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Buying Fabric

Waaaaaaaaaay back when I first started quilting purchasing fabric was perhaps the most daunting part of the quilting process.  Mostly because I lacked the experience necessary to put color & texture together in the pattern in a way that was pleasing to me or what I thought the intended quilt receiver would like.

While I’d heard of a color wheel, I didn’t know how to use it or even that it could be used in quilting.  I’m glad I own one!

I didn’t know that I could run with my own intuitive color sense and be quite happy.  Yeah! I can play to my hearts content.

I didn’t know what was on the market for quilters.  The internet helps us quickly see what’s out there.  If I ever thought a fabric shop with 10, 000 bolts of fabric was a lot, the internet just trumped that!

I thought fabric was very expensive.  Well it can be particularly when we’re first getting started.

I thought that quilts had to look a particular way and be hand quilted in order to be a quilt.  They don’t, log cabins do not have to have a red center to be a log cabin, nor should they have florals, just because that’s the impression we have of them.

I thought that everything had to be matchy, matchy in order to work well together.  Well…not so much.  The fabrics in “When Alex & Jinny met in NY, Beauty Happened” came from two very different fabric lines that I worked to get to play together nicely.

Time, experience and seeing what other quilters are doing have allowed me to see fabric differently.  It will for you too, until then feel free to rely on me, other quilters and quilt shop employees to assist you in making those choices.  I still rely on friends to help when I’m struggling finding just the right fabric.  Sometimes it even comes from their stash!

In the very beginning I thought calico’s were it!  Small floral patterns and a few solids seemed to rule my stash, and that was fine, however I still have a couple of unfinished projects from then.  Or did I finally pass those on?  I did, I passed those blocks and partially completed quilts onto a quilter who loves to do scrap quilts, making them for cancer patients.  I’m glad the fabric went to a good use and that whoever is left to deal with the rest of my quilting room will not have all of that extra fabric to distribute.

Over time my fabric choices have certainly changed I tend toward bright colors because they make my heart sing.  I love hand dyes or small batch dyes as they offer a palette for me to quilt.  I like playing with silk because of the texture and the challenge.  I like to try quilting on Satin, but I think I need a different batting and that’s a whole different post.

So when newish and experienced quilters come to me at the quilt shop looking for help I have 2 goals:

1) to help them find what they love

2) to help them grow and see the possibilities

Finding what you love is an essential component of the quilting process.  If you purchase what you love, no matter what I think of the fabric, you will finish the quilt.  My opinions will help you decide if this fabric is working for you or not.  I can help you figure out what you love by asking questions through the process that will help me get a feel for how you see things working with the fabric choices that we have and we do have a lot of fabric choices and we’re not limited by what’s on the shelf at the local quilt shop, though it’s much more convenient.

Let’s start with one way of looking at color choices: fabric lines.  Fabric companies put a lot of time and effort to have a fabric line that coordinates well.

Let say that this Faye Burgos print from Marcus catches your eye and it’s something you’d like to work with.  How would you go about choosing fabrics that go with it?  What if the shop didn’t (couldn’t) buy the entire line for some reason.

What do you look for?  I have the quilters look at the fabric to give me colors that they initially see.  Brown, blue, green, cream & teal would easily and quickly be the answers.

And…what else?

While the first impressions are quite accurate it’s important to note that there are shades of blue, there is a bit of black running through; even a bit of white.

Then there are the textures: flowers, leaves, paisley, squares, circles, diamonds.

Seeing all of these things allow for opportunities to add fabrics to the project stash.

So this print isn’t for you.  I can live with that, let’s look at something much more modern & hip from Kaufmans Glam Garden Collection by Josephine Kimberling

It’s way more modern.

What are your first impressions.

What else do you see?

Would you think solids, mottled or prints with this?

Let me know what you think!

Happy quilting!


4 thoughts on “Buying Fabric”

  1. I like your two goals to help people pick fabric! This is why I have a hard time giving my mom advise on what to do with her quilting, my response is pick the one that you like!

  2. Hi Teri! What are you doing lately with all these wonderful, educational posts? =) My first impression of the Glam Garden is that its flat. Its flat because its a little ‘cartoon-y’. There is no shading- the design is made up of all solids. And its flat because there is no fine black line defining the shapes. But then I see that its not really flat, its only relatively flat compared to the Marcus Bros fabric above it. The dark brown ground color is really dark and the flowers with white white outlines float above it. Also it gets dimension from the transparency. Floating flowers with transparency are not flat after all. I see the bits of cool colors making the warm colors hot. I’d stick with some solids maybe and similar ‘cartoon-y’ prints. And I’d push it a bit into some fabrics with a little more dimension that comes from shading, but not too far. And I’d stay away from black, grey or tan as neutral backgrounds, I’d stick with brown and white if I wanted neutral backgrounds. But seriously, what I see are applique flowers to make! =) -keith

  3. I can see a brown material with white polka dots as an accent – the dots reflect off the centers of the flowers and the brown gives it a solid base to build on.

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