Kona Color Card Tutorial

Saturday, June 8, 2019

I don't know about you, but I often find picking out the fabric one of the toughest steps of making a quilt. 

I have also found that it's made a bit easier by using a flexible color card.

A flexible color card allows you to be—flexible!  It allows you to remove the color chips from the card and place them on a neutral background with other colors that you're interested in putting in your new palette.  Think of them kind of like paint chips that you pick up in the paint store, only these are individual ones, instead of a strip of the same color with different values.

Several years ago (yikes, back in 2012), Rachel at Stitched in Color shared how to create—what I call—the flexible color card from a standard Kona Color card.  I have scoured her site, but haven't been able to find the instructions.

The original card I created in 2012 is on the right in the photo below.  Since then, Kona has grown their Kona solid offering to 340 different colors (!!!) which they have captured on their newest card.  The current, unaltered card, is on the left in the photo.  With the addition of all the new colors, I had to rethink how to pull together the new card.

Here's a few instructions and tips for creating your own flexible color card.

Required supplies:
Step 1:

Selecting your card:  First, let's make sure that you have the correct Kona Color card.  If you want to be working with the newest card, you want it to look like this.

Kona Solid Color Card with 340 colors
The following color card is the older one.  It will work, but it has ~100 fewer colors on it.  Be careful, some sites had been selling the card below at a discount to move their inventory.  IMHO, it isn't worth the small discount to lose 100 color swatches, so I would recommend that you make sure that you're ordering the color card with the 340 swatches on it.  

Kona Solid Color card with ~240 colors

Step 2:

Start with the 28"x22" poster board.  I picked one up at JoAnn's.  You can easily find them at drug stores, Michael's, etc.  Mine had a matte side and a gloss side.  I used the matte side to fix the fabric swatches onto.

Folding:  The first thing to do with the board is to fold it.  First in half so it is 14"x22" (e.g. fold the 28" length in half).  Then, fold it again, so your folded poster board is now 7"x22".

Poster board folded into quarters along 28" length
Taping:  Now, before you move on.  Take  strips of clear packing tape and put them along the folds (both front and back).  Make sue that you fold the tape over the top and bottom to protect them as well at the fold.  This protects the cardboard as this will be SO useful, you will find that you fold and unfold it quite a bit.

Clear packing tape along folds
Marking:  Once taped, now take your 24" ruler and your pencil (easier to erase if you make an error) and mark vertical lines 1 1/8" apart.  You want to put 6 columns on each 1/4 piece of the board.  It's best to center the first line on the 7" panel at 3.5" and then measure out, right to left, from there.   Six squares will equal 6 3/4", which will leave ~1/4" on each side of the columns on each panel.  This 1/4" will make it easier for the board to fold once the fabric swatches are fixed to the board.

Once all of your vertical lines have been marked, you want to mark the horizontal lines at 1 1/2".  You want 14 rows for swatches when you are complete.

When complete, you should have 24 columns (6 per panel) and 14 rows.  If you've done your math, that = 336 and there are 340 swatches.  I will cover that as we go forward.

Step 3:

Before you start cutting up your card, there are a few steps that will make it all easier.

Pre-cutting:  Once you start cutting the card, you will not have any way to see what order the colors go in.  So I took about 6-8 photos with my phone, going down the card.  That way if things got mixed up (this was done on my dining room table over 2 days), I would be able to find the photo and zoom in to see what order the colors went in.

Labeling:  Starting in the top left corner, number each of the cells, moving vertically down (e.g. the top left is #1, the first cell in the next row down is #2, the first cell in the third row down is #3, etc).  I put the number in the bottom left of each cell.

This step is optional:  Beginning with the first row of colors on the Kona Color Card (yellow), write the names of each of the swatches in the cells, going in numerical order (e.g. down the column).  You want to do this at the bottom, as when you apply the swatches, you will be putting velcro in each cell and you don't want what you wrote to get covered by the velcro.  The image below reflects how I did it.

The reason it is optional, is that you're going to write the number of the cell on the back of the color swatch to make it easier to put the color swatches away, in the correct order.  So for some, actually writing the name of the fabric on the fabric card may be overkill.  I chose to do so, as if I am ever missing a swatch from the card, I wanted to know what color was missing,

Cutting the Velcro:  First, you'll want to cut enough velcro pieces to secure your first column of swatches.  Cut them into 1/2" pieces.  Fold the Velcro in half (so the top and bottom are stuck together, then use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut the 1/2" pieces.  

Stick 3/4" Velcro  
Velcro folded

Step 4:

Once your grid is complete, your first column of cells labeled and velcro cut, you are ready to move on to starting to cut up the card—yes, really!

Cutting the card:  Starting with the yellow end of the card first.  Lay your ruler just at the top of the first row of color (where the fabric meets the cardboard).  You want to cut the entire row at the top of the color chip.  Now flip your newly cut strip around and cut the bottom of that row (where the fabric names are) at 1 1/2" from the top.  The cells on the poster board are 1 1/2", so you want to be careful not to cut the swatches too long.  

Then again, using your rotary cutter, cut each of the fabric swatches apart.  If you have already transferred the names of the color swatches to the poster board, it won't be as important to keep them in perfect order at this point.  

The final step before adhering the fabric swatches to the poster board is to go write the number in the cell on the back of the fabric swatch itself.  This matters later when you're actually using the flexible color card and have pulled off umpteen fabric swatches.  Being able to match number to number when the cells are marked in numerical order makes it a LOT easier to put the fabric pieces back, increasing your likelihood that you will actually put them away.  

Applying the swatches:  Remove the plastic backing and first apply the velcro to the cut fabric swatch.  Then carefully place the color swatch into the correct square and press it into place.  I put the portion of the velcro that catches everything (you know what I mean ;-) on the board and the softer piece of the velcro on the back of each swatch.  That way I wouldn't be collecting stray bits on the back of all the color swatches when I had them off the board.  

Note:  I found it was easiest to purchase a box of Velcro with a 15' of 3/4" strip.  You can purchase dots, which takes out the need to cut all the little pieces of Velcro, however, it doubled the cost of the Velcro as there are only 200 dots per box (you need 340) where as you can get 360 pieces at 1/2" out of a 15' box for the same price as a box of dots.  

What the completed back of swatch and cells on the poster board look like

Proceed with each row from the Kona Color card until you have cut and secured all 336 pieces to the front of the poster-board card.

Here's where I put the final 4 colors on the back.  This piece is secured with velcro so it is also removable, but the 4 pieces of fabric are not separable,

With that, your color card is complete!

This color card sees a LOT of use.  Next week, I'll be sharing different alternatives that people are using instead of poster board as well as some examples of how I use the board—hint, it's not just for ordering solids.

Hope everyone is having a great week out there and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


1 comment:

Charlotte M. said...

I have a flexible color card like this. We made them when we too Rachel's class on color, so it was part of the class, not just something on her blog. I have not upgraded to the new card, though.

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