How do you choose colors for your quilts? In this five-part article series, quilter and writer Carole Fure analyzes the many factors that play in quilt color selection and offers practical tips for ensuring your quilts are well-balanced and appealing to the eye.
Complementary color schemes are the most sophisticated of the color schemes and also the most challenging. Using complementary colors without blending them can lead to a very strong, almost confrontational contrast. Blending the colors makes the quilt pleasant and chic.
Complementary color schemes require joining hands across the color wheel: red and green, violet and yellow, blue and orange. The same principles of blending and contrast as discussed before apply to make this color scheme work.
Let’s use red and green as an example of blending. To make red and green blend smoothly we must gradually change from red to green by adding a little green to the red and a little red to the green. When we do this each color gets a little duller and less defined until in the middle we have mud. Yes, mud! But mud works.
Blending can be done by dyeing fabric or by making fabric choices that gradually switch from one color to another. You could use a red fabric that has a small amount of green in it, another that has more, and so on, until you have a green fabric with a little bit of red in it. It doesn’t take much to make the transition. Even one or two fabrics that contain the middle mud colors will do the trick.
Pictured here are complementary runs of watercolor mixes and dyed fabric to show the range of colors. The top is yellow to violet, the middle is red to green, and the bottom is blue to orange. Do you see the muddy colors in the middle?
Lesson: The more often you work on recognizing these qualities the better trained your eye will become. Try the following as practice:• From your stash identify complementary blending fabrics.
• Suggestion: Using your 2-inch practice squares, lay out a complementary color scheme using a smooth sequence of color. Are you missing some colors to complete the sequence?
This series of articles on color for quilts contains the basic principles you need to make color your best friend. Remember that training your eye to the subtleties of color takes time. It is better to practice a little bit at a time and often than to overwhelm your brain doing a lot only once.
Like friends, frequent contact through the lessons outlined in this series will deepen your color practice and make quilting an even more enjoyable – and colorful – experience.More in this Series:
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