A Natural Color Palette

Maple Flowers

Playing with color has to be one of my favorite parts of designing.  Of course there are many ways of pulling together a successful color palette, but for me I find that some of the most exciting color combinations are just waiting to be discovered outdoors in nature’s flora and fauna.  Nature’s palettes seem to have a special, “I never would have thought of that”  kind of compatibility.  Surprising, and yet perfectly harmonious.  For the past few days I’ve been going through some photos I took in the early spring and pulling color palettes from some of  my favorites.  I had so much fun creating these palettes that I want to bring them to life, so I’ve decided to do a series of quilt blocks based on them.

Maple Flowers

The first color grouping comes from this picture of a maple flower.  The chartreuse and limey greens of the flower are exactly what you think of when you think spring, but then when you look closer you can also notice the dark red at the base of the bud, little tinges of purple on the brown stem, and of course all the misty grays in the background.

Maple Flower Stack

So I pulled all of my fabrics that were close to these colors. (Well- all that I could find, since everything’s still stuck in boxes!)  Really this is one of the greatest parts of making things- sifting through my precious stash and picking out just the right fabrics.  I easily spent an hour or two on this step, because it’s so much fun!  Here’s the results of that first round:

Maple Flower Options 1

If I was using this palette for a whole quilt, I would try to use as many of these fabrics as I could.  Using 20 slightly different greens gives the quilt a richness that you would never get from using the same lime green 20 times.  But, for this project I’m just planning on making one block, so I had to narrow it down a lot.

Maple Flower First Three

These three fabrics were singing to me, so I started with them.  I love how the shapes on the gray one echo the shape of the maple flower.  The light green batik perfectly represents the color of  the tiny flowers.   And the purple just contrasts nicely.  I also noticed a bit of murky purple in the gray fabric.  Perfect.

Maple Flower More Options

The next one that caught my eye was the dark brown/white print.  It’s a nice companion to the purple for the block I have planned, and I like how the shapes in the fabric are similar to the gray print.

Star-Leaf Quilt Block

After I had these fabrics selected, I went back to my block diagram and colored it in, so I would know what I am looking for to round out the selection.  The fans in the corners resemble crinkly new maple leaves, so to play that up I made them green, and after that the other colors just fell into place.  The block will be English paper pieced, so all the weird angles are no problem.

New Maple Leaves

This is the edited lineup I ended up with: (hey, it’s a big block!)

Maple Flower Final Picks

I never know for sure what will work until I have everything cut and laid out, so I always save the “rejects” nearby in case I need to switch something out.

And just as an aside, I don’t think I can work this into the block I have planned, but look how well this Lizzy House print goes with my palette, right down to the king’s wee little boots!  This is destined to be some little bibs.  One of these days.

Lizzy House Print

2 thoughts on “A Natural Color Palette

  1. Lindsey,
    I wish I had designed that fabric! Then I would have yards and yards of it to play with…
    But it’s just one from my stash. I bought a half yard of it a few years ago, at Jo-Ann’s no less! I don’t think it’s available anymore, but here’s what’s on the selvage: D#FD51109-11 Made in Japan. There’s no manufacturer listed.
    Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance!

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