Understanding the Color Wheel

It's Easier than You Think!

by Beth Cooper
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The Color Wheel can be an important tool for every sewist.  It’s not hard to use and by using it, you can really make your projects “pop!”

What is it?

So, what is the color wheel anyway?  Well, it is usually made of cardboard and is a circular shape.  Each color of the rainbow is represented on it in pie-shaped sections.  The wheel shows the relationship between primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors, etc.  It is a valuable tool when it comes to picking colors for your next sewing project, garment, or quilt.

Need a Color Wheel?

If you don’t own a color wheel, no worries.  Here is a link to an online wheel and here is a link to purchase one.  It’s a good idea to keep one hanging in your sewing room right next to the fabric stash. 

The Foolproof Color Wheel Set is a wonderful tool!

How Does It Work?

How does the color wheel work?  It demonstrates which colors work in harmony with each other.  (Important side note: color wheels come with easy-to-understand directions that explain how it works.) If you want colors that complement each other you can pick colors that are directly across from each other on the wheel, like red and green or violet and yellow.  What if you want a mono-chromatic color scheme?  The wheel teaches you about shade, tint, and tones of one color.  An analogous color scheme would be using colors that are adjacent to each other on the wheel.  A diad color scheme would be using colors that are two spaces apart from each other on the color wheel.  Example:  yellow and green.  A triad color scheme is using colors that are three spaces away from each other.  A tetrad color scheme is using colors that are four spaces away from each other.  If you’ve ever wondered how artists and designers come up with the perfect color schemes – this is it.  They use a color wheel and know a bit about color theory. 

This Color Wheel Companion from Joen Wolfrom makes it easy to choose colors with confidence! Click here to purchase.

It’s Super Easy!

Remember, color wheels come with super-easy-to-understand directions! So, don’t be intimidated.  It is a very easy concept that will help you pick the fabric for your next project, whatever that may be.  Play around with it and the idea of mixing and matching your favorite colors and your not-so-favorite colors.  Drag out a box of crayons and do a bit of coloring with some inspiration from the color wheel.  I bet you’ll be surprised how quickly it starts to make sense and how your colors stand out.  Tomorrow morning when you’re deciding what to wear for the day, don’t be surprised if some color theory pops into your head and helps you decide on an outfit because once you’re awakened to color theory, you use it with everything.  

Have Fun with Color!

Have fun exploring color and get ready to make some color-rific sewing projects!

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