Need design/color ideas for a quilt

My friend is having a little girl in September, and I’m going to make a “Turning Twenty” quilt for her. (Pictures here and here of examples.) The idea is that it uses twenty different fabrics. The pattern is pretty simple, but the more quilts I make, the more I find that I’m totally blind when it comes to choosing colors that go good together. I want a very contemporary, stylish-looking quilt.

Though it is for a baby, my friend isn’t in to nursery colors. I’m thinking I’d like to do some black and silver, along with some pale pink and lavender. Or maybe pinks and browns? I really like the way, in the two examples I posted, the colors don’t seem to “go” together, but the end result is very striking. Is there some science behind choosing random looking color combinations? I don’t want it to look like a clown exploded or anything.

Any advice?

This is a hijack but it’s quilting related.

There is a series of books by Jennifer Chiaverini about quilters and they’re very good.

If you’re into quilting you’d love them, if not well they’re still very good.

I saw a play several years ago called Quilters, about the hardships faced by frontier women. They’re sewing a quilt throughout the performance, and the final product has twelve images on it that correspond to scenes in the play. I can’t help you with the color scheme, but maybe simplified images from a single children’s book or nursery rhyme?

There’s no end to what a quilt can be. But it seems you’re trying to do one that resembles the ones you showed, and are more concerned with palette. While I think the ones you showed are fine, I can see one with a more restrictive palette, would be even nicer. Pink and brown goes together very nicely, but you have to be careful of values. For instance, a soft pink, salmon, peach, etc., would all feel fine together. But if you through in a shocking ping or a bubble gum, it would probably be jarring. Think about the “tone” of the colors, the “feel” of them, or the mood each one evokes. They should all be similar. Also, it helps for the patterns you use to have varying scales: big print, small print, and everything in between. Overall, try to start with an objective in mind. What mood do you want the quilt to have.

Hope that helps.

A silver quilt you say?

I made that over the summer in 2007. It’s a log cabin design, not turning twenty, but the colors might interest you.

This may not be exactly what the OP is looking for, but here is a quilt I made using at least 20 different fabrics, mainly in shades of pink, maroon, brown, reds and lavenders. I wish I could remember exactly how many fabrics there are, but there are at least 20. The hardest part was making sure the darker and lighter squares, and the different individual prints, were evenly spread out, so that no two values repeated too closely together. It was a lot of fun - but a lot of work - picking out the fabrics. I think I went to 4 different fabric stores.

Also while we’re talking about baby quilts, here is a quilt I made for my nephew before he was born last year.

I love the idea of using thrift store men’s shirts for fabrics. What a great idea!

My mother has made two quits for the Celtling. The first was a “Floor Quilt” designed to keep baby interested and amused during the hellish “tummy time.” It is in bright primary shades, with enough different patterns to make a grownups eyes cross, and several embroidered squares with ladybugs and such.

The second is a double wedding ring pattern with white and pink fabrics.

I love the second, Celtling loves the first.

IMO pink and brown don’t go well together. That was in vogue the year Celtling was born and it drove me completely apeshit. I had the worst time finding cute outfits for her! Although Nyctea says there are browns in her quilt and that one looks lovely to me. . . I’ve never understood how anyone can think brown goes with purple or pink.

Strange suggestion, but maybe you should take a trip to the hardware store. If you go to the paint section they have all kinds of free brochures with suggestions about colors that go well together, and photos of rooms painted in those colors. Then you could just take them home and flip through until you see a palette that speaks to you. Or maybe use a design magazine and use the colors from a room that feels cozy to you.

It’s also a good idea to think in terms of the colors that look good on her Mom. There’s a good chance her coloring (i.e. Summer, Winter, you know. . .) will be similar, so you can pick colors that will compliment her.

Good quilting, that’s one lucky baby!

Generally speaking, colors tend to go together when they are of the same intensity or depth. Pastels go with pastels. Neons go with neons. Jewel tones go with jewel tones. Primaries go with primaries.

Colors can also be bundled into various themes, like earth tones, neutrals, etc.

