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Quilting and Saving Money with Color


Color is a very important design element of a quilt. Color sets the mood of the quilt, and adds to its personality. The best way to save money with color and be a frugal quilter is to know which colors you like and make smart shopping decisions. If you buy that which you love, you will use it. 

One example would be Thimbleberries fabrics.  There are people that buy up every print they make.  Others find the colors muted and do not like them. Some people like bright, primary colors.  Others prefer pastels or Autumn colors.  You need to think about what type of quilts or projects you want to make.  Autumn fabrics do not mix well with spring prints.

Most quilts are scrappy, which means they have lots of different prints in them purchased at different times.  So the best way to save money buying fabric is make sure that you plan on using it and that it all goes together. Save every piece you don't use for another project, and you will truly be a frugal quilter.

So how to you go about choosing your fabric?  Here is one of the easiest ways.

Buy a piece of fabric with a lot of colors with a large print.  You must love this fabric, because it is going to be the foundation of your quilt.

Here is a print that is particularly pleasing to me.  When this piece of fabric is cut up into squares, because it is a large print, they will all look different.  You can use just one other fabric to alternate with this print and make a beautiful quilt. A solid would keep the quilt from looking too busy. You can strip piece it together very quickly.

In the picture at the top of the page,  I have selected some fabrics from my personal stash that work well together.  I would hang them on my design board for a few days just to make sure I like the combination.

This is why you need to take your time if you are buying fabric for one quilt in a store.  Stand back from the fabric, squint, stop looking at them for awhile to clear your eyes, and then start again.  It is usually best to start out with more than you need, and slowly pull out the ones that you decide do not work well with the rest.

a monochromatic color scheme in blueAnother way to choose colors is to use different shades of the same color, such as the blues to the left. This is called a monochromatic color scheme. Not all these blues work well together.  The blues range from navy to aqua.

Blues are actually the hardest color to blend.  Green is the easiest.  Yellow is a "unifier".  It helps colors become friends.


Below are illustrations of the colors which work well together. Notice the difference in the blues.

blue coordinating fabricsnavy blue coordinating fabricsAqua fabric

For a perfect "match" here is the aqua with similar colors.

an aqua fabric grouping

Sometimes we "match" colors, and sometimes we "blend" them.  A quilt made in a blue and aqua color scheme can be very beautiful.


Blending Fabrics

It is fairly easy to blend just two fabric.  Here are some examples with plaids...

a purple plaid and purple floral fabric


a green plaid and green floral fabric


a lavender and pink plaid and floral fabric


What is hard for most people is to put a half dozen prints together.  It is like decorating a room.  Most people can bring in a few patterns, and then they have problems.  See Pattern Perfect

Below are 4 colors that work well together.  Red and green are opposite on the color wheel, like blue and orange, and purple and yellow.  You have to be careful when you use a color scheme that has come to be associated with a holiday.  Even though none of the prints below are Christmas prints, when you see green and black together you think Christmas.

When you remove the green, and replace it with navy blue, you no longer think Christmas.


black and green print fabrics


black and navy fabrics


If you want to use the color wheel to design your quilt, here are the basic design principles.


Light and dark shades of the same color.
Two or more adjoining colors on the color wheel.
Opposite colors on the wheel.
Adjacent Complimentary
Two opposite colors on the wheel plus a third accent color that is either right or left of either of the first two. 
Triad Complimentary
Three colors equidistant on the wheel.
Split Complementary
One color plus the two colors that are next to its opposite color.

One very popular classic color scheme is black and white. If you look through quilt books, you will see how many quilts are made with only those two colors.  Quilts can be made in all primary colors, all bright colors, pastels, or jewel tones.  They can be made in shades of black and white.

Finally, you must remember the  importance of value. Some blocks just don't work without using light and dark fabrics.  If you make a log cabin quilt, which is half light and half dark, you could use any color on the dark side as long as the value is the same.


Every quilter should have a design board. See Design Boards and Quilting. A very frugal design board can be nothing but the flannel back of a cheap shower curtain from the dollar store that you pin up when needed.



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