Design Seeds – a new way to look at color combinations

Square Dinkum, detail
Square Dinkum, detail

Ahh, color!  How do I love thee – let me count the ways..

Orange, green, and white – my favorite colors.

And red and green.

And yellow and white and magenta, and, and, and…

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of favorite colors, and (surprisingly) my favorites actually change over time.

Do you find that, too?

For a while it was pink and white (80s).  Then it was blue and yellow(90s).  Next came RED (zeroes), and so on.

I have joined some blogging rings recently and have been delighted to find some really exciting quilting work out there. (More about that later.) I am reading lots of blogs seeing the cool things others are doing.

One thing that the bloggers are all excited about right now is Design Seeds and their website, which is bringing quilters lots of inspiration. I have to say that I spent a looong time looking at the different palettes last night.

Here is an example of a palette you will find at Design Seeds.

CarrotHues - Image from Design Seeds
CarrotHues - Image from Design Seeds

The whole site is just full of these beautiful images along with the color swatches that are in the photo, and it is like eating dessert to look through all of them and devour the beauty.

I learned two important things from my exploration.

The first revelation is that what I love about color is not the actual color not a single, individual color or even favorite pairs of colors – but the relationship that one color has with another and the conversation that takes place between multiple colors. For instance, I love green and I love orange, but the way each particular green and orange relate is different. Some combinations are exciting and intriguing, while others might not give me the same emotional charge. That is a new thought for me – I always thought I just loved color. Now I see that it is a combination of a visceral response to color and the mental play that occurs when looking at how the colors interact that is the attraction to “color”.

In my work I almost always find a medium to large-scale print and use it to direct the rest of my fabric choices. Only then do I begin to design a quilt for the fabrics. I choose how much of the focus fabric I want to see and in what shapes. Then the idea for a quilt begins to germinate.

For Square Dinkum, which is one of the projects in my book, Maverick Quilts, I found the poppy fabric. The deep orange and bright green on the white field sent me into raptures, and I snapped it up. What a joy it was to collect the half-a-million fabrics to go with the fabric. I really wanted to see the poppies in long strips along the sides and standing up correctly along the top and bottom. Creating each square-in-a-square was like opening a present!

Like using a palette like these from Design Seeds, you can use the colors in a beloved fabric to choose the companions it.

Square Dinkum, by Alethea Ballard; 2009
Square Dinkum, by Alethea Ballard; 2009

Design Seeds had several combinations that reminded me of this quilt; take a look.

HarvestHues from Creative Seeds
HarvestHues from Creative Seeds

 Isn’t it fun to see these?

Here is a wonderful palette that has some similar colors, but has a whole different feel.

ColorStalks - image from Design Seeds
ColorStalks - image from Design Seeds


The other thing that I realized in going through all of the palettes was that (for those who know my work – don’t be shocked) I really like grey. I like how grey works with other colors. Especially green.  Look:


And this one…

ColorPatina from Design Seeds
ColorPatina from Design Seeds


Stay tuned for more thoughts on colors – soon!

To find Design Seeds, jump over here.

1 thought on “Design Seeds – a new way to look at color combinations”

  1. Boy! that really got me LOOKING in a different way….just the thought of valuing gray because of what it does next to other colors….hmmm. That expands my range of what I think I like…. That’s good.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top