For the Love of Color: Radiant Orchid 50

So you might have heard about this color by now: Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid.


Adrianne @ On The Windy Side and I are running a quilting challenge using the color, and I thought I’d write up a bit about the color. Just to be clear, you don’t have to use any of these schemes for the challenge! I’m just writing up this post to get you started. All we care about is that radiant orchid is the feature color of the quilt.


Radiant Orchid is a red-violet hue, with a medium saturation and a high brightness. I wrote a bit about what those terms mean in my post about color contrast, but basically that means it’s a reddish purple that’s got some grey in it.


My main excitement over Radiant Orchid being the color of the year is that I’m hoping it means we’ll start seeing some purple choices in fabric. As it is, these are the closest I have in my stash. For the challenge, we don’t expect you to have the exact color! Find some red-violets and go from there.

As always, I like to start with the complementary and analogous color schemes, because they are easy places to start.


The complementary of red-violet is yellow-green, somewhere in the chartreuse or lime family.


Paired with chartreuse this suddenly reminds me of Napa Valley wineries and vineyards. The colors remind me a lot of spring, with those new-growth greens and floral violets. Complementary color schemes are not “sit down and be quiet” pairings, they are out to be noticed. If you want something more subdued, analogous is a better bet.


The colors next to red-violet for the analogous color scheme are red and violet, although I dipped into the blue-violet/navy territory to give it a little more depth.


The dark purples and navies are much more wintery and mysterious compared to the complementary scheme.


Or you can go the other direction and use that pop of fuchsia to keep things lively.


Or you can incorporate both to do the full tour of purples. This palette reminds me of transitions: the colors at twilight or the end of winter and start of spring.


And if you edit down, you end up with some deep jewel tones, supported by the Radiant Orchid color.


And if you change the navy out for aqua, you end up with a very different feel. These colors would make a fun child’s quilt!

As for neutrals, it depends on what type of feel you’re going for. Red-violet is a warm color, so look to cool neutrals to complement and make the color stand out, or warm neutrals to smooth out the transitions.


Apparently I was feeling blend-y because I only took pictures with creams and whites…


And with warm greys. Because Radiant Orchid is a medium saturation (has a lot of grey in it), using greys will give a more monochromatic feel to your project.

I hope this gets you started and gives you some ideas of what to do with the color. I am really excited to see what you all make with Radiant Orchid!


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50 thoughts on “For the Love of Color: Radiant Orchid

    • anne Post author

      Hahaha sorry about the coffee! If I’m not careful, I end up taking most of my stash outside for the photography sessions, so I try to limit myself to what I’m “feelin'” at the moment. :)

  • Susan Stanton

    This is one of the most interesting postings I’ve read. You have done a terrific job of explaining how to use color and translate it into a hands-on doable tutorial! (Plus you have an amazing stash!) Thank you for sharing your expertise. I’m going to put more thought into my fabric selections in the future.

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Susan! Although there’s nothing wrong with pulling fabric based on your gut! :)
      Thank you so much for all your kind words, I really appreciate it. :) I’m always happy when someone finds this kind of thing useful!

    • anne Post author

      Gosh, I hope it’s not wrong. I have a dream of someday having a big vault filled with fabric that I can swim in like Scrooge McDuck. πŸ˜€
      I’d love to chat! Feel free to drop me a line. πŸ˜€

      • Am L

        Other women can dream about a closet full of shoes, we will take a vault of fabric! Although, I wouldn’t throw out a few pairs of really cute shoes if they were in there too!

        • anne Post author

          Hahahaha well adding some shoes wouldn’t be as comfortable to dive into, but I’d make that sacrifice if I had to. πŸ˜‰

  • Jenny

    As much as I try, I can’t master this information, I can only try to internalize it. These pics give me really strong reactions, both positive (chartreuse, fuchsia, aqua, and white/cream) and negative (dark purples, navy (really!), and grays). Now to figure out why.

