Part 2: Choosing Fabrics and Colors: Let the Hunt Begin

The starting point for my Triadic color scheme: Fuchsia - Golden Yellow- Aqua Blue.

Welcome to Part Two of our Color Journey using the helpful 3-in-1 Color Tool by Joen Wolfrom. If you are just joining us, you might want to take a minute to catch up with Part One , where I introduce the tool and select my favorite color scheme (triadic).

I have spent the past several days hunting through my stash, my friend Diana (McClun)’s stash, and visiting my local quilt shops for fabrics to expand my original selection. Yes, this process often takes a bit of time, but isn’t the hunt just so much fun? I took my handy tool with me wherever I went and, of course, many customers were curious as to just what I was up to.

I started by looking for both the lightest colors (called tints because white has been added to the pure color) and darkest colors (called shades because black has been added to the pure color) found on each of the three cards. I found it pretty easy to find solids to meet the requirements, but honestly, I love lots of pattern play so I had to hunt even further to find the variety of textures I so enjoy using in my quilts.

Take a look at what I have added so far to each of the three color families: golden yellow, fuchsia, and aqua blue. Notice that I have selected both the lightest and darkest. If you want less contrast, simply select colors closer together in the line-up on the pages.

Please remember that if you are playing along, we are not trying to “match” any particular swatch, but instead trying to find fabrics that look like they belong to and feel comfortable with that family (or page) of colors.

Here’s my collection as it looks at this point.

Building a triadic color scheme.

I am going to take one more step before making the final selection and deciding on a pattern. I call this “Playing in the Mud”–not a technical term; just my description of adding what I refer to as the muddy colors. They are commonly referred to as tones because gray has been added to the pure color.

I am happy to be able to offer the 3-in-1 Color Tool under “My Favorite Tools” on my website. I always suggest you first support your local quilt shops, but if you are not able to find the tool, you can click here to purchase one.

Until next time, when we have fun “playing in the mud,” happy fabric hunting everyone.


5 thoughts on “Part 2: Choosing Fabrics and Colors: Let the Hunt Begin

  1. This is feeling very arbitrary to me, or we are missing part of the process — what comes before “this is what I’ve added”? I like your first three fabrics; they are triadic, but they are also linked: the blue seahorses in the yellow fabric, the yellow and blue circles in the fuchsia. From there, I would be pulling stacks from my stash (or bolts from the fabric store) for auditioning, looking for those “plays well with others” components, and for cool standoffish contrasts as well. From those piles of color-family fabrics, I’d be looking not only for the light-lights and the dark-darks but also for variation and compatibility of scale, texture, and possibly theme. For me to choose 10 fabrics to go with the initial 3 means dozens have been considered and rejected. On occasion, it’s one of the original 3 that gets the boot, replaced by something that carries the idea forward in a better way, or takes it in a direction I hadn’t thought of before. For me, this is a very intense process. At the end of it, I have not only my chosen fabrics but also a confidence and a commitment that are essential to seeing the project to completion. Is any of this part of your process? Or maybe you have a different process, SOMEthing beyond “this is what I chose.” Or maybe I really am a little crazy starting a new project? I look at the destruction in my studio after one of these sessions and truly wonder. The fabric rejects get reintegrated and back on the shelves, perhaps somewhat reordered, and that’s good creative exercise, too.


  2. “coloring” is easy in a coloring book, but in real life with things you want to keep forever–coloring is a little more difficult. thanks for making it easier. note i did not say EASY, but easier. i love the process you are taking us through. it sure helps!


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