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Quilting with Temperature: Spreading the Warmth

Updated: Aug 2

Tori McElwain from The Quilt Patch by Tori

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Colors in Bloom Quilt Pattern by Tori McElwain

One of the wonderful ways color can be used in a quilt is by using temperature; mixing warm colors and cool colors in strategic ways.

Our warm colors are our reds, oranges, pinks, and yellows, and our cool colors are our greens, blues, and purples. A good rule of thumb when mixing different colors is that our warm colors tend to stand out or “pop” forward and our cool colors recede.

Take my Peppermint Twist quilt block (shown above) for example. I want the twist or the pinwheel to shine, so I decide to make the center of the block red and the bordering triangles, blue. It gives the block a nice feeling of depth.

When working with different colors you can utilize temperature in a few different ways.

Using a warm color in your favorite parts of a quilt pattern allows what you like most in the quilt pattern to stand out. Using a cool color as a background allows those warm colors to pop and the background to recede while adding a fun color contrast.

Navigate the Stars Quilt Pattern by Tori McElwain

Take my Navigate the Stars example above. The light and dark cool colors (blue, green, and purple) cover most of the quilt, but the small triangle of red at the bottom encourages your eye to move from the bottom left to the top right - pulling your eye through the quilt.

You can also “spread the warmth” to help the viewer’s eye move around the quilt.

Spreading out the warm colors evenly through the quilt will allow your eye to travel from one warm color to the next. You can do this in a specific order, like from the middle out or evenly from one side to the other, mixing in cool colors between the warm colors for balance. Rainbows are a wonderful example of how your eye travels from warm to cool! Your eye tends to start at the red and travel from the red through the orange, yellow, greens, and blues and ends in the violets.

Most importantly, find your personal preference! If you love cool colors, your quilts will tend to feel more serene, and adding in a few pops of warm color could help liven it up. If you tend to use a lot of warm colors, your quilts will have more energy, you can calm them down by adding a cool color in between or as a background to help add a little serenity (like an ocean sunset!).

Check out a few more examples below!

Can you see where the warm colors pop and the cool colors recede?

Can you pinpoint which quilts have spread the warmth and which quilts have used the pop of the warm in a particular order?

All quilts in the gallery below can be found in my shop. Enjoy!


You can fiind these Patterns, in my Shop Here!

Find a free Patchwork Pattern on my Blog Post here!

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