Making a quilt should be a fun and relaxing experience, so you should choose fabrics that you enjoy working with. Keeping that in mind, there are a few tips that can make your quilt interesting and dynamic to look at.
Two color quilts have a unique appeal. To be most effective, pick colors that contrast — white with blue, red or green work well. White with pink yellow, or lavender are nice, but don’t offer as much of a contrast.
One way to evaluate colors is to create categories of “light,” “medium,” and “dark.” Be aware that these are relative categories. A fabric that may be considered “light” compared to others in the fabric store, may be a “medium” in your quilt. Using a combination of light, medium and dark fabrics in your quilt adds variety and interest. If all of the fabrics have the same value, they will blend together, making your design less distinguishable. This could be the desired effect. Many quilts use color as the design, making the shape of the block less important than the color choices.
Pull out the color wheel. The primary colors are blue, yellow and red. All other colors are made by combining primary colors. For example, mixing blue and yellow will make green. Red and yellow make orange; and blue and red make purple. Depending on how much of each of the primary colors is used in the mix, the resulting color will tend more to either of the primary colors. Thus, green will be either yellow-green or blue-green. That is why sometimes greens don’t seem to “go together.” The same is true of orange and purple. Orange will be a red-orange or yellow-orange; while purple will be red-purple or blue-purple. Having a color wheel handy will help you see the difference.
It’s also interesting to note that colors are also referred to as “cool” or “warm.” Cool colors are blue, green, purple; while warm colors are red, orange, yellow. Practice helps. Spend a day in a fabric shop comparing fabrics. To check a green fabric, pick a blue fabric and a yellow fabric. Place the green fabric between the two. You may see that the green looks more like the blue, making it a blue-green — a cool color. Or, it may look more like the yellow, making it a yellow-green — a somewhat warmer color. Then take a purple fabric and place it between a blue fabric and a red fabric. You may see that the purple looks more like the blue, and “feels” a little cooler. Or it may be a red-purple and feel a bit “warm.”
When you get home, take a color stack from your stash — i.e., line up all of the green fabrics between a yellow piece and a blue piece. Then arrange them in a kind of order from the most yellow to the most blue. Do the same with your purple fabrics. You can follow this up with oranges and other colors. You may also notice that there are different colors of black and grey, and even white. This exercise may take some time, but when you are finished you will understand color better, and be able to pick fabrics that achieve your desired results.
By Penny Halgren of http://www.How-To-Quilt.com