For the Love of Color: Ochre 23

My local quilt shop was having a big sale on fabric this last week, so I ended up buying a bunch of solids, including one I wasn’t expecting: Kona Ochre.


Ochre is such an unfortunate name (maybe because it kind of sounds like okra, which also has an unfortunate name?) but it’s a gorgeous range of colors (albeit including a few difficult colors). This particular solid is the color of caramel cream, and I am a new found fan. It’s lacking the slightly green undertone that makes it go into baby poo brown territory (see aforementioned difficult colors.)


I picked it up to go with some forest greens, but ochre is a really versatile color. Ochre refers to a range of yellow-brown to orange-browns, but this particular Kona is a orange hue, with medium saturation and high brightness.


I don’t have a lot in my stash that matches this, but ochre is used a lot as a supporting color. Because of it’s lower saturation, it can be used as a neutral and therefore plays the support role quite well. For instance, ochre shows up quite often in Kaffe Fasset prints to help bridge the gap between his super saturated main players.


One of my favorite uses for ochre is in this analogous color scheme. These warm fire-y tones have been pretty popular recently, and I love this slightly less saturated version of it.


This range goes from ochre to raspberry, which covers many of the warm tones on the color wheel. It starts at the light orange of ochre and moves through red-orange, red, and ends in red-violet which gives a little coolness to add a lot of depth to the color scheme.


Ochre is also beautiful with purples, violets and blues, as they are complementary colors. The more yellow the ochre, the more purple it’s complement, while the more orange ochres have blue as their complement.


Again, I paired it with slightly less saturated purples, to keep in line with the less saturated tone of the ochre. That’s not strictly necessary, but when I paired it with the more saturated purples I had in my stash, I found it made their colors almost look garish. I do however, love it with the different violets in this Collage print. (I bet it’d look great with radiant orchid, too!)


Since Kona Ochre is more orange, I found a couple desaturated blue-violets to pair it with. In retrospect, I should have just hit my navy stash but those are at the other end of my storage cabinet. Out of sight, out of mind!


And just because ochre is bordering on a neutral doesn’t mean you can’t pair it with other neutrals! For instance, ochre and grey are a gorgeous pairing. They almost look opulent together.


So there you have it, a little ochre love. Would you consider using ochre in any of your projects?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

I love comments, and respond to each one!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

23 thoughts on “For the Love of Color: Ochre

  • jodydeschenes

    ochre AND baby poo yellow/brown Rock, AND they go with almost everything!! the name reminds me of OGRE. Shrek should be ochre! only recently have i even been hearing it called ochre more – i usually hear it called mustard, or bronze. and… that awesome baby poo yellow/brown is called mustish, remember? mustard plus relish? (; i am about to do an entire Mustish quilt for the Umbrella prints challenge now that Pantone is done. same quilt, too, a zillion ochre/ogre/okra bronze baby-poo yellow/brown Mustish scraps!

    • jodydeschenes

      oh and when i am talking about the very nice mellow light shade that you are using in your example above (with feathers), the Nice name i use for it is Palomino. (:

    • anne Post author

      Kona has a mustard that is quite a bit different from their ochre, but I’ve heard it called that, too. 🙂 I forgot about mustish, LOL. How’d I forget about that?! I can’t wait to see your mustish quilt, I’m sure it will be gorgeous. 🙂

    • anne Post author

      I sort of feel the need to make ALL the things with that raspberry/red/orange/ochre bundle. Except that I just used my ochre up in another project. Time for more? 🙂

  • Whiskers

    Lovely combinations. A string of peach colored pearls against a dark charcoal gray dress? Although, I wouldn’t call that color “ochre”, or at least it isn’t the color we called ochre in my painting class. That was more of what I call “old gold”, although mustard is a good name too.

    Hmmm, just checked the dictionary for a definition and it is listed as orange yellow, originating from yellow, brown or red earthy iron oxides. So, that color would be rust combined with white.

    Ochre was never one of my favorite paint colors but it always seemed to get mixed in there somewhere.

    @Jody: will there be any mustaches on your “mustish” quilt? (the devil made me do it)

    • anne Post author

      Ochre ends up being a bit of a catch all for a whole range of colors, mostly browns that are at the yellow-orange end of the spectrum. I’d always thought it was a slightly different tone, but when I started doing research it brought up the whole range, so I figured I’d trust Kona’s naming scheme. 🙂 Regardless of what its name is, it’s a really beautiful color in person.

      Jody should TOTALLY include mustaches in her mustish quilt. Good call!

