How to Cheat at Color

I had the best time in Pine Grove California. For two days I taught the How to Cheat at Color class for the Sierra Gold quilt guild. We had time to enjoy the process of learning about color. What a warm, friendly group. Robert Kaufman Fabrics provided the solid fabrics, (we all say THANKS!) We ran out of oranges and need more peach, apricot, fuchsia and purples. There is a dark shade of avocado green that was all used, even the tiny scraps. My favorite exercise is the ugly color log cabin block. Each student chooses her least liked color and glues it into the center of a log cabin block. She then passes the page to the person behind her who adds coordinating fabrics. Very few students dislike the same color and the log cabin results are often spectacular.

ugly-color12  ugly-color11


ugly-color10  Ugly-color9


ugly-color8  ugly-color7


ugly-color6  ugly-color5


ugly-color4  Ugly-color3


Ugly-color2  Ugly-color1


ugly-color13  color-class5


color-class4  color-class3


color-class2  color-class1


The Ideal Day

Platinum Grey batik

Rain Quilt
It was clear to me when my alarm rang that this was the ideal day to stay in bed with a good book. The sky was dark with storm clouds and leaves cascading down from the Brandon Oak outside my window.

But I have 10,000 things to do today including my class proposal for Quilt Festival in Houston next October. (What would you like to learn at Festival next year? How to win the big money in the quilt show? I sure wish I was qualified to teach that!)

One student in my color class brought a bolt of medium grey when asked to choose a fabric that had emotional impact. She explained that she likes grey because she looks good wearing the color and when it is grey outside she gets to stay inside and sew!

Now we have driving rain and I am in the mood for soup. It is the Ideal day to buy chocolate and traditional, here in California, for the newspapers to publish articles about water rationing.


Modern Color

Quilt Festival in Houston has invited me to teach in their Modern Quilter classroom this November.

One of the classes is called How to Cheat at Color. We will cover a wide variety of ways to choose color combinations. Of all the classes I teach this is my favorite. Perhaps it is the group setting, with everyone seeing the work of all the others. When it comes to color we get our personal preferences when we receive our DNA. We can teach ourselves to use select color combinations but when we quilt for sanity or serenity we always return to our feel-good colors. I refuse to change that in my students. I want each student to understand which colors please them at an emotional level and how to use colors to win big ribbons. I love the exercise with the “ugly” color. It comes toward the end of class and is very exciting for me, as the teacher, to watch.

This is the handout with links provided in class. Feel free to look them over and take the color tests under Activities.


C&T Publishing offers the 3 in 1 Color Tool and the book Color Play by Joen Wolfrom
Offers color trends analysis for fashion and creative professionals
Color theory in detail

Color Wheel Pro – a program that allows you to see color theory in action: you can create harmonious color schemes and preview them on real-world examples.
Color forecasting and much more.
The emotions of paint color
My favorite color scheme site. Includes the colors seen by various color-blind disorders.
How color affects us and marketing with color.
Color information
Fashion colors for recovering Goths.


Art, Design and Visual Thinking Interactive Textbook.







Wild Roses quilt
My favorite bedroom quilt.

I lost my car again today. It is a very nice car. I don’t have trouble finding it when it is tucked securely in my garage. Store parking lots are the scene of my frustration. My car is only a month-and-a-half old and the trouble is that it is a lovely ice blue. In a crowded parking lot it blends in with all the silver, grey, white and blue sedans. My old car was orange—well, a shade of burnt orange that was very easy to spot in a crowded lot. I miss its distinctive color personality.

Color has a very important voice in our world. A 1930’s quilt would no longer be 1930’s if remade in African colors. Country style is defined by its browned hues of red, green, blue and tan. Quilting is a field where the “eye of the beholder” truly decides which colors are loved. We are born pre-prejudiced toward colors we love or hate. Sometimes this is due to our home environment. Sometimes our national heritage, but mostly because what we like is what we like! I have a blue-violet bedroom, but my friend Nancy’s is purple, spring green and tangerine. Mine is tame compared to hers.

That is the most wonderful thing about colors. It takes a lifetime to experiment with all of them.