How To Choose The Right Fabric Colors For Your Quilts

When choosing fabrics for your quilt projects, it is best to incorporate both different scales and different values. Use a variety of scales in your quilt - large, medium and small, as well as variety of values such as light, medium and dark.

Here's a guide on commonly used terms relating to choosing the best color:

1. Hue: Another name for color
2. Intensity: the brightness or dullness of a color.
3. Tint: color + white, resulting in a lighter value.
4. Tone: color + grey, resulting in a muddier, low intensity value.
5. Shade: color + black, delivering the darkest versions of color.

The color wheel has three Primary Colors - red, blue, and yellow. These are sometimes called the pure colors because every other color is made up of some combination of these three.

The Secondary Colors are the colors these make when mixed: orange, green, and violet.

Intermediate Colors (sometimes called Tertiary or Triad colors) are a combination of one primary color and one secondary color. These are: blue-violet; red-violet; red-orange; yellow-orange; yellow-green; and blue-green.

These 12 colors are occasionally referred to as high intensity colors.

The warm half of the color wheel from red violet to yellow is considered warm. These colors are often the dominant colors in a quilt and often appearing as if they are advancing toward you.

The other half from yellow green to violet is considered cool. These colors appear to recede, as though the space is expanding. Pure colors will also tend to advance, while tints tend to recede.

If you are designing a quilt, you want to appear three dimensional. Don't forget that the warmness or coolness of a print often depends on its relationship to other prints. A warm color in the middle of several cool colors will look warmer than the same color in the middle of several other warm colors.

When choosing a color scheme, consider common color associations. There is always a strong symbolism inherent in color. For example, some cultures associate blue with royalty. Use the brightest color in your palette to call attention to the most important elements but remember that large areas of bright, strong colors can be overpowering and small areas of light colors can be overlooked altogether.