How to Mix and Match Fabric Using Color Wheel

Blog Article: How to Mix and Match Fabric using Color Wheel? 「 ii Design Workz 」

Matching colors can be an exciting and a challenging journey at the same time. With so many colors to choose from, it’s going to be a painstaking process full of trial and error by laying one color at a time besides your favorite color to see if they pair up well. 

To take the stress out of the color matching process, all we need is to based on a color wheel.

Not only can you use these tips when mixing and matching colors for your next sewing or quilting project, there are plenty of scenarios where these tips come in handy too. Scenarios like painting your home, selecting your OOTD or designing for your Instagram stories.

Forming Your Color Palette

To create a particular look or feel, use the color wheel to find your perfect color combination. This is made simple by applying the commonly used color harmony rules like Monochrome Color, Complementary Color, Split Complementary Color, Analogous Color and Square Color. Doing so will ensure a harmonic balance of colors based on the color you have set as the base color. Aside, color temperature also play a crucial role in this which will be covered near the end. 

Adobe Color has provided an online tool to help us create our own color palette with your first color choice as the base color, check it out at

The colors you pick for your design play a key role in the final outcome as color influences the message you want to project to your audiences. It can be showing your personality or evoking a particular feeling. So before we move on, let’s do a quick touch base on the color wheel to have a basic understanding on the relationship between colors. 

RYB Color Wheel

RYB Color Wheel

There are three types of color wheels. The RYB (red, yellow, blue) color wheel is typically used in art and design education particularly painting while the RGB (red, green, blue) color wheel is designed for on screen purpose like web design. Lastly, CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black)) color wheel is solely used for color printing.

For fabrics color combination, we are using the RYB color wheel. 

What is Primary Colors?

Primary Colors

Primary colors is the basis for every other color where you can create any color on the color wheel just by mixing the three primary colors (Red, Blue and Yellow) together. 

What is Secondary Colors? 

Secondary Colors

The three secondary colors are found in the middle of each primary color on the color wheel. The secondary colors are created by mixing an equal amount of the two primary colors on each side:

  • Green: 50% Blue + 50% Yellow
  • Orange: 50% Red + 50% Yellow
  • Purple: 50% Red + 50% Blue

What is Tertiary Colors?

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are combination of one primary color with one secondary color. There are six tertiary colors on the RYB color wheel:

  • Amber: Yellow (Primary) + Orange (Secondary)
  • Chartreuse: Yellow (Primary) + Green (Secondary)
  • Teal: Blue (Primary) + Green (Secondary)
  • Violet: Blue (Primary) + Purple (Secondary)
  • Magenta: Red (Primary) + Purple (Secondary)
  • Vermilion: Red (Primary) + Orange (Secondary)

Color Harmony Rules

1. Monochrome Colors

Monochrome Colors

Monochrome means one color. You can build a monochrome color palette by putting together the various color shades, tints, and tones of your favorite color (the base color). Usually we keep to between three to seven colors on one monochromatic color palette. 

If you are unsure which color to set as your base color, go with the dominant color. Dominant color is the first color we notice when we look at a fabric.

Since contrasts is an important factor to avoid it from being boring, be sure to choose a mixture of lighter and darker versions of the base color. You can build a color palette by putting together the various color shades, tones or tints of the base color.

  • Shades: Base color + Black
  • Tones: Base color + Gray
  • Tints: Base color + White

2. Complementary Colors

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are two colors located across from each other on the color wheel. Because the two colors are totally different, this combination provides a high contrast impact thus making it more prominent and eye catching as compared to others.

Thanks to this factor, a pair of complementary colors is often used to capture the audience’s attention by having a smaller amount for one complementary color. Examples of complementary colors are:

  • Red, Green
  • Yellow, Violet
  • Blue, Orange

3. Split Complementary Colors

Split Complementary Colors

A split complementary color palette is basically a variation of a complementary color palette. 
Rather than a mixture of two opposite colors on the color wheel, it is made up of three colors where a base color is used with the two analogous colors of its complementary color. This ends up with a balance combination of warm and cool colors.

As compared to complementary color palette, split complementary color palette is less vibrant and eye-catching. This factor is also its advantage as it is less intense making it more pleasing for the eyes. 

One way to draw your audience’s attention to the important part is to use the two analogous colors for most part of your design with touches of the third color as the accent color to make the important information pop. 

4. Analogous Colors

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are the three colors that lie side by side to each other on the color wheel. To make an analogous color palette, choose the two colors on each side of your favorite color. If you prefer one more, you can extend it further outwards. 

They usually consist of one primary color, one secondary color and a tertiary color that is a mix of the two. Some examples of analogous colors are

  • Red, Vermilion, Orange 
  • Yellow, Chartreuse, Green
  • Blue, Violet, Purple

5. Square Colors

Square Colors

This is one of the lesser known color harmony rule and is usually not one of the top choices for most. A square color palette consists of four colors evenly spaced out on the color wheel; forming a square on the color wheel. 

Thanks to it being less common, you can seize the opportunity to use this in your project to set you apart from the rest. Since it is a very colorful palette, it works best when you want to attract attention in a dramatic manner. 

Because there’s a lot of contrasts built within this square color palette, it can end up projecting a fun and vibrant feel or an old school feel. To make it work on the former, let one color be the dominating color or allow neural colors to take the center stage with the square colors as accent colors. 

Warm vs Cool Colors

Warm & Cool Colors

Not only does color temperature plays an essential part in color theory and application, each color temperature can evoke certain feelings in people. This is crucial because you have to be mindful of how your creations will affect people emotions when working with colors. 

By having an understanding of warm and cool colors, and how they interact with one another, it will automatically makes any design project easier and able to help you to take your work to the next level.
The color wheel is split in half between warm and cool colors, which are each other complementary colors.

In general, warm colors are those in the red, orange, and yellow families, while cool colors are those in the green, blue, and purple families. As each name indicates, warm colors remind you of warm things such as sunlight and fire while cool colors remind you of calming things like sky and snow which are smoothing to look at. 

Since warm colors contain higher amounts of reds and yellows, they can also make one feel very aggressive. On the other hand, cool colors contain higher amounts of blue which are much less aggressive though it can also make one feel loneliness and sadness. 

Truth is, every color family has both warm and cool colors depending on their undertone. For example, cool blues have a greenish undertone, while warm blues have a reddish undertone.

Neutral Colors

Neutral Color Wheel

Although neutral colors are hardly noticeable but they play a very important role in mixing and matching colors. By including neutral colors into your color palette, it acts as the background for the vibrant colors and helps them to pop.

Each neutral color often has their own hidden undertones and can be on the warm or cool colors sides. Black, beige, tan, gold, cream, ivory are examples of warm neutral colors. White, grey, silver are on the cool side. If you have warm colors as main go for the warm neutrals and if you have cool colors as main go with the cool neutrals.  

Concluding on mixing and matching fabrics using color wheel

Don’t let the color theory scare you, your message will be convey effectively with the right mood evoked to your audiences when the colors are in harmony. Simply start with one color and be bold to experiment with all the color theory above. By keeping to the color harmonies rules, it is the safest bet that everything will turn out stunning. 

One way to help you put a tick beside one of your color palettes is to post it on your social media and get your followers or friends to pick their favorite color palette. Not only does this help you to decide, you can also gain insight on what your audiences likes and dislikes. 

To end off, let your imagination go wild on the color wheel!

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