Welcome back to the next #QuiltLikeABoss post!
While sometimes you may choose a design first and then choose your colour scheme and fabrics second, you can also choose your colours and/or fabrics before you choose your design. This often happens to me; I have plenty of designs I like, but the design choice is influenced by the fabrics I decide to use. I’m separating the fabric choice posts into two sections – today is colours, and on Monday it’s prints.
Personally, I really enjoy picking out fabric combinations for quilts, I love to experiment with different combinations until I find the one I like. However, if you don’t want to pick out your own fabric combinations, or are finding it difficult you can always use fabrics from a range. Fabric companies will print ranges of fabric that are designed to go together, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with a good looking combination.
Also, keep reading to the bottom of the post for some fabric discount codes.
When choosing colours for your quilt you can follow the colour wheel theory. You can use the colour wheel to select monochromatic, analogous and complementary colour schemes. To learn what all that means, there are lots of posts around the internet explaining it, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Read more here, or I found the lessons of the free 2014 Craftsy Block Of The Month class on colours very clear and informative (I didn’t bother with the lessons about sewing the quilt, just the ones on colour).
Picking Colours from a feature fabric
This is an approach I commonly use. You can let the fabric designers do the work for you! If you find a fabric that you really love, pick out colours from that fabric for your quilt colour scheme. You can pick out all the colours or just some of them, and you can try and be really precise or be a bit more flexible.
I find this a lot easier in person at quilt shops, but make sure you take the fabric round with you and hold it up to the bolts on the shelves, as you’ll be surprised with the fabrics that do and don’t go. However, if you want to buy your fabrics online it’s the same process, and some online stores even allow you to search by colour to find fabrics.
For example, here’ a selection I picked on the Fat Quarter Shop; I picked out the dark purple, red, orange and green from the feature fabric, finding fabrics in these colours that I liked and I felt ‘fit’ with the main fabric.
Taking inspiration from things around you
Rather than picking a colour scheme from a fabric, you could pick a colour scheme from pictures or other things around you. Here are some examples of colour schemes I’ve pulled out from pictures I find inspiring:
Thinking about Value
One last thing I wanted to add when talking about colour is to think about the value of the fabrics/colours. In this sense value is defined as the lightness or darkness of a colour. Value can be used to great effect in quilts (see here for some fabulous examples and more information), but if you forget about it you may run into troubles.
Let me try and explain with an example… I made this quilt in 2012 (see here for more):
The design in my head relied on it being a ‘scrappy’ appearance but made from the two colours I had selected (by scrappy I mean a random arrangement of a variety of fabric prints). Therefore I focused my fabric shopping on selecting greens and purples. However one of the greens I ended up with was much darker than all the other colours.
A really good way to get a view of the value of your fabrics is to convert a picture to black and white (you can even do this in the fabric store with your phone, I commonly do). When the picture of the fabrics is changed to black and white you can see that the greens and purples are almost all of similar value, as shown by how they are all similar greys, but that there is one green fabric that’s much darker:
I first laid out my pieces with that darker fabric included as I was having trouble finding green fabrics and I was really hoping it would work. However, you can really tell in the below photo that the green is too dark as your eye keeps getting drawn to those darker squares. This is another time when photos are great, the decision to remove the darker green was so obvious when I looked at the photo compared to looking at the fabric on the floor.
In this case, the difference in value worked against me, so it was removed. I hope that does a reasonable job explaining the beginnings of value and some tips for how to think about it.
If you’re joining in with the #QuiltLikeABoss QuiltAlong and are planning to buy the fabric for your quilt online, we have arranged some discount codes for you:
- Fat Quarter Shop – code: QUILTBOSS – 10% discount. valid until the 18th February 2016
- Village Haberdashery – code: BOSS10 – 10% discount valid throughout February 2016
- Fabric Worm – code: bossqal – 15% discount on orders of $25 or more. Valid throughout 2016.
- Guthrie & Ghani – code: QUILT16 – 10% discount, valid throughout February 2016