Quilting, design and colour- what it means to me

Why do I have a series of posts on colour?

WhatI love the most about quilting and creating treasures with fabric is the possibility that fabric-the design, the colour, the texture creates in the design.   The contrast of the colour of the fabrics I use can and does create and entire different feel to the piece that I have created, even when the exact same pattern is used in the quilt.

Understanding colour theory helps me to create the feel I want, helps me understand why some colour combinations just don’t feel right.   For me playing with colour is the fun part in the design process.

Let’s Talk Colour- Contrast of Extension

Contrast of extension is in fact a contrast of proportion.  While a room with contrast of extension often contains other contrasts, it is the proportion or ratio of one colour to another in the room that first captures the eye.

In this type of contrast the amount of colour that is used is important. Because the intensity of a colour increases when its proportion in a room increases, a change in proportion of a colour can change the mood in a room.

Let’s Talk Colour- Complementary Contrast

Complementary contrast results from colours that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel.  While this contrast is similar to warm-cool contrast, it is different in that in complementary contrast the colours must be of the same intensity.

This type of contrast has a sense of unity to it because the colours add up to the totality of light.  Complementary contrast often is very elegant and sophisticated.

Let’s Talk Colour – Light-Dark Contrast

Light-dark contrast is one of my favourites.  It is a contrast in value of colours and is a common way to decorate a room.  There are 4 main categories of light-dark contrast:

  • In a monochromatic contrast there is one colour in varying tints and shades.


  • A polychromatic contrast requires at least two different colours that are also different in value.


  • An achromatic contrast is one in which there are only black, white and grey.

achromatic contrast

  • There are also two combinations possible: either achromatic combined with monochromatic or achromatic combined with polychromatic.

Let’s talk colour-warm-cool contrast

There are two ways to create a warm-cool contrast. The first is with colours that depict an extreme contrast of temperature.  The other is to have relative degrees of contrast between warm and cool.

Often in warm-cool contrast there is no significant difference in the value of the colours. One of the interesting effects of warm-cool contrast is that people report feeling warmer in rooms with red or orange tones and cooler in rooms in the blue or green range.