Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quilting How-To: Fabric Selection

One of the bonuses of being done with my book—besides having time to return to this blog—is being able to spend time quilting again. I promised that when I began another project, I would document it as I went along and add to my postings of quilting how-tos. Since I had a good friend getting married, it was time to start another quilt. And so I start here with one of my favorite parts of making a quilt: choosing the fabric.

Actually, the first part of designing the quilt is choosing the pattern, which I'm just going to skim over here. I wanted something quick and easy, so I chose a two-color block with only four pieces. The blocks used several colors, combined into different pairings, so I needed several fabric colors and patterns.

I consulted my friend's registry and saw they had chosen sage and a kind of pale, silvery blue for their sheets. Hey! I thought. I've got some sages and blues in my stash, having made a purple-and-sage pattern for my own bed (still being hand quilted) and a blue-and-red lap quilt for a graduation gift. So I went through and found seven kinds of scrap that fit with the color scheme. I had enough to make one-twelfth of the squares, so I figured I needed eleven more fabrics for the project.

Next stop was my local  Jo-Ann, which has developed a decent selection of batik fabrics over the past few years. (Of course, my scraps are mostly batiks; I prefer the rich, saturated color and not-quite-patterned look most of them have.) They had a lot of olive greens, turquoise greens, and the like, but not much in sage. Fine. I found a really nice navy blue pattern and an excellent silvery blue fabric and added that to my collection. Now I just needed nine more fabrics to have a good selection to mix together.

Luckily, I had a birthday coming up, which meant a trip to Ann Arbor Sewing Center, my favorite place for quilting fabric. Not only do they have a fantabulous, to-die-for selection of batiks, they give a discount on one-yard cuts on your birthday. So driver's license in hand and my mom along to share the fun, I headed over to browse their batik room.

The batik room is a bit overwhelming at first; if you're not sure what colors you want to use, you can get stuck in front of one of the cases (there are at least half a dozen), looking at all the different shades. Luckily, I knew how I wanted to split my nine remaining fabrics: a couple darks, a couple lights, four medium tones in both grey and green, and one contrasting color to kind of "pop" out of the quilt. So I browsed and found a dark navy and one with both dark green and blue. I found two light grey, nearly white patterns (one escaped this photo), and then four mid-tone greens. You'll notice the one near the top left has almost no pattern to it; I find when you're using several fabrics in a quilt, you need a couple of patterns that aren't very busy so that the eye can rest once in a while.

I tried a lot of things for my contrasting "pop" of color: purple, a couple of burgundies, and a couple of rusts. I was leaning towards a golden-rust color when I found the fabric at the top of the picture: a batik ombre that shaded from pure golden yellow at one end to deep orange rust at the other. (In the picture one half of the fabric is sitting atop other half.) I liked the yellow, I like the orange, and it certainly was going to contrast! I got my one-yard cuts, took them home and washed them, and I was ready to start cutting! But that's a step for another how-to....

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