Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sewing with Certainty #1: Choosing Fabrics

The first Sewing with Certainty topic is "choosing fabric."  In my mind, this breaks down into two categories: the type of fabric and the colors of the fabric.

Types of Fabric
The very first quilt I made is made of fabric I purchased in Ghana, West Africa while I was studying abroad.  Studying abroad in Ghana was pretty different than my liberal arts school in NC, and I had a lot of down time.  Somehow another student, Amanda, and I decided that we wanted to make quilts to document our experience, so we bought whatever fabric was available in the markets, along with some pins, needles and thread, and we made quilt tops.  I'm not sure what Amanda did with hers, but I finished mine with pink and navy borders, stuffed it with polyester batting, backed it in more solid navy, and tied it.  It has served me well over the last ~10 years!

My next batch of quilts were made with home decor samples that were given to my mom by a neighbor.  I made an olive-y and pink-y one (no pic!)  and a navy/tan/white one (below).  For the life of me I can't remember how I quilted the first one, but the navy one I stitched in the ditch.  The home dec fabric lent a nice weight to the quilts, which I always find nice and soothing, but I have no idea how they'll hold up long term with washing - fingers crossed, especially since both were wedding gifts!

I've grown some (I hope!) since those quilts, and can now recognize the difference between "good" quilting fabric and "not so good" quilting fabric.  I have a Joann's store not too far from me, but I try and be very careful about what fabrics I buy there that will go into quilts.  I have been impressed that it seems like they're expanding their selection of quality cottons (the Denyse Schmidt collections are pretty nice and they have several Kona colors) and I hope it continues.  I need to be a better patron of my local quilt shop too.

Finally, I have played a tiny bit with fabric for quilt backings.  I have now done two quilts with flannel backs and find those nice and cozy - just remember to wash and dry the flannel before you make your quilt sandwich!  I've read lots of postings of people who have done backings in minky, especially for baby quilts, which would be pretty soft and snuggly.  I've worked with minky before, though, and can't imagine binding a quilt backed in it!  I've also read about people using velveteen and even corduroy for their quilt backs.  Both of these thoughts really intrigue me because I feel like both would make for a nice and weighty quilt.  My BOM quilt will need a back (duh) so maybe I'll use one of these options for it.

Colors of Fabric
I tend to mostly rely on others to help me choose colors, mostly either by using a designer's collection or by purchasing bundles someone else has curated.  For example, I like browsing the Blogger Bundles at Pink Castle Fabrics because I know that people with good taste have already done the hard work for me!  It's also fun to check out the palates generated by Design Seeds.  Using those images as inspiration is a nice middle ground to picking colors "from scratch" because you just have to find colors/prints that match what already has been shown to work together.  And finally, as Jessica mentioned, rainbows are always good :)

I don't really have a favorite color or go-to color scheme, at least at the moment anyway.  Normally I'm not a very pastel person, but my Pooh Bear quilt was one of my favorites so far, so I guess nothing's off limits, right?  I generally prefer bright, cheery colors but not ones that are overly primary.  I like the idea of a two color quilt a lot, too. 

So in the spirit of SWC and improving my skills, I think I'll try and pick some colors myself for my BOM quilt.  I have several color schemes pinned so I'll have to see which speaks to me for the quilt.  Hopefully I'll be able to shop my stash, with a little bit of supplementing with new fabric.

 Thanks for reading my thoughts on "choosing fabric!"  Time to get choosing!


  1. Thanks for the Design Seeds tip, Kacey! I hadn't seen that site before, but it looks neat. Can't wait to see what colors you pick for your BOM : )

  2. Thanks for the nice comments! Be careful with Design Seeds - it's addicting!

  3. Thanks for sharing in the Sewing With Certainty linky, Kacey! It was great to read your thoughts on choosing fabric and what you have learned.

  4. Great suggestions! I'm a sucker for the Pink Castle Fabric bundles as well. It's like, my dream to get to curate one :D lol. Glad you like the rainbow idea!! Did you pick your color scheme yet? Thank you for linking up!