Thursday, July 19, 2012

F : Fun with Color

Today's post is

Fun with Color : Fabric Selection for Quilts

And this, once again is brought to you by, yours truly...


Selecting fabric for a quilt is one of the most crucial decision you'll have to make... It is sometimes as easy as pulling out a bundle and starting work or sometimes it takes days (even weeks...) to decide what you'll be using!!!

If you are so lazy that you dont want to select any fabric... Go buy a bundle! Let someone else do the thinking!

Pre-cut bundles are a great way to start when you are unsure about your skills... These bundles are usually color-co-ordinated and take the stress out of making a quilt! You can get them in a variety of sizes... Commonly sold in FQs, some shops offer larger cuts too! Just check with your shop before you order!

But there are other "interesting" ways of selecting fabric... Some might find them tedious, but I love this process...

Most quilt patterns are created by the contrast between light, medium and dark fabrics. The colors or patterns that you select will affect the overall quilt design. 

Not only will you have to think about the color but the shade, tone and tint of it!


Let me guide you to a color wheel... I found one that is simple to understand... Its highly self-explanatory...

It is not difficult to grade one fabric from light to dark, 

but the value will change when you look at it against other colors. 

Fabrics appear lighter when surrounded by darker or deeper shades and darker when surrounded by lighter ones!

You can also use the color wheel to decide on the color scheme of your quilt!

You could select a few adjacent colors to create a harmonious effect.

Or you could go for colors opposite one another for contrast.

Some of the most effective color schemes use three adjacent colors from one side and another from directly opposite for contrast.

The Primary colors create the most vibrant color schemes.

Three or four tertiary colors produce a more subtle effect...

When using printed fabrics, you have to think about the scale of the print along with the shade and value of the fabric! 

Small scale prints tend to look solid from a distance but add interest and create a textured effect when viewed at a close hand.

Medium prints are perhaps the most popular ones. But be careful when you use two of them together. Sometimes the pattern line is blurred and the desired pieced effect is gone!

Large scale prints generally become abstract patterns when the shape is cut. 

Or you can also fussy cut them to suit your purpose.

It is fun to combine large and small scale fabric for your quilt!

Wow! That was quite a post!!! Now let me leave you with some food for thought!

9 things to remember while choosing fabric!

1. Quilts are a good way to use scraps. So shop fabric from your scrap bins before you head out of the door (or to your PC)

2. The wonderful and yummy Fat Quarters are tempting, but it would be foolish to buy them before you have planned your quilt! You do not want to run out on a cold day just 'coz you were a 2" short of fabric for your quilt! Trust me, if that happens, no quilt shop in at least 10 miles radius will have that one in stock and you'll end up paying 10 times to buy it on etsy!

3. Even if you only need a small quantity, it is always better to buy a little bit more than you think you'll need. If you feel you can do with a Fat Eight - go buy a Fat Quarter!

4. Think about using fabric from other sources - clothing for example!

5. Always use good quality fabrics with a similar fiber content for making a quilt!

6. Thin or worn fabrics will not last and batting will work through a loosely woven fabric to produce surface haze.

7. Choose closely woven fabrics, but not so tight a weave that they will be difficult to sew.

8. Visualize and plan the quilt on paper, then try out a single block to make sure the colors work well together (if you have doubts).

9. Have fun! Quilting is all about not just snuggling under the warmth. but enjoying the entire process.. So feel free to leave your inhibitions and my rules behind and just follow your heart! 

Remember, wrapping a quilt around someone is like giving them a hug!


Monday, July 16, 2012

E : Endless Resources

Today's topic is

Endless Resources : Online Fabric Resources

And today's post is written by someone who is an okay quilter and loves to ramble on about a lot of things around her... She is totally self taught (nobody even taught her to thread a sewing machine!) and has been quilting (attempting to quilt) for 2 years now...

Who is she?

Your's truly!!!

Staying in India I was not introduced to designer fabric (I didn't even know such a thing exists!) untill I participated in a fabric swap by Sew Mama Sew...

I do not remember when I started actually buying fabric online... But I did, and I'm glad for it... Today my stash is growing more rapidly than my son!!!

So where do I buy fabric online???

Here's my list of top 10... If you have a shop, small or big, just leave a link in the comments so that people will know!

The Fat Quarter Shop was founded in 2003 by Kimberly Jolly. The Fat Quarter Shop continues to branch out with the best fabrics, exclusive kits, quilt clubs, BOMs, and more. Visit The Fat Quarter Shop and drop by their blog The Jolly Jabber
I have bought from them often and I love shopping with them... :) Super fast shipping and generous cuts!

