How to Mix Prints in your Quilts

Let's start off the day with a heavy dose of color!

One of the areas quilters struggle with most is color, and specifically print mixing. 


I have a stash full of beautiful prints, but how do I actually use them in a quilt?

How can I get an interesting patterned effect without it looking too busy? 


If you struggle with similar questions, you are in the right place. 


When I teach about Print Mixing, I speak specifically to two things: scale & texture.

  • Scale is how large or small a print is (think teeny tiny polka dots versus a large scale floral, like below).
  • Texture is the effect that the particular print contributes to the overall print palette (think the look and feel a batik contributes versus a stripe). 


Today, let's focus on scale. If your goal is to achieve a well balanced quilt (which is not the only or best option, but is a nice "rule of thumb"), including small, medium, and large scale prints can help you to achieve this. 


A quilt that includes all large scale prints (like the floral print on the left in this picture), will be wild! Which might be the look you're going for. If you love that wild, patterned look, bring on those large scale prints!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, quilts that include only small scale prints (like the two green fabrics on the right side of this photo) may be lacking a bit in interest. This can draw your eye to the quilt design since it is not distracted by the prints, it just depends what your goal is for the quilt: where do you want the focus?


For a well balanced print palette that adds interest without too much distraction from the prints, and while still allowing those fun large-scale prints to shine, consider including small, medium, and large-scale prints. 


In this palette, I started with that gorgeous large-scale floral on the left. Then I found a medium-scale print (those small flowers) that shared common colors with the large-scale print. Next I brought in the small scale prints and solid that also shared colors with the large scale print. 

The result is a well balanced, simple, but interesting palette that will allow that large-scale floral to really shine. 


If you'd like to dive deeper into color, we have a full Color Curriculum inside Meander. It will take you from unsure or insecure with color to a master! Click here to learn more!


I'd love to hear from you! What is your biggest challenge with color or print mixing? How do you like to mix together prints in your quilts? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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  • I like mixing large and small scale prints. My problem is finding a quilt pattern that would look good for the material that I have.

  • That’s how it works….

    Anja Schellekens
  • Thanks, good lesson

    Marilyn Hoffman

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