Picking Different Shades of the Same Color

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When working with solids, chances are that we all find it pretty easy to pick fabrics that are on opposite sides of the color wheel.

But picking shades of the same color can be much tougher to do.  I pulled all of the yellow solid fabrics that I have in my stash to consider how they go together.

Next up, I put them in order, just by sight, from lightest to darkest.

Putting them in this order makes it pretty clear that the top four work quite well together but the bottom four have more brown and green in them, making them tonally quite different. When they are laid out like this, it becomes easier to see the yellows vs. the golden vs. the mustard-y/chartreuse-ish shades.

Let’s move onto my red stash…

By sight, I put the in order, as I did with the yellows. At this point, taking a photo of the fabric can help a lot to see the different tones and values of the fabrics.  That said, I think that there’s nothing better than sewing them up to really see the differences.  The above fabrics look like they gradate pretty well, but sew them in to a block…

…and it becomes very clear that the center three are much darker than the outside three.  You can also see that the second and third rounds read so similarly that you almost can’t see a difference between them.

There are a couple of other little tricks that you can also turn to to help with your fabric selecting.

Try blurring your eyes when you look at the fabrics.

It really makes the different values and tones “pop” in a way that they sometimes don’t when you look at them normally.

Another tip that can help is to change your photo to black and white.


Taking the color away helps you to see value in the fabrics very clearly.

Hope these tips help you to pick fabrics that are different shades of the same color!