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Part 1: Choosing Fabrics and Colors: It’s as Easy as 1-2-3

Don’t you just love little surprises, especially when they tell you that someone special is thinking about you? Last spring, my talented friend Anita Grossman Solomon and I spent an afternoon visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We both especially enjoyed viewing the incredible seahorse exhibit. Tucked inside my Christmas card from Anita this year, I found this piece of fabric.


This fabric tucked inside my holiday card reminds me of a perfect day spent with my dear friend.


My first thought was “Ahh, what a sweet gesture and so very thoughtful. Just like Anita to do this for me.” Although I like the fabric, it is probably not one I would be immediately drawn to in the quilt shop. Perhaps, like many of you, I tend to work with the same style of fabric designs and colors. I have a comfort zone and personal color preferences. Although I like yellow golds, they would not be a starting point for me in building a color scheme. With this thought in mind, I have decided to challenge myself this year and use this fabric as my inspiration for designing a quilt. I hope you will follow along with me as I cover the steps in several upcoming posts.

I know from years of teaching beginners that combining prints and colors can be one of the most challenging tasks in the quiltmaking process. Some students just have a natural affinity for color, but most do not. It just takes practice and often a little help along the way. An in-depth study of color theory is one way to approach this, but most of us like to keep it simple and get on with the sewing!

We have mentioned the talented color expert, Joen Wolfrom in a previous post , but I want to bring her in again as she has created a helpful tool called the 3-in-1 Color Tool, Updated. The tool includes 24 color cards with numbered swatches, plus an instructional guide to make color planning easy. Joen promises “you can easily see which colors work best together in a very quick manner. It’s simple to do and it quickly clarifies the colors to use.” Doesn’t all this sound great?


This simple tool makes choosing fabrics and colors as easy as 1-2-3.


Follow along as I take you through the steps in developing a color scheme based on my inspiration fabric.

Step One: Place your fabric on the table and then find the card with the color that seems most suited to your fabric. It is really not about “matching” perfectly, but instead finding a color family that feels comfortable.


My fabric feels most comfortable with card #24 (Golden Yellow).


Step Two: Turn the card over to find clear color diagrams indicating the five major natural color schemes.


Five major natural color schemes are provided on the reverse side of each card.


Step Three: Select a color plan that most appeals to you. After looking through my options, I decided on the Triadic Color Scheme – I love working with fuchsia and aqua blue!

Step Four: With this scheme in mind, I looked at the color cards for both Aqua Blue (#8) and Fuchsia (#16) and found fabrics that I think work well with them. Here is what I have selected.


I find a fabric I like that works well with Card #8 (Aqua Blue).



This beautiful batik is comfortable with Card #16 (Fuchsia). The bonus is it also contains aqua blue and yellow gold.


So here is my starting point for building a color scheme. Please be sure to check back as I continue to add fabrics to make multiple blocks, show you how to preview secondary designs, and finally put them all together into a quilt top. It will be fun.


The starting point for my color scheme.



Have a happy and colorful week everyone.


PS – Just checked in with Joen and learned that she has lots of information on her new blog, Playing with Color. Here is a listing of some of the specific tutorials you might be interested in:

To learn about painting the pure colors from yellow to turquoise blue/cyan, click here.

To learn about painting the pure colors from turquoise blue/cyan to magenta, click here.

To learn about painting the pure colors from yellow to magenta, click here. 

To learn about making your own color wheel after painting the color swatches, click here.

#3in1ColorTool #colorschemes #fabricselection #joenwolfrom

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