You've got your pattern. You've selected a color scheme or a theme. Now it's time to hit the quilt shop or visit your stash and find the perfect fabrics for that perfect project. Woohoo! Or ugh..... Reactions vary. Some LOVE selecting fabrics. Others ...


Exploring the Basics - Choosing Fabric and more...

Exploring the Basics - Choosing Fabric

Post 4 Exploring the Basics

You've got your pattern.  You've selected a color scheme or a theme.  Now it's time to hit the quilt shop or visit your stash and find the perfect fabrics for that perfect project.  Woohoo!  Or ugh..... Reactions vary.  Some LOVE selecting fabrics.  Others (many many folks) find the wealth of options intimidating.

Let's look at some general options and weigh in on each: type of fabric, print (traditional, novelty, themed),directional, non-directional, and scale.

Types of Fabric

Cotton, cotton blend, flannel, batik, or maybe something a bit different - wool, silk, rayon?  Let's look at some of these a bit closer:


Ah, no big surprise, but these are my favorite.  I LOVE batiks for many reasons: the high thread count means the fabric is super stable (no stretching or pulling out of shape, no heavy fraying of seams), the rich color that (for the most part) is the same on the front AND the back, the wonderful variety of color and print, and the fact that MOST batiks are just a FEW inches longer, which means you can usually squeeze just a bit more from each strip.

Most batiks are hand stamped, so they definitely have the LOOK of hand crafted, which means if you are going for a true, standard repeat, you are probably NOT going to get it.  But you will get lovely designs with a hand made feel.  Some batiks are silk screened, which can yield more consistent results.

Tjanting tool

You may be asking what makes a fabric a batik?  A batik is, traditionally, a wax resist dying process.  Wax is applied to the fabric, either by hand (I did this years ago in art classes with an old school tjanting tool - a type of hollow "brush" filled with hot wax that I drew my motifs onto the fabric) or with stamps, which are also created by hand of wood or copper.  The image above, courtesy of the fabo folks at Island Batik, shows the tjanting tool in action.

Batiks Drying

The fabric is emersion or dip dyed, with only the portions that have wax applied resisting the wax.  This process can be repeated to achieve multiple color results.  The wax is then removed by heat (old school - we ironed our fabric between layers of newsprint to absorb the excess wax). Above, you see batiks that are hanging to dry between rounds of wax and dye.

IB Basics and Blenders

The fabric that is dyed is usually a much higher thread count, which provides a tighter canvas for the wax, yielding better, more consistent results.  And for most, this is all done by hand.  Yes, by hand.  Which may also explain why most batiks run a bit higher in cost than traditional print fabrics.  

The higher thread count makes batiks an excellent choice for intricate, detailed piecing and appliqué (IMHO).

Cotton Prints and Solids

With the exception of homespuns (which are woven plaids/shot cottons), most cotton prints begin with a white/cream base fabric, and then is printed in huge quantities on large rollers (most commonly for major production runs).  Print fabrics will have a wrong side (the non-print side) and a right side (the bright side that was directly printed).  

For quilting purposes, most quilt fabric is assumed to be 44" wide, but any quilter that has worked with fabric knows that this can vary, due to a wider or narrower selvedge edge.  The selvedge is that tightly woven edge at the top and bottom of the fabric width and should NEVER (did I say NEVER) be included in your piecing.  

Why, you may ask?  Because it IS woven tighter, it can shrink at a higher rate, which will make all those lovely, smooth seams you worked so very hard to create pucker. Ugh!  AND because it is a tighter weave, it can create issues when you reach the quilting (actually stitching the quilt top, batting and backing together) portion of the project.  So do yourself a favor - always.always.always remove the selvedges before cutting and piecing.

Because the fabric is printed commercially, a more reliable repeat can be expected.  However, dear quilting friend, please be aware that the fabric can shift somewhat during the printing process, so don't be alarmed if the lovely stripe you chose (more on directional fabric in a bit) strays from the straight of grain!

Want to know more?  I found this great article by Encyclopedia Britannica that goes into a great deal of detail.


Wait a minute, you may be thinking!  I thought flannel was cotton - so why are you listing it separately?  Well, we quilters usually associate flannel with being cotton - but it CAN be made from wool, or from a synthetic blend as well.  But let's just look at the cotton version.  What makes flannel different from the cottons is the weaving process (usually a bit lower thread count) and the "napping" or brushed surface (on one side or on both) that gives it the cozy, soft quality we know and love.

