4 Ways to Get Out of a Color Rut

Have you ever been in a color rut and just didn’t know how to get out of it? Or are you there now? Being in a rut like this really messes with my sewjo! I think all quilters can relate to these questions, so today I’m sharing four ways to get out of a color rut. Here’s how I got here:

I’ve been organizing my online photo albums and have been looking at pictures of my quilts over the years. I’ve noticed very distinct trends in my color preferences. At one time, I loved putting bright colors on black backgrounds to make the colors really pop. Then it was those same bright colors on white backgrounds. (I wasn’t much for switching things up!) Then there was a black and white phase, a rainbow phase, and an “all the colors” phase. Now I’m working through the Playful Color Quilt Guild exercises to really refine and define my color style.

But there were still times I just looked at all my fabric and couldn’t create anything without getting stuck in that groove I was already in. It was frustrating because I really admired quilts in other color ways. I just couldn’t figure out how to get there. These ideas came to me as I was putzing around aimlessly in my studio one day. I hope they help you.

First Way: Lose the Color

pile of black and white quilting fabrics on a wood table

This seems totally backwards, but making a block or small quilt in black and white is a great way to get out of a color rut. It lets you focus on contrast, scale, pattern, and texture. This small break from making color decisions is a great way to get back to basics and recharge your creative mind for the next color project.

Second Way: Evaluate Your Stash

color chips on a wood table

You might be struggling because your stash is incomplete. We all have our favorite colors and tend to work with them the most. If your stash is full of your faves and really lacking in other colors that are just as great, it might be time to head to your local quilt store to build your stash. Designing a small project to use them up will help you feel more comfortable using colors you don’t automatically gravitate to.

Third Way: Get Professional Help

the cutting table in a quilt store with a butterfly quilt hanging on the wall behind it

Normally we think of therapy or a maintenance man when we talk about professional help, but your local quilt store is full of people who literally get paid to help you become a better quilter. That includes color too! I have so many quilts from my earlier days that wouldn’t look nearly as good without their help. And if you go when there are other enthusiastic shoppers, you can get some help from them too. (This is the Quilters Studio, my local quilt store full of amazing people.)

Fourth Way: Look Around You

collage of seasons summer, spring, fall, and winter

Some of the best color combinations happen naturally all around us. A quick nature walk will show you a variety of colors that work well together. Make sure you consider doing this at least once each season as they are so unique in the beautiful colors they have to offer.

So how do you get out of a color rut? I’d love to see your tips in the comments.

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