Friday, November 17, 2017

Collecting Fabric - for Scrap Quilt Lovers

Recently, I met some quilters who told me that making scrap quilts terrifies them. They said that they're often intimidated and don't quite know how to put their fabrics together or even what fabrics to use.


Hexagon Garden from Small & Scrappy - one of my favorite little scrap quilts.

If you read the Introduction in my book Small & Scrappy (of course you actually read all of your quilting books, don't you?), you might remember what I wrote: that in order to make good scrap quilts you need to begin collecting lots of different prints in various colors. It's absolutely necessary to  have a "good fabric wardrobe" with a nice variety of prints in basic colors. I think every quilter should have a good assortment of prints in shades of red, medium blue, brown, tan, green, gold, indigo or dark blue, pink, black, purple and, of course, a collection of light prints or "shirtings."




It can be overwhelming to know where to begin collecting and developing a nice collection of fabrics. I know it's fun to just keep buying the same colors over and over again. But, if you're intent on making scrap quilts, then you need to go outside your box and pick up some prints that may not be in your customary colors. I love blue and always tend to buy a lot of blues. But if I only buy blue every time I shop, my fabric collection will suffer and so will my quilts. Because it does tend to become overwhelming, focus on building up your fabric stash by buying one color at a time.  The good news - this will involve a lot of shopping.


Next time you visit a quilt shop or shop online for fabric, in addition to buying yardage of what you love, try focusing on buying some prints in different colors you may not have in your collection at home as well. Perhaps buy additional half yards, quarter yards or fat quarters of just ONE color on this trip. I always seem to be low on gold and green. Not my favorite colors or used often as the focus in my quilts but I still love to incorporate them into my scrap quilts and need to remember to buy more. Then, the next time you shop, focus on only buying say, an assortment of reds, or just buy a few brown prints.

Over time, if you shop often, this will give you a nice variety. And, you may find that this is a way to overcome the overwhelming feeling we all get when we enter a quilt shop and may help to keep the confusion to a minimum. There's usually inspiration at every step and if you see a quilt you must make, then go for it and buy all of the fabric it takes. Just remember to also build up your basic fabric collection while you're there. Also, if you make small quilts, then don't buy all large, busy floral prints. Mix it up and buy a few geometrics, stripes or checks, tiny florals and dots too. Save the large florals for the borders perhaps. When you build up your fabric collection this way, the next time you feel like making a scrappy quilt, you're good to go.


Bottom line - don't be afraid to buy more fabric. Sure, you don't need it and it's probably true, we will never use all of it up in our lifetimes. But, as quilters, it goes without saying that we are also collectors of fabric. Fabric is what drives us as well as the entire quilting industry.  You should not apologize or feel ashamed if you have too much fabric. Buying fabric is an essential part of the creative process and it often gives us the inspiration we need to begin something new. Stop and think -  do you really need 5 yards of a print you love? Or, will a half yard or even a fat quarter do? There will always be new fabric to love. You may be better off buying additional yardage of some other lovely prints that will complement that one and build up your collection. Don't hoard - share or donate the fabric you know you won't use. It's actually quite freeing to get rid of some of it.


For those of you who are new to quilting, it's common to lack confidence in picking out fabrics for a quilt. There's nothing wrong with following the same colors a designer has used in his or her quilt. Until you have a style of your own you may need to experiment with the styles of other designers so you can find out what makes YOUR heart sing.  But go and build up a nice collection. We're thinking ahead as I'm making plans for the next "mystery quilt" starting in January 2018. Hope you'll join us. You'll need lots of scraps.


Hope you have a good weekend. I'll give you more tips about storing your fabric and making scrappy quilts after the Thanksgiving holiday.








15 comments:

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

love reading your post today - I have been making scrap quilts for years and years and so many people do say that they don't know where to start in making scrap quilts - and I love that you tell us to not feel guilty about our stash of scraps (and all the rest of the fabric on the shelf) I have a small stash compared to some - I still feel that I have too much and and at times feel guilty about it.

Jeanie Rudich said...

Great information!

Robin said...

Lovely post Kathleen. Great info on purchasing fabric. It makes me want to go shopping (not always a bad thing). The picture of the quilt store looks so familiar. I know you are in the Chicago area but that looks like a quilt store in Wisconsin, Ye Olde School House? Love that store!!!

Candee said...

I love this post Kathy! I don't feel guilty about my stash & now I feel the desire to plan regular outings to make sure I have enough of all the colors & patterns. Gotta do my part to keep the quilt industry thriving! Thanks for continuing to inspire us. Happy Thanksgiving.

Carla said...

A great reproduction scrap quilter friend recommended purchasing a third of a yard, which is 12 inches the wof, when you find a fabric you want but don't have immediate plans for using it. If I find Prussian blues again watch out, cheddars and double pinks too.
I do this now on fabric regular shopping trips especially if there is a sale at the shop. I can cut setting squares and triangles, pieces for a few blocks, piece a nice back and still have scrap strips for the bins.

Colleen said...

Great information! I'm always low on golds and greens, too. I've let my stash get too low and I don't have much of a variety of colors to choose from. I thought I was being smart and using up what I had on hand for quilts I made this year, but what I neglected to do was replace those used up fabrics :( I don't think I'll let my stash get so low again...haha.

Nancy said...

Thanks for a great post, Kathleen. I tend to buy what I like which excludes some colors, especially those in the purple range. It's a good suggestion to sometimes buy less fabrics with less favorite colors.

Rosa said...

Great post and love your fabric eye.Thanks!!

Nyla said...

Helpful post, looking forward to the next installment! You have a great eye for color and fabrics! Thanks and have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Kathleen Tracy said...

Yes, that is most definitely Ye Olde Schoolhouse. Nice shop, Jeanie! I really need to run up there again soon.

Ann in PA said...

Thank you for this great post! Since I've always been drawn to small prints, it took me a while to acquire a nice mix in my stash. Fat Quarters are a wonderful way to add a wide variety of patterns and shades...and include colors that once were "out of the box" for me. I'm looking forward to learning more. xxoo

Jeanne said...

Great post!

Catskill Quilter said...

What an excellent, thought provoking post! Thanks for taking the time to share your ideas on fabric collecting for scrap quilts.

Quilting moesje said...

I love scraps. ..so much:0))

Jodie Zollinger said...

Excellent post, very insightful. Enjoyed reading it.

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