Because flannel is often a looser weave AND because of the brushed surface, it tends to be a bit thicker, and often stretches more.  My personal recommendation - use flannel for larger blocks and simpler piecing because of this.  Oh - and unless you are an experienced quilter, I wouldn't recommend mixing your fabric types.  Start simple and get wild and crazy as your skills increase.  Just trying to keep the frustration to a minimum here, folks.


If you are thinking I've gone a bit off the deep end in talking about wools when I am also talking about choosing fabrics for a quilt - nope.  Wools (which, BTW, are NOT a plant product, but an animal product, produced from animal hair, usually goats and sheep, but some rabbits as well.  Here is a cool video that shows how wool is produced commercially.  Sorry - no lovely pastural scenes of apple cheeked farm girls carding and spinning in front of a fire!

I love working with wool.  It has a lovely texture, but like flannel is thicker.  I also prefer to work with felted wool - which a process that has locked the wool fibers together.  This provides a product that won't fray - which makes it AWESOME for raw edge applique.  I've even stitched up small quilts using felted wool.  No worries about seams fraying!

For those allergic to wool, there are also non-wool products that look and work just like the real thing.  One of my fav companies, National Nonwovens , (not an affiliate link - just a fav company who's product I use on a regular basis!) mass produces wool felt, but also has an amazing wool-like product made from bamboo!  Their bamboo felt is super soft, but looks much like the wool felt without the allergic reaction!

Great - so now you have a general understanding of types of fabric you MIGHT consider for your project.  And yes, folks - I am aware that there are a LOT more choices out there - double gauze, fleece, rayons, silks, denim, canvas.....but I just chose to explore the biggies that you are most likely to encounter in your local quilt shop.

So you're ready to go forth, buy, cut and start sewing, right?  Ummmm....let's look at a few more considerations.

  • Print - directional vs. non-directional.  What's the difference?  A non-directional print, often referred to as a  tossed print, is one that doesn't have a single directional orientation for the print.  The motifs or designs are presented at all angles on the fabric.

Peaks and valleys Juniper

A directional print has a single direction for the design or motif.  A simple example is a stripe.  The stripe runs in a single direction.

Let's look at the quilt above, my Peaks and Valleys done in Jessica Vandenberg's Juniper line (adorable, right?!).  The cream at the top, and the navy at the bottom with the little gold triangles is an example of a directional print.  The triangles go in a single direction. 

The other prints are non-directional.  I know - you might think that the yellow and green prints with the butterflies and bugs are directional.  But the repeat is a bit larger, and the bugs are actually going in different directions.  

The other prints, the butterflies and flowers, the mushrooms, and the little flower poofs (the white blooms) are non-directional as well.

  • Scale - this is the size of the design or motif.  A large scale print works absolutely fabulously in large pieced blocks.  A small scale print (one in which the design or motif is very small and/or close together) works great in small sized units (individual components of a block) and MAY sometimes "read" (ie look like) a solid from a distance.

Using a large scale motif in a small block may not yield the results you are looking for.  You may only see PARTS of the lovely print in a small section, which also means you may only see certain colors in some blocks versus other blocks.

Let's look at Peaks and Valleys again.  The mushroom print (in blue and in white) is a small scale print, while the butterflies with flowers is a larger scale print.  See how they differ?

  • Value - a range in value will add contrast and interest to your project.  What is value?  Mostly simply put, it is the range of lightness or darkness your fabrics/colors have.  And folks - it is all relative.  What do I mean by that?  Simply that the VALUE of a color/fabric is relative to the fabric it is next to.  

Again using Peaks and Valleys as an example, I don't have much change in value.  My colors, with the exception of the cream, are all of a similar saturation.  However, I DO get good CONTRAST because of the change in color through the quilt (cream to yellow to coral to green to blue).Antique CirclesNow let's look at Antique Circles.  Here I think you can see a value change.  I have a white batik (light), a couple of medium blues (medium) and a dark border (dark), which not only provides contrast, but also interest and keeps the project from looking flat.

And here are a few last considerations before you head out to get your fabric! I did address some of these concepts, but they bear examination again.

