I think the key word here is “your.”
The color and style that I like may be different than what you like. I recently had someone inquire about having me make her a quilt. I began asking questions to get a feel for what she had in mind, and what colors and styles she liked. She really didn’t know what she wanted other than she wanted it to match her cream colored curtains. Her response was she thought I could just make those decisions and present to her a finished quilt. I told her I could do that, but what if what I like isn’t what she likes. I want her to be happy with the quilt.
Whether you are making the quilt yourself or commissioning someone else, where do you begin? In this article, I am going to highlight selecting your pattern and fabrics.
The wonderful World Wide Web is a great source for inspiration. Pinterest or Etsy are just a couple very popular sites full of creative ideas. Careful, they can really suck you in and become addictive. Search for quilt patterns using terms such as modern, traditional, flowers, animals, applique, pinwheels or half square triangles. Keep in mind, to be looking for a “pattern” you love don’t be concerned about the color yet. Try searches using quilt pattern names you are familiar with like Irish chain, bears paw, or double wedding ring. This is a great way to see numerous color and style variations to the same quilt pattern. This will show how color choice can make the same quilt pattern look so different.
So, you finally decide on the pattern you like, what’s next? Picking your fabrics and colors.
Last summer, I offered to make a quilt for my mother-in-law. I asked her to pick the pattern and fabric. To help her with fabric selection we went to the Missouri Star Quilt Company (MSQC) website. They are known for their huge selection of pre-cuts, fabrics already cut into squares or strips which saves lots of prep time. The other advantage of pre-cuts is that they make fabric selection a breeze. For example, a layer cake (package of 42 - 10” pre-cut squares) usually consists of about 20 fabrics that coordinate from a fabric line. I knew my mother-in-law was interested in blues so I selected several blue fabric lines that I thought would look nice in the pattern she chose, Grand Adventures by MSQC.
I selected some options in muted tones, some that provided a pop of color. This made it less overwhelming for her to make her decision. Even if you opt to buy yardage instead of pre-cuts or only want to use a few different fabrics than a whole line, being able to view a large group of coordinating fabrics all together makes fabric selection so much easier. Missouri Star is one of my favorite sites for inspiration – for both patterns and fabrics. If you prefer to purchase your fabrics local rather than online, it can still be helpful to search online first. I can find what I like online, note the fabric line name, then search locally for it.
Traditionally, quilters cotton is the most accepted fabric for quilts. It is a higher quality 100% cotton fabric than other products. Expect some shrinkage, so take that into consideration when calculating yardage needed but there is less shrinkage than a lower quality cotton. Quilters cotton isn’t the only option. Home décor, flannel, knits, and denims can all be used, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Home décor fabric can be heavier and often stiffer, but there are beautiful design options.
Flannel makes soft, comfy baby quilts, but allow for shrinkage. You might be surprised by knits, but think t-shirt quilts. T-shirt quilts make great memory gifts. Depending on what you choose for backing fabric t-shirt quilts are great for snuggling by the TV (Minky backing) or perfect beach/picnic quilts (denim backing). I have several t-shirt quilts on my to-do list. If t-shirts work, why not any new knit fabrics? I can visualize pretty pastel knits in a simple block-style pattern backed with Minky for a super cozy baby blanket.
As already noted denims would be great as a backing, but old jeans cut up and pieced together for a quilt top would make a great picnic blanket also. One thing to keep in mind when selecting fabrics is using heavier fabrics like home décor and denims will add a lot of weight to your quilt. Using a lightweight batting, or in some cases, no batting will help reduce weight. But, the fabrics themselves will still make a pretty hefty quilt. The batting used in a quilt and the design, and amount of quilting used to quilt the layers of your quilt all have an effect on creating your perfect quilt.
We will look at these in a future article. Until then…Happy Quilting!