Tag Archives: colour

Colour Theory – Part One


I don’t know about you but when I started quilting, I had very little confidence about my colour choices in quilting.  Kind of surprising since I have loved fashion all my life.  My favourite colour is turquoise and I gravitate towards it every time when looking at fabric.

Initially, I asked quilt shop staff to help me pick things out or I would rely on a prepackaged set of fat quarters. What I have learned over time is that there are no rules about combining colours but there are guidelines.  What has more impact is the value of the fabric, which will be the subject of another blog post in the future.

Over time, I began to develop my own sense of colour, sometimes relying on a focus fabric to help me, or instinct, and other times using a very helpful tool called the Colour Wheel.

This is what it looks like and you can find it on many sites online.

These are the 12 pure colours, of which there are 3 primary, 3 secondary and 6 tertiary.

The 3 primary colours – blue, red and yellow – are the basis for all other colours.  They are equidistant on the colour wheel.

The 3 secondary colours – green, orange & violet – are created when equal amounts of the primary colours are mixed together.  Blue + yellow = green;  yellow + red = orange; and blue + red = violet.

That leaves us with the 6 tertiary colours – yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet and blue-green.  Their names come from the colours that sit on each side of them on the colour wheel.

If you add black to any of these colours, they get darker and are Shades of the original colour.

If you add grey to any colour, it becomes less intense and is called a Tone.

If white is added to a colour, it becomes lighter and is a Tint.

Shades, Tones and Tints will be the subject of a future post but the next one will be about Colour Dominance.

Be not afraid of colour.