Saturday 27 May 2017

Choosing Fabrics for a Sewing Project

Any quilter will tell you the most time-consuming stage of any project is choosing fabrics.  It doesn’t matter if it is a full-size quilt or a small mini project.  So how do you choose fabrics when you are new to quilting/sewing?  Here are some of the ways I pick fabrics:

1.         Use pre-cut fabric collections.  This may seem like ‘cheating’ but it is a great way to build experience of colour combos and fabric placement.  Pre-cuts come in all shapes and sizes, from 5" charm squares to one yard bundles.  I'm quite keen on the 10" x 5" Jolly Bars for mug rug making.
The more you use collections the more you get to know what selections and patterns you like. 

2.         Use a kit.  This is especially good for new quilters.  It will save waste and you'll know at the outset that your finished quilt will look good. 

It may seem an expensive way of starting out but you should end up with plenty of scrap pieces to use in other projects.  Which leads me on to my favourite option .....

3.         Make a mug rug.  Okay, I know this seems an obvious suggestion coming from The Patchsmith but a mug rug is the perfect size project for trying out new and unusual combinations.  

A mug rug is such a small item that, if you end up not liking your fabric selections you will only have wasted a small amount of fabric and you can use your mistake on your work desk until you hit upon a combination you do like.

4.         Make just one block.   This is a great choice if you are not confident and starting out on a larger project.  Make any 6” block using your fabric choices and see if they work together.  If not try another block with different fabrics.    

5.         Walk away. Lay out your fabric selections then walk away.  

Go make a cup of tea and return to see if the fabrics work together.  If you are still unsure then leave them out overnight and sleep on it.  In the morning you will know as soon as you look at them.

6.         Squint.  This is very similar to step 5. Lay out your fabric selections and then squint so that the patterns and colours are out of focus.  You should be able to see if the balance of light and dark, pattern and plain is right.  

Gradually you will find yourself mixing-and-matching different fabric collections and you will develop your own method for choosing fabrics for your next project.  But, no matter how experienced you become, it will always be the most time consuming part of any project!

Until next time ......


  1. Wonderful advice! Even experience quilters can use a reminder now and then. Thank you.

  2. Thank you Karen. It doesn't matter how long we've been sewing, it still seems to take an age to choose fabrics. xxxx