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Color Theory for Quilts
Warbler
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Date: 12/22/12 2:05 PM

This year I plan to finish all my UFO's. But I also thought that I could spend sometime studying this elusive art. I've had in my quilter's library a book by Joen Wolfrom called Color Play, Easy Steps to Imaginative Color in Quilts. I also have the 3-in-1 Color Tool, 3rd edition, plus the Color wheel poster.

I want to branch out color-wise because all my fabrics are mostly Civil War reproduction. They make nice quilts but they are very drab. I discovered batiks this year and really like them but they are expensive so I am on a quest of sorts to expand my repertoire. I also tend to address color by using lots of fabrics of various color. As a result, color becomes secondary to the design. I think I want color and design to have equal billing. I love PortlandMaine's color sense!

What brought this on was my work at the local quilt shop and exposure to remarkable quilters who have produced stunning quilts. One quilter recommended the Joen Wolfrom color tools and said they are fantastic tools for learning about color but also finding the right fabrics when designing quilts. I think I have a good eye for color but I am unskilled and do not understand how colors work together.

Color Play

3-in-1 Tool

Studio Color Wheel
-- Edited on 12/22/12 2:05 PM --

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Janome MC6600 Bernina 240 Juki MO735 Singer 201-2 Singer 221-1

jannw
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In reply to Warbler <<


Date: 12/22/12 2:39 PM

That's something I could use also. I just read my mail and Craftsy is have a big sale on classes and guess what I found?

Joan Wolfram Color Class

I was considering it and then found your post. Good to hear about the recommendation!

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2009-113.25 yds
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2011-80.25+30+donated
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Everyone who sews seriously has a stockpile of fabrics, because it is natural to purchase more than can be sewn in any one season" Singer, Timesaving Sewing, 1987

quiltingwolf
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Date: 12/22/12 3:04 PM

Not sure anyone can "teach" color. It's a matter of opinion and your gut feeling.

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Warbler
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In reply to jannw <<
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Date: 12/22/12 4:13 PM

Fantastic! I have to enroll!!! This is perfect!!!

Quiltwolf, I agree that color can be an intuitive skill but there are basic rules or guidelines that can make color work more harmoniously in our quilts. I know when I make decisions about color I try to follow some of those idea. But there is more than what meets the eye, quite literally. I want to understand more about pure color, tints, shades and tones, color triads, complimentary colors and so forth. there is a science behind this that affects photography, printing, painting and art. Color doesn't just happen except in nature. Nature can teach us a lot about color, but to understand how it works is what I am interested in. The more I understand how colors work, the more successful I can be at selecting fabrics for my quilts and other projects.

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Janome MC6600 Bernina 240 Juki MO735 Singer 201-2 Singer 221-1

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Date: 12/22/12 5:32 PM

I enrolled in the Craftsy class. Can't wait to get started!

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Janome MC6600 Bernina 240 Juki MO735 Singer 201-2 Singer 221-1

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Date: 12/22/12 6:36 PM

I love Joen Wolfrom's books, I think I have all of them. They are great eye candy.

I am also enrolled in her Craftsy class, but am not enjoying it as much. She teaches that you need to spend hours mixing the colors yourself and make your own color wheel to really learn the color wheel. I guess that might be true for someone who's never mixed colors, but it's not how I'm going to spend my weekends That may be how she got to the place where she is now, but I don't think my starting point is the same.

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Warbler
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In reply to TessKwiltz <<


Date: 12/22/12 6:54 PM

Interesting feedback. I have not had a chance since I enrolled to look at the material but that is a daunting thing to do. I wonder if I could recreated a color wheel using items other than fabric. But if she is asking for color other than pure that includes tints and shades then that will take time. It could be another ongoing project and to start perhaps working with a few select colors I enjoy and just build it over time. The Ives color wheel uses 24 pure colors but each pure color has a large range of tints and shades. The Color Tool has 15 shades and tints for each pure color. Building a wheel may make me familiar with each color group... we'll see how far I get with that.

OK I just visited the class and went through the first two lessons. I personally think this looks fun as I loved to paint when I was in school. I think I will invest in some basic water colors to see if I can recreate a color wheel of my own. I think this could be extremely valuble.
-- Edited on 12/22/12 7:34 PM --
-- Edited on 12/22/12 7:38 PM --

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Janome MC6600 Bernina 240 Juki MO735 Singer 201-2 Singer 221-1

Franksdottir

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Date: 12/22/12 7:25 PM

I agree with a great deal of what Warbler says. None of us can know everything, and personally I will always take what help I can get.

There is something else to consider which I want to mention which affects quilters more than say, painters. Our problems with getting the fabric selection just right is more complicated than just color.

Fabric is odd. Sometimes you love a fabric, it is perfect for your quilt, and when you cut it up it just lies there. Beautiful in the hand, dull as ditchwater in your quilt. Other times you take an ordinary fabric, cut it up, and it adds sparkle and pizzazz unexpectedly. Sometimes you can mix two or more things which would clash in the real world but work wonders in your quilt.

Mostly, with experience, you get a feel for how a particular fabric will look in a quilt. But I cannot always tell, not for sure. It is one of the things which makes quilting so much fun and so interesting.

Two examples, one good, one disappointing.

The disappointing one first. I have this luscious batik in shades of apricot, light orange, and a darker, dusky color. It is just fabulous, I could look at it all day. I have used it in a number of quilted objects (pillows, etc) because I love it and bought a lot of it. Well, it just lies there. Don't ask me why. It is just so pretty, and it looks so ordinary when cut and sewn. I keep trying because it has to fit somewhere! It is not bad, just ordinary.

The nice surprise: I bought a piece of a yellow fabric with dalmatians on it, and I think fire hydrants. I cut it up to use in something for a friend who loves dogs because it had dogs and the background was a beautiful clear yellow. OH MY. Cut up it jumped out of the quilt. Not just the yellow, but the dalmatians as well. I never expected it. I quick ran out and bought the last yard I could find and I am going to do something wonderful with it.

I cannot be the only person to have experienced this. There is something about the interplay not just of color, but design, that quilters have to consider. The theory is that if the background colors work then the design will follow, but in my experience that is just not always true.

Also, Warbler, while looking at CT today (thanks tons, Learn, for the link) I noticed that they had nice batiks and they weren't too expensive in comparison. There are a LOT of sales at the fabshophop link (I can get it for you if you need it) and these next few days will be a good time to find fabric marked down. I like CW reproductions also, but they aren't very lively, I agree.



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Warbler
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In reply to Franksdottir <<


Date: 12/22/12 7:46 PM

Thats exactly what I am talking about. I have to take time planning my fabrics if I really want to know the impact they will have before I use them in the quilt. I am currently working on a Judy Neimeyer pattern and color is an essential part of the quilt. I chose fabric I thought I liked and would work well together but as I go through each block section, I am not as impressed with the results. This is essentially what started me on this quest to learn about how different color combinations work best together.

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Janome MC6600 Bernina 240 Juki MO735 Singer 201-2 Singer 221-1

goodworks1
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Date: 12/23/12 1:22 AM

Back in the nineties when everyone was newly infatuated with purples and teal, I remember being in a class with Linda McGehee where she suggested adding a bright lime green to your mix to perk things up. The students were horrified-- no one was using those clear green-yellow colors then.

I think this is the type of thing I've started to learn from the Wolfram books.

For instance the apricot batik might be fabulous on it's own precisely due to that nondescript background color.And maybe that yellow Dalmatian fabric is perfect because of what it does to the other fabrics in it's quilt.
-- Edited on 12/23/12 1:31 AM --

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