Choosing Fabrics for Contrast in Your Quilting Project
Quilts can be striking or bland, depending on the fabrics used. Fabrics high in contrast or in different values can make a quilt beautiful.
Many quilters struggle to choose fabrics to make unforgettable quilts. Some quilters resort to sewing precut kits rather than risk choosing fabrics with incompatible colors or colors that hide rather than highlight the quilt’s pattern. Picking fabrics is not difficult, especially if you use one of the following “crutches.”
Use Contrasting Colors in the Pattern
The simplest way to choose contrasting colors is to look at a color wheel. Contrasting colors appear opposite each other on the wheel. Blue-purple contrasts with yellow-orange. You can also pick more colors like this. Blue-green, yellow-orange, and red-purple are a triangle of contrasting colors. For more options, purchase a larger, more detailed color wheel at an art store.
Use a Photo to Choose Your Fabrics
Have you ever fallen in love with the colors in a photo of a room or a landscape in a magazine? Why not use them in a quilt? Take the photo to your local fabric store (or your fabric stash) and use it to pick fabrics. You can either use the colors in the same proportion as they’re found in the photo or mix them up. For example, in the room shown here, the bright blue pillows are an accent color, but the blue could be used as the main color with either the soft green or butter yellow of the walls as the highlight color.
Use Fabrics from a Designer’s Line
Fabric manufacturers have designers who create lines of fabric that take into consideration all the elements necessary for creating quilt fabrics. From the scale of the print (vary between solids, geometrics, florals, small-scale prints, and large-scale prints), to the variety of colors and the value of those colors, designers balance them all in their collections. So if you love one of a designer’s fabrics, choose its companions to complete your pattern.
Use Different Values in Your Quilt Pattern
Many quilt patterns call for light, medium, and dark valued fabrics, either in the same color or in a variety of colors. This is another way to achieve contrast. Be sure that your choices actually reflect a variety of tones. Obviously, dark means dark and light mean light. It’s usually the medium shades that give quilters trouble. Look at the box quilt image closely. Each block has a dark, medium, and light fabric that creates the effect of a three-dimensional box. Use this image as a guide to discover what “medium” means.
Use a Single Color and White for Contrast
Still chicken? Make a quilt in white and one other color, such as red. This is a safe and classic look.
Use Many Fabrics for a Scrappy Look
You can always go for the scrappy look and use whatever colors you want in a charm or rag quilt. This is a no-rules-allowed form of quilting. The variety of fabrics are what makes the quilt delightful.
Choosing Fabrics for Your Quilting Project
If you remember contrast, color, and value when planning your next quilting project, choosing the fabric will be easy. Or simplify your task by relying on a favorite photograph or designer’s color scheme, by going traditional and using a white and single color, or by going wild and using scraps in a charm quilt.