The Basics: Color Scheming

Over the years, I’ve heard many people say that they just don’t know how to put colors or fabrics together. And while it can sometimes get complicated, it doesn’t need to be. In fact, whether it’s picking colors for a quilt or for your home, there’s an easy formula to follow.colorschemingbannerNow, I’m not going to get into the color wheel or talk about mixing patterns of different scale. This post is just about color. This formula is basic. To some, it may even seem obvious, but I’ve learned that what some of us take as second nature, can be a complete mystery to others.

1.  Choose your Inspiration Fabric. There’s no right or wrong with your inspiration fabric. It’s simply a fabric you love. But, to make the rest of the process even easier, choose an Inspiration Fabric that has 3 or more colors.

Here’s the Inspiration Fabric my husband picked out. I have six colors and a white background to work with.


2. Select coordinating fabrics only in colors found in your Inspiration Fabric. With fabric in hand, choose separate fabrics in each of the colors in your Inspiration Fabric.


3. Pay attention to the backgrounds or “whites” of your fabric. My Inspiration Fabric has a white-white background or white stripe, so I want my dots to be white as well. If my “whites” end up being too off-white, they can look dirty compared to the white-white of my inspiration fabric.
For me, I know my quilt is going to be for a boy, and I know it’s going to be a pinwheel pattern. I also know that I only want to use dots and circles for the pinwheels and the blocks will have a white background. While that narrows my selection, I got lucky and found three dots in the colors I need.
With a stripe as my Inspiration Fabric, geometrics are the perfect patterns to use. They can be in a color with a white pattern or in a color with a tonal pattern.  As long as the colors stay within the color palette of my Inspiration Fabric, I can’t go wrong.


What I don’t want to do is introduce another color. Say I find the perfect yellow and it has a tiny purple dot. Purple is not in my Inspiration Fabric, so I’m not even going to consider it.


I found the fabric, below, in my home-stash. It has all the right colors and could easily be incorporated. But, since I’m using white fabric for the background of my pinwheels I don’t really want a fabric with a white background. Instead, I want to have a lot of contrast between the background and colorful pinwheels.
I really wanted all my polka-dots to be white, but alas, you have to work with what you can find. So, I have two fabrics with tonal circles, and then a red fabric with a little larger circle design. But, they could have all been the same print in different colors and would have worked.

In the end, I selected one fabric for each color in my Inspiration Fabric.

See? I told you it was easy.

Check out the Summer Pinwheels Quilt made with these fabrics!

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One thought on “The Basics: Color Scheming

  1. I love this! You always make me want to jump out of my chair and start a project. If inspiration fabric says anything about the chooser, then your hubby's choice screams "I'm bright, fun, and keep a cool ordered exterior on this party!" Or I could be reading too much into it…

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