Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thoughts on selecting fabric

Raise your hand if picking fabric (or yarn, for that matter) is your favorite part of the project process.

I'm pretty sure if we were in a room together, there would be lots of raised hands right now. I certainly love other aspects of creating a project, but raw fabric has so much potential. I'm sure this is why stashing can easily get out of hand. When I look at fabric online (or very rarely, in a LQS), I immediately think something along these lines:

"what could I use this for?"
this would be great for x or y."
"ooh, what about using this for binding a quilt?"

This week, I was working on pulling a stack of fabrics for a little quilt-along I'm doing with my good pals Amanda and Nicke.
I'd thought about several different fabric combinations, but Monday night, I started with a single Lecien print, from the Fabulous Blooming collection.
Selecting fabric
Less than an hour later, I was staring at a lovely little bundle.
Selecting fabric
This print was not purchased with any specific purpose, and I've had it for months. I purchased it here at Superbuzzy, if you're interested!
So, my first step was to pull prints that matched the various colors in the Lecien print. I went through my stashed grays, black/whites, greens, blues and reds. I held up individual prints next to the Lecien one, to make sure the shades matched well.
Selecting fabric
It's good to be broad in this search, and you might end up with something unexpected. I chose twenty additional prints. The pattern size I'm making requires seventeen prints, so I then eliminated my least favorites.

Selecting fabric
I will be using this stack to make Cluck, Cluck, Sew's pow-wow pattern found here. I'm not crazy about the name, so I'm going to call it, "which way?" instead!
Some things to keep in mind when choosing fabrics:
  • Keep the pattern piece size(s) and shape(s) in mind as you select fabrics. Most of the prints I chose are small or medium in scale, since larger prints could get lost in this type of piecing. 
  • When starting with an inspirational print like I did here, be sure you consider how each print works with the group, as well as that first print. 
  • Don't be afraid to try combinations you may not have previously considered.
  • Consider value of the prints. In my stack here, I tried to choose prints of similar value, since there are so many colors involved. When you have only a couple of colors involved, it's easier to be free with the values.
  • Having a varied stash certainly helps with this sort of exercise. In fact, this is a helpful way to identify missing colors/prints. As you can see, the lime/chartreuse green color is highly represented in my stash!
I'm going to speak to this process again when planning future projects, because I think it's interesting. I hope you do, too! If you have any questions, please let me know!
The girls and I will be starting the quilt soon.
Feel free to join in with us if you like!


  1. picking fabrics is definitely my favorite part of the process as well. though i like piecing too. and sometimes i like quilting.

    if i could get someone else to cut fabric, baste, square up the quilt, and stitch on the binding, i would get way more done, i think.

    i adore your happy stack!

  2. I love this post Jacey! Definitely one of the best parts of making a quilt, and I love to hear about your process. I actually have two lovely stacks on my shelf that I put together in a similar way. They are potential quilts... but who know if they will ever get made :)

  3. What a nice post about an important part of the process. I usually enjoy doing it, though it often takes much longer than I expect, and it definitely is not always easy!

  4. that pattern is supper cute, and the fabrics you picked are delish!

  5. going to pick my fabrics right now... i think i will decide on a focus fabric and then go from there... i still want my background to be blackish... maybe a dot... that black seed fabric is nearly impossible to find. got to go see what i have.

  6. I just started binding that very quilt - it's been on my to-do list for a while and I finally did it. Sorry to miss the mini QAL!! xo

  7. Definitely an interesting process. I think I could live vicariously through posts like this if I had to. Good thing I don't have to! Glad to hear about your quilt along. You all are going to have fun!

  8. Oh, I love the fabrics you chose, especially the blues! And, that quilt pattern is one of my favorites! I can't wait to see what you all end up with!!

  9. Looking forward to watching your quilts come together. I've had this pattern in the back of my mind for a while (you know, for after I get some of those tops of mine quilted ;) )

  10. Tell me about the fabric of the Lecien prints. Is it closer to a voile? Similar to Art Gallery fabrics? I'm curious and have been looking at these for awhile online! My LQS carries squat. :o(

  11. Ooh, did you say quilt along? Sounds like fun! I love your fabric choices-- I think that pattern looks great with bright, bold colors. (Also, I like your new name for the pattern. I think that's what I'll call it in my head from now on!).

  12. I can't wait to see how your quilt goes, Jacey! I have Amy's Pow-Wow quilt at the top of my list of contenders for quilts for my 3 boys. I LOVE it.

  13. I am learning to love picking fabrics. I love browsing them, but when I actually have to select materials for a quilt, I freeze. I'm working on building my stash up a little and I hope that by using it as a starting point, it will help narrow my vision when shopping. Right now it's so tiny that I basically start from scratch each time and get overwhelmed by all the lovely out there. So hard to decide!

  14. I love that mix of prints and colors! I especially like the delicate blue vaguely floral print with the bold chartreuse and white geometric one (and how all of the selections go together).

    This definitely makes me want a bright, sunny sewing room to sit in and play with fabrics!


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