Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Planning a Quilt Design Part 1: Color

I love to just look at pictures from other quilter's blogs, Google images, even store catalogs like Kohls and J.C. Penny. I immediately start trying to figure out how the quilt was made and how I can make it to fit my needs. Can I enlarge this pattern? Can I make it smaller? I love to make mini take 5 quilts! But, as I shared yesterday, it takes a little bit more than just seeing a picture (otherwise, you may end up with a deformed bag like I had! OOPS!).

If you know just a few tips about color, value, and symmetry, you can really design a beautiful work of art. I remember learning this from a fellow quilter. She pointed out that on my very first quilt, even though I had many different fabric patterns and prints in one quilt, it all worked because all of the greens. The 9-patch blocks were all a green, with a yellow undertone. Had I have chosen a blue-green print, the entire quilt color scheme would have been thrown off. When I originally bought the fabrics, I did not consciously pick all yellow undertone greens, but my eye just naturally knew that a teal, blue-green wouldn't work. But now that I understand more about colors, I make much more of an effort to pick out great color combos that are concordant rather than conflicting. Below is the jungle quilt, with all of the yellow-green patches for the 9-patch blocks:

It is important to really know the color wheel when quilting. I used to think that it wasn't, and that my eye knew what looked good together. And while it usually served me right, I was not being creative enough. I would look at colors that were ALWAYS "matchy-matchy." I never challenged myself until I understood color harmonies. I can now make more visually complex quilts through color and even have movement in a quilt based on where dominant colors are placed. Below is a fabric color wheel that I made, just out of my scraps

For an explanation on color harmonies you can check out this website. it gives several basic examples of colors that can work well together. And remember, they don't always have to be a 100% pure hue of that color. 100% red with 100% green may look good at Christmas but may not be the look you need. Try adding black or white into the colors. Perhaps a sage green and a pink will better suit your needs. Just don't be afraid to try something that you normally wouldn't! If you are wanting to try a new color harmony, but you are not confident enough to actually take it into fabric, try designing with paint chips. It gives you plenty of options for colors in different shades and tints (just be aware of how many you take, they are free for you, but not for the store!). If you own quilt design software like EQ7, you can also try colors options there, however I feel that the paint store has MANY more options.

I will soon cover more designing tips but I hope that this helps you improve your quilts for now! Let me know what color harmonies are your favorites, and what works for you! Happy quilting!

Today (3/9/12) I found a post on Facebook about symmetry, that tied into part two of this post, and then, just now I found another post from American Patchwork and Quilting on facebook about the colorwheel. Check it out, it has a couple of links on the page, all dealing with colors and quilting. Hope this helps!


  1. Wow! That was your first quilt? Great job, definitely not a beginner's project

  2. I LOVE your color wheel picture, Thanks for pinning this.