  • Linda H.

    What a great job you’ve done of showing us this color, and how it plays with other colors. I’d never be drawn to ochre, but I love what you’ve done with it. Yes! I’d sew with it! Thanks very much for sharing!

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Linda! I’ve never really considered it much, but it does seem to play nicely with others. It’s like the quiet kid that gets along with everyone but no one notices when they’re on their own. 🙂

    • anne Post author

      I also like caramel! 🙂 Also I’ve decided this color is somewhat of a chameleon. It looks more yellow here, but when I put it with my quilt, it took on more rosey tones. I guess I’m still learning about color context, too. 🙂

  • Pat S

    Timely post for me. I just received the color wheel bundle from Marmalade Fabrics and it contains ochre and plenty of its friends. Love the combinations you showed – I could live with any/all of them.

    • anne Post author

      Oooh a color wheel bundle sounds lovely! I really need to make myself a color wheel quilt for my craft room! Sorry, that got off topic quickly. 🙂

  • Marla

    I’d use it. I’ve been wanting to make a super nerdy quilt that is made using amber, opal and ochre colors because those are the names of the three protein synthesis stop codons. I know, I know, I’m nuts.

    • anne Post author

      You’re not nuts, you’re AWESOME. Please make this quilt. 😀 Also, I totally should have gotten your opinion on a science quilt project my friend was working on. I think she finally committed to the colors, but if she hasn’t, I might send you an email later. 🙂

    • anne Post author

      I got that print for a project for someone else, but I keep sneaking it into other things because I love it so much. I never would have gotten it originally, but now I’m scared I’m going to run out. Hahaha!

  • Janelle

    I’m responding to this quite late, as I’ve just found your awesome blog! The colours you call “desaturated blue-violets” are looking like grey to me (or just on my iPad). This makes me wonder, how are you determining something as, say, desaturated blue-violet vs just a grey? Are you using those red/green filters? I am a new quilter, and just learned my first bits about colour theory from your posts!

    • anne Post author

      That’s a great question. 🙂 So the desaturated blue-violets were the two in the middle, the Tula Pink and Kate Spain fabrics. Those are definitely blue-violet in person, although they are desaturated so they have quite a bit of grey. The ones on the end I’d categorize as just grey. 🙂

      The red/green filters are for figuring out value (how light/dark something is), not so much saturation (how much color something has). With that said, there isn’t any definitive breaking point. Sometimes it just depends what it’s with. Those Tula Pink/Kate Spain prints look pretty saturated when they’re surrounded by lower saturation greys, but they look pretty grey when paired with super vibrant/high saturated blue-violets.

      Also to add to the confusion “a desaturated blue” can be the same thing as “grey with a blue undertone” if the blue is desaturated enough.

      Does that answer your question at all? The answer is really “it depends on the situation and the person” but I am trying to give you at least a little more information than that. 🙂

      • Janelle

        Yes that’s great! I have read the four colour theory posts, so I understand what you mean by context. I guess I won’t buy the red/green filters for now because I feel that I’m able to tell how light/dark various fabrics are–but maybe I can’t and just don’t know it yet! I know I am having difficulty with saturation vs shade/tint in deciding what a colour is, though 🙂
        I was at a fabric store today and picked out some FQs in an analogous colour scheme…it was so fun! I also looked at the bolts and just FELL IN LOVE with one (that I consider to be modern) and bought a few yards. I don’t know what I’m going to match it with yet, but I guess that’s what happens with low impulse control in a fabric store! I think I might just take a picture & run it through the palette builder to see what colours are on it.

        • anne Post author

          Oh man, I missed this until just now! I’m so sorry.

          I’ve found the best way to tell what color something is (especially when it’s a bit desaturated so it’s harder to tell) is to put it next to a color I think it is. For instance if I have some light pink, and I put it next to a pink I might see “nope, that’s actually peach” or “oh, that’s actually a light purple” because it will highlight the difference. Or put it next to white or grey or some other totally desaturated color, and your eye will be able to pick out the undertone a bit better. 🙂 I did that a lot for a while and now I’ve trained my eye to be able to see it without doing that but it’s a great way to get started. I wish you lived close by, I’d be happy to go to the store with you and play with fabric and talk color! I love that stuff!!

          I’m so happy to hear you had fun picking out an analogous color scheme (man those are my favorite, don’t tell though! 😉 If you want help making a color scheme from your fabric from afar, feel free to email me a picture of it and I’ll be happy to help!