Part 2 starts with the all important fabric selection. Choosing fabrics can be a scary part of the process if you are new to quilting. Not only do you need to worry about the colors, but now as I looked at the quilting fabrics in the store I saw more than just colors, I saw many prints and patterns. Where do I begin? My basic instinct was to look for a color that appealed to me, and then decide on the coordinating colors. Which is a good place to start. The quilts I saw in books and magazines all used so many combinations of prints and patterns that I had no clue as to how to match them. To clear things up for me, I went back to my book and found my answers in chapter 2.
When picking fabrics, there is much more to it than picking a color you like. Although most of the time I do select by color and then move onto the other factors. Let me see if I can break this down for you. Here is some of the things to consider when choosing your fabrics: Color, contrast, overall character of the fabric, and scale.
Color the best way to learn about the relationship of colors and what works best with what is to refer to a color wheel. (You can buy one pretty cheap now days, or just type in color wheel and I guarantee you will find one on the web) Once you understand how to use one, combining colors will be easy.
Contrast is important to make your designs stand out. Most quilt pattern tell you to use light, medium and dark fabrics. Learning how to see fabrics in these categories is crucial to quilt making. One simple trick to identifying these is to remove color all together. Using a red piece of cellophane or red plastic and place it over you pile of fabrics. You will quickly see which are light, medium and which are dark. Don't believe me? Try to arrange your fabrics in a pile starting from lightest to darkest. Then place the red plastic over them and see if there are any out of place. You might be surprised.
Overall character of the fabric is simply the relationship they have with each other. Like florals, or stripes and checks, or novelty prints etc. Consider the mood you want to create, like is this a child's quilt? Then maybe brights or children's prints would be in order. Is the mood more of a romantic one, then perhaps florals, and tone on tone, or fabrics with softer color shades.
Scale is also important is making the most of the fabric prints. While large scale prints are certainly eye catching, they don't look as well when cut into small squares as you loose the design. Small scale prints from a far can look like a solid fabric. Medium prints tend to work best in large and small blocks. But a combination of small and medium prints can add interest. I tend to use the larger prints for borders, or backings.
Understanding and learning to combine all of these elements will result in great quilts.
I must be honest here, the fabrics I choose for this quilt were done by instinct and not because of some book. I got lucky as they did work well together. Some might even say I was a natural at picking fabrics. I won't say that I always got it right, but what I will say is once you understand the rules you will make less mistakes. (If you have a quilt that just doesn't seem to work finish it anyway and donate it to a shelter. I have never seen anyone there complain about how it looks)
Cutting my fabric
Next came the cutting of my squares. Now remember this was may first quilt, and of course I was not going to read the entire book before getting started right? I just wanted to start. So I scanned the section about how to use the rotary cutter and went to cut my 2 inch squares. Lot's of 2 inch squares! After cutting up my fabric into strips I cross cut them into the squares and stacked them in piles. All that was left was to start sewing. I began making pairs of 2 and then put them with other pairs which became what was known as a four patch. Once that was done I placed them in rows alternating a four patch with a solid white square. Making block after block, and row after row, then finally joining the rows. All sounds good so far right?
Well there was one problem, I started this without a pattern. What that means is I didn't even know how many squares I would need to complete this quilt. You see, I missed one very important step, and that was to determine the size I wanted the quilt to be then I could do some simple math and see how many squares I needed. That my friends is called "A Plan" which I didn't have. All I knew was I started with 2 inch squares. But how many does it take to make a quilt? And now I was wondering how many did I cut, and will I even have enough fabric? The fabric I used was some from my stash and most of what I bought were fat quarters. Fat quarters were easy to buy, since I had no idea how to determine yardage at the time. So you see this quilt ended up much smaller than I wanted. It is good size lap quilt, but it was supposed to be for my bed.
So, this was the first mistake I made on this quilt. "Not planning" The second mistake, was "cutting each separate square". You see if I only read further in the book I would have known how to plan my quilt better. I found a whole section on that later. And I soon discovered strip piecing, a much quicker way to make this type of block.
I think I will break here and continue on to part 3 where I share some of the other things this quilt taught me. Come back to see the rest of the story.