Adobe Quilt Along Week 1: Selecting your fabrics

Isn’t this the most intimidating part of the quilting process? You’ve selected the perfect quilt pattern, you have the recipient in mind, and now it’s time to select fabrics. But the options are ENDLESS. There are thousands of fabric stores and an infinite combination of prints, solids, textures, etc. It’s overwhelming! I don’t have all of the answers, but after learning from a few terrible fabric selections, here are a few tips to help prevent missteps in the fabric selection process.
Adobe Quilt Along Week 1: Selecting your fabrics

Fabric Selection Tips:

  1. This pattern lends itself well to solids, so when selecting them, there are a few things to keep in mind.

2. If you are feeling bold and want to experiment with adding prints to the Adobe Quilt, here are a few guidelines to set you on the path to success.

  • Choose a combination of small and large prints - this is also referred to as high volume and low volume. The large prints provide visual impact, the low volume prints allow for blending between the other fabrics. The goal of a contrasting fabric is to create distinction. Avoid choosing all “statement” prints, and choose one, maybe two, prominent prints then opt for blenders in the remaining fabrics. For example, in the Gloria Collection fabric pull (pictured on right) there are 4 prints I would consider low volume, 2 that are statement prints, and one solid. These distinctions aren’t hard and fast rules, and some fabric can fit in multiple categories depending on the surrounding prints. There is room for creative license when incorporating this tip.
  • Once a variety of print sizes has been selected, use the coloring sheet provided to determine where the fabric will end up on the finished quilt. Try to alternate between large and small prints, ideally the bold, large prints will alternate with more subtle, low volume contrasts. The low volume prints dispersed around the larger prints allows the colors to blend without becoming visually overwhelming. To the right is my mock-up of the fabric pull above. Notice how the colors and print sizes are balanced across the design.
  • Define a narrowed color palette, even within your prints. This is where selecting from a specific collection comes in handy. Usually, a fabric collection blends well because although it includes a variety of prints, they tend to come from a restricted color palette and consistent aesthetic. The Gloria Collection also includes several fabrics with blue, turquoise, and red, however they just didn’t work with the design. I restricted myself to primarily greens and off whites with a minimal contrast of the terracotta that also appeared in a couple of the low volume selections.
  • Match the aesthetics of your prints. It takes a trained eye and concrete design vision to blend vintage and modern vibes with success. But you might have that trained eye! If so, send me an email and you can write a guest blog post. For most of us, it is safer to stick with a consistent look. If you have selected a couple delicate, vintage floral and polka dotted low volume fabrics, a bold, geometric print will probably not blend well with the vibe of the quilt. Keep your genre specific.
  • This final tip might be hard to hear, but if you want to make a successful version of Adobe using prints, I suggest ordering a couple of alternative prints (more than just 7 fabrics). This provides options when making the final fabric selection. Although companies do their best to digitally represent colors, there’s no substitute for having the fabric in hand. “What?! Order extra fabric knowing it might end up sitting unused in my stash?!” Don’t give me that. You know how many times we’ve all purchased fabric with no specific project in mind. I know it sounds wasteful to order extra fabric knowing you won’t use all of it on this project, but better safe than sorry! The motto of a true quilter: ”Better to have and not need, than to need and not have.” Amiright?

3. These tips may be ignored at any point. They are simply guidelines I have found helpful in avoiding fabric regret. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of project and disliking the finished quilt. It’s devastating. However, some makers are naturally gifted with the ability to mix the unexpected and produce an enviable finish. If that’s you, amazing! As Picasso (maybe) said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

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