  • Care of fabric.  For example, if you are making a baby quilt, delicate fabrics such as silk may not be the best choice.  Ease of care is definitely a consideration.
  • Size of blocks and units within the block. If the block itself - or units within the block - is small and/or intricate, bulkier fabrics such as flannel, denim or canvas might not be a good choice.  Their bulk makes detailed piecing and pressing more challenging.  And the loose weave of a flannel can make the fabric more prone to distortion, making intricate piecing less accurate.

Style of piecing. If there is a lot of strip piecing, directional fabrics may be less desirable.  While I LOVE strip piecing - it definitely speeds some things up - you give up some control of fabric direction with strip piecing.  Unless you want to do a lot of fussy cutting, which kinda defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?

Head over to Kate's blog.  She has, as always, great insights for you as well on selecting fabrics.

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!



Batting Buster Blog Hop

Batting busting button

Do you find yourself battling piles of batting scraps, mainly because you just can'  I know - me too!  That was the inspiration for Jen's Batting Busting blog hop.

OMG - the projects have been adorable!  I've already saved them and put them on my to-do list!  I had something in mind - but then inspiration struck (ie Anthropologie!) and I tried something new.  Ready for a fun no-sew project that will add texture to your walls?  Oh....scary?  Nope!

Weave close crop

First, let's gather our supplies.  You'll need:

  • A canvas - size is optional.  Mine is 12" x 12", and approximately 1" thick.
  • A staple gun.  Trust me - don't try to do this with a desk stapler.  Just don't.
  • Batting scraps that are AT LEAST 5" longer than your canvas measurements.
  • Rotary cutter, rotary ruler and mat (hey, I said no sewing, not no cutting!)
  • Steam-A-Seam scraps (optional, but nice)
  • Optional - stiletto, scissors

Weave Supplies

So what's next?  Measure your canvas - width, height, depth.  Mine was 12" x 12" x 1".  So all of my batting strips were AT LEAST 17" long. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Weave strips

Now that you know how long your strips need to be, lay out your batting and cut away!  You'll want nice even strips if you want a smooth, controlled weave.  If you're a loosey goosey kinda person, then embrace those wavy edges!  But I went with a control - especially for the first one.

Weave trim crop

Hint:  you are going to want (4) extra wide strips (4" to 5").  Those are going to form your "borders".  Cut the rest of the strips in varying widths to provide interest and extra texture to the finished project.  This lets you use up all those odd sizes of batting strips.  Use your ruler and rotary cutter for this.  Yes, you COULD cut with scissors, but rotary cutting will be faster and smoother.

Weave vertical strips

Next, lay out your vertical strips AND - to provide reference - lay out your four wide border strips.  Remember that these will be used to wrap around the canvas, so remember to make your weave at least 5" larger (top to bottom, side to side) than your canvas so you can wrap the finished weave around the canvas.  

Hint: For my 12" canvas, the wide border strips hung out PAST my 12" canvas by approximately (yes, it's ok to be approximate!) 2 1/2" on each side.

Keep in mind that you'll be doing a simple weave - over, under, over, under and alternating the over/under pattern with each row.

Weave Felix

Now, I can't promise that you'll get this kind of help, but be aware that for some reason, cats seem to LOVE batting, especially once you've taken the time to cut it into neat strips!

Weave weaving

Here's a closeup of the process as I was nearing completion.  I found it easier to fold back the strips that I was going UNDER.  Notice the strips that the vertical strip is laying on top?  The alternate strips are folded back, so that when they are laid back on top of the vertical strip, it will be going OVER then UNDER.  

Weave SAS

When you finish the weave, grab your Steam-A-Seam scraps and cut them into narrow (1/4" to 1/2") strips, approximately 2 1/2" - 3" long.  

Weave SAS placement

I used the tiny strips of Steam-A-Seam to secure the strips all around the edges.  I fused the top strips, then turned the project over and fused the loose edges on the bottom as well.  You DON'T have to do this - but I found it made the whole project a bit easier to work with, as I didn't have loose strips flopping around.

Weave all strips

When you are done, it will look something like this.  Yes, you CAN trip the edges even, but don't get too carried away and trim away too much!  Remember that you need to be able to wrap this around your canvas!

Hint: I pressed my entire project to smooth everything out and help it lay nice and flat.

