One goofproof way to choose quilt colors (+ sale)

How to choose quilt colors: block mockups

Fabric color wheelIf you’ve ever wished that quilt color combinations would come to you via instinct, intuition, or a reoccurring series of color-splashed dreams, you’re not alone. Let’s face it: some quilters have a natural gift for choosing colors. And then there’s the rest of us!

Lessons in color theory are helpful, but there’s no substitute for auditioning fabrics with the one foolproof tool that’s always available: your own two eyes.

That’s where handy (and fun!) quilt-block mock-ups come in. In Color for the Terrified Quilter, Sharon Pederson and Ionne McCauley share an easy way to audition fabrics in a single block. Enjoy the freedom to try different color combinations and get the look you want—all before you get to the sewing stage.


How to choose quilt colors: making a block mock-up

from Color for the Terrified Quilter by Sharon Pederson and Ionne McCauley

1. Make at least two photocopies of the block pattern you plan to use, enlarging if desired.

2. Gather a glue stick, pencil for making notes, rotary cutter, and a ruler and cutting mat.

3. Select fabrics and cut the patches for your chosen block. Cut patches to the exact dimensions of the shapes on the paper, without seam allowances. (You might want to make one extra copy of the block pattern and cut shapes from it, then use them as templates for cutting fabrics.)

4. Arrange your fabrics on the photocopy of the block. Keep that glue stick capped for now; you might go through several fabric choices before you make your final decision.

Quilt-block mockup

5. Before finalizing your color choices, ask yourself the following questions:

• Is the value contrast where you want it?
• Are the lights, mediums, and darks in the right places?
• Can you see the shapes?
• Do some blend together? Is that what you want?
• Is there any one fabric that stands out too much?
• Squint or use a reducing glass to see the overall contrast of values.

6. Once you’re happy with the block, grab your glue stick. (Technical tip—put the glue on the paper, not the fabric.) Apply glue to the second mock-up sheet, and then move your fabric pieces carefully and place them in position. Apply gentle pressure and smooth out the fabric to adhere it to the paper.

7. Note what you learned, changes you want to try, and the date in the margins.

Block-mockup examples
Examples of block mock-ups


Color for the Terrified QuilterIn Color for the Terrified Quilter, you’ll use block mock-ups to build your color confidence. Play with monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split-complementary, and triad color combinations—master them all with paper, glue, and fabric!

See more from Color for the Terrified Quilter >

40% off this week only:
$18.95 $11.37


Want more colorful quilt ideas?

Check out these color-happy eBooks on sale—all 40% off this week!

Colorful Quilts Sew Fun, So Colorful Quilts Quilt Challenge

For even more colorful quilt ideas, check out Fabric Play and A Modern Twist.


Which color makes it into your quilts most? Tell us in the comments!

You might also like:
Try a color lesson that sorts your stash too

Save 40% on select eBooks this week!


24 Comments (leave a comment)

Leave a comment

*Indicates required field