Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brainstorming with fabrics

Hi everyone:

I've had my head down this past week working on several projects, so I apologize for being out of touch. I'm almost finished one project, which I'll talk about in an upcoming post, but I thought you might be interested in seeing how I select fabrics when I'm working on a design.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't always approach things in a logical fashion and often will jump from thing to thing, so I can't be expected to have an orderly, organized method to choosing fabrics for projects, can I? While some people purchase fabrics specifically for projects they intend to make, I often buy fabrics that catch my eye and then have to figure out what to do with them - and where to store them! Hopefully, since I really liked them when I bought them, they'll be perfect for one of my future projects. I usually buy several coordinating fabrics, so I will have enough to make a table runner at the very least. This year I'm really trying hard to use up my existing stash, but it can be a bit challenging to find the fabrics I need in my studio. It does, however, allow me to re-connect with forgotten fabric friends. 

I liked them; I bought them!

Once I have my design complete it's time to start searching in my stash for those perfect fabrics that will really make my finished quilt shine. 

Here's where the disorganized part comes in. I know that some people will choose fabrics and make a block to see if the fabrics work well in the quilt before they make the entire project. Not me. I'm too impatient and just want to choose the fabrics, make the quilt and be on to the next project. I think making a block or two is a great idea and I have done this to check out a construction technique, but never to check fabric combinations. Did I mention that I can be a bit stubbon? Anyway, this is how I do it:

I pull out several fabrics that I think might be suitable for the design and then start to play. I must admit that I quickly eliminate fabrics which are in insufficient quantities to take part in the current project. I may be impatient and stubborn, but I'm not dumb! They'll have to wait for a future design. Initially I have fabrics stewn all over each other, but then I start to narrow down the selections. Next I start to fold up the fabrics to approximate the size and shape that they'll have in the quilt. Then I arrange the fabrics to see if they play nicely together. I often take photos of my arrangements or use a door viewer or spyglass, as I like to call them, to get an overall view. I also find that this helps to see if there is sufficient contrast among the fabrics. If one or two fabrics aren't working out, then they'll be swapped out and new ones will be introduced.  It can sometimes take quite awhile to get the fabrics just right, but then I know they'll work okay in the finished quilt. If all looks well, I'll then proceed to cut up my fabrics and make the design.

Fabrics folded to approximate shape and size
Auditioning fabrics

I also use a similar technique when arranging die-cut appliqué shapes for a project. I think I just love playing with fabric! I will lay out the background fabric and borders and then spend time arranging and rearranging appliqué pieces until they look just right. I often take photos at this stage to help me when I actually fuse the fabrics down - which may be a few days later, since I often get distracted by other ideas and projects. Did I mention that I can be a bit scatterbrained too? 

Auditioning hearts and circles cut with Accuquilt GO! dies

So now you know how I select my fabrics for my projects. Do you have a method that you've found works well for you? I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime I'm off to finish  the edges on some appliqué shapes. I think I actually might get this project done this week!


MariQuilts said...

Nice to know I'm not the only scatterbrained quilter out there. I make quite a mess choosing fabrics too.....and worse I keep adding as I go along. If I make a sample it usually turns into a quilt and then I get sidetracked halfway through that.....need I say more...all in all I have multiple projects with fabric piles all over.

quiltmom anna said...

Sometimes I start with the stack of fabrics but most often I find a pattern I want to make/ or am taking a course and need to find fabrics for the pattern.
It can take me a long time to choose the fabrics for a project and often I end up making two of the same pattern because I can't make up my mind between two combinations of fabrics.
I am someone who does have a large stash of fabric so it can take quite awhile for me to play. I do love playing in my fabric.
Happy playing Kim!

Chatterbox Quilts said...

Glad to know that I'm not the only scatterbrained quilter out there! Maybe it's a Canadian thing, eh?!
Also glad to hear that others like to play with their fabrics. Sort of like a quilter's sandbox, I think. :)

Dolores said...

I just go with the flow. I audition fabrics that I think will work in what I want to do. However, if I have a certain colour theme going on, then probably, the more the merrier.

Diane McGregor said...

I usually find a multi colored fabric that I love for the borders and then choose fabrics that match or coordinate with the border. This make is very easy to select fabrics quickly.