Simply Color: Orange by Vanessa Christenson

As we continue our study of color, we begin with Monochromatic: the first of Five Color Plans found in nature. Monochromatic literally means "containing or using only one color." The Monochromatic color plan creates a sense of simplicity, calm, harmony and relaxation. It can also read as very sophisticated.

As the most difficult of the five plans, understanding and working in a Monochromatic color family takes discipline and real focus. Let's say that you love the color orange and want to make a quilt in this color plan. Staying within the orange range means that no other color or neighboring color such as yellow-orange or orange-red may be used in your quilt.

On the surface this might sound simple, because you have a huge fabric stash, and orange is one of the largest collections within your stash. But, when you look at the Essential Color Wheel (below) it quickly becomes evident why most quilters avoid this plan. Do you notice how few options there are for using just orange in the wedge? Not so easy now, is it?

The trick to keeping a quilt from becoming visually flat is to use as WIDE a range of Tints, Tones, Shades and pure Orange as possible. Hand-dyed fabrics, with their subtle nuances offer the quilter the widest range when it comes to working in a monochromatic plan. The old addage 'If five fabrics are good, then ten are even better' is a good thing to remember when building a fabric grouping. 

        Mary Flanagan wool bundle



To keep your quilts from looking flat or boring, let the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color tool do the work for you when culling fabric from your stash or at a quilt shop. Each of the twenty-four pages features not only the pure color, but also the tints, shades and tones of that pure family.  So all you need to do is hold the card up to the fabric you are considering to determine if it fits within your monochromatic plan. Think in terms of quantity.


 Easy Monochromatic color plan tips:
  • Use a wide range of tones, tints and shades included with the focus color to keep the overall impression from appearing boring.
  • Hand dyed fabrics give you the most range within a color family.
  • Add visual interest with a variety of textured prints.


Let's look at a number of excellent monochromatic color plan examples:

  Wish Upon A Star by Cindy Needham  Quilted Elegance Jacket by Rami Kim

  Wedding Ring, 1942. Made by Mary Hazel Norr Jorgensen. Cache Co, Utah  Orange Peel, circa 1930s

   Spring Green by Chris Daly  Modern Curves by Anita Shakelford
    Deep Spaces by Lisa Flowers Ross

    Utterly Blue Cape by Rachel Clark  Winter in the Gap by Barbara Druhen

  Waves/Waves by Corrine Sovey  Black Hole over the Equator by Deborah Wirsu

  Hawaiian Quilt by Unknown Quilt Maker, circa 1920  Pineapple by Thelma

  Romancing Red by MIchele Jackson  Jacket by Elizabeth Garver





Practice Exercises:

Blue Blade by Grace Errea

1.Pull fabric from your stash to create one Monochromatic color plan as in the example by Grace Errea above.

2.Using your collected fabrics, build any one (or both) of the blocks provided. To keep the focus on the monochromatic plan, simply paste the fabric pieces onto your worksheet.



Click here to download the Quilt Block Square .pdf file.

Click here to download Quilt Block Star .pdf file.


#4 Lisa Flowers Ross 2020-03-10 17:03
It would be nice to list the artists names and give them the attribution they deserve, as well as asking permission first. The tall skinny green artwork is by me, Lisa Flowers Ross, and is entitled, Deep Within the Forest.
#3 TQSWizard 2017-05-01 12:27

The book is titled Simply Color: Orange by Vanessa Christenson.

If you hover you mouse of each of the images, you will see the artists name and title of the work.

#2 DebbieW 2017-05-01 09:40
Stunning quilts and garments!

Please tell us the name and the author of the book featured in the first photo.
#1 sghsgh 2017-05-01 08:51
Very nice review. Images illustrating the principles are great although attributions seem to be missing.
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