Warm Cool Quilt Along - Color Refresher!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Welcome to the first post of the Warm Cool Quilt Along! We're going to start things off with a little refresher on warm and cool colors before we get into the details tomorrow!

Color Wheel by jenib320
Color Wheel, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
So, what are warm colors, and what are cool colors? The traditional color-wheel can be split into two parts. One half including pinks, reds, oranges and yellows, or Warm colors; the other half including greens, blues, aquas and purples, or Cool colors. I've split this color-wheel above for you to use as a guide!

Warm Colors
Warm Colors by jenib320
Warm Colors, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
For my warm color stack I've picked traditional red, bright pink, light pink, a few shades of orange, yellow, and gold. I stuck mostly with tone on tone and color + white prints!

Cool Colors
Cool Colors by jenib320
Cool Colors, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
For my cool color stack I've picked lime green, kelly green, aqua, teal, and plum purple. Again, I mostly picked tone on tone and color + white prints!

Warm vs. Cool
Warm vs. Cool by jenib320
Warm vs. Cool, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
When the warm and cool stacks are sitting together, you can see the contrast in mood that each color group creates!

Fabrics with Accents
Fabrics with Accents by jenib320
Fabrics with Accents, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
These fabrics would also be appropriate to use in a warm or cool color group. Each fabric has small (or large!) accents, but with colors that are true to it's color group. For example, the bottom print (Parisville by Tula Pink), is mostly purple (cool color!), but has lots of blue and green accents. Similarly, the 2nd print from the top (Martini Dots by Amy Butler), is mostly hot pink (warm color!) with a neutral accent and a yellow accent, which is also a warm color. Keep these types of prints in mind as we start pulling prints for this quilt-along!

Warm or Cool Fabrics
Warm Cool Fabrics by jenib320
Warm Cool Fabrics, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
There are a few fabrics out there, that because of the colors, simply read warm or cool. The top three prints each include multiple warm colors and therefore read warm. Similarly the bottom three prints each include multiple cool colors and therefore read cool! These prints are really fun for this type of project, so definitely scour your stashes for some of these!

Fabrics with Contrasting Accents
Since there will be so many different prints and colors playing together in one quilt, it is okay to add in a few fabrics that have contrasting accents. As long as they are small, and the color still reads as distinctly warm or cool, they will work just fine! Let's talk about why these prints would work:

1. Park Slope by Erin McMorris - This blue print has small accents of pink, but in this case the two shades of blue and addition of green overpower the accents and the fabric still reads as blue, or Cool.
2. Farmdale by Alexander Henry - This print has a lot of different accents, but they are all small in comparison to the dominating turquoise background, so this still reads as turquoise, or Cool.
3. Bijoux by Heather Bailey - This fun yellow print has small accents of pink and turquoise. Because the shade of the turquoise is light and relatively minimal in dominance compared to the yellow, the print stil reads as yellow, or Warm.
4. Aviary by Joel Dewberry - This hot pink print has accents of pink and lime green. While the green accents are quite bright, the hot pink is even brighter and allows the print to read as pink, or Warm.

Fabrics to Avoid
Fabrics to Avoid by jenib320
Fabrics to Avoid, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
There are a few fabrics you'll want to avoid when putting together your stack. These include multicolor fabrics that have large amounts of warm and cool colors, fabrics with large accents in the wrong color group, and fabrics with a heavy neutral background. Let's talk about why the above prints would not work:
1. Habitat by Jay McCarroll - The background color in this print is gold, which would make it Warm, but it has large turquoise accents, which contrast the color group a little too much!
2. Robert Kaufman print - This print has a few too many colors making it difficult to place in either the Warm or Cool color group!
3. Amy Butler print - This print has a Warm coral background but large turquoise and green accents, which are cool colors.
4. Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt - This print has shades of purple (Cool) as well as orange (Warm), making it difficult to place in a single color group!
5. Rainy Days and Mondays by Riley Blake - This print has a neutral background, which works fine, but it has a lot of pink (Warm) and green (Cool), which are contrasting.
6. Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt - This print has great color, but for me, it is difficult to determine exactly what color it is at a quick glance. It is kind of yellow-green, but could easily read yellow as well. Because it's right on the border between Cool and Warm, it won't work very well in this project! :)

Light vs. Dark
As you start to think about what fabrics you'd like to use, you'll want to also keep in mind light and dark prints. Traditional value quilts are created using light and dark fabrics which give it contrast. In this quilt, we're creating contrast using Warm and Cool fabrics. For my quilt, I'll be using medium-value fabrics for the most part with a few lighter and a few darker prints mixed in. I think that this will allow the Warm/Cool contrast to really shine! However, feel free to play around with light and dark if you'd like! You could choose to do Warm light fabrics and Cool dark fabrics, or vice-versa. Don't be afraid to experiment! You can read more on Light vs. Dark here!

For more examples of Warm and Cool colors, you can refer to my original Art of Choosing post here.

Check back tomorrow for fabric "requirements" (I say this loosely because most of you can probably sew this quilt up from your stashes!) as well as quilt sizes (there will be 3 to choose from)! In the meantime feel free to start looking through your stashes!


  1. Great post! You have a fantastic way of showing the way of fabric selection.

  2. You are so good at explaining all this stuff... and the photo examples make everything very clear.

  3. You make it so clear and look so easy! Thanks for breaking it down for the lay person.

  4. This is such an informative post. It would have never occurred to me why those last prints were non-starters, but it makes so much sense that their warm/cools interfere with each other.

    Is this what you learned in all those fancy college classes?

  5. Great mini-class. Makes things so clear; thanks!
    And I'm in the deep throes of jealousy over your stash...

  6. I love, love, love this idea!!! I'm going to have a hard time resisting this one, even though I feel like possibly I've got too much on my plate at the moment...I'm looking forward to reading more!

  7. Wow. I have to say fabric selections is my biggest challenge but you explain it very clearly here! Thank you! I will certainly continue to follow along.

  8. ooo another QAL, and one using my stash only!!! Yippeee. That is my goal for 2011, to use it up, or at least most of it.

  9. wow, this is indeed the art of choosing... Love your fabrics and pictures! So pretty pretty pretty all over.

    Have a wonderful day,
    love Maaike

  10. this will be awesome! can't wait to get started!

  11. Do you have any idea where I could buy a quilt like this? I'm not talented enough to make one and the quilts I have encountered online look so grannyish. I'd love this quilt in a full size for my daughter's bed. Any retail resources would be much appreciated!!

  12. Thanks, I got lots of help from your tutorial..it helped to see multi-coloured prints in terms of the distribution of tones. An "ah-ha" moment for me as I didn't think of that before, thank-you...you know how you can look and not see?

  13. E também melhor é que tem sua funcionalidade já comprovada.

  14. Thank you the first time I have actually learnt about colour I am a sad impulse buyer of fabric then at a loss what to do with it thank you thank you seasons greetings


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