Brown: A Colour Blog Series

IMG_6764Brown is not an obvious color choice when it comes to modern quilting. It could be though. Brown has a lot of variations to consider, from chocolate to marsala to tan to bronze. Through Quilt Design a Day and the spark color palettes, I have been given several palettes with brown in them that I initially think, oh (flat sounding tone in my voice). Each design has surprised me, in a good way.

Designs: Brown + Neutrals

02_May_2016 29Jan_2016(2) Jan15_2016

Designs: Brown + Warm Palettes

 QDAD_29JUL2015  QDAD_01May2015 QDAD_02FEB

Design: Brown + Cooler Palettes


Quilt Projects: Brown + Cooler Palettes

This was my first project using browns. The chocolate-colored background is the perfect neutral for this succulent inspired design. I love its interaction with the warmer coral and the cooler green, aqua and mint colors, it’s gives it a richer appearance.


This predominantly brown palette was based on a QDAD spark palette. It was not my usual palette but what tied it together for me was that thumb print design from C+S. It has blues and pinks included in the palette. That lead to me adding those pops of bright blue to the quilt in the back and the binding. I think it adds the interesting factor to the quilt otherwise it could be a little flat/boring.

ItTakesAVillage_Front ItTakesAVillage_Back

Umbrella Prints (Fabric) really led to the fabric choices I made for this Bjorn Bear I made from Tartankiwi’s Big bear pattern. The dark brown was positioned specifically at the back, to reflect the shading I imaged for this design. This was the darkest color I had. While the neutral on his face was the lightest color – where I imagined the light would hit on the bear.  Both browns play well with the vibrant green, mint and light blue.BjornTheBear

Quilts: Brown + Warmer Palettes

While many folks were adverse to the marsala color of the year, last year….I was excited. I found that the marsala (in the brown family) complement the warmer color palette of yellows,  oranges and deep reds. I was inspired with that color palette using Oakshott Cottons, this Ranger’s Station quilt. Rangers Station Quilt Top

This palette and center block was chosen by Renee over at Quilts of a Feather. It was not a color palette in my wheel house and I was terrified of it. As I worked on the first border design though, it was interesting the variations with the various purples and the great use of the brown as a background color. I loved how this center block and first border turned out.IMG_4231

Monthly Tip

Have you ever considered creating an inspiration board around the colors you are interested in? You see it a lot for weddings, graphic designers and fabric designers. I love the idea when you are exploring a color. Here are links for some examples:

Light Blue and Brown

Brown, Champagne, Nude, Purple

Autumn/Fall Inspired

Yellow, Brown Mood board

If you ever are working with brown’s in your projects and posting on IG (instagram), use #sewingwithbrowns

Monthly Resource

Here is an article that is an interesting read about Working Walls and design thinking.

Monthly Challenge

Using the color brown, create your own design/inspiration/mood board. Think about what other colors would work with brown and then investigate images, print out on paper or use a mosaic tool online to pull your board together.

Next week, I will post the link up (with a prize), and post some fabric options that will support working with brown.

12 thoughts on “Brown: A Colour Blog Series

    1. mlwilkie Post author

      Thanks Yvonne, It is one of my favorite designs too. I think it is an unnerving color and it just takes some experimenting to get more comfortable with it.

  1. aquilterstable

    I love brown, and a brown quilt has been on my list for a long time. I also loved marsala and enjoyed working with it. I think my bacon-inspired quilt with Bee Sewcial could qualify for #sewingwithbrowns!

  2. Karen

    Michelle, thanks so much for reminding me that brown is a fine color! I’ve always loved the look of It Takes a Village and Bjorn–so I should have realized how much I like brown long ago. Your colour (spelled like this in your honour 🙂 series is such a gift for expanding my color possibilities–much appreciated.

  3. tonijosews

    I’m so glad you included brown in your series, Michelle! I love it, and feel it’s often overlooked. I also have a bit of a love/hate thing with grey, so I see brown as a wonderful alternative when I want something other than black, white, or my go-to blue as a background color. I’m looking forward to this challenge. 🙂

  4. suzanprincess

    I wouldn’t have thought of purple as good with brown, or green and blue on a bear, but you’ve shown me they’re not only striking but beautiful. Thanks!

  5. Teje

    Hi! Great post! You made brown look beautiful and interesting! I haven’t used it much in my quilts and don’t have many in my stash but now I can imagine how it would look great with some other colours. I would have never thought brown with purple but your last photo is fantastic! x Teje


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