Color Inspiration Challenge

Hey Gang, we’re playing with color! Join us for our Color Inspiration Challenge, inspired by Anna Maria Horner.

Since so many people are social distancing and sewing at home, here’s another option besides our Cascadia Cabin in the Woods BOM to virtually sew as a group. Be sure to share your progress online using the hashtag: #seattlemqgcolorinspiration

Color Inspiration Challenge

In Anna Maria Horner’s January 2020 workshops with Seattle Modern Quilt Guild, we learned to put a palette of patterned fabrics together following a certain algorithm.

Anna offers a full online workshop with CreativeBug called Creating Color Palettes with Anna Maria Horner. If you weren’t able to participate in her workshop with our guild, her CreativeBug class is a great way to learn from this talented fabric and quilt designer.

Our Color Inspiration Challenge, inspired by Anna and her work with our guild, is all based on our good friend, the color wheel:

Simple color wheels, with lights and darks.

Here’s the recipe:

  • Choose a starting color. In this example, BLUE. We’ll call that our Main color.
  • What are the colors on either side of blue? GREEN and PURPLE. We’ll call those the Adjacent colors.
  • Now look at the color that’s opposite the Main color: ORANGE. We’ll call that our Complementary color.
  • Pull together some prints that follow this recipe. The matches don’t have to be exact. Include some that are light, some that are dark, etc.
    • 3 of your Main color
    • 2 of the Adjacent color from one side
    • 2 of the Adjacent color from the other side
    • 1 of the Complementary color

If you decided to do a Blue Palette, here’s what that might look like:

Working with prints, this was pretty tricky! We didn’t love every combination, so we swapped pieces out until we found a combination we liked. That’s part of the process. Be flexible, experiment with what you like, and have fun!

A little extra help:

Here’s a chart for each of the six main colors, and which colors are adjacent and complementary. You can use whatever color you want for your main color and go from there! And you aren’t limited to bright, pure colors: experiment with a mix of light, medium and dark values.

Here’s the challenge:

We have come up with a block design that we’ll be using. Pick your fabrics using these guidelines. Then choose which fabrics go where, and stitch up a mini. The placement of the colors is up to you. The block is 13″ after assembly (it will finish at 12.5″ after you’ve squared it up and trimmed it). You can make one mini, or combine a few blocks for a larger piece. Our Giving Committee would be happy to receive finished blocks to sew into quilts that will be donated to worthy causes.

Use the hashtag #seattlemqgcolorinspiration to share your block designs. The next time we are allowed to meet in person, bring your blocks or finished mini’s for sew and tell.

Here are some diagrams to help:

Color selection swatches
This is an example block, using the palette above.
Here’s the block mocked up with patterned fabrics in the above color theme.
Here are four of the blocks, with some rotated.
And here’s the above 4-up blocks, mocked up with patterned fabric.

Remember, the colors you choose are up to you! Start with one main color, and go from there. We mocked up examples using both solids and prints, but we encourage you to use prints!

Cutting and assembly diagrams:


Examples with patterned fabric:

More details and help:

  • You choose your colors, and you choose where they go.
    • Do I have to use my fabrics from the workshop? – No, it’s all up to you. But we think if you at least use them as a starting point, it will be more fun.
    • Can I use solids? – Why yes, you can. It’s much harder with prints than with solids, so challenge yourself as much as you’re comfortable.
  • Make as many blocks as you want. The block finishes at 12.5″, but you can resize it or combine a bunch of blocks. Some ideas:
    • Make a single, 12.5″ block, and finish it as a mini or donate it to our Giving Committee.
    • Double the size to 25″ and make it into a pillow.
    • Make four 12.5″ blocks. Rotate them, flip them, have fun!
    • Make several blocks, putting the fabrics in different positions. Do you like a lot of the main color and just a little complementary, or the other way around?
    • Try every idea you can think of… you can always make a table runner or a baby quilt!

Use the hashtag #seattlemqgcolorinspiration to share your progress, and bring your finished blocks/projects to our next meeting for sew and tell!

10 responses to “Color Inspiration Challenge

  1. I appreciate the detailed instructions as lack of concentration is a real problem right now. I loved the workshop in the reminder of going through the steps is a great recipe for success. Thank you David.

    • I’m glad you like the instructions, Jana! Aline and I worked hard on this, and hope you enjoy trying out the challenge block.

  2. This is addictive! I need to stop for awhile, but I have some to post. Instagram can’t find the color inspiration page though????

    • Hi Harriet, love what you’ve done so far! Please use this hashtag (with Seattle spelled out) to tag your posts: #seattlemqgcolorinspiration

      And have fun! Cheers, David

      • Thanks. I may also make a red one, since I had some nice reds left from the purple attempt. I tend to use little of the complementary colors and they don’t show as well in the photos as on the real blocks. I will happily donate these for a giving quilt. Would be happy to work on more giving quilts if there are projects we could do from stash.

      • Awesome, Harriet! I hope we get a lot of these colorful blocks for the giving quilts. Feel free to make more, if you’re inspired to do so! We will collect them the next time we are allowed to meet in person.

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