Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Inspired by Fabric

My sewing room is a mess right now. But sometimes good things come from messes. I'm looking at the quilts I made for the new book and I'm grateful I was able to choose fantastic fabrics to make them, thanks to some of my favorite designers (and yours--more later). Some of the Civil War reproduction fabrics (my favorite) that are available today at quilt shops are so incredible it's hard NOT to be inspired to make gorgeous quilts. The best reason to browse.

Choosing fabrics to make my quilts is probably my favorite part of quilting. I love working with scraps or lots and lots of different fabrics. Most quilt shops sell reproduction fabric in fat quarters, charm packs or bundles. In addition to shopping at my favorite shops, I try to attend quilt shows where there are vendors and buy fat quarters or bundles from them too. Bundles "speak" to me because you can always pick up a couple of them quickly if you don't have a lot of time to shop. Also good because I like to use LOTS of different fabrics in my scrappy little doll quilts.


And sometimes, even if you're experienced, it's just plain easier to have a bunch of fabrics all pulled together from different designers and different lines that you might have missed on your own. I don't know about you, but it can get overwhelming looking at so much fabric and trying to choose even just a couple of cuts.

Also, I'm not afraid to go into a quilt shop and ask them to cut 10 different 1/4 or 1/8 yard cuts of different fabrics for me. One time I think I actually bought twenty 1/8 yard cuts. And the good thing about reproduction fabrics is that they're timeless.


True, fabric lines get discontinued pretty often to make room for the new ones, but I'll still always have enough of those reproduction fabrics that I love to give me that antique look we all crave. Some I've saved from years ago that will be just perfect for when I'm inspired by a certain block or antique quilt. I hoard  my favorite scraps and actually have some very small pieces from certain lines that I just can't part with in a quilt yet. (Oh no, you don't think they'll make me go on that A & E  show Hoarders, do you?) They're just waiting to be used in that perfect quilt. Maybe Dear Jane? Probably a good thing I saved them then, I think.

If you're wondering, like most designers, I take my time playing around with color before I make a decision about what fabrics I'm going to use in a quilt. So, experiment. I think the more time you spend looking at different quilts closely and deciding what it is you like about a certain quilt the easier it gets to choose fabrics for your own. Study pictures in books or go to quilt shows. Look at samples in shops. Ask yourself (and wait for the answer): What is it about that quilt that I love? I'm drawn to just about any quilt with blue in it and I use it so often I almost consider it a neutral. Simple, scrappy quilts with lots of blue PLUS pink or red make me drool, like this antique  spools quilt:

I don't know,  I wish I owned this quilt. Hey, wait, MAYBE I CAN REPRODUCE IT!!

There is such a wide variety of reproduction fabrics available today that you can reproduce almost any antique quilt. We had a small quilt challenge using this same block in SmallQuiltTalk last year. I didn't have time to make a quilt--only got as far as these 2 little blocks. Oh well, I'll finish someday. And maybe it'll turn into that big antique quilt above, ya think?

We really have to hand it to all of those quilters who spend the time designing and reproducing antique fabrics to make the wonderful fabrics we use in our quilts. Isn't this a sweet photo of Jo Morton, one of our favorite designers? I took it last year at Quilt Market. My husband also took one of the two of us together but my eyes were closed and I had a funny look on my face so I won't let you see it. NOT inspiring. Such a nice lady--she gave me her newest book and I gave her mine.

And, since we're talking about  inspiration, I surely couldn't make my quilts without Judie Rothermel's amazing fabrics . . .

That's her lovely wavy striped fabric on the cover quilt of Remembering Adelia. I spent quite a LOT of time trying to find a perfect border fabric for that darn quilt. Four different shops until I saw it and knew immediately that was IT. What luck to find just the perfect Civil War stripe. And blue, too. 

The quilt was made in 2008 and the fabric is no longer available, I'm told, but I still have some I'm saving (okay, yes, hoarding) to use in a doll quilt. Fabric lines change too fast sometimes. But I've seen others make it with a different stripe and it still turns out quite well.

Keep your scraps, you never know.


Renate said...

Repro-fabrics are really beautiful. Some years ago I didn't know about them. But now I try to find them in the quiltshops. Yes, they are timeless. And you can never have to much. LOL

Kathie said...

I am still thinking about the questions you have asked in the two posts...
great things to think about...
I am looking forward to reading everyones answers
oh I am very inspired by fabrics of course and antique quilts...
loved seeing the antique quilts and ah yes when I can't afford them I will reproduce them too!

Kathleen Tracy said...


I have to admit, I love antique quilts that are not perfect, that are just a little "off" in places and have that wonderful handmade look. And scrappy too!

Elyte said...

I just found your blog and am so interested in your discussion of colour choice. I am a colour coward and dream of putting random fabrics together successfully. I know it is my choice but I need to learn or see that "thing" that the colours share. It is my goal this year to conquer this cowardice of mine. I will follow with interest.

Kathleen Tracy said...

A great idea for another blog post I think.

Ann Champion said...

I love your little quilts!
I'm a fabric hoarder too..especially the double pinks, watermelon pinks, and salmon pinks. It seems like most of the fabric lines have dropped the pinks? :( We NEED the pinks! They go with everything.

Quilt Enthusiast said...

I enjoy your posts. I've been encouraging my aunt to start quilting.
What a great post from your 88 yo friend that began quilting and
did all your quilts. I love that.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, loved reading your no stress Christmas blogs, nice to know we are not alone with that.


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