How to Choose Fabric Colors for a Quilt -- using nature as inspiration

How to Choose Fabric Colors for a Quilt -- using nature as inspiration

We, as humans, learned everything we know about color harmony from nature.

You are surrounded by gorgeous color palettes every day. All you have to do to create one of your own is pay attention.

When you are on your evening walk and you pass that garden that you always stop to look at, take note of what is drawing you in. Is it that there are so many different colors all exploding from one small plot? Or is it because they limited the colors to only a few? Is it the texture from the ferns and vines? Or maybe the symmetry and structure of the succulents? Pay attention to these subtle things.

A fun way to approach choosing a color palette is by starting with something in nature that really inspires you: a garden, a desert landscape, or the jungle.

Today we are going to draw color inspiration from a sunset! As we know, a sunset could take infinite forms and contains so many different colors, let's look at these three sunsets below. If you are choosing an inspiration image, you might choose just one that has a really interesting palette. Or you might pull a couple photos that are similar (like they share a common color) and pay attention to the nuances in each.

When you look at the photos, spend a little time with them. Look at each and ask yourself, "what am I especially drawn to? What color in this photo is a little surprising or stands out?  What other colors do you see that are more subtle? What colors help the other colors to stand out?"

Let's look first at the photo with the boat. What stands out the most? To me, is the bright orange beneath the sun. So that might be a color I choose. Now, what else do I notice that might be more subtle?  Well, the cloud above the sun is a vibrant, but light, gold. What colors help the others to stand out? Along the horizon is a muted, dusty blueish gray that makes the orange and gold really stand out. What is a little surprising? The sunset is giving the water a greenish tint.

Looking at the photo in the top right corner, what am I drawn to? I really like the rusty orangey-red clouds. What colors are helping the others to stand out? The blueish gray mountains really help the orange clouds to stand out.

Lastly, let's look at the photo with the wheat field. What am I drawn to? I love the golds in the wheat and in the sunshine around the trees. I love how vibrant the grass looks. What color is surprising? The reddish spots made by the light and the camera lens is an unexpected pop of color. Inspiration Boards -- Color Series-5
So let's bring all those observations together. In all of the photos, I was drawn to the reddish-orange color. I also love the golds in the boat and wheat photos, and I love how the greens look with the gold in the wheat photo. I love how in the two photos on the right, the grayish blues really helped the oranges and golds to stand out. This bear quilt (find the tutorial here) is an example of how this palette might turn into a quilt.

Notice I threw in an aqua to the palette, even though there isn't an aqua in the photos. I dropped it in because I wanted to! You're totally allowed to do that. It's your quilt-- add whatever colors make you happy.

There are so many different colors in these photos, pay attention to the colors that are standing out to you. Your interpretation of these photos or of this palette would look completely different from mine, which is the beauty of it.

Want to save this color palette for future inspiration? Pin it! (On the image, click the red "save" button to save to your Pinterest board.)Click here to get your free printable color wheel

Back to blog


[…] Inspirational Palettes 2: Pulling a Fabric Color Palette — using nature as inspiration […]

Color Confidence for Quilters– Part 3: Complementary Color Palettes | Shannon Brinkley Studio

[…] Inspirational Palettes 3: How to Choose Fabric Colors for a Quilt — using nature as inspiration […]

Color Confidence for Quilters– Part 4: Triadic Color Palettes | Shannon Brinkley Studio

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.