A Built-In Color Palette

Have you ever noticed the colored dots on the selvage of your favorite fabric? Do you know what they are? They’re often called color windows and it’s a built-in color palette!

For me, sometimes the hardest part of quilting is choosing fabric for a project. There are just so many wonderful options these days and it can be a little overwhelming. I have found that I try to be too “matchy” sometimes and don’t get enough contrast in color and value. These dots show you all of the different colored inks that were used in the screen printing process to make the fabric design. The colors are typically in order of how they were applied – #1 is the last color, usually the darkest.

Some have a bunch.
manywindows A Built In Color Palette

Some have only one.
fewwindows A Built In Color Palette

Using these dots really helps me select coordinating fabrics for my project. Sometimes you find unexpected colors and it allows you to expand your color palette. You can also select different values (lightness or darkness) of these colors, like the blue and the green in the image, to increase the variety within your fabrics.

colorpalette A Built In Color Palette

This is just one way to guide your fabric selection. You can get inspiration from all sorts of different things. More on that later…

About Denise Starck

I am the Graphic Designer for Quiltmaker. I really love what I do and being able to combine my two passions, graphic design and quilting, into every day is fantastic! I've been quilting for over 14 years and enjoy all types of quilting.
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6 Responses to A Built-In Color Palette

  1. Maralyn says:

    I used to work in a fabric dept. so I already know what the dots are for. I usually don’t use them though. You will generally find me carrying around bolts of fabric at my local store to find the right blenders to add to the fabrics I have picked out of a collection. I always have to add blenders for some extra oomph for my quilts.

  2. Cherie says:

    As a beginner quilter I am really struggling with color matching. I knew what the dots were, but never thought I could use them for coordinating the fabric. Wow a whole new world.

  3. Wendy says:

    thank you! i am always frozen like a deer in headlights when trying to coordinate fabrics while in the quilt shop.

  4. SheilaC says:

    Thanks for the tip! I had no idea what those dots meant :)


  5. Jocelyn says:

    I agree, sometimes it is hard to find fabrics to coordinate. But the little dots are a big help.

  6. Mary Ellen says:

    Choosing Co-ordinating/contrasting fabric is always frustrating for me. When picking fabric for a quilt pattern, I often end up with 4 out of 5, but just can’t find that ‘perfect’ last piece of the puzzle. I usually give up! I’ll try using the dots to help me next time. Thanks for the hint.

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