How to choose colour combinations for textiles: using a colour wheel

When it comes to creating a design for your sewing project or other creative project, it helps to think about shapes, composition, texture and colour, but first of all let's focus on colour.

Here is a colour wheel, the colours around the edge of the wheel are described as red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet, and red-violet. The colour wheel can be used to choose colours that work together. The idea isn’t to stick rigidly to one set of colours but to use this as a starting point.

Analogous colours are colours that are on the same side of the wheel and they go together really well when they are used in the same project. The best way to think of this is as colours that are very similar.

Complementary colours are colours that are on the opposite side of the wheel to each other and they too can be used together in a colour scheme. Examples are: red and green, purple and yellow, and blue and orange.

If you’re keeping a scrapbook, magazines and packaging are a great source of inspiration. I created a collection of images from the packaging of a box of teabags and junk mail to show analogous colours.

Creating something you feel happy with isn’t just about skill. It’s about making choices about colour and arranging those colours in your project in a mindful or purposeful way.

Look at the colours you have available to use in your fabric and threads and take time to think how you can combine them. If you’re not keeping a scrapbook, you can still notice colour in nature on a walk or in your garden.

The example in this video, red berries on green leaves, was something I found in December on a walk. You can take a photo using your phone like I did or you can just take a mental note. From this photo, I created a really simple design just with one leaf and a few berries. I then translated this very simple drawing using felt and embroidery thread.

Your own designs can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. Go on give it a try.

I’m Diane and I’m part of Make and Do Crafts. We do online and in person courses. You can join our mailing list by completing the form on this website.

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