Friday, January 15, 2016

Fabric Selection Made Simple: Part 1

I really enjoy doing my Fabric Friday posts. I love going through my stash and I really love seeing how I can use a print in several very different fabric bundles to accomplish different feelings. I feel like I've always been pretty good at picking fabric and colors, but this weekly (or almost...) ritual has given me a lot of practice and I feel like I'm better at it now than I was. I also thought that, while it might be easy for me to do, it might be intimidating for others. I know I've heard people comment that it's easier to stick to a single line, or they wouldn't know how to use more than a single line. My own mother is intimidated by it, to be honest. So, I thought I'd share my process. I hope it's helpful to you! After I started writing this post, it got a little long for a single post, so I've made it into a series. Today, I'll be starting with color inspiration, and the next post will feature tips for fine tuning a color palette, and the last post will focus on some considerations for adding fabric to your palette.

Finding Color Inspiration: There are lots of ways to get started, and I've used all of the following methods at one time or another.
  • An inspiring photo. My autumn bundle was inspired by a series of photos, or, rather, by the current weather situation which reminded me of said photos. If you're looking for a specific feeling, this method can be helpful as the photo will have the same feeling.

  • A pre-existing color scheme. This one's especially easy for holidays, right? If you're going to make a Christmas quilt, it's easy to start with red and green.

None of these fabrics come from "Christmas" fabric lines, but all would be at home in a Christmas quilt. In fact, I've used the Cotton and Steel and the Reunion print in Christmas quilts, and they look great!

But, it can work in other ways. Pink and aqua are popular, blue and yellow are classic, and blue and gray are calming. You can start off with an idea of what you'd like by using classic pairings and then adding a contrasting color for a pop.

  • Another quilt. This doesn't mean you have to use the same pattern or fabric, but if there's a quilt you really admire for the colors, you can use that to inspire a color scheme for your own quilt. This bundle was inspired by a single block from a Saturday Sampler club I participated in several years ago. I altered it a little, but that's where my inspiration came from. And now, it's a current WIP.
  • Clothing or home decor. I'm totally into navy and aqua or mint right now. Like, kind of obsessed. And you know what? It all started when I bought my swimming suit a couple of years ago with diagonal navy and mint stripes. Home decor is usually pretty stylish and since your quilt will be located within a decorated space, it's a great place to start so that it will look at home.
  • A focal fabric. This one is where most people start when they are first exploring their own ideas. Pick a focal fabric and find coordinating colors. You don't have to use all, or only, colors from the print, but you certainly can if that's where you are comfortable. You also don't have to include the focal print in your bundle, it can be used just as a starting place if you'd like.
I really love this Paris print. If you've been around long enough, you'll know by now that Paris is my happy place. I buy attractive Paris prints whenever I can. I love the colors in this one, and I can't wait to use it. I pulled these to go with it.

But, pulling the focal fabric out works, too. They look great together.

Here are the fabrics I auditioned that didn't make the cut. The color wasn't quite close enough for me, or they didn't work with the other prints. Lots to consider, and there's no right answer--if you like it, you should use it!

  • Factor X. I'm not sure what to call this one, because this is where I just kind of pull fabrics. I start with one that I'd like to use, either to challenge myself because I don't know what to do with it, or because I'm finding it really pretty that day. And I pull fabrics to go with it. I'll talk more about that in the next section.
Stay tuned for the next post, where I'll share some more specific ways to fine tune the colors you pick. We'll get in to a little bit of color theory (but I'll keep it accessible!).


  1. Yay!! I'm so glad you're doing this series :) For me fabric selection is so intimidating, but from your post I realize that it shouldn't be. Thanks for the inspiration and I'm looking forward to rest of the series!