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Choosing Colors for Ombre Quilts

We all love a good ombre, but sometimes it can be hard to get the colors just right. Since my newest quilt pattern, Romeo Twins, is designed to be an ombre quilt, I thought I walk you through how I go about choosing my ombre colors.


What is an Ombre?

First things first, what is an ombre? Ombre is simply a set of colors that transition gradually into one another. They can be all the same color (hue) or they can be a set of colors (hues). The key is that the transition is gradual; subtle enough that you do not notice the colors changing from one to another.

Herein lies the challenge of putting together a good ombre in fabric since we can't simply mix colors together like you can with dies or paints. Fabrics must be chosen carefully in order to achieve a good seamless ombre. An invaluable tool when choosing ombre fabrics is a color wheel, preferable one that shows lights and darks in each color.

This color tool (not an affiliate link) is super helpful since it shows lots of hues with all their tints and shades. You can take it with you and use it to compare your fabric choices at the shop. Also helpful if you're using solids is a swatch card for your favorite line of solids. I like Kona Cottons so the first thing I do when picking out an ombre is pull out my color chips.

Monochromatic Ombres

The easiest ombre to achieve is a monochromatic ombre, i.e. one color transition from light to dark. The important thing to remember with a monochromatic ombre is to keep the color or hue the same. It is easy to try adding in similar, but different, hues into a monochromatic ombre as you pick your light and dark fabrics. For instance, it's tempting when putting together a blue ombre to add in shades of color that have more red or yellow in them than the true color you started with. This can still be beautiful, but something will look slightly off from a true ombre.

When choosing a monochromatic ombre, I like to choose my pure color (hue) first then pick colors that are the extreme light and extreme dark versions of that hue to establish the endpoints of my ombre.

After the middle, top, and bottom fabrics are chosen, it's just a matter of choosing shades to fill in between until I have the correct number of fabrics needed for my project.

Here's what Mercutio and Mercury would look like mocked up in a couple of different monochromatic ombres.

Analogous (Multicolor) Ombres

Analogous color palettes are made up of 2 or more colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. For instance, yellow and orange or green and blue. You can choose as many colors as you want, but keep in mind that the more colors you choose, the more distinct fabrics you will need because you need at minimum one transition color between each distinct color you choose.

When choosing a multicolor ombre, I like to choose the main colors I want in my ombre first. For this ombre, I'm going to choose, blue, purple, and pink. These would be my main colors.

Next, I will choose transition colors to bridge between the main colors I've already chosen. I'll pick one color on either side of the main colors and then pare down the choices until I have the number of fabrics required.

Here are some examples of Mercutio and Mercury in analogous ombres.

This is what I did for my cover quilt in a warm color analogous ombre and I'm in love with the way it turned out.

Alternative Colorways

If you're not feeling a traditional ombre, you can also mix things up by just choosing blocks of colors that look good together. For color inspiration, check out this Pinterest board. Prints also look awesome in an ombre.

If you're looking for something a little more graphic, most ombre patterns can easily be converted into a two-color option by just making all the blocks the same. Instructions and fabric requirements for a two-color option are already included in the Romeo Twins pattern.


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