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Thread: Help in Choosing Colors for Quilts

  1. #1
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    Help in Choosing Colors for Quilts

    I have always had the same problem -- I can select three or four fabrics from my (too large) stash for a quilt, but if I need more than three or four, I freeze. Sometimes, I can't even get started. I do consult the color wheel, but I always feel that I am missing something. But I have found a way to create exciting color combinations almost without thinking.

    For years, I have been compiling a loose-leaf notebook of pictures -- some of quilts (from magazines, catalogues, wherever) but other pictures are just things that caught my eye, like fabrics, interiors, nature scenes, etc. Now, when I want to make a quilt and can't figure out what colors would give it pizzazz, I consult my notebook.

    Looking at pictures of furniture or clothes in fabrics that have been selected by experts -- well, those experts are doing my work for me and I put together a selection of fabrics that mimic the combinations in the picture. It has resulted in some beautiful, exciting quilts.

    Does anyone else use this method? Have you been satisfied with your results? If you haven't, give it a try on your next original project!
    "Accomplishment is a consequence of effort" -- Michael Crichton

  2. #2
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    I would just suggest my method of quilt color selection. Pick the busiest print you want to use, and pull colors from it. They have also done all the hard work of matching colors for you.
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results never change. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  3. #3
    Junior Member TAMARATJO's Avatar
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    I also keep a binder and a pinterest folder of quilts just for the colors. I do have a color wheel, but never seem to use it. I would like to expand my color skills, but tend to do rainbow quilts over and over and over!

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    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
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    Very often I find that pictures of what others have done helps me a lot. It is a good system.
    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.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Unless I am making a scrappy. I pick out a print and take colors from that.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

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    Senior Member Cheshirepat's Avatar
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    I also have a vast Pinterest folder of color-based interests: Fabric, quilts, nature photos, art, even makeup palettes! All can be inspiration when my brain fails me.
    Singer 301 (Zsuzsi), Janome DC1050, Brother XR3140 -when did THAT happen?!

  7. #7
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    You can also pick out your two or three colors and then dance around each one. Pull all the fabrics from your stash with each of those 3 colors and then remove ones that seem out of place.

  8. #8
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    you might find more Two Color patterns. that usually requires some background fabric too but it would be fairly simple.

  9. #9
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I sat in on a free lecture by Bethanne Nemish and she talked about how she does exactly as you describe. Not only for colors but for shapes, motifs and design inspiration. Her award winning quilt "October Sky" had a wonderful arched FG peicing incorporated into the design along the top of the quilt that she took inspiration from a photo she had in her notebook. She says she gets them from all over. Some she takes herself, she tears pages out of magazines, all kinds of source for her notebook. You can see pictures of her quilts here: https://www.whitearborquilting.com/portfolio/

  10. #10
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    So glad that works for you - that is called inspiration!

    However, it would result in a disaster for me. My method is the 'no more than 4 fabrics, occasionally 5' in a quilt method. Why? Because I am color blind, but not completely color blind. I see color, tend to brights, high contrast and large prints, but apparently I am, as someone said to me after I explained my problem, 'shade blind'. Even when someone I trust helps me pick out fabrics, if there are more than 4 or 5, I can't make it work. My brain/vision literally can't do it.

    I love 2 fabric quilts. With the right fabrics, and the right quilt pattern, they are very dramatic. There are several quits that I hated to give away, but forced myself.
    Last edited by cathyvv; 11-20-2018 at 04:38 PM.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  11. #11
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    I sometimes use the paint swatches from Home Depot. I have put somethings together thinking "that doesn't belong", then it turns out really good. I also try to match from the colors on the main focus fabric. Happy Sewing!!!
    Family is a priority, not a convenience!
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  12. #12
    Super Member Teen's Avatar
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    Great idea!! I have a vast picture library on my mobile phone of colors and designs. Most recently, I took a picture of the side of a restaurant building..it was mosaic with really unusual colors I would never think to combine but it was stunning. I made a quilt resembling the carpet of a hotel hallway once. It seems, while out and about, my eyes are always finding color and shape details around me. Must be a quilter's thing! Lol... Thanks for sharing!
    Quilting therapy for the therapist...
    My Summertime Swap blocks: https://www.quiltingboard.com/member...bums19923.html

  13. #13
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    I have no color sense either! I rely on all the pictures I have saved of quilts I like. If I can see it, I can copy the colors. I love sage green, teal, burgundy and black. 99% of my wardrobe is those colors. I love all the colors others use...I just never think to put them together!

  14. #14
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    Taking colors from a print is definitely helpful, especially when you can compare color dots from the selvages.

    For those who are color blind, can you use more than two fabrics by adding some neutrals to add contrast? I'm not color blind, but both of my sons are, so this is definitely of interest to me. I also wonder whether you can use more fabrics if you have a more scrappy, but monochromatic quilt, like various blue fabrics paired with white.

  15. #15
    DJ
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    That's a very interesting way to pick colors for a quilt.

    I also like the idea of using the paint folder suggestions. They have a combination of paint swatches that go together in some theme like "Summertime", etc.

    Personally, I usually pick a focus fabric and build from there.

  16. #16
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    I don't like the color wheel my self. I never like the colors that the color wheel says go together. I would pick colors from my main fabric that is a print. Then I would stay with those colors but use different shade of that color. I try to stay with 5 colors. A lot of this all depends on the pattern! So this is a very hard question to answer! My best advise if you like it together then use it because its your quilt!

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