What Color Evokes

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Color is not just something that is aesthetically pleasing—it can influence us in ways we never dreamed. Our moods and perceptions can be altered significantly with the use of color. Color and placement can make or break your connection to the project, and it can also help create harmony and a sense of continuity. Knowing what emotions are typically evoked by certain color families might even assist you with your color choices, and even with your project planning.

For this week’s color theory lesson, we’re going to go over the general meanings and associations for some of the basic color families. Colors often have different meanings in other cultures, but it’s still fun to get a general idea of what people generally perceive from a specific color. Keep in mind, the meanings and associations aren’t necessarily for every instance of the color’s use.


Red is often connected with thoughts of fire or blood. It can stir up feelings of passion, love, energy, enthusiasm, heat, aggression, anger, and revolution. Red is referred to as the most visually dominant color. It is also known to accelerate heart rate and stimulate appetite. In the quilting world, red is one of the most versatile colors because it is appropriate for so many different project types.


Yellow is associated with sunshine and happiness. It can evoke feelings of intellect, optimism, joy, jealousy, and caution. Yellow is the first color the human eye notices. It also accelerates the metabolism. A very bright yellow is very fatiguing and can irritate the eye, while a paler yellow can enhance concentration. Because yellow is the first color that the human eye notices, it’s a great color to use in a quilt if you’re looking to add a pop of interest.

Blue relates to the sea and sky. It can suggest knowledge, coolness, peace, masculinity, loyalty, high quality, coldness, and apathy. Blue has been known to suppress hunger and has proven to be a very relaxing color. People are also said to be more productive in a blue room. Who knows, maybe a simple coat of blue paint in that sewing room will help you finish up all those UFO’s (unfinished objects).


Green is associated with plants and the environment. It can stir up feelings or thoughts of money, fertility, growth, healing, envy, success, harmony, and youth. Green is the easiest color on the eyes. It is also said to aid in digestion and possibly reduce stomachaches. Green shades are great for a variety of project types, and also do wonders when adding interest to an otherwise feminine design.


Purple is linked to ideas of royalty and spirituality. It can evoke feelings of luxury, wisdom, imagination, exaggeration, rank, inspiration, mysticism, and excess. Purple is said to enhance the imagination. If you’re looking to design a quilt with a little bit of aesthetic drama, purples are your ticket. Because purple is thought to enhance the imagination, it is a great color choice for little ones, and you will see it a lot in children’s toys.

Orange is associated with autumn and citrus. It can suggest creativity, invigoration, uniqueness, energy, stimulation, health, whimsy, trendiness, and loudness. Orange is an appetite stimulant. Rooms of this color are said to get people talking and evoke a feeling of friendliness and fun. Orange is often times used for visibility enhancement (e.g. hunters and highway workers).


Black often times relates to the night as well as death. Power, authority, sophistication, elegance, seriousness, dignity, mystery, fear, secrecy, and mourning are a few things that come to mind when black is seen. In the quilting world, Black is also used frequently to help other colors look brighter.


White is linked to light and purity. It can evoke feelings of perfection, marriage, cleanliness, softness, simplicity, and truth. White is said to be a perfectly balanced color.

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Gray is associated with neutrality. It can stir up feelings of balance, security, modesty, intelligence, indecision, boredom, and wisdom. Gray seldom evokes strong emotions. It is also its own complement.

Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s final color theory post as we’ll be ending it with a special color theory giveaway!


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