Which fabrics? Which colors? Does this go together? You choose for me. Some quilters just agonize over their fabric selections. Which baffles me. Selecting the colors and prints is the fun and easy part of designing a quilt…right?…at least to me. But we were all designed individually and we were all designed with different strengths. I was designed with a strength in color and graphic design. If you struggle in selecting fabrics, let me see if I can help you a bit.
I love teaching a class called How to Choose Color, so I thought I’d share with you a few simple tips on how to put together fabrics for a scrappy quilt. Using our new Material Girlfriend pattern, Party Lights as an example, I hope to give you some tips on selecting fabrics from your own stash or fabrics from your local quilt shop. I designed Party Lights, but my sister, Lora turned the Party Lights on and ‘brought down the house’ with fantastic choices from her stash. She took my black and white print-out of the block, iffy cutting and sewing directions, and plugged in all the beautiful colors and prints.
This beautiful 12″ block is called Diamond Ring, first published in 1906 by Clara Stone, Practical Needlework. The block has also been published as Fanny’s Favorite, Linda’s Favorite, Old Favorite, and My Favorite. Seems to be a favorite block! And soon to be Your Favorite too, when you find how fun it is to create!
First: Choose a Feature Fabric
The Feature Fabric is the focal fabric and the fabric that bridges all the other colors together. This fabric should have several colors. Choose this fabric first. Many times the Feature Fabric is used as a border in a quilt. However, in Party Lights, the feature fabric is the center square of all 18 blocks, thus only requiring a fat quarter of fabric.
Second: Choose Matching Colors to the Feature Fabric
Match all the other fabrics to your Feature Fabric. If your Feature Fabric includes four colors, collect fabrics in those four colors from your stash (or line up bolts in the quilt shop).
Third: Select Light, Medium, Dark and Variations of Print Size
Organize your matching fabric choices in a light/medium/dark arrangement. What are you missing? Select a few more prints to fill in where you don’t have enough variety. Now look at them again. This time note the size of prints. Have you picked all small prints? A variety of print sizes give interest to the quilt top.
For me, the more prints the merrier. For the Party Lights pattern, you only need a total of 2 3/4 yards of color fabrics [about eighteen 1/6 yard cuts or fat eighths] plus a fat quarter of the Feature Fabric. Background yardage required is 4 3/4 yards. A Cheating Hint – a Layer Cake works great with this pattern!
Party Lights is almost ready for press. It has been thoroughly proofed and tested (Thank you Tuleburg Quilting Guild! partial class pic shown above). All I need to do is add the UPC code and a final picture to the back page and send it off to press. You can expect to see the first patterns available at In Between Stitches in Livermore and Quilters Hollow in Stockton, within the month.
Choosing fabrics is a personal decisions. Everyone has their own tastes. One quilter’s preference will not be the next quilter’s preferences, and sew on. Learning to select your fabrics based on your own style, favorite colors, character or style of print, will ensure a more enjoyable project for you. I encourage you to flex those color muscles. Be bold and courageous and when you begin your next quilting project… You Choose.
Sew on and Sew forth!
Lisa Oh! A little reminder, if you’re making the Bird Walk BOM quilt, I’ve added more tips to the Bird Walk program page.