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Thread: I need colour confidence!

  1. #1
    Junior Member Vicki1212's Avatar
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    I need colour confidence!

    How do I gain confidence when choosing fabric colours? I see many, many beautiful quilts made from the most amazing colours used together in a cohesive fashion yet every time I buy fabric, I 'play it safe' resulting in fabric choices with no 'oomph!' When I find a main fabric I like, I am always drawn to colours in the same range and don't seem to have the imagination to 'see' anything else. My local fabric stores also seem to buy a single pattern in every colour available instead of collections. Any suggestions or recommended books that could help me would be most appreciated.
    Rainy days heal the heart so that sunny days can make us smile!

  2. #2
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    The color dots in the selvage are a good starting point. For me, the trick is finding fabrics that blend with each other, rather than perfectly match. Vary the scale (pattern size) as well. When in doubt, you can always add in some tone-on-tone fabrics in other colors of your main pattern. I use a lot of marbles and Kaufman Fusions in my quilts.

    Looking at collections, you will see how they usually vary in color and scale. Some manufacturers use similar colors in their collections, so you can often find something by looking at the same mfg. in a different line.

  3. #3
    Super Member wesing's Avatar
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    There are books by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr that might help you. They are designers and they write so that regular folks can understand their subject matter. Here is a link to the "About Us" page of their website: https://www.modernquiltstudio.com/StoreAboutUs.php .

  4. #4
    Senior Member MissSongbird's Avatar
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    If I'm unsure what color to pair with another, I usually consult the color wheel. Look for colors across the color wheel form your color (complementary colors) (such as blue - orange, purple - yellow, red - green). Or look at colors on the color wheel that surround your color (analogous colors). And sometimes if that doesn't work, I put my my fabric against a bunch of different fabric at the fabric store and hope I find something that looks good with it.

  5. #5
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I have a friend who was very insecure about color choices when she first started quilting. I gave her a book that she said gave her a way to look at things in a different way and has made choosing colors much easier. Her quits are a testament to that. The book is Visual Coloring, A Foolproof Approach to Color-rich Quilts by Joen Wolfrom from C&T Publishing.

    The basic idea is to take (or find) color photos of things you like, things that move you, and pull your quilt colors from the photo. You will quickly learn to see all the small variances in the colors that make them blend together and give you that emotional pull.

    From what I've seen at international quilt shows, the fabrics and designs of South African quilts are very rich indeed so you're probably surrounded by inspiration just waiting for you to tap it. Be fearless and have fun!
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  6. #6
    Super Member bjchad's Avatar
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    One way to give oomph to a set of fabrics is to pick one "zing" fabric. A zinger can be a fabric with a really different value than most of the others. Darker or lighter. Or it can be more saturated than the other fabrics. Or it can be a complementary color to the main fabric. You don't need to use a lot of a zinger, a little goes a long way but it does liven things up.

  7. #7
    Super Member Cybrarian's Avatar
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    Have you already tried adding a shade of white or black? Sometimes just adding one or the other allows another fabric to "brighten up". For example using white or black as the sashing between blocks or as one of the fabrics in a block design that uses a few different fabrics in its construction. Another option is instead of matching a color from your focus or main fabric try going one or two shades darker or lighter of that color. Hope this makes sense!
    “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest”~Jesus

  8. #8
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    I have to tell you, that I struggle with my fabric placement all the time. I don't know why, but I found that if I make sure to use at least one light, one medium and 1 dark fabric, the quilt does not look like one hue. I also stick to simple patterns that with certain fabrics, a few come out stunning. This bargello was made entirely from scraps given to our church group of sewers. I keep adding and subtracting, moving the fabric until I think it looks great. That is why I have 5 design walls in my small apt.
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    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  9. #9
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    I like all the suggestions listed and have another book suggestion also: Jinny Beyer's Color Confidence for Quilters. In her book she also has little color swatches that help with subtle color differences that are very helpful so you can try different ones together or even take them shopping.

    And I have to say I love the Bargello! Made from donated fabrics? Wow. Very impressive!!! I've never done one but want to. I wish I could have you sit next to me and guide me along. This one is just perfect!

  10. #10
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    just look out your window.

  11. #11
    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    I think getting comfortable with color comes with experience. You learn from every quilt you make--some work and some don't---but you learn from each of them. I also look at lots of pictures of quilts to try to figure out what I like or don't like, and why. After awhile you will start figuring out your 'style' and color combos that you like.
    I just want to spend the rest of my life laughing.

  12. #12
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    Invest in a color wheel and learn what the different color terms mean (primary, secondary, tertiary, complementary, analogous, etc). Once you understand the terms you will look at the color wheel as a great tool to help you decide.

  13. #13
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    whew, Maniac Quilter 2, I love that bargello. It is just beautiful.

  14. #14
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Even after many years of color coordination and having fun with fabric, I find that sometimes my vision of what I expect from a combination of fabrics doesn't match what I have on hand, as I'm mostly "shopping my stash". However usually I'm pleasantly surprised with the results, or I may end up changing my direction in midstream because it just isn't coming together. Have ended up with some I really like and a few that I hope someone else will love because it doesn't do anything for me. Lol!
    Just keep playing with fabric and try out things out of your comfort zone in small projects like wall hangings, table toppers, totes, etc. Above all have fun in the process!

  15. #15
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    Look at what Kaffe Fassett does with color. You will see a lot of quilts with very simple patterns that have colors of similar value that break some of the most common color "rules," like needing different values or needing a lot of contrast. I am hardly him, and far more restrained, but my two most recent tops have very little contrast at all but are very color-rich. If I had gone with the old "contrast for pop" chestnut, I'd have never envisioned them. Of course, if your pattern has a lot of pieces and movement, you will likely need a certain recipe for contrast in order to make the pattern work.

    Just some thoughts,
    charlotte

  16. #16
    Super Member quilting cat's Avatar
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    Find a large print that "speaks" to you. Use the colors in that print, whether you use the print itself or not. (You might use the print on the back)
    Retired math teacher --
    I CAN FIGURE IT OUT!

  17. #17
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    I echo the Jenny Beyer book. Also invest in a color wheel and deliberately choose colors on the opposite side of the wheel when you have chosen your major color.

  18. #18
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    I agree with katier825, using the color dots on the selvage of your focus fabric will help you pick colors that are in the focus fabric and you will be able to find fabrics in those colors, always remember to vary the size of the other fabric, using tone-on-tone, medium tones, etc., and you should be fine.

  19. #19
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    I find the ladies at the quilt stores very helpful. A lot of them have an eye for color and can help you choose colors you will be happy with.

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