Weave Canvas placement

Lay your canvas on the wrong side (if there is one - batting is pretty much the same on both sides!) of your weave, centering it.  Pay attention to those wide strips on the edges.  You want them to be about halfway along the edge of the canvas so your weave will lay nice and flat on the front.

Weave corner staple

Now it's time to gently staple the weave to the back of the canvas.  Pull so that it lays flat (but not too much!  Batting has give!) and staple along the raw edges.  When you get to the corner, don't stress about making the corner lay flat - it won't.  You've got too much bulk.  But take a bit of time to gently fold.

Weave Corner staple 2

You can see that my corner is somewhat bulky, but also has a nice corner fold.  I stapled AT THE CORNER to secure the edge.  

Hint: You will use a LOT of staples, as you'll find it works much better to staple each of your strips down on the back.

Weave Flat Lay

I rather like the finished project.  It provides interest and texture.  And it was fun!  I would love to see your take on this.  I've even brainstormed some fun alternatives.  I'm going to try some dip dying before weaving.  And then I was also thinking about wrapping some of the strips with bits of threads and yarns to add a bit of color.  Oh the possibilities!  

I hope you'll share your pics of your version with me!

If you're STILL looking for batting buster ideas, I also have a fun little pattern - Scrap Buster Bracelets.


I've made these for gifts, and they are like potato chips - addictive and you can't stop at just one!  I LOVE that I can use up my fabric scraps, and play around with quilting motifs and threads on a small project!

You can find the pattern for ScrapBuster Bracelets here on my website.  And I do have kits as well!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget to check out the other great projects for the Batting Buster Blog Hop:

Monday - Patterns By Jen
Thursday - Melissa Marginet
Friday- Tamrinis

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!


Exploring the Basics - Choosing a Color Scheme

Post 3 Exploring the Basics

You've decided on the perfect pattern.  Great!  Now for the fun part - or the stressful part, depending upon your mindset and your pocketbook!  Time to choose a color scheme!  I know - you were thinking I was going to jump right into choosing fabrics weren't you? can you choose fabrics if you haven't settled on a color scheme.  It's all about the baby steps.

Let's use one of my patterns as an example, ok?

Antique circles

Here's a closeup of an oldie but a goodie - Antique Circles.  So a bit of background.  The pattern WAS inspired by an antique quilt that was hand pieced.  Some artisan of fabric, years and years ago, loving and painstakingly hand-pieced circles and small shapes together in a scrappy version of the basic block you see above.  I reimagined it and took out ALL of the stress - absolutely NO curved piecing in my project!

This version used a lovely red and white line.  A very traditional approach.  Two color quilts are not only popular, but fun to pull fabrics for AND a great exercise in value.  If you are only using two colors, you really need to have a range of value (lights, mediums, darks) AND you can often achieve that with a range of scale of print as well.

Antique Circles 1

This past fall, I recreated Antique Circles in my Signature line by Kathy Engle, Icicles.  The cool blues and whites and the more graphic fabric motifs changed the look just a bit. But still a two color quilt, and still holding on to the traditional vibe.

Antique Circles Cool 1

Moving away from just two colors, I totally love how going a bit more scrappy in a cool color palette takes the traditional quilt to a more contemporary level.  Fun!

Antique Cirlces Warm 1And then again, why not spice things up with a warm group of fabrics and a bit of a zinger with some lime.  Makes me think tropical, hot and spicy!

One piece of advise I offer in my lectures is to think about the story you are wanting to tell when you make your quilt.  Do you want to tell an adventure story, a romantic tale, or a sweet lullaby?  That can help you think about color schemes.  Let me show you what I mean.

29 Melon Blossom

Here's Melon Blossom, another no-curved piecing quilt.  It was inspired by another antique quilt (sigh - I don't have pics of either inspiration pieces!  Note to self - take more pictures!) which was done in feedbacks and muslin.  In the original version, each of those pumpkin seeds (ovals) was a different feedsack material (think old fashioned florals and soft colors) on a muslin square.  But....when I saw it, I saw big flowers!

To tell THAT story - a flower garden - I grouped my colors (pinks, oranges, purples) by light and medium, and added in green to represent leaves and yellow for the flower centers.  Set that all off against a deep blue background to let the colors pop and boom - flowers!

