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Choosing colours for handmade projects
An exciting part of a handmade project is choosing the materials. Whether your next piece be constructed with wool, fabric, thread or felt, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is what colour or colours you’ll use. You may well have some fabric or wool lying around that you want to use up so the choice may well have been made for you, but if you’re going to be purchasing new fabric, yarn, threads and felts, you have choices to make. You could choose a colour that you like and base everything around that, or you could find a colour palette and match materials to that.
Creative colour combinations for wool, thread, cotton or fabric has been made really by Design Seeds. Jessica, the creator of the Design Seeds website, takes an image from nature (flowers, crops, produce, countryside) and puts together a colour palette with the associated HEX codes. The colour combinations can then be used in art, design, wedding planning, interior design, fashion and crafting projects.
So, time to go back to school and in particular, your art class and the colour wheel to really understand why colours look good, bad or indifferent next to each other.
If you’re looking for a striking and vibrant look, then you could go for complementary colours.
Complementary colours are two colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel for example red and green, blue and orange and yellow and purple. Opposing colors create maximum contrast and can be incredibly vibrant, but as a result, they need to be managed carefully. Complementary colours are not a good choice for things like text.
Analogous colours are any colours which sit side by side on the colour wheel, such as yellow/green, yellow, and yellow/orange. Usually one of the three colours predominates and look pleasing together as they are very closely related. Analogous colour schemes are often found in nature (as can be seen by Design Seeds palettes) and are very pleasing to the eye. Because the colours are often very closely related, you have to ensure you have enough contrast when choosing a colour scheme of this nature. It’s often helpful to choose one dominant colour and have a second colour support it. You can then choose a third colour (as well as black, white or grey) as an accent colour.
Other aspects to think of when putting a colours together is to look at the warmth or coolness of colours and ensure that warms go with warms and cools go with cools otherwise the effect can be jarring (unless of course that is what you are after!).
Warm colours have yellow in them and make you think of sunny days and the warm sun. Yellow itself isn’t necessarily a ‘warm’ colour; it can be warm or cool depending upon how much blue or red it has in it.
Cool colours have varying degrees of blue in them. Cool colours create a calm and soothing impression. Because cool colours tend to feel like they are receding, they could be used in a project to make things appear larger than they are.
So, now you have an idea as to why colours look good next to each other and with a little thought as to the final look you’re trying to achieve, you can use Design Seeds to refine your search to the RGB (red, green, blue) colour values or by theme if you have a particular colour in mind, or you can simply browse through the colour palettes, page by page.
Once you’ve found the colour or colour combinations that you like, the best way to match it to fabric or yarn is to do it ‘by eye’. You could take a print out (if you can trust your printer to provide you with a true print out of the colour), or take your smart phone to the store to compare.
To find out the HEX code, hover over the colour swatch you like in ‘see similar colours’ on the right hand side and the HEX reference will appear. If you’re working on-line, you can then just plug the HEX code into your preferred programme.
Have you found a great website for choosing colour combinations? We’d love to know what you use.