I’m sharing how I cut up and made a magnetic Kona Colour Card for easily planning and purchasing quilting solids. Find out tips and variations, as well as ideas for translating this tutorial to other uses around your home.
Quilting With Solids
As a general rule, I greatly prefer making quilts with scrappy, patterned fabrics. However, I have made a few quilts that have required several solids. I like using Kona solids as they’re fairly easy for me to find, and they come in such a large range of colours – 365 to be exact.
Sometimes I have chosen the colours of the solids by matching them in person. On other occasions, I have followed the recommendations of the quilt pattern and just purchased from a list.
But my favourite local quilt store, Mad About Patchwork, is actually quite far from where we live and has limited hours. So sometimes it’s easier to order online from them. And during the pandemic, there have been periods of time where the store has been closed to in-person shopping altogether. This makes online orders a necessity, but also makes choosing solids more difficult.
The Challenge of Choosing Solids Online
Over Black Friday, the store had a great sale, but they were closed to in-person shopping. I decided to hastily plan out my first quilt pattern to take advantage of the sale, and I knew I wanted to use Kona solids for one version.
I spent an agonizing couple of hours trying to figure out which solids would be a good combination – enough contrast, harmonious undertones, a similar intensity – and actually in stock in the quantities I needed. All while hoping my screen colours were accurate enough.
By a stroke of luck (and a lot of separate browser windows open to see things side-by-side), I managed to get a great trio of colours that I’m really pleased with. But it could have very easily gone wrong. So I decided to figure out a way to make planning and shopping for solids easier going forward.
Kona Colour Card
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I’ve seen other quilters use swatch cards to make their lives easier, and to be able to play with colour combinations. After making my order for the fabric for my quilt, I ended up making a second order to get a Kona Colour Card. It was a bit of splurge considering it’s not strictly necessary. But I want to continue to design quilt patterns, and I felt it would be very useful.
To find your own Kona Colour Card, check your local quilt shops for ones that carry the Kona brand quilting solids. If so, they may also sell the Kona Colour Chart. That’s how I found mine – at Mad About Patchwork. But you can also order one from Amazon.
The Colour Card contains a small fabric swatch square of all 365 colours in the Kona quilting cotton line, sorted in colour family rows. They are labelled underneath with the name and a number. The only problem is that the Kona Colour chart is VERY long. And it is difficult to see how specific colours relate when you can’t put them side by side.
So I quickly got excited to do what many other people have done with their Kona Colour Card – chop it up!
Cutting Up a Kona Colour Card
I’ve seen many examples of other people cutting up their Kona Colour Cards on the internet. Some people use magnets and put them on whiteboards, and other people have used Velcro. Or, people also put them in little organizer boxes or dishes.
I knew that I wanted them laid out in rows rather than stored in boxes, since sorting through them each time would be annoying. And I did not want to use Velcro since I wanted the function of being able to slide them around.
A Magnetic Surface
I did a fair bit of shopping around for a surface to put my magnetic Kona Colour Cards on. If I had a whiteboard that wasn’t being used, I would have used that. But I didn’t.
As it turns out, very few whiteboards are magnetic, and those that are magnetic are heavier and more expensive. I also didn’t want one with a silver frame. I would have preferred a wood frame.
In addition, the Kona Colour Card’s 365 swatches take up a lot of space. That would have required a large whiteboard – larger than the wall space I had to devote to it under my rainbow thread rack. So I kept looking and thinking.
I ended up selecting an IKEA Svensas magnetic memo board. It’s 15.75″ x 23.5″, and made of white powder-coated steel. It also fits very well in the space below my thread rack. The one problem, however, is that it can only fit half of the magnetic Kona Colour Card chips.
I was a bit stumped about what to do with the other half of the swatches and was pondering some peel and stick magnetic surface on the inside of one of my closet doors, when the answer became super obvious. Magnets will attach to powder coated steel on both sides!
Therefore, I could simply place the other half of the swatches on the back/inside of the magnetic board. And because the IKEA Svensas hangs on a simple cleat, it’s quick to pull the board off the wall to access the other half of the colours. It also means I can pull the board off and lay it flat on my cutting table any time I want to play with the swatches. Such a great solution!
Not only is the IKEA Svensas cheaper than most magnetic whiteboards I looked at, but it’s smaller and lightweight. Both sides are magnetic making it double the display space (even if half of it is concealed). And finally, it has no frame meaning you can slide swatches off of the edge to grab them.
Next, I set out to find the most affordable way to get 365 magnets. Magnets are not super cheap either. I had read in another magnetic Kona Colour Card tutorial that magnetic business cards were cheaper. And when I did my own research, I found that as well. Magnets in sheets or strips were so much more expensive.
And as it turns out, using business cards is actually helpful because of their size, as you’ll see later. A box of 50 is perfect and leaves just a few left over after cutting 8 magnets from each card. They have an adhesive backing on them to adhere to the Colour Card swatches. I got the ProMAG magnetic business cards as they were the cheapest I could find.
How to Make a Magnetic Kona Colour Card
Note: Cutting the Kona Colour Card and magnets takes time and effort, and it’s best to do it in several sessions for the sake of your shoulders, wrists, and avoiding blisters.
Step 1: Cut the Kona Colour Card into strips
I decided to cut my Kona Colour Card into strips using my rotary cutter. Use an old blade that you’re just about to replace anyway. Don’t cut fabric with it after cutting paper. You could use scissors, but it would take longer and be less neat. And I contemplated using my Fiskars paper cutter, but I don’t think it would handle the thick card stock or hitting the edges of the fabric well.
