When choosing colors for a quilt, it can be confusing and overwhelming to figure out which colors go great with each other.
A nifty tool that has been around for centuries has made its way into the quilting community: the color wheel.
Using a color wheel for quilting might seem strange initially, but after reading this post, you will have an excellent grasp of choosing the right shades, tones, and fabric hues for your next quilt project.
What Is a Quilter’s Color Wheel?
Sir Isaac Newton invented the first color wheel in 1666.
Throughout the years, other people have come up with versions and renditions of the color wheel.
Today, the color wheel, including any quilting color wheel, has 12 pure hues. They are broken down into three different sections.
- Primary- Red, Blue, Yellow
- Secondary- Green, Purple (Violet), Orange
- Tertiary- Red Orange, Red Purple, Blue Purple, Blue Green, Yellow Orange, Yellow Green
Many color wheels also include shades, tones, and tints in the center of the wheel.
Shades are created by adding black to a pure hue. Tones are created by adding grey to a pure hue. Tints are created by adding white to a pure hue.
How Do You Use a Quilting Color Wheel?
There are several ways to use a color wheel to select quilt fabrics. Remember, the color wheel is a guide and tool, so if you choose whatever colors you want to use, that will also work!
Quilting is an art form, after all.
Here are a few suggestions for using a color wheel for fabric selection:
- Monochromatic: Choose one color from the color wheel. You can use different shades, tones, and tints of that color, but you only stick to one color.
- Complimentary: Choose colors directly across from each other on the color wheel. For example, Blue-Green and Red-Orange are complementary colors.
- Split Complimentary: Choose three colors side by side. Next, choose the color directly across from the center color of your first trio selection. For example, if I choose Green, Yellow-Green, and Yellow as my trio, I would select Red-Purple as my complementary color. You then have four colors to work with for your fabric selection.
- Analogous: Choose a starting color, for example, Red. Next, choose the two colors directly to the right and the two colors directly to the left on the color wheel. We now have Purple, Red-Purple, Red, Red-Orange, and Orange. You can stop there or continue adding colors making your way around the wheel.
Picking out fabric should be a fun process. As soon as it isn’t, take a step back and wait till you are ready to try again. These different ways to use a coloring wheel should help you get started.
How Do You Coordinate Colors in Quilting?
A coloring wheel is an excellent tool for finding coordinating colors. Use the suggested methods in the last section to take full advantage of the color wheel.
Another way to choose coordinating colors is to choose one main fabric, preferably one with several colors. You must find materials matching the other colors in your main fabric. This is one of my favorite ways to choose coordinating fabrics for a new quilt project.
How Many Colors Should You Use in a Quilt?
The number of colors (pure hues) you choose to use in your quilt will depend on your preference and the pattern you choose to make.
Most quilt pattern designers include fabric requirements and suggestions to help you select the fabric for your quilt.
There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question. If you prefer a monochrome look, just choose one hue and use a few other shades or tones to add dimension.
On the other hand, if you love to mix and match colors, then why not throw them all into the mix and make a technicolor rainbow-inspired masterpiece? It’s totally up to you and what you like.
The Best Color Wheel for Quilting: 7 Excellent Options to Consider
I have found seven of the best color wheel options that you can use for quilting and any other textile crafting.
These are all great options, and you can’t go wrong with any of them for your quilting needs.
Here is a color wheel made specifically for quilters! This easy-to-use color wheel has the entire color spectrum to help you choose fabrics for your next quilting project.
One of the features that makes this a unique color wheel is it has “windows” in each color quadrant. Using these windows, you can figure out what colors will go best with your chosen fabric.
To use this particular feature, you place the color wheel over the fabric that you have chosen and view the material through the windows. This will help you visualize what color hues, shades, tones, and tints will look best with your fabric.
This color wheel is an excellent choice for anyone that wants to use a lot of color in their quilts. On one side of the wheel, you will find different shades to play with, and on the other, you will find different tints.
Having the shades and tints on opposite sides will be helpful for those who might get overwhelmed with all the different hues. The wheel measures 9.25” in diameter and is perfect for traveling or going to quilt workshops.
Katie Fowler, a quilter, designed the Foolproof Color Wheel Set! She understood how choosing coordinating fabrics and colors can be overwhelming and wanted to do something about it.
She created this easy-to-use color wheel set that comes with ten discs to help you see the different types of color combinations. You can use this for quilting and other crafting hobbies you have. This is a great beginner-friendly color wheel that you can use with confidence next time you need to select fabrics.
Here is another fantastic choice for those unsure about choosing fabrics on your own or using a color wheel. This wheel is extremely beginner-friendly and has strategically placed cut-outs to help you visualize what colors go best together.
You may think this color wheel is best for painters, but many quilters have used it to select exciting color combinations for their quilt projects.
This color wheel is multi-functional, and here is why. It not only has several helpful diagrams of how to combine colors and a beautiful central color wheel, but it is also a tote bag!
It is a fantastic choice for quilters who travel or like to go to quilt workshops and retreats. You will always have your color wheel with you! You can also take it with you when you go to your favorite quilt shop to select fabrics in the store.
The tote bag is large enough to carry an 18”x24” cutting mat and all your quilting notions to your next quilting gathering.
Here is another beautiful color wheel that features hues, shades, tones, and tints at your fingertips. This wheel also includes color definitions and teaches you about color theory.
This color wheel allows you to choose complimentary or split color combinations effortlessly. It also features labels for warm and cool colors, which is helpful when trying to figure out an initial color palette for your quilt—the color wheels measures about 9” in diameter.
This color wheel has 12 primary, secondary, and tertiary color hues and their tones, tints, and shades. This easy-to-read color wheel includes cut-outs and a spinning piece that helps visualize the different color combinations.
It also has definitions and helpful tips printed on the spinner of the wheel, so you’ll have all the necessary information when deciding on your fabric selection. The diameter of the wheel is 9.25”, which makes it great for travel.
More Related Articles
I hope this post has shown you that you don’t have to be nervous to use a color wheel to select fabric for your quilts, and mixing and matching colors can be fun!
The color wheel has been a staple tool in the crafting arena for centuries, and it’s a great tool to use even in quilting.