Tip Tuesday: Prints? Flannel? Quilting Fabric Choices from the Experts

Fabric & Notions - Shop Fons & PorterIt’s a fundamental part of quilting – the fabric. There are so many decisions to make during the making of a quilt – it’s not a cut and dry process. The choices we make in preparation for our quilts ultimately determines the finished look. It’s a lot of pressure! How about some help from expert quilters? Well, okay then. You’ve got it.

First up: Fons & Porter offers up a couple of tricks (gathered from readers and viewers).

Fabric Tips - Tip Tuesday (1)

A question was asked of 6 quilting experts, “Cotton? Print? Flannel? Quilting Fabric Choices… how do you make them?” Here’s what they had to say:

  1. “I like to work with a multicolor print that really catches my eye. I often choose a print, choose fabrics to go with the print and then get to work. It is not unusual for the print I started with to not make it into the quilt, oddly enough. My other favorite is to pick a multicolor stripe and do the same thing.”
    ~Erin Russek, Associate Editor, Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting, Quilters Newsletter

  2. “I am usually drawn to one print first, not necessarily a focus fabric like a large floral, but one piece that is either a print that calls to me or a color I love. From there, I start adding complementary fabrics. I stack ’em all up and stand back to look at all of the fabrics together. It’s easy to see if something doesn’t belong, and I take it out of the pile.”
    ~Deb Finan, Quilting Quickly Editor

  3. “I usually start with my stash — in addition to getting the sense that I’m “shopping” without having to pay a dime, I’m reminded of how much great fabric I have just waiting to be made into something fabulous in the future. I love working with coordinated collections, but I’ve found I love them even more when I add fabrics from other collections or manufacturers that coordinate but maybe don’t match precisely. Having a few fabrics that don’t go together perfectly adds the right spark that tells me I’m looking at a homemade quilt.”
    ~Mary Kate Karr-Petras, Associate Editor, Quilters Newsletter

  4. “I usually plan to keep all my fabrics from one collection by one manufacturer. Because they are designed to go together, the colors are guaranteed to work, and there won’t be any surprise differences in how they were manufactured (weave will be the same, etc.). Of course, my “usual plan” usually goes out the window the minute I actually start shopping…”
    ~Vanessa Lyman, Content Director, Fons & Porter

  5. “I like to work very scrappy and tend to buy only fat quarters or small cuts of prints that fit into the stash that I’ve collected over the years. I collect dots and stripes and fabric patterns that tend to range from clear colors with interesting repeat patterns to retro (not repro), plaid, ikats, batiks, and black and white prints. I usually avoid beige.
    Every scrap quilt project I work on yields more scraps, it seems that the more I cut into the fabric the more I save for another use, another day. I do occasionally buy actual yardage for backs, borders and setting squares.”
    ~Kathryn Wagar Wright, Graphic Designer, McCall’s Quilting

  6. “Often on the selvedge, there are little circles of color. They are registration marks for the fabric printing process. But there is one for each color in the fabric. So, an easy way to choose fabric is to select a fabric you love and then for the coordinating fabrics, match the registration mark colors. Remember to mix the scale of your prints and choose fabrics with lots of contrast; for example, light green and deep blue; or your quilt blocks will have a “mushy” look.”
    ~Lori Baker, Acquisitions Editor, Golden Quilting Community, F+W Media

And, there you have it! Some great ideas on how to choose fabrics for your next quilting project. If you plan to work scrap quilt patterns in the future, you might find some useful information here: 7 Tips for Using Fabric Scraps.

5 Tips for Building Your Fabric StashYou can also watch this quick, free Quilty video called 5 Tips for Building Your Fabric Stash to find out how to best beef up that cotton, print or flannel quilting fabric you’ve been eyeing.


Happy Quilting!

Carrie Sisk, Fons & Porter Online Editor

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Carrie Sisk

About Carrie Sisk

Carrie's first sewing machine was a gift from her dad—a better gift was never given. A crafter, trained pianist and experienced paintballer, when the opportunity arises, she's hiking in Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park.