Tutorial: fused color wheel

Cyan-magenta-yellow color wheelI love color wheels. Maybe it’s because I love the bright, clear colors organized so they flow so nicely around and around. While I have numerous commercial color wheels (too many to admit to in polite company), I think you really start learning about color when you try to select the exact shades of fabric from your stash.

The process of comparing a particular fabric with a commercial color wheel helps to build your sensitivities. You beging to see the subtle nuances in a fabric. This one is a little too dull, that one is a little too reddish. You also begin to see your buying habits. Maybe you always buy small prints, or you don’t have any orange in your stash. I think I owned only two or three very small pieces of yellow fabric before 2007. That’s the year DD#2 got married and they decided their wedding would be primarily lavender and yellow. That experience gave me a whole new appreciation for yellow, and I used it as an excuse to buy at least twenty sunny and bright fat quarters which we used to line baskets for various uses.

Color wheel clockColor wheel pincushionAnyway, back to the color wheel. I hope you don’t think they’re boring! Maybe you don’t know how to use them. Okay, you might not make a clock out of one (like I did!). Maybe a pin cushion instead? I find the color wheel a handy reminder of some basic principles that I like to use in my quilts.

Fused Color WheelIf you’d like to make your own fabric color wheel from your stash, here’s a simple fused version you can use. Click on the image to go to a PDF pattern that you can print out.

I drafted this pattern so the primary and secondary colors are easily identified at a glance by shaping the ends differently. You can choose to make either a red-yellow-blue color wheel or a cyan-magenta-yellow wheel. Instructions are on the pattern sheet, but it is as simple as choosing your twelve colors, adhering fusible webbing to the back, cutting out the shapes, and fusing it all down.

On my samples, I used beautiful hand-dyed fabrics from Ruby Mountain Dye Works. You have permission to do the same , but you miss out on some of the fun of the hunt! I also used Sulky’s opalescent sliver metallic thread to quilt a very narrow zigzag stitch around the twelve pieces. I like how the thread is clear, but it gives little glimmers of shine and it reflects the colors around it. Subtle enough, but still defining the individual colors.

Red-yellow-blue color wheel

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