As a newbie quilter, fabric selection can be scary and fun. You don’t want to get the colours or amounts wrong because of the costs involved. But walking into a fabric store is so lovely – beautiful colours, prints and textures all so inspiring. I love running my hands over all the fabrics. There are a few things that I have been learning and I thought I would share so that it won’t be so daunting or distracting.
Fabric selection can be overwhelming because it is all so good. Like eating chocolate from a fancy box – it is hard to make that first choice because they all look good.
Selecting fabric for a quilt is an essential, but a hard task. You are never really sure how a small swatch of fabric will translate into a whole quilt. Keep a few things in mind and it will make it easier.
I like to start with a single fabric that I love and start adding to that. Find that focus, main fabric. Dip into something that you have and that you love. This will inspire what is to come. The idea is that you will plan colours in your quilt around this fabric, your inspiration fabric. Have three values – light, medium and dark to keep the quilt interesting. Pick out colours from the focus fabric to give yourself more options. Each fabric doesn’t have to match; it just has to coordinate with two other fabrics in the quilt. Try to keep the dynamic nature of the quilt the same. That is cool or warm colours, bright/clear or dusty/muted.
Fabrics should complement the pattern. Is there a focal fabric that ties the whole quilt together? Do you have enough variety to keep it interesting? Be careful not to let it get too busy.
- Mix & match or scrappy
This can help you put your own personality into the quilt. Good for mixing up the ever evolving stash. You can use solids and prints to help create that sense of balance.
- Designer fabric line/range
This is where you use all the prints from one line/range in a release. It will often be good if you love that particular designer or range. WE all have our favourites that we are drawn to for various reasons.
If choosing from a line of fabric, they are all designed to coordinate. Just choose a light, medium and dark valued (toned) fabric with a variety of sized prints and they will all coordinate and add some variety.
- All solids/all spots/ all stripes
This gives you a guide of what you want in your quilt. All solids provide a lot of contrast for example and there are plenty of bundles available or often in fabric stores they are all grouped together.
- All one colour palette
This is where you decide that you quilt will be done in shades of green for example which narrows the purchase field. Or if you know that the blocks require three different colours say red, white and blue you use the same tones of red, white and blue throughout the whole quilt.
For balance, a variety of different sized prints can make a difference. For example pairing, lots of small prints with a few larger prints give the eye places to rest when looking at the quilt as a whole. This can also be a good time to use solids to break up the busyness of the quilt and make those prints “pop”.
Choosing a colour scheme
This is one reason that draws people to become quilters. I love colours and playing with colours. I really love coloured pencils – so fabric and piecing fabric can just be an extension of that.
Keep the fabrics together for your project. Once you have decided on your fabrics for your quilt, it is best to keep them together in a box or similar. That way when you have time to do a quick block all the fabric is coordinated and sorted and you won’t need to stress over the selections.
Sometimes a piece of fabric draws you in. It could be the colours, the prints or the overall vibe. Buy it; keep it in your stash to use it to build your quilt around.
Do ask for help. Independent quilt stores can help and they are often staffed by experienced quilters. Or join a quilting guild as they can help you out. Or if you are lucky enough to have a quilty friend or family utilise them!
Don’t let your fabric selection stress you out. It takes time, but it is really worth it. Trust yourself and enjoy the process.