5 Tips for Using Color and Prints in your Quilting

Hi Quilters

Today’s Featured Video is From Melanie Ham

Here she describes 5 Tips for using Colors and Prints in Your Quilting

It is about 12 Minutes Long but it give some good tips on adding color and prints to get Fabulous Quilts

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Below is the Transcript of the Entire Video if You Prefer Reading …  

Hey everyone, its Melanie and welcome. Today I’m going to talk with you about how to use color in your craft projects, your quilts and your sewing projects. I think this is something that really trips people up so, I’m going to give you five tips for experimenting with color and fabric choices in your quilting.




The first thing that I wanted to be sure to bring up in that is, it’s not always the color that you want to look for and like in terms of the specific color like the calming blue or the bright pink or whatever it might be, a lot of times it’s the value. Now the value, i’m not going to get too much into like super deep color theory.

Actually I have an art degree, I’m a bachelor of arts degree emphasis and art history so even though I wrote a lot of papers in college and studied art it actually is an art degree so I’ve done two dimensional design, three-dimensional design color theory drawing classes. All that kind of stuff so my background is in that in terms of my education but I am not going to get too much into that.

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Do you want to learn more about that? If so you can leave me comments down below but I want to just kind of like brush the surface and give you some easy tips that you can incorporate on. Ones that aren’t too heavy or too difficult to understand. One of those things is value and value is actually whether it’s lighter dark so you can have like very light fabrics, very dark fabrics and then things in the middle.




Here’s an example we’ve got a light blue, medium blue and a dark blue this would be different value they’re all blue but there are different values meaning they’re different shades of the light and dark. That’s something that really has to play a key part especially in your quilting, because if your quilt is all the same value it is going to have a specific look. It might be something that you’re looking for, but generally we want some of that movement with our eye to see you know some of those colors receiving back and some of those colors popping forward.

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I’ll show you an example of this with my daughter’s quilts. Some of the fabrics that I’ve selected these are fabric from all different lines of fabrics. Oh a lot of this is sarah jane fabrics but I didn’t incorporate other fabrics from other designers so it’s not necessarily all the same line of fabric which is one way of doing it but this way you can see how we have much more bright and saturated colors. 

We also have kind of mid-tone pinks and then we have some prints here that have much more of a lighter tone what makes the patchwork. Look of this quilt successful is those lights and darks okay so it’s not just the colors themselves pink right but it’s the light in the dark and sort of how those play together that really make it special.

Tip 1 – Put it in Black and White

One of the tips that I always recommend for determining value in your quilt is to take a photograph and put it in black and white, so i recommend this all the time when you’re doing your layout but when you’re picking fabrics, it’s good to sort of think about that in your mind because you’ll want to have all of that spread out evenly amongst your quilt. You don’t want you know like, like two of your blocks super dark and then the rest of them super light because that’s its not going to kind of go together cohesively. So you can take a photo when you’re doing your layout make it black and white and that will really help you see the value of your layout.

You can also split your eyes kind of squint your eyes and you look through your eyelashes and I can kind of give you an idea too of the light and dark as well

Tip 2 – Using a Color Wheel

Tip number two is you can use the color wheel. As some of the you know you always hear use complementary color then you always know that they match and I always kind of scratch my head when I hear that because I’m like your complimentary colors. Almost always look like a sports team like I don’t know what to tell you because I don’t care, but i always see the san diego chargers or Denver Broncos or the Chicago Bears every time I see some of these complementary colors i’m gonna little LA lakers. You know we see these like really bright saturated colors like the yellow and the purple and blue and the orange and all of that. Those are like across the color wheel so they are complementary but it doesn’t mean that they have to be the book biggest boldest brightest version of that color right? For example

yellow and purple are across the color wheel from each other right, so yellow and purple so here’s an example of a yellow and purple that don’t look like the LA Lakers because it’s not just the biggest boldest versions of those colors. It’s also their tents which are the lighter color than their shades which are the darker colors right, so like you can have a very like light pink and a very light green because red and green go across from each other and almost always that reads very Christmas but a pale pink and a pale green go together all the time we see it in nature and those are going to be colors that are going to work really well together.

So think about it in terms of matching colors internal complementary colors as in a full range of that color not just the biggest most saturated or even the same value of those colors that have to match. You can kind of use that color of the whole range of it.

