Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking.  We’re currently cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet on this flight to the land of Colour Confidence.  We’ll be dimming the cabin lights shortly, but if you look out the left-hand side of the cabin you’ll see a beautiful ombré sunset that sets the scene for our next guest in this series.

We’re well on our way in our colour journey now!  How are you going?  Hopefully no travel sickness?  {Cos, man, I’d hate to be with you on a real plane!}  How about the view?  Pretty good, don’t ya think?  And everything you’re learning about the indigenous people of Colour Confidence?  Hopefully you’re starting to feel like maybe one day you could relocate and become a citizen of this {seemingly} far off, mystical land…?

If not, today’s guest should give you a bit more of an encouraging nudge in that direction, I think.  Let me introduce you to Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June!

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
The lovely Meghan!

When I first came across Meghan’s Instagram feed she was working her design magic to fulfil her dreams of owning her own pattern design business.  Today, she’s still working her design magic, but with almost 20,000 Instagram followers I think I can pretty confidently say that she has moved from ‘rising quilting star’ status, to just plain old ‘quilting star’ status.  {Nice work, Meghan!} 

I’m sure I don’t need to explain what it was that made me stop the mindless Insta-scroll and hit follow on her profile… but of course, I will, because I’m the {crazy} pilot of this colour-plane!  *insert maniacal laugh*

It was, most definitely {and probably obviously since I’ve interviewed her for this series} the way Meghan uses colour, particularly in her ombre palettes and scrappy quilts.

Ok, enough of my yammering, let’s hear from Meghan!

Finding Colour Confidence with Wife-made

Interview with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June

Do you have a favourite colour?

Oh man. I thought my favorite color was always blue and to this day I still *think* it’s blue. But as I have been sewing for the past couple of years, I have realized that the color that almost always sneaks into a quilt is some kind of peachy tone. Either it being a blush tone, peach, light peach, dusty rose.  Peach is comforting yet bright and fresh. Depending on the tone and saturation it can have a soothing effect or a punch of energy. I think I love that it is so versatile.

Do you prefer to work with solids or prints, or both?  Why, and how does a print on the fabric affect the colours you choose? 

I find for the most part I love to either work on a project that is all solids or all prints. Recently I have really enjoyed playing with all solids. To me, solids are pure and I can’t hide behind what is maybe not quite a stellar design with only solids. When you throw in prints, sometimes the prints are so cute that the design can kind of fall away from the first thing you notice about a quilt. But I do love when I get a chance to play with scrappy.  It is not my natural go-to style but I find it a challenge and I enjoy that. When I do mix solids and prints, I try to find complimenting colors and tones in each fabric so they play well together.

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Image credit: Then Came June

Is colour choice an intuitive experience for you, or technical, or a bit of both?  Do you think it is important to have a technical understanding of colour, or is intuition enough?

Color is intuitive to me. I did go to school for Merchandising with an emphasis on Interiors (furniture, architecture, home goods) and I took a color theory class, but in general I couldn’t tell you the exact definition of hue, tone, saturation, complimentary colors, etc.  I think a technical understanding can help you problem solve an issue. If you are stuck on a combination, that skill would help you step back and think technically about what could work. But mostly for me, I just do what feels right. I have always loved color and playing with it gives me so much joy.

What influences your colour choices for your quilts? 

Most all of my inspirations for quilts are specific. I either have a specific scene from nature in mind, a beautiful tile wall I saw walking down the street, a person and their life in my head when I am picking a palette. I think, in the moment where I feel like the color palette is going in the right direction my excitement level increases. I can feel myself getting giddy haha! And when it isn’t right, it feels forced. I can immediately tell – either it’s not pleasing to my eye or it feels harsh. I like color to be comforting, soothing. Doesn’t mean it always needs to be soft and muted. I just want the palette to be inviting, let you in, let you look around a bit and maybe feel movement from the color choices I have picked.

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Jawbreaker Quilt by Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June

In your opinion, how does the design of a quilt interact with the colours it’s made in?  How do you know what colours will suit a particular design and what won’t work?

I think the relationship between quilt design and color is essential. There has to be give and take. If the design is very sharp and bold, I like to either play that up and do high contrast colors or I like to soften it and do gradients. My biggest dislike in color combinations is when all colors are the same saturation level. There is no tone difference or ease. That isn’t to say that every color combo needs to feel like a gradient, I just think you can pick a few main color groups and play within each one on different saturation levels and tones. It gives the palette movement and depth which I think lends to showing how versatile a quilt design can be.

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Meadowland Quilt by Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June

You are becoming well-known for solid colour gradient quilts.  Is there a method that you follow when choosing fabrics for a gradient style colour scheme?

When choosing gradient colour schemes I usually know what’s the darkest I want a color to be and what is the lightest I want it to be.  That way I know in what kind of range/how many colors I am going to choose. It also helps me decide how far into a gradient I will go.  Am I going to go from super light blush to bright saturated peach or coral?  Or am I doing a tighter gradient of very similar tones and hues? For example, Flame, Tangerine, Coral, Creamsicle, Peach.  I do half of my planning in Illustrator because I can load in the Kona Color swatches, but then the other half of the time I really love playing with my Kona color card pieces. 

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
City Grid Quilt by Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June

Most of the time I like to stick to the same kind of cool undertones or warm undertones.  Mixing warm and cool in a gradient can be difficult because it can feel muddy.  If I am eliminating color from a palette it is usually whatever stands out too much, in either a too light or too saturated way.

I love using Pinterest to get color inspiration, I have a whole color board I pin to.  {Follow Meghan on Pinterest here!}  Plus I am constantly taking pictures on my phone of things I see everyday.  Recently, I took a photo of a woman’s hair on the airplane. (HAHA!  Creeper status!).  She had this dark brown hair and had strains of silver and then bright reds in it, and I thought, man that could be a pretty fall-inspired palette.