Fabricworm has modern cotton fabric for quilting and many other craft items. Cynthia is the founder of the store and carries one of the largest selections of Japanese imported fabrics online. 
She has a great collection of my favorite Echino prints.
Here's a link to her blog

Stitches N' Giggles was born as an online fabric store that sells designer fabric worldwide from Michael Miller and Moda at very reasonable prices. 

Pink Chalk Fabrics features quality natural fibers for quilting, sewing, craft projects, handbags, aprons, and more! You'll find colorful fabrics from the big names, Japanese imports, and small, boutique finds.

Here you can find a HUGE Selection of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics, as well as Batiks, Kona Cotton 
solids, Australian Aboriginal, Art Gallery and 1930s reproductions at wonderful prices.

Burgundy Buttonsstocks a wonderful range of pre-cuts along with a growing range of fabrics by the yard. 

Absolutely wonderful selection of fabric!!! I love this shop...

I bought my favorite Echino fabric from them... Gorgeous selection and fast shipping...

Lovely collection of Japanese and Kawaii fabric... Lots of fabric, laces and other stuff to select from... Yuo'll get lost here...

#10 : Kalla

Beautiful hand screen printed fabric!!! Go and have a look...

Do you really think I could stop at 10???

Here are a few more that are dear to my heart...

#11 : Want it, Need it, Quilt!

Run my the hexy-woman Jane, this is fabulous shop where you will find most of the new Moda precuts before they are available in the US!!! 

Unique and beautiful designs... Expensive, but if you have got the buck, go for it...

The woman behind the beautiful colorful fabric!!! Laurie Wisbrun... Lovely collection...

Lovely collection of custom designs by people around the world! You can upload your own design here too...
WARNING : You'll get lost here...

#15 : Sew Deerly Loved.

Run by Kerri, Sew Deerly Loved is a unique fabric boutique that carries a collection of designer and Japanese fabrics.

Had fun??? Hop on the other stores linked in the linky (if there are any... LOL)... Go buy your heart out...


Thursday, July 12, 2012

D : Designer Fabric

Today's topic is Designer Fabric... And our guest for today is none other than our favorite shop that deals with loads of designer fabric - The Fat Quarter Shop

Kate Spain, Me & My Sister Designs, Jo Morton, The Quilted Fish, McKenna Ryan… 

I see all of these names, but what do they mean?

Fabric Designers in the quilting industry are similar to the fashion industry.  We have our own designer brands and names.  Some of the designers even print their designs on stationary, plates and cell phone cases.  Each designer has their own specific style.  So if you like one of their collections, there is a good chance you will like their next one!  Of course every once in a while each designer might go out of their comfort zone and design something completely different.

Another fun thing about quilting fabric designers is that they each have completely different roots. Some started because they quilt or sew, others started off being painters, stationary designers, and one even started from his hit TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Fat quarters, charm packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes…they all sound so delicious, but just what are they?

Whether you’re a newbie or oldie at quilting you might start scratching your head and repeat the statement above.  Well, scratch no more, my friends.  All of these scrumptious terms simply refer to pre-cut sizes of fabrics that quilters adore. They will shorten your cutting time and give you an affordable way to purchase an entire collection of fabric without breaking the bank, saving time and money!

Here is an unofficial guide to the wonderful world of fabric precuts that will hopefully clear up confusion:

Fat Quarters

Fat Quarters are cut that measure 18” x 21”.  They were the first specialty cut on the market, and now the most common.

What makes it fat?  A traditional ¼ yard of fabric is cut from selvedge to selvedge (bolt end to bolt end), which gives you a piece measuring 9” x 42”.  The traditional cut is less flexible in terms of cutting options.  An 18” x 21” piece gives you a squarer cut with the same amount of fabric and allows you to achieve more cut sizes.

Click to view the selection of Fat Quarter Bundles ( available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Fat Quarter example quilts in our patterns section.

Charm Pack

In the quilting world, a charm is a 5” x 5” square of fabric.  These are the smallest of the precuts, and depending on the fabric company, each charm pack usually contains at least one of each print in the line. These charm squares are great for easy patchwork quilts. You can sew these up without slicing and dicing and – voila, quilt top done! Next to Fat Quarter Bundles, charm packs are the most standard precut on the market and the least expensive.

