Choosing Colour for a Project

The hardest decision I have in any project is what colour to use. Unfortunately, I love so many different colours, I cannot easily determine which one is my favourite. I know which blue is my favourite and which orange and pink, but to single out one or collect colours into a theme is overwhelming and frustrating. Simply put, there are too many colours for me to choose from.

Choosing colour for a project can be hard. Here are some tips that may help.

Over time, I am learning colour does not need to be a negative experience when starting a new project. I discovered solutions to choosing colour. If you struggle with colour choices, give some of these tips a try.

The most fun solution is to ask a friend to help you choose colour. All of us know that one special person in a guild whose projects seem to glow. Invite your friend or fellow guild-mate to the local quilt store and ask for advice and help with difficult colour decisions.

Another option, which may seem foolish to some, is to close your eyes and choose colours for your quilt randomly. Once colours are chosen, leap into the project and start cutting. Even if the random colours don’t appeal to you, make the project anyway. You will learn about new combinations of colour you like—or dislike! The end result may surprise you—or provide the perfect charity gift.

Pay close attention to finished projects during Show and Share at guild meetings. Perhaps another person’s quilt sings with colours you love, but had not considered putting together. Make notes or ask to take a photograph to refer to when shopping for fabric.

My solution is to observe nature’s colour palettes. I gather leaves, flower petals, moss, stones, bark or other natural elements and store them in flat studio drawers or lay them out for photographs. Whenever I am stuck choosing colour, I sit with my collections or flip through photographs until I find the palette which suits the project best.

I learn about colour every day. I still struggle with colour choice, but now I have some simple tools to overcome difficult colour decisions. Do not be afraid of choosing colour! Relax, play and enjoy the process.


Though I don’t always consider myself an artist, I fully embrace the title: Doodler. Ever since I could hold a pencil, I have been drawing bits of nature. Ever since I had to endure long periods of sitting still (aka school), I have been doodling.

Paisley Doodle

Focus is not my strength from an active-listening point of view. I hear a few key words from whomever is speaking. A certain word or phrase will launch my imagination into a world of its own. Putting pencil to paper helps me listen. Watching my pencil wander over a pad of paper or along the edge of my notebook frees my mind from distraction and allows me to concentrate on the words people are speaking.

Now that I work alone in my home office, there is not a lot of conversation going on around me. My doodling occurs while I’m listening to someone on the phone. I have a giant 17″ x 11″ pad of graph paper right in front of me on my desk. I only make notes with a pencil, which turns into a doodling tool at a moment’s notice. I fill a page with doodles at least once a week.

Doodles are important to me because they are jumping-off points for all my design and art. Doodles also have the potential to form into concepts or words, which can ignite any writing I need to accomplish. I photograph the doodles I love or I transfer them into one of my sketch books.

These paisley patterns are available as fabric and wallpaper in my Spoonflower shop!

I thought I would share the doodling side of my life because so many quilters want to become better at domestic and longarm free-motion quilting—a form of doodling. Next time you sit in a guild meeting (or any meeting), wait for an appointment or talk on the phone, grab a pencil, a pad of paper and start to doodle! You will gain valuable free-motion skills and develop myriad quilt designs to explore.

Happy doodling!