The first think you usually notice about a quilt is the color.
Color is powerful. Different colors evoke different emotions. No color
ever stands alone either. It is affected by the colors that surround it.
Color is difficult for a lot of quilters. There are so
many colors. Quilting terms for colors are usually lights, mediums and
darks. These are the value of the colors. When we want contrast, we
vary the value of the color. Sometimes the color is not very important.
Colors range in intensity. Purple has become a very
popular color in the last decade. How many shades of purple do you
recognize? There is lavender, violet, plum, eggplant, fuchsia, orchid and
The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. The secondary
colors are orange, purple and green. Many quilters find the color wheel
A monochromatic color scheme uses one color in different shades.
If you want a dynamic color scheme, look for colors that are
opposite on the color wheel, like blue and orange. That is a complementary
Most people know that red and green are complimentary colors.
The color wheel comes in handy when you want to use a color like yellow- green.
If you look at the wheel above, you can see that red-violet is across the color
wheel and the complimentary color to yellow-green.
An analogous color scheme uses colors that are next to each
other on the color wheel. It is generally any 3 colors that are
side-by-side on a 12 part color wheel, as shown in the picture on the top
of the page.
There are other schemes that get more complicated, such as the
split complementary color scheme, which instead of using opposite colors, splits
one side and uses the colors adjacent to the opposite color. Then there
are other schemes that use split colors on both sides further away from opposite
One of the easiest ways to choose color for a quilt is to pick a
print you love, and pull the colors out of that fabric for the rest of the
quilt. It it is quality fabric, it should have little dots on the edges of
the fabric of all the colors in the print.
When you make a scrappy quilt you are usually more concerned
with value than color. Formal color schemes are for carefully planned
quilts. Scrappy quilts are usually more scrappy, and value is much more
Some quilts use a lot of white or cream. Again, these tend
to be more formal quilts. Often the piecing is very elaborate in small
areas, and then large areas are left empty for fancy longarm machine quilting.
One of the most common decisions you make with a quilt is
whether you want to make it in Autumn colors, pastels, jewel tones, or
I like quilts that are all one color, with a variety or prints,
but most quilters like to use a variety of colors in their quilts, including
white and black.
It works well to lay out a variety of fabrics, preferably on a
design board, and take away the ones you don't like. Be sure and look at them
from a distance, squint, or take off your glasses. I have heard it said
that if you like the fabrics you choose for your quilt, you will like your
Autumn colors all seem to work well together. Yellow is a
great blender of all colors. Blues are the hardest colors to blend.
One last point is that if you are making a scrappy quilt, be
sure every fabric has a friend. You can put lots of different fabrics in a
quilt, but you do need some harmony. Be sure that your fabrics relate to
each other. In a true charm quilt none of the fabrics are repeated.
There are enough prints that everyone is at home.
Color is fun. Don't over think it. Choose colors you
like. Remember that if you are making quilts to decorate your home, the
beauty of a quilt is that if it doesn't look good in one room, you can move it
to another or even hide it under a bedspread.