Friday, July 22, 2011

tutorial: how to choose solid fabrics for quilts using paint chips

The next time you're trying to pick solid colors for your next quilt, take a trip to the hardware store and grab some paint chips that match the colors you're thinking of working with. There are thousands of colors available at Lowe's and Home Depot, and if you go armed with your color charts, it's pretty easy to find a close match to the fabric. Here's how I did it.

Have you ever tried to design a quilt with only solid fabrics, using just a color chart card? It's tough!

Kona and Bella both make gorgeous charts that have swatches of all of their colors, but it can be kind of hard to determine if some colors will work together, especially if they are far apart on the chart.

How can I tell if Betty's Red will work with Summer Sky? One easy and inexpensive way is to go to the paint department of your local hardware store and pick up some matching paint chips.

This week I was working on designing a new quilt entirely out of solid fabrics, and I was having the hardest time figuring out what colors would work together with just my charts. I had a few colors in mind, but I didn't want to order fabric without knowing for sure if they would work together. So, after some advice from my husband, I ran to Lowe's with my Kona chart and grabbed some color chips. A lot of them! The color chips are little pieces of colored cardstock that are samples of all the different colors of paint that are available. They are found in the paint department and they're free little pieces of great color inspiration!

In my case I wanted to see if Kona Curry

would work well with Kona Stone.

So, I found a paint chip that was the closest match to Curry. It's called Santa Monica Blvd. Gotta love the names of paint colors!

And then I found the closest match to Kona Stone, which was a paint called toll booth.

Once the matching paint chips were found, I can easily put them next to each other to see if I think the colors will work well together in my quilt.

Next was Kona Butter. Deep Cowslip 2 is a good match for that one.

Kona Sweet Pea was a tough one to match, and the closest color I came up with was Olive 4.

Kona Olive is pretty close to Olive Grove.

Bee's Wax was the closest match I could find to Kona Mustard.

Once I found chips to match all of the colors I had in mind for the quilt, I put them all together. They are so much easier to move around and play with different color combinations this way than try to move the color chart around.

Here are my first color choices. I thought they worked well together, but I couldn't help but feel that they had a little too much of a 70s vibe, and not in a good way. I'm thinking Avocado and Golden Harvest appliances...not quite the feeling that I want in my quilt.

So, I switched out the green with another golden color, Bee's Wax, and I'm really happy with how these four colors work together.

The coordinating Kona fabrics for these colors in my quilt will be Butter, Curry, Mustard, and Stone. I think they work really well together, and I could never have determined that using only my color chart. I'm going to start keeping a stockpile of color chips to use in designing my solids-only quilts, and I hope these tips will help you in designing your solid quilts, and other sewing projects, too!
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