Thursday 6 December 2012

Warm and Cool Color Demo for Quilters

 This post updated February 26, 2023 for the Aunty & Annie Blog Re-visit.

Of all the Color Theories, the warm/cool concept is very practical and manageable for quilters.  It is easy to understand. 

Starting with a 12 point color wheel, divide it in half keeping the yellow and green divided. 

The warm side consists of  yellow/orange/red.  
This may make you think of fire and sun.  

The cool side consists of green/blue/purple.
This may make you think of cool water, grass and sky. 


This patterned example will give you an idea
of how fabric might look as a Color Wheel. 


The Demo:

First start with a bag of scraps. 

Here are the scraps spread out onto the table. 
All the colors in the color wheel, mixed all together. 

Now start to divide them, using the color wheel as your guide. 

This is the warm color pile: yellow, orange, and red scraps. 

The warm neutrals of browns and creams
work best with the warm colors. 

This is the cool color pile:  greens, blues, and purples. 

The cool neutrals of black, gray and white
work best with the cool colors. 

A sample of warm color scraps sewn together. 

A sample of cool color scraps sewn together. 


The following quilts are all made from scraps. 

This quilt I made pulling
any and all colors out of the scrap bag.
(Custom quilting by: Virginia Klarenbach)

Here is a link to the method:

This quilt I made pulling
only warm colors out of the scrap bag. 

This quilt I made pulling
only cool colors out of the scrap bag. 
(Custom Quilting by: Lorraine Appleby)

Thank you for looking at this demo...Melanie

These photos are from the Chinook Guild of Fibre Arts Demo in Calgary on December 10th. 

Please see this additional post for Neutral Color Theory
 - excellent for choosing fabric for your Mystery Quilts


  1. I like the way the quilts look, thanks for showing me the color wheel, I am a new quilter and am trying to learn.

  2. hi there Melaine, I am not new however, I am still learning how
    to put colors together, I usually choose what I like and if others don't like it, that is ok with me...I would like to start
    making really beautiful quilts and for that I need to know which colors to use, I like bright bold color...
    So thanks for sharing....

  3. Thank you for your comments! Please Like "Quilters Enjoy Color" on Facebook to be notified of new blog posts. I will be publishing 2 new Strip Quilt patterns soon.

  4. Oh my gosh!!!! I have been buying books on color theory for 40 years and still have my daughter pull colors for me because I am so bad with color. I draw in charcoal or pen and ink because I CAN NOT do color. I read this post and walked over to my fabric stash and separated it perfectly. Warm quilt...Cool quilt....why did nobody ever tell me this before!! THANK YOU SO MUCH...color will no longer be my nemesis!

  5. Thank you for your exciting comment...I am so glad that you had such success with this. Have a wonderful day :) Melanie

  6. You nailed the color theory and explained it in such easy terms. I will be much better at sorting my scrap stash without fear. Thanks for your post.

    1. No fear quilting :) Yeah! That's what we're after.

  7. Super fine tutorial with the Color Wheel....plain and simple....loved it...and will certainly allow me to "get on with my life" LOL...don't want those colors to rule over me LOL..

  8. Your examples put all cool together & visa versa but my favorite quilts tend to put red & blue together. If they happen to be patriotic (often not), I dislike cream for background. I prefer whites, closest to white. There is a famous quilt writer, last name Fassett (may have started with K) who mixes reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, purple, greens, blues (only colors seemingly absent-maybe brown, black?)- that color use is too much for me but they all seem acceptable to the world. How does my like of red/blue square with the color wheel aspect. I've wondered lifelong as to why it's right or wrong or whatever category. Only know I strongly like or skip most combos I see. Thanks for your help.

  9. Blue and red are 2 of the 3 primary colors (colors which all other colors are mixed from - yellow is the 3rd). The primary colors will always work together and tend to be a bright combination. You have naturally found this to be something you enjoy.

  10. I agree with Spalover, this is a very easy and clear explanation of color use. I have a huge pile of scraps which need to get under control. Maybe at last I can with this! Thanks for taking the time to share your quilts.

    1. You're very welcome! I am feeling inspired to work on my scrap pile again too - it grows and grows.

  11. Melanie, thank you for explaining color theory this way! You make it so easy. I am enjoying seeing your beautiful quilts too.

  12. Thank you I love your site and your work.

  13. Thank you so much for your pictorials and explanation on the cool and warm colors. I am always overwhelmed by the explanation for this, but your tutorial made it so simple to understand.