• Using Color Wheels to Choose Quilt Colors

    Today, I would like to present an article that shows how to pick colors for your quilts using a color wheel.

    Using Color Wheels to Choose Quilt Colors

    Color wheels have been used to determine color compatibility since 1666 when Sir Issac Newton developed the very first color wheel.

    A color wheel is divided into three categories: the primary colors of red, yellow and blue; the secondary colors of orange, green and violet; and the tertiary colors of red-orange, red-violet, yellow-green, yellow-orange, blue-green, and blue-violet.

    To help you better understand the concept of the color wheel, you can see an example of a typical color wheel here:

    If you were to draw a line from the red-violet sector of the wheel all the way across to yellow-green sector, you could see that all the colors above are warm and the colors below are cool.

    If two colors appear on opposite sides of the color wheel, they are said to complement each other. When you use these colors together to create a quilt, they will make each other seem more intense and bright. When choosing colors for your quilt, you need to make sure that you pay attention to three main color characteristics. These characteristics are visual temperature (warm or cool), value and intensity.

    Subscriber comments:
    The Color Wheel.. to make your own: Go to any hardware store or store that sells paint and you can usually get free 'color swatch cards'. These can be used over and over, mixed and matched...endless possibilities. To make your color wheel, take your color swatch cards and with a standard hole puncher, punch a hole in the top middle of each card. Thread a piece of yarn or string through all cards and tie a knot in the ends, and you have your own color wheel! You can make a warm wheel, a cool wheel, a crazy wheel.. use your imagination!

    When determining temperature, you are referring to whether the color is warm or cool in tone. All of the colors on one half of the color wheel are warm, and all of the colors on the other half are cool. When creating a quilt block, warm colors will generally move toward you and cool colors will recede into the block. Warm colors tend to be more bright and vibrant and cool colors tend to be more subtle and soothing.


    When determining value, you are referring to the darkness or lightness of a particular color. Value helps you to establish depth within particular blocks. When you place a darker red against a lighter red, you can create the illusion of depth. By learning to utilize the value of colors, you will be able to create the illusions of depth and movement within your quilts.


    The intensity of a color is determined by the color's brilliance. Colors such as reds, oranges and bright yellows have more intensity than tans or pale blues.

    There are endless colors in the world, and the color wheel usually depicts only about 40, so it's more important to use the color wheel as a guide for all ranges of particular colors than it is to use it as an exact science. By using the color wheel for guidance, you'll be able to create a wide variety of quilt types.

    Monochromatic Quilts

    When you make a monochromatic quilt, you are making a quilt from one color category. The quilt can contain different shades of that color, but the base color remains the same. For instance, a quilt containing blocks of nothing but the different shades of blue would be a monochromatic quilt.

    Analogous Quilts

    An analogous combination is when you use three to five colors that are sitting side-by-side on the color wheel. If you make a quilt using violet, blue and green, you are creating an analogous quilt. If you wanted to add a little flavor to the quilt, you could choose an accent color from the colors directly across the wheel from one of these three colors.

    Complement Quilts

    To create a complement quilt, choose one color and then choose the color directly across the color wheel from the original color you have chosen. Then you will create the quilt to consist of just these two colors.

    By using the color wheel as a tool to help you choose complementing and matching colors, you will ensure that all of your quilts turn out to be masterpieces.

    In the second part of today's issue, I would like to describe what you need to know about the machine quilting. I am not going to go into details about any particular technique, but will go over some basics to help you get started.

    Numerous quilters have found that machine quilting offers many benefits and advantages. You can use machine quilting to produce any kind (or any part) of a quilt: from barely visible stitches holding pieces of fabric together on the inside to multi-color combinations of threads used to add color and variety to the patterns of the fabric itself.

    Not only are quilters able to quilt tops together faster than if they were to do it by hand, but some quilters have taken machine quilting and turned it into an art form.

    From invisible stitching to intricate designs, machine quilting offers flexibility and speed. Machine quilting is an easily learned art form, and almost any machine can manage the task with the use of a few special feet.

    Machine Quilting Basics:

    There are basically two ways to quilt using a sewing machine. You can either lower the feed dogs and guide the fabric by hand (free-motion) or set the feed dogs up let the machine guide the fabric (machine-guided).

    Machine-guided quilting is more appropriate for long straight-line stitches, where the length of each stitch is desired to be equal.

    Free-motion quilting, on the other hand, is better for steep curves and complex parts of the quilt.

    What You Need:

    If you're going to dive into the wonderful world of machine quilting, a sewing machine is a must. Almost all of the newer sewing machines can be used for machine quilting.

    If your machine does not allow you to set the feed dogs down for free-motion quilting, you can put a piece of tape over them to prevent the feed dogs from dragging the fabric.

    If you have an older machine, it's not a problem. You can use almost any machine for quilting, but there are some machines that you will need to purchase special attachments for.

    You're going to need to evaluate the size of your machine's motor. A small motor is not going to be able to meet the consistent demands of quilting. Check your machine's manual to see if the manufacturer specified any limits on the amount of time a motor can run without being stopped.

    Some machines may have smaller motors that overheat if being run for a long period of time, so you might have to take frequent breaks to let the motor cool down.

    In addition to deciding whether or not you will need to cover the feed dog and the size of your machine's motor, you will need to assess the size of the opening between the motor of the machine and the needle. If you are quilting with a machine that has a very small space, you're going to need to quilt larger quilts in sections that you will later join together.

    Once you have your machine ready, you'll need to focus on thread. There is a wide array of threads available for machine quilting. Don't skimp when it comes to purchasing your thread; it's important to use high-quality materials.

    What type of thread you use will be determined by what the quilt is going to be used for. Metallic thread is fine to use on decorative quilts, but for quilts that need to be durable you should use 100 percent cotton thread.

    Another durable and popular thread is the invisible nylon thread. Just don't use this thread for baby blankets or blankets for small children as it can cause a serious risk of choking. The bobbin thread should almost always be a 100 percent cotton thread that matches the fabric that is being used for the back of the quilt.

    However, if you're using the bobbin for thread that is too thick for the needle, simply turn the quilt over and quilt it from the wrong side. No matter what kind of thread you use, do not use thread that is meant for hand quilting because the wax coating found on these threads can damage your machine.

    Once you know what types of thread you're going to be using, you need to determine what needles to use. Each project you start should be started with a new needle. You will want to replace your needle as soon as it shows signs of dulling to prevent poorly formed stitches. It's not uncommon to go through several needles when working on a large project.

    The type of needle you require will be determined by the type of thread you are using and the type of stitch you are using that thread for. For special threads such as metallic thread, use a needle designed specifically for that type of thread.

    Lammertz Metafil makes needles especially for this purpose. A Schmetz quilting needle should be used to penetrate the thicker fabrics and batting. There are two different sizes of Schemtz needles to choose from. If you're using a thinner batting, use the 75/11 needle and for heavier batts use the 90/14.

    Helpful Tricks:

    -To prevent the quilt back from shifting, use a walking foot for straight lines.

    - Try tracing your designs on to freezer paper and press the paper into place on the quilt.

    - To prevent the quilt from puckering, use a straight stitch needle plate.

    - To help hold the weight of the quilt up, place a stool, table, or chair next to the sewing machine.
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