Color Matching - Tips and Tricks for Matching Colors in Your Fabrics

Matching colors in fabrics can sometimes be a daunting task.  Especially if you are new to quilting. In this blog I will be providing some tips and tricks for pairing fabrics to ensure the ultimate in color matching. 

Tip #1: Use the Lookbooks from the Manufactures

Lookbooks are put together by manufacturers to showcase upcoming designs and fabric collections.  They often provide project ideas to inspire you.  They also give suggestions on basics of solids that you can pair with the fabrics in the collection.  Really helps take the guess work out of it for you! 

Ruby Star Society is the BEST at telling which Bella Solids, Speckled, Spark, or other basics pair with their collections.  Take a look at the lookbook for the Florida Volume 2 collection (available for preorder now!):

The RS5027 number, for example, tells you that it is a Speckled.  And the 91M in the circle is the color with the M signifying that it has metallic in it.  This way, if you had purchased the Florida Volume 2 collection or any fabrics from you, you would know which fabrics to search for that would match perfectly!  
Free Spirit Fabrics also does this as you can see from this excerpt from the Moon Garden by Tula Pink Lookbook:
The top picture if a main print from the collection and the bottom row are all the suggested basics that pair with it. Moon Garden is currently available for preorder and is expected to arrive in October

Tip #2 - Stay Within The Collection:

Collections are groups of fabrics and prints that were designed together so that the colors and design elements all work together.  Moon Garden and Florida Volume 2 are collections of fabric.  Staying within the collection is a super easy way to make sure the colors match.  
Another example of a collection is Mad Masquerade by J. Wecker Frisch:
This collection was designed with specific colors in mind and all the prints from the main designs to the more basic/blender fabrics are all made to work together. 

Tip #3 - Use Black and White Photos:

Black and white photos will help tremendously in figuring out if the fabrics you have chosen are the same value or not.  In general you do not want fabrics to be the same value or you run the risk of fabrics disappearing in your project.  So taking black and white photos will help you determine the value of your fabrics. 
I recently put together a rainbow bundle for a quilt along hosted by Jenna Luedecke called Shimmer and Shine.  She is doing a rainbow pillow block and asked if I would put together some bundles.  The key to putting the bundles together was making sure the colors didn't run in to each other and disappearing.  We wanted enough contrast to give the pillow block enough gradient. 
To do this I first picked my primary colors, my darker colors that formed the baseline of my rainbow.  I then focused on one color at a time to find the next fabric in that color range.  I started with red:
I then took a black and white photo to make sure my two darker reds were not the same value:
As you can see in the picture my darker red is definitely much darker than the middle red.  This technique is also helpful if you are trying to do a gradient using multiply fabrics in one color range.  It will help you determine where your gaps are in the colors. Super easy trick to do and beyond helpful! 
What are some tricks you have used in the past to color match your fabrics?  We'd love to hear about it! Feel free to post a comment.  
Color matchingValue

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