Thursday Tip #10

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
I get asked a lot about how to choose fabrics for projects. Now days we are spoiled with lovely precuts of complete fabric ranges such as Jelly Rolls, Charm Packs, Layer Cakes etc. and our choices have already been selected for us.  So, how do we choose fabrics from our stash or the scraps from these precuts? Here's a few of my tips for choosing fabrics from scratch:
  • I always begin with a main fabric and for me 95% of the time, its always a blue or aqua fabric usually with a floral print. Its the fabric I'm most "attracted" too and I usually select all coordinating fabric based on this main fabric.
  • Look closely at your main fabric. Identify all of the colours that appear in the fabric. Look at how brown fades through to gold or burgundy fades through to pink etc. Select fabrics with the same warm/cool colour values.
  • Consider using a colour wheel to help you identify warm or cool colour hues.
  • Add one additional fabric at a time to the main fabric, to see how they work together; what may appear minimally in the main fabric, may overpower or dominate throughout the quilt.
  • Stand back and critique your fabric choices. Remember you will be seeing these fabrics in smaller amounts over the whole quilt. Its also helpful to walk away and look at your choices later with a fresher eye and change any fabrics which you feel overpowers your selection.
  • Mix different patterns but be careful of the scale of the pattern. Large polka dots might not work well with small floral patterns or thick stripes might overpower delicate patterns. I find a large selection of different patterns works best for me.
  • Also consider the size of the pieces you will be cutting when choosing the scale of a pattern. Thin strips or small pieces, don't work well when cut from large scale patterns.
  • Don't be afraid to use solids. They can add a dramatic feel to a block or emphasise a colour throughout a quilt.
  • If you can, sew a test block to ensure the colours are balanced and that there is lovely contrast throughout the block.
  • Make sure your fabric choices are evenly distributed throughout your quilt, so your eyes are not drawn to one particular section.
  • Scrap quilts, like the Postage Stamp Quilt, are great practice but they also help to develop your "freedom" with using colour. Pull a large selection of fabric and take out anything that may be too overpowering or just screams "NO" and play around with combinations as you sew,
  • Trust your instincts. If your combination feels right and looks balanced to you, then go for it. Don't be afraid to break out and play with colour, it just might work :)
Nature is great inspiration for choosing colour. Take some time to really look at your surroundings and appreciate how colours work together before choosing fabrics for your next project. Kids use colour so well when they draw or paint. They commit to bold colour choices, they break the rules, they have fun and create, which is what life is all about.

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