Thursday, October 21, 2010

Choosing Fabric

A couple of months ago, I posted my thoughts about quilts made from one line of fabric here.  I've continued to think about the evolution of quilt fabric selection.  My understanding is that initially quilts were made from cut-up clothing that was no longer usable and from fabric left over from home-sewn clothing.

In time, we began buying fabric for the express purpose of making quilts.  I used to enjoy wandering around the fabric store, choosing first my main fabric, and then pulling colors from that fabric and picking the accompanying fabrics.  The shops used to have all of the blues together, the greens, the browns, the yellows.  According to color, not according to fabric family.

That isn't so anymore.  When I go into Old Country Store, for example (and I sure wish I were going there soon) I find all of the Moda in one part of the store, with the bolts arranged according to fabric line.

Bill's Baskets, above, was made from one line of William Morris fabric.  Each fabric exactly goes with all of the others.  And while I do love this quilt -- do not get me wrong -- there is something sterile about it because it is all from the same line, or family, of fabric.  My Going Rouge quilt is another example.

Look, here's Twelve Oaks again.  There are a bazillion different fabrics in this quilt.  From all kinds of designers and lines of fabric.

And somehow it looks richer, more alive, to me than Bill's Baskets.  Because of that diversity.

When we go out to Lancaster County, I always insist on stopping at The Log Cabin Quilt Shop.  Sometimes I'll pick up a FQ pack to bring home.  And it won't be all matchy-matchy either, because the proprietor of the shop isn't afraid to cut the fabric herself, and to draw from this designer and that, this line and oh my that one, and combine into absolutely wonderful groups. 

I want to get back to picking out the fabrics that go together in the quilt.  When I am released from my self-imposed moratorium on purchase of fabric for new projects, I want to go and pick out a main fabric and then wander around to select the go-withs.  To audition the various choices.  Ah!  Here it is:  To do the deciding myself, not have it pre-done for me.

I'm just sayin'.


12 comments:

Brenda said...

amen sister!

howdidIgethere said...

I think I used all fabric from a single line in just one quilt: from the Quilt for a Cure ovarian cancer collection. Made a variation on their published pattern [couldn't even copy that exactly...] but used my own white, even if there was one in the line. Otherwise, I love wandering around and picking out different fabrics to go together. So I really, REALLY wish the stores would go back to putting colors together -- not manufacturers, and certainly not lines! Like anybody is going to pay attention to me!

WV: dedit -- v. in proofreading, an act where you put back something you'd taken out in an earlier version

Quiltdivajulie said...

TOTALLY AGREE.

And even if you are stitching from your stash (v. purchasing new), you can still break apart any bundles or groups you may already have and shop within your own bounty for your projects . . . the prepackaged items look so pretty that it can be hard to untie, unwrap, open but the freedom that offers is worth the moments of anxiety!

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I know, I know... sometimes I feel like a lonely individual adrift in a sea of matchy-matchy. I love diversity and recall a lecture that I attended by Pepper Cory where she looked at historical quilts and their makers and asked the question: "do you want to be remembered, 100 years from now as the person who only used Kaffe Fasset, or Thimbleberries (or whatever) the appraiser will wonder what was standing in your way and what limited you from mixing fabrics, colors and textures back in 2010! This, I write, as I finish a baby quilt done from a pre-printed panel and matching jelly-roll. Groan. ;)

floribunda... aka Julie said...

I totally agree, Nancy! Of course, having said that, I am just now finishing up a Whackie Girl top made from the only matched set of FQs I've ever bought! (whoo-hoo Giants! LOL)

BJ in TX said...

Ohmygosh....sanity prevails after all! I'm guilty of buying fabric from collections, but lately, I'm like you.....those quilts don't sing to me. In fact, on some of the blogs, the quilts have become a blur...they all look very similar! Your examples were perfect - I love the Twelve Oaks!

Anonymous said...

You should all move West!! The stores I shop in locally and the two I just visited in Florence, Ore. all have their fabric by color. One store is in a converted house and each room holds a theme - i.e., batik, Asian, children, holiday, general. Of course, unlike cuz Nancy I purchased in all the Ore. stores. I could have bought so much more but fabric finances are limited at the present time. There is always next year???

Nancy said...

We have a wonderful quilt shop not too far from me...she sells 20 ft packs for a ridiculously low price ($28) and they are mixed from all different lines and designers...

She does a wonderful job...

Victoria M. said...

Nancy, I couldn't agree more!!

Anonymous said...

I wish I had the courage to break out of the "collection" habit. I have no skill in putting fabrics together although I've been quilting for over 30 years. Even using prepackaged "sets" I often go wrong, not having mastered the light, medium, dark concepts. I continue to work on it and learn from all the blogs I read, this being the one which starts my day. Thanks for writing.
Sue

Anya said...

I completely agree...it's sort of like what makes our country a great place to live. I'd much rather have a quilt made of a melting pot of fabrics than one made of fabrics from the same bloodline...

Gari said...

I really am getting tired of agreeing with you. But here I am again. I tell all the quilt shop owners I do business with that I will not look at a "line" of fabric or buy precuts because part of the fun is putting fabrics together. I usually run across a focus fabric and then shop my stash and then "reluctlanty" shop fabric stores, all to find the right combination. I would hate to put all the fun in the hands of anyone else.