. #16
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I am better at color choices than I used to be. One of my ahHA moments with color was 'auditioning' fabric on my design wall. If I wanted a yellow, I would put up about 5-6 diff yellows on the wall with the other color choices. As I would walk by, one would say NO WAY..down it went. Sometimes I have 2 choices. I will take one down and see how it feels..then the other. My husband gets roped in now and then...not sure how thrilled he is about THAT! He is trooper tho and will give his opinion. Occasionally now, I will finish a quilt that is not QUITE what I had in my minds eye. I try to figure out why..and tuck that away for later. I often pick a border fabric FIRST, and the other fabric to match that. Just remember: its not rocket science...and you can learn something from each quilt you make.
    Beth in AZ
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    Innova 22' with Lightning Stitch and Pantovision
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  17. #17
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    Look at a woods that 'grew itself' - notice all the shades of green that are in there!

  18. #18
    Super Member willferg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I can't seem to tell how wrong they are unless someone points it out to me and even then I don't see it...I usually have to have the gal behind the counter help me pick out my fabric and lots of times I don't care for what she selects, so I'm stuck with lots of fabric I'll never use.
    Maybe you aren't wrong...maybe you just have to pick what you like and like what you pick and trust yourself. I don't always like other people's color choices, but I don't think they are wrong. As long as I'm okay with what I pick, it's all good. And even if afterwards I think maybe I should have chosen a little differently, I just chalk it up to a learning experience!
    People who start projects and never finish them are cooler
    than people who never start projects at all.


    http://quiltingquick.weebly.com/blog.html

  19. #19
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    I also don't have an eye for color. Because of that, I tend to do shades of one color and that works well for me, or I have a few two color combinations that I like, like yellow and blue or turquoise and purple. I recently bought a layer cake and I was delighted that I was able to make a quilt that really looked right. But that is the same thing you are saying when you talk about the same fabric line.

    I find that I don't like a lot of patterned fabric together, and that complicates fabric choice too.

    However, I think the "design wall" in my head is starting to work. I can almost visualize what something might end up looking like. I do, however, always make a block of what I am thinking of before I cut out all my fabric. I learned that that helped the hard way. I made a Warm and Natural pattern once that just looked awful. Didn't even finish it, just gave it to the guild and one of the ladies there made it into a useable quilt.

    I have, however, learned to not fear selecting new fabric. I used to worry and worry, and now it is sort of fun. I guess that is progress.

    Dina

  20. #20
    Super Member Annie68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lillybeck View Post
    I use what I like that others do not think is right. If it is right for me then it is right. I have never gone for all this detail and have loved quilting for over 30 yrs
    I'm with you lillybeck, I pick what I like and that makes it right! Don't care what others think. If the quilt is for someone else, they get to pick the colors of their choice.

  21. #21
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    Gee, I wonder if this is why I have done so many scrappy quilts. I just throw everything together so that NOTHING stands out. Although I did an all blue Log Cabin, and a tan and brown Log Cabin that came out quite well.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  22. #22
    Super Member grammysharon's Avatar
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    That's what I do, find a "focus" fabric then choose coordinating colors from that piece.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    If I am stuck when picking out colours, I use the colour dots from the selvage to help. The manufacturer puts the dots along the selvage of every colour that is printed in the fabric and you can't go wrong if you choose fabrics that match the dots. I usually try to pick a variety of small and larger scale prints in those colours to add some variety to the quilt top but sometimes I just go with blenders or solids too.
    A quilt is a blanket of love. Sharon

  23. #23
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    I don't know if it my love of colors or maybe because I also paint but I have never had a problem putting colors together. My DM made beautiful hand made quilts but she had so much trouble with colors so it took her forever to put her fabrics together for a quilt. She always worked it out but more than once I have seen her take a top apart and redo because she did not like the colors she used.

  24. #24
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    If I get really stuck I find a nephew to take with me. Since being very young they ate both excellent at colours.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  25. #25
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    I have no sense of color or whether something is medium, light or dark. Usually I end up with all of my fabrics in exactly the same tone and the finished product ends up losing the pattern. I tried painting once and despite having a choice of and using bright colors, my finished product actually ended up a muddy gray-brown. Given my limitations, I am so very thankful when people post photos of their lovely quilts because then I have a starting point for the colors of my own quilt.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

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