Choosing Colors

Other than choosing colors, the only possible area I’m less qualified to give advice would be cleaning.  Just another disclaimer . .

When I’m teaching, the one thing that surprises me the most is the number of people who seem to fret and struggle with color/fabric choices to the point where I wonder if they’re even enjoying the process.

Maybe it’s the number of quilts I make or the amount of fabric I have or . . it could be as simple as my total lack of skill in choosing colors, but I just don’t ever worry too much about color.  Yes, I’ll pull out a whole lot of fabric and make a huge mess but once I pick the colors I’m going to use, that’s it . . I’m using them and I don’t continue second guessing whether I made the right choice.

You’ve heard me say this and anyone who has taken my class has heard it . . this isn’t brain surgery! If you make an ugly quilt or one that doesn’t work, no one is going to be injured. It just won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  Think about how many times you’ve seen quilts on blogs (though never on mine I’m sure <G>) or at quilt shows and you thought the colors were awful but the quilt won awards and others loved it.  In my opinion, there just are no wrong color choices.  I look at quilts I made last year or 3 years ago and wonder . . why on earth did I choose those fabrics?  But I loved it at the time and I had fun and for me, that’s what really matters.

Here’s an example.  Back in March, I showed this photo and asked for your help.


I was trying to decide which dark green to use . . one of the ones with the black arrows.  Many of my readers suggested that I use the top green for my dark and the bottom green for my lighter green instead of the light green between the pink and two darks.  OK . . that’s what I did.  I cut out all the pieces and took them with me when we went on our spring break trip.  Didn’t bring any extra fabric . . just the pre-cut pieces for the quilt.  As soon as I made the first block, I realized that the bottom green was reading way too dark and I was getting more blending and less definition of my chain design.  Too bad . . I kept going, finished the top probably on spring break and last night, I quilted the top.


It turned out fine.  I kinda like the muted look of the chain.  I’m going to bind it with one of the dark greens.  The point I’m trying to make is that if I was one who worried excessively about color choices, I would have either not finished this top or put it away til I got home and could add a different green for the chain.  That would have been a waste of time!

The only perfect choice is the choice that makes you happy!  Do what makes you happy!   If I had given every one of you this grouping of fabric:


And I asked you to take the fabric to either your local shop or your stash and choose a lighter green to go with the pinks and green floral, my bet is that every one of you would have chosen a different fabric and every choice would have been great. There truly are no perfect or horrible choices  . . other than what you like.

Have fun!  Quilting should be our escape from the troubles of the world; where we can create and enjoy the process.  So, please . . no more stressing over fabric choices, ok?




  1. 1

    Dorothy says

    Maybe the other green would have “popped” but I still like the finished project!! I love pinks and greens, it looks so spring like!

  2. 2

    peggy says

    I love that quilt! I love the “process” of choosing the fabrics for my quilts. I just finished a top for a friend who’s going through major health issues. I picked all the fabric, including the backing from the stash. My stash doesn’t look smaller (over 12 yards gone), but I feel good about the quilt and stash reduction. Now comes one of the parts that I do find boring. I’ve never mastered the sewn binding technique!

  3. 3

    Sharon says

    Like Peggy, I enjoy the process of picking the fabrics for a quilt. Sometimes I do worry about the way they look together but I have been told by several friends that I seem to have a real eye for putting fabrics in my quilts. That always makes me feel so good. I don’t stress out over it, I just lay some out and start choosing. I love your quilt but I love pink and green together anyway. I lean more toward scrap quilts because when I first got started that was all I had and I have never made a quilt out of kit or a planned set of fabrics. Maybe one day!

  4. 4


    I am awful picking fabric. I try to get someone else to do it for me if I possibly can. I tend to be to matchy matchy and the whole thing blends together like mud.

    I have two quilts that I at first thought were UGLY but they are growing on me and both are warm and that was the whole idea of making them to begin with.