Click to view the selection of Charm Packs ( available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Charm Pack example quilts in our patterns section.

Jelly Roll

Moda coined the term Jelly Roll for their cute, round fabric treats.  A Jelly Roll has 2 ½” x 44” strips of fabric (cut from selvedge to selvedge), rolled up and tied. These strips can be used to achieve many fun, scrappy effects. Try sewing several strips together along the length, slicing them into 2” sections, and mixing up the subcuts as an easy patchwork method. Or start with a 2” square cut and keep adding strips along the sides for a log cabin effect. The possibilities are plentiful! A few other fabric companies have followed suit, offering 2 ½” strips under other names.
Click to view the selection of Jelly Rolls ( ) available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Jelly Roll example quilts in our patterns section.

Layer Cake

A Layer Cake is like a giant, super-sized charm pack! Whereas a charm square is 5” x 5”, a Layer Cake (also dreamed up by Moda) is made up of 10” x 10” cuts of fabric. This gives you a lot to play with, especially for larger-scaled prints.  If you need to cut shapes for appliquĂ© or squares of different sizes, Layer Cakes are your best bet.  Other fabric companies are now offering 10” x 10” squares as well under other names.
Click to view the selection of Layer Cakes ( available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Jelly Roll example quilts in our patterns section.

That’s just a quick overview of the most popular precuts on the market. For more precuts, details & information, check out Fat Quarter Shop’s Guide to Specialty Cuts ( Thanks to 13 Woodhouse Road for letting us ramble on about these awesome products!

Fat Quarter Shop (
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

C : Cut them up!

Today's topic is

Cut them up!!! And today's guest is a lady who I have been looking up to ever since I started quilting.... A lot of you must be "hearing" her or watching her... She's here to share her wisdom about fabric and its preparation for sewing!

Pat Sloan!!!

I'm so pleased Shruti asked me to join her in this month of quilt learning! I learned to quilt about 20 yrs ago. You can see my "first first" quilt HERE.. but that didn't inspire me to quilt (wonder why?). Back in  1979 when I made my "first first" quilt there were not many fabric options and not much to learn. You just went to the only store with fabric and bought what they had!

So lets talk fabric. I broke this into four topics.  This will give you the basics.

You can make quilts from any kind of fabric you like. And people do. can you say bottle tops and tulle?

When you start, most people will recommend using 100% cotton fabric designed for quilting. The reason you want to stick with 100% cotton quilt fabric is that it gives you an even playing field. All the fabric will behave the same and the weaves will be consistent. Then you can focus on learning techniques and not worry what the fabric is doing.

Once you are confident of the techniques, then branch out into other fabrics and have some fun!

Fabric is sold in many units. The most common is off the bolt. The bolt will have between 10 to 15 continuous yards on it. The width of usable fabric is between 38" and 41". When you go into a store, or order online, you will order by yards. (some countries may do metrics, Shruti maybe able to expand on metrics for non American stores).

The fabric is sold in either increments of 1/4yard or increments of 1/3yard.   You may order 1 and 2/3yard of fabric.   Or 3/4yard of fabric.

Many stores sell cut yardage called "Fat Quarters". This is a 18" x 20" piece. The "Fat Quarter" is the same amount of fabric as if you ordered 1/4yard, but it is wider, which many quilters find more useful.

Another interesting way to buy fabric is 'precuts'. Moda first came out with these precut fabric bundles.  Then many other companies did.  There are "Charm Packs" of 5" squares, Jelly rolls of precut 2.5" strips, and Layer cakes of 10" squares. Lots of books and patterns out with wonderful ways to use these. I did a book called "Fast Forward Quilts" with precuts + some fabric.

You can find a full list of the common Pre cut sizes at this Moda Links.

So how do you prepare this great fabric you now have? Conventional wisdom is to prewash in cool water and dry.  The reality? Many of us do not prewash fabric for several being time! I could bring in a lot of fabric over a few days and it's time consuming to wash, dry (maybe iron) before putting it way. Some people like the slightly firmer feel of unwashed fabric, it gives the fabric more body to still have the sizings in it.

Biggest reason to prewash is to be sure the fabric does not bleed or run. If it does, then you'll need to treat it with chemicals or try a die catcher in the wash. 

The other step some people like for piecing is to use a Best Press or Starch on the fabric. It makes the fabric firmer and then it won't stretch as you cut and sew!

I hope you enjoyed my lesson on fabric.  

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