Your eye will naturally go to a color that is unusual in its surroundings. You will find the white square in the field of dark, or the dark square in a field of light, or the neon orange square amidst the pastels. So, unless you want something to stand out and drag the attention of the person looking at your quilt, you’ll generally want to avoid having one color that’s way out of line with the others.

Red is probably the hardest color to work with since so many of the combinations are either mismatched or already have strong connotations. Red and green is Christmas-y. Red and blue patriotic. Red and black very harsh and masculine. Red and white can look Christmas-y again, or like a tablecloth.

Current trends seem to be toward earth tones and/or muted tones. Combinations of chocolate browns, dull or yellow greens, cadet or similar blues, mustardy yellows, eggplanty purples, strong pinks, and rusty oranges.

Actually, now that you mention it, it’s not really browns in the quilt, it’s more of a dark maroon, or maybe a rust.

This baby quilt isn’t particularly stylish, but it was easy and it uses a lot of colors. It’s a panel, and it came with a complementary fabric for the back. All I had to piece was the border.

I think 20 different fabrics might be too many for a baby-size quilt. If you use similar fabrics, it’ll look mushy. If they’re contrasting, you’ve got the exploding clown. I think baby quilts should be bright and colorful, but simple.

Here’s a simple rail fence pattern. I’ve made a few baby quilts with this design using juvenile fabrics in bold colors as well as softer prints. Just three fabrics, but the way the blocks are placed, there’s still some interest.

I have trouble choosing fabrics and colors too. The ladies at the quilt shop are a big help. Shop at a store with good light, so you don’t end up buying blue when you wanted green.

And I’ve never understood how anyone can think they don’t! :smiley:

Color preferences are definitely subjective. There are a few combos everyone will agree look good and a few everyone will agree look awful. The ones in the middle? It’s all-out war!

Thanks everyone! I’ve had to read this thread a few times to let your suggestions sink in. Really, that’s how dumb I am when it comes to color.

TruCelt, that’s a great idea about the paint brochures at the hardware store.

AuntiePam you may be right about 20 being too many. I was really sold on the idea, but if I scale it down too small, it might look a little weird. Maybe I’ll do a Turning Twelve instead. :slight_smile:

I’ll keep you all updated!

Or you could make a second quilt – something larger that she can grow into, crib size or single-bed size. You could even use some of the same fabrics from the baby quilt.

Look at this quilt then.

As for the OP, I’d suggest looking at some charm packs. I know that Moda puts out nickel packs (5" x 5" squares of fabric) which are all part of a collection and color coordinated. I think there’s 29 different prints to a pack, so if you take a pack for inspiration, you can pick out 20 of the prints you like best, and they are already compatible with each other. Moda puts out several packs each year, and I’m sure that other fabric companies do the same thing.

One thing that my quilting instructors have always emphasized is that a quilt needs variety in intensity. That is, there should be at least three, and preferably about five, intensities. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily put pastels and neons together, but a quilt made of all pastels is likely to be boring, while a quilt that is all deep jewel tones might very well look too heavy without some lighter colors, unless the colors and placement are very carefully planned out.

Also, one of the things I learned in quilting class was how to use the dots on the selvage. Take some uncut yardage, look at the selvage, and you will find a series of colored dots. These dots represent the colors used in that particular print, so match them up with dots on other fabrics.

I don’t have anything interesting to add regarding color selections. I usually pick what I think looks good together, and then rely on the quilting ladies for opinions. They LOVE to share ideas, and might even have a few interesting color choices for you!

A shirt quilt sounds very interesting!!! I might have to see about making one like that! I did make a quilt for my son, out of denim. I went to the Goodwill store and bought MANY jeans that were sized 44 or larger, and were 1/2 off. All I did was make 4" squares, and sew them together into rows. I had MEANT to also sew on some of the jeans’ pockets… but forgot. I chose that denim, over buying denim at the fabric store, because Levi’s denim (or Wrangler, or whatever), is a much heavier weight material than what a fabric store sells. Plus, I spent only $10 and got TONS of fabric! Shoot, with batting, and a flannel sheet sewn on for the backing… this thing weighs probably around 5 pounds!! (Try washing that! :eek:) But, my son absolutely LOVES it, and really likes the heavy/warm/comforting feel that a heavy blanket on him gives.