To begin, lay your swatch card on your cutting mat so the swatch rows run vertically. Line a quilting ruler up with the top of each row of fabric and cut firmly with your rotary cutter to separate strips. Any rows that are at a fold line will have extra white space beneath. I just cut them to approximately the same height as the other strips.
Keep cutting strips until the entire Colour card has been separated into strips. Do this in a few sessions if need be, like I did.
Step 2 – Prepare the Magnets
Now, you’ll need to check how the size of the magnetic business cards compares to the Colour Card strips. I calculated that I needed to get 8 magnets out of each business card, which would work well with two rows of four. And luckily, each business card was just a smidge longer than four fabric swatches. But compare with your own to be sure.
Helpfully, I could see a pale line running horizontally down the middle of each business card. So I cut each business card in two pieces along that line to make two strips. Again, I compared each strip to the length of four swatches and cut off a tiny end of each strip.
Step 3 – Attach the magnets
Next, I cut each long strip of swatches from the Kona Colour Card into three segments of four swatches each to match each magnet strip. You’ll want to experiment with different scissors for this and find the best ones. Don’t use your fabric scissors. I used my Perfect Scissors, which I probably shouldn’t have, but other scissors were not giving me very clean edges.
Then take one strip of four swatches and turn it face down. Take one magnetic strip and remove the backing. Adhere it along the top of the swatch strip (behind the fabric squares).
Finally, cut vertically through the paper and the magnet to separate each swatch strip into its four separate swatches.
Note: I tried cutting the magnets and swatches into individual pieces first and then attaching them separately after. It was hard to cut the magnets evenly so they didn’t poke out beyond the swatches, and took many extra steps. So I decided to cut them after the magnets were attached in a strip. However, cutting the paper and fabric together is difficult, and doesn’t always produce clean edges. As well, the edges of the fabric fray slightly. Because it is difficult to cut, I definitely recommend cutting the swatches apart over a few days to avoid blisters.
Tip: If you want to organize your swatches in rows on your magnetic board, I suggest keeping each row’s swatches together after you’ve cut them apart, rather than dumping them all together and letting them get mixed up. You’ll spend less time sorting later!
Step 4: Hang the magnetic board and arrange the swatches
The IKEA Svensas cleat is very easy to hang with two screws. I added anchors since there weren’t any studs where I needed it, and the board is heavier with all the magnets on it. The cleat is easy to level using the oblong screw hole to make adjustments.
Tip: I hung my magnetic board beside my window where they won’t get direct sunlight. Therefore they will not fade. Swatches become less useful when they are no longer colour accurate, so keep that in mind when choosing a place to hang the magnetic board.
Next, after having mixed them all up (oops!), I had to sort all my swatches back into their rows. The letter and number I gave each was a lifesaver! I fit half of them on the front and I chose the colours I love to look at the best, and will likely use the most often.
The other half I put inside the back. Because the steel wraps around in a frame-like way, I didn’t want to hide the swatches too far behind the edges. Therefore I had to put the last row and the row of 5 blacks off to the side.
I also stuck tiny felt dots in the corners on the back of the magnetic board. These will help protect the paint when I take the board on and off the wall repeatedly.
The Finished Magnetic Kona Colour Card
I love how the colour card swatches look on the wall, especially near my rainbow thread. (And yes, the thread rainbow does start over again as I like to keep my cotton thread separate at the top of the rack).
When I want to work with the swatches and play around with them, I can just lift the magnetic board off the cleat and lay it down on my cutting table. I got some gold magnetic clips from IKEA as well, and they can hold swatches from other fabrics – bindings, backings, patterned fabric, etc.
And if I want to access the other half of the colours, I just need to flip it over. Can you spot my numbering error? (oops!)
Other Ways to Use a Magnetic Board
I can see that there are many other ways to use this magnetic board concept around the house. Here are some of my ideas:
- Make other swatches magnetic – paint chips, felt or fabric swatches, wallpaper, etc.
- Use a magnetic board to create mood boards for home decor projects
- If you had a large magnetic whiteboard with a calendar, you could make magnetic pieces with recurring weekly events like soccer practice or piano lessons
- You could make a chore chart with moveable magnets on a whiteboard
- You could use a magnetic board as a teacher, or for homeschooling. For example, you could create magnetic pieces for letters, math, or even games. The bonus of the IKEA Svensas is you can “store” extra pieces on the backside.
- Children might like to have magnets with their favourite characters on them. Simply print images on card stock, let them colour them, cut them out, and stick to magnets.
If you get creative, I’m sure there are endless ways you could use a magnetic board. If you have other ideas, let me know in the comments below.
You might also like 11 Tips for Multi-Purpose Craft Room Organization.
Magnetic Kona Colour Card
I’m so happy with how this project turned out. It meets all the requirements I had – flexibility, ease of use, portability, and has the bonus of being colourful and inspiring art for my walls. I can’t wait to play with the swatches for my next project.
I hope the tips and steps I’ve shared will help you to tackle something similar. But even if you’re not a quilter or don’t have a large number of swatches to magnetize, the concept can be applied to many uses in your home.
I want to hear from you. Have you invested in swatches as a quilter or crafter? How do you like to use them? Or what’s another idea for using magnetic pieces and a magnetic board in your own home? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,