    • anne Post author

      Interesting! It’s funny, I like the dark purples and navies better than the chartreuse pairing, although I could see situations to use both. Color is often a very personal thing, and everyone has different associations with colors.
      What part do you feel you aren’t mastering? I’d be happy to explain in more detail! :)

  • sarahschraw

    Beautiful stacks! I can imagine it was great fun playing with those. I love the one with aquas. Maybe my favorite would be combining the stack with aquas and the stack with navies.

    I so enjoy these posts.

    • anne Post author

      I could sit and combine fabric for hours! πŸ˜€ And now I want to go combine the aquas and the navies together and see how that looks. I bet that’d be really gorgeous!
      I’m so glad you enjoy them! I love putting them together but sometimes question how useful they are. So all the feedback definitely helps!

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Deb! A lot of it is just a matter of practice. :) You have beautiful work, with great colors, so it must come at least somewhat easy to you, too! :)

  • nohatsinthehouse

    Sometimes I feel like we’re just two creative souls separated by one big chunk of states :) And proper terminology (you come out ahead there). This was no exception – I could just dive into all these pulls!

    • anne Post author

      Well that would explain why I like everything you make, ever. πŸ˜€ It’d be fun to do a swap or a collaborative project. :)

  • Sheryl

    I’ve been stashing for an eggplant and lime quilt for half a year now and thinking about grey accents … apparently I’ve been ahead of the trend? I guess I’ll have lots of chances to see other people’s interpretations of that over the next year.

    • anne Post author

      Yes, totally ahead of the trend! Hopefully with all the purple that’s going to show up this year, you’ll be motivated to finish your quilt. :) It sounds beautiful!

    • anne Post author

      Hahaha! I laughed when I saw the photo of your bundle because of the similarity! πŸ˜€ I can’t wait to see the finished project with those colors. :)

  • Erin

    Such gorgeous colours. I really do love purple. Althoguh now I’m thinking that the purples I’ve picked are more purpley blue instead of purpley pink. May have to sew more… :-/

    • anne Post author

      If you want to send me a picture, I can take a look and let you know. :) I’m glad to find some other purple lovers out there! I was beginning to think that purple was the new red-headed step-child.

  • Adrianne

    Anne, seriously, I am learning so much from these posts! You are giving us all such great tools to organise and articulate our thoughts about colour. All that yummy fabric doesn’t hurt either!

    • anne Post author

      Yay!! I’m so happy they’re useful! I’m always a little worried that they are going to get boring since (to me) it feels like I’m doing the same thing. :) But I’ll keep doing them as long as people find them helpful!
      Plus it gives me an excuse to play with my fabric. πŸ˜€

  • Jessica

    Thank you once again for the excellent descriptions and demonstrations of colour palette options and how they can change the whole feel even with the same feature colour. Feeling ready to go play with fabric and might just have a go.

    • anne Post author

      Yes!! Go forth and play with fabric! πŸ˜€ If that’s the only thing that people get from this, I will be very happy. :) Anything else that you get from it is gravy! I’m seriously thrilled that you found it so useful!

  • jayne Willis

    I was not ‘feeling’ Radiant Orchid when Pantone first announced it was the color of the year. Can you feel uncomfortable looking at a color? However, the past month it has really grown on me…really! I decided not to run away from it. I will be on the front edge of a trend! (for once) Great post, grabbed the button and hope to participate in the quilting challenge!!

    • Sarah @ Berry Barn Designs

      I know exactly how you feel, Jayne! I love purple, but seeing Radiant Orchid at first really put me off. Now that everyone is posting it in patterned fabrics and blended palettes, the color is becoming much more appealing : ) Thanks, Anne. for the great color discussion!

      • anne Post author

        Yesssss… Come to the purrplleee sidddeeee! πŸ˜€
        It is almost always about context. In the right setting, any color can shine. :)

    • anne Post author

      You are definitely not alone! Colors can have a lot of associations that are unique to each person. Last year’s color of the year was apparently similar to the color of a medicine my friend took when she lived in the UK. So she had the same kind of reaction to Emerald as you had to Radiant Orchid. :) But I’m so happy you were able to embrace it and that you’re going to participate in the challenge! I can’t wait to see what you make!

    • anne Post author

      I don’t have a moda bella chart, so I don’t know for sure. Looking just from pictures online, I’d say Violet is pretty close!