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Shades of Grey 101

Is choosing fabric hard for you? Do you wonder how some people just love it and are good at choosing colors for their quilts? Why do some quilts seem to have perfect colors? I'm going to give you some tips to use when choosing colors.


If you are color challenged then the easiest way to buy fabric for your quilt is to buy from a fabric collection. They did all the work for you! A designer has created a fabric line with colors that work together. The collection line will come in yardage on the bolt and precuts.



My next trick is to pick a fabric for your quilt and look at the selvage. The dots of color on the edge of the fabric are registration marks for each colored screen to be printed. The number is the order they were printed. But, it's also a great way to see what colors go with this fabric. Hold the selvage edge with the dots next to other bits of fabric and look for a color that's one of the dots. Last, it's an easy way to find a solid or blender fabric that will go with your initial fabric.


Do you use a color wheel? A color wheel is a great tool when choosing fabric. You can learn the basics of how a color wheel works to be confident in your fabric choices. One of the easiest is the complementary color scheme. It's the colors that are opposite on the color wheel; red/green, blue/orange, and yellow/purple. There are lots of YouTube videos or written instructions that you can Google to learn how to use a color wheel. You don't have to buy a color wheel. When you’re choosing your fabrics at the store just look on your phone for a picture of a color wheel. Or do a screenshot of a color wheel and save it in an album. I have an album of pictures with color schemes that I like. Nature pictures are great because they have colors that go together.



Value is another mystery. Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. If you choose a red and green complementary color scheme for your quilt, it could look like Christmas or it could be pink and a pale green. You should have a variety of light to dark values in your quilt.



It's easier to see value with solid fabrics. Fabric with prints can be harder because the prints will have different values. To learn to see value I would suggest you line up the fabrics you choose from darkest value to the lightest value and take a picture. Use a phone filter to change the picture from color to a black and white. The black and white picture will show you the value.



In my quilts I try to pick a color scheme and then have a variety of small, medium and larger prints as well as a variety of values from light, medium, to dark. If I'm making a scrappy quilt where there's lots of colors and values, I pick one fabric to use as a sashing or part of each block like a center of a Dresden Plate. This will help calm the scrappy and make it more cohesive. Let me know if this has been helpful.



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