Most of the time, when I am choosing a palette for a project, I have multiple options I make and then just pick whatever one I keep going back to.  I am learning to really trust my gut.

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Ombre All Day by Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Image credit: Then Came June

Do you have any thoughts for people who want to develop their sense and understanding of colour?

I think sometimes people get overwhelmed by the amount of color options out there. To start, pick your favorite color, whatever grabs you and says PICK ME PICK ME! Then, find a color card or go online to find their swatches and look to the left and right of that color. You will find other colors that will work well with your chosen color.

Another easy way to start is to buy bundles.  There are amazing solid bundles out there between Robert Kaufman’s site or sites like Fabric Bubb. And sometime’s those bundles can inspire you and take some of the guess work out when beginning.

Thanks Meghan, for your contribution to my colour series.  Your perspective is invaluable!  Ok, now…

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June

Let’s talk ombré, hombre!

So, of course, it would be wrong if we didn’t talk about ombré, right?  But what exactly is it?

The definition of ombré is this:

Meaning of ombre - Finding Colour Confidence


Meaning of ombre - Finding Colour Confidence

In plain English, this means that a {true} ombré colour palette contains only one colour, displayed in varying levels of lightness and darkness {remember, saturation and value?}.

So we could say that an ombré colour palette is a MONOCHROMATIC colour palette!

For example, the image below is an ombré colour palette that ranges from a very subtle greenish white through to a dark bottle green.  But the key is that they are {ALL} on the green spectrum.

Image credit: Design Seeds

But because I am who I am, and colour is what it is, and design is the wonderfully dynamic, fluctuating beast that {IT} is, I’m going to say that there are {TWO} types of ombré palettes.  {O.M.G!}

Ombré – more than meets the eye!

Yep.  Mindblowing stuff over here people!  Hold onto your food trays, cos we’re heading for a loop the loop!

So, what then, is this {OTHER} ombré that I’m so rudely rewriting history for?

Alright.  Let’s start by calling the original ombré palette a {MONOCHROMATIC ombré}.  Because it’s a palette that consists of a range of tones in a SINGLE colour.  Which is really a monochromatic colour palette, right??

Now, I propose that an ombré colour palette doesn’t {HAVE} to be restricted to one particular colour.  {YOU PROPOSE WHAAAAT??}

Let’s think of colour in relation to the spectrum for a sec…

One colour doesn’t stop completely and THEN the next one begins, does it?  Not to the naked eye, at least!  The colour changes so gradually that it blends into the new colour!

So based on this, I propose that the second type of ombré colour palette is one that moves between two colours that are beside each other on the colour wheel or in the spectrum.  Let’s call it {ANALOGOUS ombré}!

Here’s an example…

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June
Image credit: Eric Cahan

Ok, so where exactly are we heading with this?  Because there really isn’t any purpose to getting in a plane and flying for hours if there’s no destination.  Right?  Right!

Of course, the {ONLY} destination is one where I help us both to become better at using colour.  And in this case – we should ALL know how to {SUCCESSFULLY} create an ombré colour palette of our own!

Because {SUNRISES} and {SUNSETS} and {RAINBOWS}!!!

So how do we create our own ombré colour palette then?  Well,  I set off to find some guidelines for how to create an ombré palette.  And you know what? 

I couldn’t find any. 

Not a single, solitary, lonely ol’ tutorial for creating an ombré colour palette.  So, like the good blogger that I am, I made one up.  And with only two steps, it’s {SUPER} fast!

An easy ombré palette how-to for fabric

1. Search Pinterest for palette inspiration

If you’re not sure where to start with an ombré colour palette just search ‘ombré colour palette’ to see if anything peaks your interest.  If you know you want an ombré palette in specific colour tones, then search for that – for example, ‘pink ombré colour palette’.

Here’s what I chose – another Design Seeds image!

Finding Colour Confidence - Ombre Inspiration
Image credit: Design Seeds

2. Upload image to the Play Crafts Palette Builder 

The Play Crafts Palette Builder is a fantastic online tool you can use to determine the closest matching solid colour fabric to any colour you can upload to the site. 

In this case, I uploaded a screen shot of my chosen inspo image from Pinterest.

Depending on your preferences, the Builder can select from a number of colours from the Kona Cottons and Moda Bella Solids ranges, but can also help you find matching Aurifil Thread colours and hex values.  {SUPER USEFUL!}

Now, move the little dots around until you have all the colours in the palette covered.  You can add (just click on the green plus button) or remove (hover over the rectangles at the bottom to bring up the delete button) matches as necessary.

Finding Colour Confidence - Ombre Inspiration

If you have the Kona Cottons or Moda Bella Solids swatch cards you can then look at the swatches IRL to decide if they are the best colour selections, and if not, see if you can find a better alternative.  And if you don’t own one, it’s a good investment – I’ve linked some {non-affiliate} stockists above.

Here’s the ANALOGOUS ombré palette I came up with for the red and purple image above.  It literally took me all of two minutes to create!

Finding Colour Confidence with Meghan Buchanan of Then Came June

Now, don’t forget to consider Meghan’s tips for creating an ombré palette!

Meghan’s top tips for creating an ombré palette

  • Limit your palette by selecting the darkest and lightest colours in the gradient.
  • Decide whether you want a loose gradient or tight gradient.  A tight gradient will have more colours in between the darkest and lightest colours, whereas a loose gradient will have fewer.
  • Eliminate any colours that appear to stand out too much.  Is a colour too light or too saturated?  If so, remove it and try to find an alterative that leads to a smoother graduation in colour.

Now, tell me, do you use ombre palettes very often?  If so, how do you choose what colours to include in your palette?  Share your tips in the comments section below!

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