  5. 5


    I think that as we buy fabric, we tend to chose fabric with the same tones or values. So when we pick fabric from our stash, it will always go together. I’ve noticed this with my friends. They pick totally different fabric than I do and when we sew some blocks for a comfort quilt, the values are very different. And that quilt you made doesn’t look like your usual colour combinations. Far more laid back than you usually do. But it’s a beautiful quilt. Nice job!

  6. 6


    I like the quilt. But you are so right about colors being in the eye of the beholder. I bought a stack of 20 FQs from my LQS. They were all from the Venitian Glass line. I looked at some of them and thought “What was she thinking?” I made my turning 20 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well some of those “off” colors worked in the the grand scheme of things.

  7. 7


    I must be dopey as I don’t stress at all over color choices…..I just kind of randomly do it and however it turns out is fine with me. In the beginning, I had to reprogram my thinking so I’d not try to do “matchy-matchy” but now I’m fine with nearly anything.

  8. 8


    Choosing fabrics is my favorite part of the process. I think that’s why I’m such a good starter (and such a poor finisher). I read somewhere that you should try incorporating an ugly fabric into your quilts — makes it more interesting. And I agree, it all seems to work out and the end result is lovely, regardless of the fabrics. Values are much key than the exact colors and prints.

  9. 9

    Donna in KS says

    I have stressed oh so much over fabric choices for a class Oct. 14! I can only hope what I have will be “right”; time (and the teacher, perhaps) will tell. LOL ROTFL I have been amazed at how often people compliment me on my ‘good eye for color’. If only they knew how I agonize over my selection. My mother always said that my husband has good color sense and she was certain he chose fabrics for me. BTW, like this pink/green quilt also.

  10. 10

    Sandy in Canada says

    I really like the quilt and think that serendipity was on your side. The blending of the two greens makes the pinks seem that much brighter. I think if the chain had been lighter, the contrast with the darker green would have been too much “competition” with the pinks. Bravo to you for going ahead with it!!!

  11. 11

    Cynthia H., El Cerrito, CA says

    And, as usual, I would have been out in left field adding a color to the “Provide The Missing Fabric” photo.

    I just absolutely KNOW I would’ve chosen an off-white. Dead white is too stark (to me) for the mood of these fabrics, so an off-white. If it had a slight green or pink cast to it, so much the better, but off-white it would have been.

    I like the idea of dark green binding. That will make a nice “frame” for the picture! 🙂

  12. 13

    carol c says

    well I adore it
    so boo to whom ever
    when I go thru magazines I pick what I like and mark it with
    a paperclip
    then I go back thru months/years later and i find something
    new in the same book, didnt like it before
    so choices are there
    its what you are tuned to at the time
    now those are my colors you made that in so I love it
    when I use colors out of my zone, i ask fo rhelp as well

  13. 14


    That’s a very pretty quilt and I’m glad you “went with it” and let it ride. Definitely people worry a lot over the “right” color. My thing is texture so I tend to like a lot of geometrics and they lend life to my quilts in a totally different way. I do pay a lot of attention to value, a lesson I learned early. My sister and I will never buy the same piece of fabric, but I like her quilts and she likes mine, for completely different reasons. It’s a big world (and there’s so much yummy fabric out there!!!) and quilters play as they like. I love it!

  14. 15


    Hi Judy

    I so totally agree that we tend to stress too much about colour. Lately my new motto has been ‘everything goes with everything’! Sort-of. LOL For people who do stress, I tell them to choose a great print with colours they like and then select a half-dozen solids/prints that tie in with the colours of the print. It’s a ‘safe’ quilt but at least they can get sewing!

    I grew up in Nebraska and my Mum made the best Runza’s. In those days there were no franchises though. It was just a local thing that people made. I didn’t realise it was something that most people hadn’t heard of until I moved away. It just seems so funny that there are now fast-food outlets that sell Runza’s! To me it’s like going somewhere that only sells BLT’s or something! Hope you enjoyed your time in my home state. I live in Australia now.


  15. 16

    Robin says

    I AM one of those that agonize over fabrics- everything about it from colors to patterns, etc. Maybe one of these days I’ll get over it!