Tip Tuesday: Using Colors in Quilting

Using colors in quilting is about more than just picking the right fabrics. We know a lot about the color and some of us have even come to know the color wheel as well as the back of our hand. So, instead of simply giving you more tips on choosing colors, this Tip Tuesday is about other ways color can help you make the quilt of your dreams.

Crossroads digital pattern
The color catcher would really come in handy with this quilt!

Tip #1: Catching Colors
I am not a firm believer in laundering all of my fabric before quilting with it. I am a fairly new quilter and if I give a quilt to someone, I’ve started giving them a sheet of Shout Color Catcher to put in the washer the first time they do launder the project. I found it is a good product to catch color bleed in the wash. You can also use Retayne to treat fabric before the first washing.

Tip #2: Choosing Colors
I lay my blocks on pieces of construction paper to help me decide what colors to use for borders on my quilts. Viewing it at home gives me a plan for fabric shopping. When I decide what color family works, I head for that section in the fabric store.

Tip #3: Block Assembly
To keep quilt blocks in order when joining them for a quilt top, use colored stickers to label the blocks in each row a different color. For example, use red stickers and label the blocks in the first row 1–5. Using blue stickers, label the blocks in the second row 6–10. If you don’t have time to sew all the blocks together, the project can be put away. This also works well for group charity projects where more than one person is working on a quilt.

Fabric Color Theory DVD

Tip #4: Scrap Stash Inspiration
I got tired of looking at the overflowing basket of scrap fabric. Rather than try to figure out a way to sort those different size and color pieces, I’ve been cutting them into 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 inch squares. It’s hard to look at a huge pile of scraps and plan how to use those pieces (or to look for a particular size or color when I’m piecing a top) but stacks of cut squares give me all kinds of ideas. The sewing room is neater, and there’s no longer a cat sleeping in the fabric basket.

Tip #5: Color Code
Use permanent fine-tip pens to trace designs for embroidery. Use red for red embroidery, blue for blue, green for green, and so on. Your stitches will cover and conceal the tracing, and if you miss a stitch, it won’t show.

Tip #6: Coordinating Colors
When trying to pick colors to go with a primary design, check the selvage edge. Some materials have a Picture of different solid colors. These values of colors will go with your material. I wish I had known this 10 years ago!

Tip #7: Keeping the Memories
Since my granddaughters were small, they have colored fabric squares with crayons. I back the fabric with freezer paper to stabilize it and so the girls know where the designs should stop. We label each square with the year. When they graduate from high school, I will make each of them a quilt using their blocks.

At this point, you’re thinking either one of two things. First, “wow, that was really helpful. I’m glad we didn’t just talk about using colors in quilts – I’ve heard enough about that.” Or, “Shucks, I really wish we’d actually learned more about using colors in quilts.”

If you fall into the second group of people, I have a follow-up. We have a whole webinar series on using colors in quilts hosted by Mary Fons. Mary is something of a color connesseuir and she holds nothing back when it comes to teaching you what she’s learned. Mary has a way of creating colorful quilts, and finding ways  of capturing the essence of a quilt in expertly selected color combinations. The series is called Color Me Quilter and she’s made several episodes On Demand and a couple Color Me Quilter episodes coming up that you can watch live.

Happy Quilting!

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