Tip 3 – Color Value and Scale of the Print – How to Contrast

My third tip is as well as the value of that color is also the scale of the print and the contrast so what I mean by that is let’s take a look at these three fabrics and the main color of these three fabrics is all a dark blue. Okay we’ve got a dark blue in these three colors but they are all different they have a different print and not even you know even a similar print this would be considered probably a smaller print. This one has some other colors in it and this one has a lucky no good amount of white but really the base color of all of those is dark blue what’s contrasting about these prints? It’s something you want to take into consideration when you’re looking at your prints so they’re all the same color, per se the main color but their contrasting in the scale of their print and the way that the prints interact with each other.

Ok, so you can have some prints that have a very bold kind of print maybe a very large scale print but it’s still mainly that same color and it’s going to be very high Khan trust with something that reads more like a solid like this, because fabrics that have a smaller prints or with a lot of that fabric showing through the

Background is going to read a little bit more like a solid when you put it on a quilt right. So these two even though they’re both mainly blue they are still in very high contrast with each other and that’s something that you also want to think about when you’re determining your layout and you’re picking fabrics. If you’re not using a fabric line we’re all that’s kind of been done for you and your kind of using your scraps or anything like that that’s something else to think about.

Tip 4 – Don’t be afraid to use Muddy Colors

Number four is I sort of mentioned this with tip number one tip number one. We will take a look at the value not just the color. Tip number four is don’t be afraid to put some of those kind of muddy colors in there. So for example here’s a different example with that muddy color we’ve got this kind of like muddy brown that helping that red pop up. Ok so you can use that same kind of in mentality when you’re doing your layout. Ok so when you’re building a block let’s say like this block these are all small prints they all read kind of like a solid a little bit because they’re all small prints but we can pair some of these with a little bit more muted color palette to help our darker fabric sort of pop up.

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Okay so this isn’t the best example but you understand what I’m saying to you, have like these muddy or colors so you have this like muddy color back behind the leaf and it makes that green bigger, bolder and much more able to stand out. When you’re creating a quilt block if you really want something to stand out you can kind of surround it with a gray and make that a big bold color and it’ll be really really pretty.

Tip 5 – Focus Fabric

Tip number five is if you’re really having trouble and you want somewhere to jump off of its the pic of focus fabric and sometimes that is not always the best advice start with i think some of these other things are better to sort of take into consideration first. Because let’s say for example this brick beautiful fabric with lots of different colors and that’s why I picked it and this is a big print right. So what we want to do is think about the scale on the value. This is a big print it’s some spots where we have some darker

shade darker shades here we’ve got some lighter spots in the middle we can pull some of the purple’s in the blues and pick different values of those colors that we pick.  There’s also like I would also definitely include this kind of like mustardy color we even have a hunter green and here when you’re using a focus fabric it’s not just like pick out our fabrics that kind of look like this it’s taking a look.

Okay this is a big print ok this is the repeat is quite large on this fabric so we don’t want to have too many of those on one quilt ok just a few that we want to have a few that are sort of in the middle range and then a few that are much more much more like a solid or or read kind of like a solid fabric that kind of creates a more cohesive look from jumping off with one fabrics. That’s another way that you can get a little bit of help and get started when you are pulling fabrics together for a new project.

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I really want to wrap this all up by saying there’s no wrong answer I don’t believe that there is a wrong answer it is what you like. Everybody starts to build their aesthetic based on their own taste and their experience and the things that they have learned some people might be just sort of naturally inclined and understand how this all works and some people might be harder for them but if you like it you think it looks great and it’s working for you then it’s good, then it’s right.

It’s right for you and I don’t think that you be too hung up on making it look perfect, for making it look a certain way some of those things will come with experience and experimenting because you will never maybe know if some of these fabrics look good up next to each other until you put them into a quilt and you try it out. I have this cool here wanted to show you to demonstrate this quilt look at this was a charm pack my mom brought back for me from Japan when she went and visited their these fabrics don’t look anything like they would go together.




It is definitely very scrappy there’s not really a consistent color theme except that it’s kind of girly and it has some flowers and and have some pinks in there but it is very varied.  Ok but it’s beautiful and it looks great and it’s one of my daughter’s favorite quilt is back with Mickey and it’s one of her very favorite I just had to pull this out of her bed to show a deal. Ok so there are sometimes things might not look quite right when they’re like in big fabric form next to each other but when you cut them all up and you put them together and you quit and you wash it and you love it then it turns out a little bit different than you might expect.  So do it, go for it have fun, experiment, you know just have fun with it and really I just really want to encourage you guys, there’s no wrong answer, it’s fun you know just like go for it!

Source/credit:  This Article is the Transcript of Melanie Hams video located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCC6aysaVXk