Monday, June 7, 2010

Playing It Safe

Now that I've worked on a few quilts, I'm really feeling the urge to branch out with my quilting process. Or part of it, at least. I love precuts and have been making the majority of my quilts out of them. (Let's be honest, not having to cut as much fabric makes me happy.) But, I'm starting to feel that I'm limiting myself by choosing fabrics from a single collection. In my quilt guild meeting a couple months back, Kati talked about wanting to start picking fabrics from several lines instead of buying pre-coordinating fabrics from a single line. I am totally there with her right now.

I have a lot of fabrics in my stash that are from the same collection and there's this strange part of me that thinks I need to leave them in their own collective units. I like the idea of building a stash based on colors, gradually building until I have enough to use in a quilt, but I get hung up on the idea that unless I see the fabric in person, I won't get a true feel for how it looks. (I guess that would be a good thing though since I've been spending WAY too much money ordering fabric online.) The safe part of me likes knowing that I can order fabrics from a collection and know that they'll work out just fine for whatever I have in mind. But, that's the safe thing, the comfortable thing to do. I really want to start getting away from that.

Any suggestions on other ways I could go about breaking out of this safety shell?


Emma said...

As someone who has never bought a collection of fabric (I've done a few FQ sets of Robert Kaufman in a color theme, but nothing beyond that), a few words of advice.

If you do buy individual fabrics online, contact the store and ask for a sample of the fabric just in case it isn't like you wanted it. I have a few fabrics that I have gotten that really weren't what I was looking for, but I take those as kind of a challenge for me to try to use up. If nothing else (if you hate them that much), they can be added into giveaway packs or swap packs along with some of your more favorite fabrics to send. And I've found that by forcing myself to use some of the ones that I was leery of (didn't think the shade of blue was one that I'd like) in bright scrappy quilts, the colors always seem to brighten up and work even though I didn't think they would.

If you're planning on bringing your stash up by colors (which I do), start out by doing fat quarter bundles of various color ranges. I'm obsessed with fat quarters...I have very little yardage, mostly fat quarters and fat eighths. They're cheap and give you a lot of variety for scrappy designs. You'll feel like you have a lot more fabric than you least, I do. I love those sorts of designs...check out my flickr photostream for scrappy fun. :) emmac350 on there.

Good luck!

Kelly O. said...

recently I broke out of the pre-cut shell and decided to just pull some fabrics together.
I started by using an inspiration fabric. one fabric that I love and then finding fabrics to offset and add to that one fabric.
I did it with some starling fabric and ended up just pulling out the colours and contours of the designs in the fabric. it worked out well.
while it might not work for everything, it is a start in the right direction.

you might want to check out the bumblebeans blog. Victoria is a pro at choosing fabrics. she blows my mind!

dawn said...

Okay, I am right there with you - I really want to break out of my fat quarter bundle shell. It will be fun to read about how you figure this out. Good luck!

Kati said...

When I bought fabric to do my most recent pillows, I went to the store with four colors in mind (blue, green, orange and yellow). I first picked out one fabric from each color that was exactly what I was looking for in color value and started adding to the stack by color and pattern and bought 4-5 fabrics in each color. It was my first experiment with coordinating fabric on my own. There are a few that I wish I would have picked differently, but it was a really good learning experience. I'd suggest starting with a small project first like a couple pillow covers or a baby quilt.

I too have many stacks of very cute fabric from lines, but they just don't appeal to me like they did when I bought them. I have actually started pulling fabrics from these stacks for other projects rather than keeping them all together.

Good luck. I think we need to have a quilt group at a quilt shop one evening and get input from everyone on this. Doesn't that sound perfect--quilt group and shopping in the same night!

elle said...

I bought a kit once and sewed up blocks. They lacked something. I added a very orange cheddar mottled fabric that made my comfort zone's hair stand on end but it just makes that top sing. So start by adding one thing to a kit. Your stash variety will expand as you put the leftovers back into the stash pile and begin to use them in various projects.

Deanna said...

Try maybe planning a one color quilt--all blues or reds or whatever, with a background fabric. Then pick a number---say 25. Get 25 different blue fabrics and go for it. The more, the merrier. I find that one color quilts have a glamour all their own.

A different option is to pick one really wild multi-colored fabric (think Kaffe, or similar) and then find fabrics NOT by the same designer that work. A Take 5 pattern might be a good way to start because the piecing is simple and all the risk would be in the fabric.

A third possibility is to make a truly scrappy quilt. You seem to lean modern and many people view scrappy quilts as very traditional, but one made of alternating print/white squares would give you the modern look. CrazyMom is doing a similar style quilt-along right now and you could join up. Using whatever you have leftover from old projects would be a good place to start. You loved the fabric once, you will probably love it again.

Dandelion Wishes said...

As a long time quilter, fabric lines, especially in Australia, are only relatively new, so I have only ever bought 'bits' to add to my stash. I feel part of the creative process is to put together a quilt with most of what I have and then purchase a little to fill it out.(Needless to say my stash never seems to diminish!)
When I first started to patchwork , quilts often had a large outside border. If we had chosen to make such a pattern we were always advised to pick that fabric first and build around that! Picking out colors to match!
Another piece of advice given had to do with the value of color in a quilt. It has to do with the color wheel, I think! The formula for color is something like 60% one color, 30% a secondary color and the final 10% was to be out of left field to make the quilt 'zing'.
Finally I was taught to vary the value of the prints - not all large scale (or small), not all lights (or darks).
Anyway good luck with not 'playing it safe' and I hope this helps!

(un)Deniably Domestic said...

I struggle with safety as well. Be brave...put two colors together you think should not be then work from there. Make it a challenge and do your own thing! You will surprise yourself. ~Kelly

unDeniably Domestic


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