I was asked by one of my beginner students this year how do you go about learning about colour for quilts? How do you know that those choices are going to look good together? It is kind of a hard question to answer. I have found that my colour sense has developed and changed over all the years that I have been quilting.
There are lots of resources for colour theory on the web, and a simple web search will bring you up the basic colour wheel and diagrams explaining what colours look good together. However I think as quilters we should strive to learn through trial and error as we make quilts. The best way to learn is to push your boundaries and not make safe choices. That may mean using a colour that we may not necessarily like, combined with colours that we do. That colour we find ugly may lift a quilt to another level.
So how do you learn about colour? It may mean breaking out from your comfort zone. For instance stop restricting your choices to a range of fabric. You know you do it. I use to do it myself all the time and still do on occasion when I don’t want to think and just sew. These are the safe choices and keep us in our comfort zone. If it is too scary, by all means start with a range then replace fabrics and add to it, gradually you wont be using one range you will be using a pallet of different fabrics. Stop trying to perfectly match colours, it is the subtle changes in shade that will bring added depth to your quilt.
I have found that my colour likes and dislikes have changed over the years and quilts that I made years ago would be totally different with the choices that I would make today. Whereas in the past I might have restricted my colour and fabric choices now I tend to use more colours and far more different fabrics in the one quilt pulling the choices together with background fabric. The example below has well over 100 different fabrics in it, the only common thing is that they are all by the designer Tula Pink. It is truly a mess of colour but I love it and it is my favourite quilt at the moment.
Remember that we all see colour differently and what I say is a good colour combination might not necessarily be your cup of tea what matters is that you are happy with your choices. Keep stretching your colour choices and your colour sense will grow as will your colour confidence.