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Choosing Colors for Sample Quilts

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Andi Stanfield

Hooray! You have an idea for a new quilt pattern and it's time to make a sample. But wait... which fabrics to use? What colors will help drive sales? There are several things to consider when choosing colors for sample quilts.

Quilts and patterns on display
Quilts and patterns on display

1. Match the color to the season

The seasons offer a wealth of inspiration when it comes to choosing colors for your quilt patterns. Spring, for example, is associated with soft pastels, fresh greens, and delicate floral hues. Incorporating these colors into your quilt can bring a sense of renewal and vitality. In contrast, summer calls for vibrant and energetic tones like sunny yellows, oceanic blues, and fiery oranges. Autumn inspires warm, earthy colors such as deep reds, burnt oranges, and rich browns. Lastly, winter suggests cool blues, crisp whites, and icy grays, evoking a sense of tranquility and serenity. By aligning your quilt's color palette with the seasons, you can capture the essence of each time of year and create a visually captivating piece.

Finished quilt with a dark blue background, large red stars and smaller crem-colored star blocks
Big-n-Bright by True Blue Quilts

Won't having seasonal designs limit the distribution of my pattern?

Don't worry about timing your quilt designs to a limited time of year. Most quilters do not work on a short deadline. They know it may take months to complete a bed-size quilt, which is why the Christmas in July marketing is so effective. If you have ever worked with a magazine, they are planning their publications at least six months in advance. Quilting is truly a year-round process!

2. Work with new fabric collections

An exciting way to choose colors for your quilt patterns is by exploring new fabric collections. Fabric manufacturers regularly release new lines featuring curated color palettes that reflect current trends and themes. These collections often include a range of complementary prints and solids that are designed to work harmoniously together. By selecting fabrics from the same collection, you can be confident that the colors will coordinate seamlessly, saving you time and effort in color matching. Additionally, using new fabric collections allows you to stay updated with the latest design aesthetics and incorporate contemporary elements into your quilts.

a screen grab from the Moda website showing their recent catalog
from the Moda website

How do I find out about new fabric collections?

It's time to network! Start by cultivating a relationship with your local quilt shops to use new fabric lines for shop samples that feature your designs. Also, get to know the fabric sales reps for your area and learn the submission process for their catalogs and look-books.

3. Stick with Solids

Using solids, or tone-on-tone basics that are always available, will help with the longevity of a pattern. There are always quilters who want to make a design just like the image on the cover, and it can be frustrating if the sample used 10-year-old fabric from your stash. Sewing the sample from a line such as Island Batik Foundations or Moda Marbles can make it easier for shops to help customers find fabric and sell kits along with your pattern.

A selection of blue and yellow fabric
Island Batik fabrics

Find more ideas about choosing colors in this article by contributor Andi Stanfield from True Blue Quilts!

Choosing colors for quilt patterns is a delightful journey of self-expression and artistic exploration. Whether you're drawing inspiration from the seasons, utilizing new fabric collections, or keeping it simple with solids, the key is to trust your intuition and let your creativity guide you. Remember, color has the power to evoke emotions, set moods, and tell stories. So go ahead, experiment with different palettes, and let your quilts come alive with the perfect combination of colors.

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