Courtesy: Moo

A well-inspired and ingenious usage of colours can generate a visually balanced image, with an bold impact, which is pleasing to the eye.

Colour blocking is one such creative device. It refers to a colour scheme in which two or more fabrics of complementing colours are sewn together in a decorative way. The overall look is very graphic and modular in design. The popularity of colour blocking dates back to the 1960s, when it found its origin in the pop culture of modern art and hip fashion. The fashion world ushered an innovative, bold and creative style of clothing that originally belonged to London. The British youth set the trend, which was later followed by the rest of the world. The muted pastel palette of the 50s fashion transformed into bright, bold colours that were often applied in geometric patterns and is still popular today with the retro trend of colour block. It is an ideal styling technique to  use for creating your own handbag designs.

Colours in Our Environment:

Nature’s own colour palette is inspirational…an assortment of hues and dynamic combinations; various sultry blues and aubergines of a seascape, lush greens and yellows of flourishing flora, and hot arresting reds and browns of earth and minerals. A skilled designer understands the subtle interactions of these hues and bonds them, with layers of other colours in metals and plastics, to give an appealing look to a fashion accessory. A perfect assortment of different colours and various shades play an important role in defining the look of your finished product. Not only is it pleasant to view but allows for a bold exciting statement to be made regarding your personal image. Initially, blocks of square or rectangular pieces were sewn together to create this colour style. The ‘Mondrian Look‘ during the 60s consisted of flat planes revealing the artistic sensibility of the wearer. Later during the evolution of modern fashion, colour blocking has grown into other geometric shapes and angular patterns in many vibrant colours and pattern schemes, popular with current designers.

Sewing the Colour Scheme:

Colour blocking involves cutting the fabric along the line where the colour change is required, and then adding a seam allowance to both the sides. When the pieces of fabric are sewn together, the final fabric is of the same size and shape as of the original piece, but with two or more complimenting hues. This type of pattern patchwork is best suited for simple and bold designs as elaborated designs would require more seams and makes the process a complex one, and if the stitching is less than accurate, it would also affect the finishing of the product. Order of construction is more important in these styles, as sewing around sharp angles will be tedious. Colour blocking is different from appliqué, wherein one shape is stitched onto another piece of fabric. Appliqué requires a lot of hand-basting, but is comparatively easier than colour blocking. Similarly, it also varies from piping where a contrast colour fabric is sewn into the seam in such a way that it protrudes visibly along the seamline acting as an accent trim detail.

The idea is to sew blocks of colour in varied dimensions and sizes; you can accomplish this by making squares and rectangles; or applying it to different parts of the bag construction . It’s best to plan out the sizes and shapes in a sketch before you actually begin sewing the fabrics or handbag parts. You will want to create a geometric balance, both in the positioning of the squares and rectangles and the colour scheme that you’ll choose. Once you have everything planned out on a sheet of paper, then you’re ready to start stitching.

Colour block handbag designs add a spirit of freshness to any ensemble, and grabs attention. Today’s lifestyle calls for active designs, and people wish to look more fashionable and presentable. These styles have now become a fashion trend. Today, designers offer colour-blocked accessories as well as apparel, for an overall effect, added with flattering styles. Shades of bright orange, true red, key lime, alpine green, sky blue and hues of pink are in vogue. New colour combinations are being introduced in the new collections to suit the changing preferences of the consumers. Latest fad is ‘Tonal Colour Blocking‘, which consists of a new dimension with a light and a dark shade from the same colour palette.

The Rules of Colour Blocking

Colour block can add a graphic element to the appearance to any design. It gives a bold effect to simple DIY designs and transform them into architectural pieces. Here are the rules to the art of colour-blocking:

  • Three is the magic number
  • Keep colours in the same family
  • Be loud and proud
  • Keep it simple

Discover analogous, triadic, and split-complementary colour combinations and have fun with your creations.


Filed under Design Insight


  1. thanks for such an inspiring post!

  2. Thanks again for this nicely detailed post on how to use color blocking. 🙂

  3. ty

    I craft quite well but my lack of colour knowledge detracts from my work, be it in woven jewellery or fabric. I seem never able to do anything colourwise but this bold projection of colours and the colour wheel somehow makes me think it can be learnt. Thabks for ever shariing your wealth of knowledge with people like me.

  4. ty

    Thanks for sharing this. My sense of colour combination is appalling and it detracts from my creation. Your simple approach and explanation somehow makes me think I can learn it. Thanks

  5. Audrey

    Hello, I just wanted to thank you for a fantastic website – this one and your other one the Weekend Designer. It must take a lot of work writing all these pr0jects up. All I can say is thank you for passing on your expertise to a new generation of learners. Thanks so much.

  6. Selina

    What are those color cards in the first photo? I’m looking for a book or sample cards or something like this that would serve as a color inspiration treasure chest I could dive in when I need a spark to set the imagination off…

  7. Ananya bhowmik

    is this color blocking trend going to vanish from the market or going to be termed as a classic?? i am just curious to know your views

    • Don

      I’d have to say that the technique itself is a classic one as it is used in many different ways and situations. As far as a fashion trend is concerned, designers are always looking for something new so the use of colour-blocking does run its course and will revamp into something else. It is a cyclic thing used in marketing.

  8. Pingback: Geometric Color Blocking

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