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All About Color

Nothing has more impact in your quilt than color.  No color stands alone.  The play of colors next to each other is what makes quilts dramatic and bold, or soft and subtle.

                                    

                                    

Color is a very important design element of a quilt.  Every quilt should have a "personality" , and color is a big part of it.  Most people are familiar with the color wheel, and know that you get the biggest contrast by  using colors that are opposite each other like green and red, orange and blue or purple and yellow.

A more subtle look is achieved using soft values ( pastels) of colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (monochromatic)  like blue and green.

One classic favorite is to use just two colors in your quilt, red and white.  Children tend to prefer bright, primary colors, called "brights" .

Every color evokes emotion.  See  "Color and Economy" for some of the ways different colors affect us emotionally.

Color is a little different in quilting in that VALUE is considered more important than the actual color - white being the lightest value, black the darkest.  Many quilting designs do not work unless you have a lot of contrast between blocks.

There is a school of thought that all quilts should have at least a little bit of pure white or the quilt will look "muddy". 

As stated earlier, a large percentage of the quilts made today are scrappy quilts, composed of many fabrics and prints.  You still need to be somewhat careful with your colors when starting out.  Autumn, muted tones may not look good next to brights.  When you become more experienced working with color, you will be able to take more risks, but it is better to be a bit more conservative when starting out.

One of the easiest ways to choose the colors for your quilt is start with an "inspiration piece".  Pick a favorite multi-colored fabric, and then pull the colors out of that piece for the rest of your quilt, as in the picture below. 


Or you can pick all your fabric out of a fabric collection where the fabrics are designed to work together.

There are several ways to test your colors and how your quilt will look.  If you are following a pattern, this is not a problem.  If you are creating your own quilt, you need to group your fabrics, stand back and then squint to get the effect.  It is always wise to make a sample block before you begin quilting to test your color scheme if your colors are limited.

Most quilter have a design board.  Mine is portable - just a piece of plywood that I covered with batting and then a white denim fabric.  When I begin making blocks, I just place them on the board (they hold on by themselves), and I can look at them from the distance to be sure I like them. Serious quilter have boards on their walls large enough to hold very large quilts so that they can lay out intricate patterns.

Take the time to choose your colors carefully. 

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