We all know that our fabulous pre-cuts take the guess-work out of color choice.  They come to us with pre-selected fabrics that go together which saves all of us serious time and decision-making trials.  With that said, it can still be hard to figure out just the best color combinations for your particular project.  This is where knowledge of the color wheel can come in handy.  I recently watched an episode of ‘Brain Games’ on the National Geographic Channel that kind of blew my mind.  It was called ‘In Living Color’.  It got me to thinking how could I apply this to my quilts.  Some quick research and memory searching revealed the answer; quite a bit indeed.

We all want quilts that keep your eyes moving or focused in a particular direction.  I personally do not like looking at a quilt and seeing just one print.  Let’s be honest, it ultimately dominates and takes away from your hard work and overall design concept.  This is where the color wheel can come in handy.  Check out this introduction from Tiger Color.  They enlightened me on many of the items below.  Well their tutorial and having a mom as a color consultant and almost going back to school in 2005 for interior design, but I digress.  In this installment we will be discussing complementary, analogous and triadic color schemes.

Here is a color wheel for reference:


Complementary Colors:

These are colors opposite each other on the color wheel.  Basically these create the ‘wow’ factor you are looking for. They should be used sparingly and in small doses.  In the color wheel above blue and yellow are complementary colors.

Here is a photo where they work well together.  See how they pop?

Flower image yellow abstract nature blue HD Wallpaper

But, having this in large doses can get overwhelming.

Analogous Colors:

Analogous colors are usually found to be pleasing and peaceful to the eye. Unlike complementary colors they are harmonious and your eyes almost feel like they can relax.  Have you ever walked into a room and just felt comfortable? Chances are you were in a room with analogous colors.  On our above color wheel Blue, Blue Cyan, and Cyan are Analogous colors.

Here is an analogous quilt example from JWD Publishing Blog: See how your eyes feel comfortable and they aren’t working too hard, but still moving around the quilt?

From JWD Publishing Blog

Here is an analogous room from

Living room in variations on purple and lavender

Triadic Colors:

While there are more schemes in the world of design and color theory to go over the final one we will discuss today is the Triadic Scheme.  If you were to guess that it will make a triangular shape on the color wheel you would be correct.  This scheme is best used for deciding on accent pieces, etc.  All of the colors are evenly dispersed around the wheel.  On our color wheel above Red, Yellow Green and Blue would be an example of a triadic color scheme.   Usually you will pick one point of the triangle as the dominant color and accent with the other two edges of the triangle.

Here is an example:


The red is obviously dominating, but the other two colors (green and blue) work well as accents.

Here is a triadic room from  See how the yellow is in the fore front, but the red and light blue/gray are accenting?

Triadic Children's Bedroom  This room contains the primary colours (red, yellow and blue), making this room triadic.

Many times we don’t know why we like the color combination, we just do.  It is because our eyes are trained in the concepts from repeat exposure and we inherently develop a second nature towards them.

As mentioned above, yes our pre-cuts come with most of the guess-work out of fabric selection, but how you chose to arrange them is up to you.  Here are some of the combinations that I posted in our last quilt tutorial.  Any guesses what method I used? Hint I wanted certain colors to ‘pop’.  If you guessed Triadic you would be 33% right. It was kind of a trick question.  The truth is that with so many different patterns and shades of colors all three methods needed to be used which is why I chose to discuss those three in particular today.  Keep an eye out for Sunday’s post. We will be deciding on a design layout and getting even more out of these theories!


Have fun putting your combinations together and remember ultimately it just has to be pleasing to your eye. I say if you like it…go for it!

Until Sunday! Crystal

*Please note: I pulled many of these images from Google searches to convey a concept. If you own one of these photos and you do not feel I properly cited your work please let me know and I will make it right.


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