Melon Blossom Tea Service 1

Here's the same quilt - but done in a charming blue and white line from Connecting Threads.  It makes me think of the Blue Willow china my aunt had.  I can just imagine high tea, with charming little iced cakes, steaming cups of fragrant tea, and ladies in fancy hats!  Isn't it AMAZING what a change in fabrics can do for a project?!

These are just a few examples to get your creative juices flowing, and to get you thinking about the story you are wanting to tell.

A few more pieces of advice:

  • Please please please remember that this is YOUR creative endeavor - it is YOUR project!  As long as YOU are happy with it (or your recipient is), that is really all that matters!
  • When in doubt, make a sample block to see how the colors and prints play together.
  • If you have EQ (Electric Quilt) or a similar program, work up some color schemes first.  It doesn't have to be the SAME quilt.  Just play with color combinations to see what makes you smile.
  • See an ad or picture in a magazine or online that really pulls you in?  Clip it, print it - whatever.  Capture it and use it for your color combination inspiration!  

Next time we will go into MORE detail about fabric.  Yup, we'll be talking about scale, range, directional vs. non-directional - all the good stuff!

Head over to Kate's blog.  She has, as always, great insights for you as well on finding a color scheme that works for you.

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!





Christmas Collection Blog Hop

Christmas Collection Blog Hop

Welcome to another installment on the Christmas Collection Blog Hop!  Nancy Scott put together an amazing group of holiday projects in her wonderful new book, Masterpiece Quilting’s 2018 Christmas Collection.  You can find it here on Amazon! (note: it is an affiliate post, which means IF you purchase via the provided link, I will receive a small compensation, which does NOT affect your purchase price, but DOES help me offset blog maintenance costs).

If you've been hopping along, you've seen some awesome versions of Nancy's amazing projects.  I thought it might be fun to show you some digital options - in my new fabric line, Speakeasy, for Island Batik.  Ready?

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 6.55.58 PM

Here is Nancy's charming scrappy version from the book.  I know - stinkin' adorable!  But let's play around with some color variations, using my new Speakeasy line.

Speakeasy full collection

Here's the full collection.  I know - I'm crushing on it right now myself!  But when I was asked to participate in Nancy's blog hop to highlight her awesome group of holiday projects, I thought Speakeasy, while NOT a holiday collection, would actually work perfectly with holiday projects.  

It has rich greens, a deep red, and a full range of sparkling golds.  So what I did was recolor Nancy's Mistletoe Magic quilt in EQ8 (I LOVE playing around with design and fabric in EQ - definitely a "try it before you cut and sew it" method!) in different variations using Speakeasy.  Let's play with some color combinations!

Mistleoe scrappy on cream

So this first one is a direct recoloring - mimicking what Nancy created for us in her book.  I used the cream fabric, plus all of the other fabrics from the Speakeasy line, for a wonderfully warm scrappy effect.  

Mistletoe Scrap on Green

But....what if we changed it up a bit, and used a GREEN background.  Ohhh...I like this version!

Mistletoe blue and gold

Super!  But let's take the same layout, and this time only do two colors!  First up, blue and gold.  Yummy!

Mistletoe Green w cream

Ah, but moving it back towards a Christmas feel, here's a green and cream.  So warm and inviting, am I right?

Mistletoe cream w green and gold

This cream background sparkles once you add in some gold with the green.

Mistletoe green w red and gold

A green background with gold stars and red and cream nine patches really has a Christmas feel, don't you think?

Mistletoe Magic Purples

But....what if we went the other direction.  One of my favorite color ways in the Speakeasy line is the purples.  I mean, who doesn't love a good purple?  This one has a bit of cream in the centers for a bit of texture.

Mistletoe Magic Purples and golds

Adding in some of the bright gold, and one of the purple mixed prints adds a bit of drama.

I could go on and on.  Really!  But hopefully I got your creative juices flowing, and you're inspired to create your own version of Nancy's Mistletoe Magic.  

Oh - and if you're not feeling the large quilt, or even the lap quilt, she's got an adorable little pillow version too!

Be sure to check out all of the terrific versions of Nancy's projects during the blog hop.  The schedule is below.

Monday July 22, 2019 – Let’s Gather Table Runner

            Kate Starcher

            Terri Vanden Bosch

Tuesday July 23, 2019 – Wreath Runner & Wall Hanging

            Joanne Hillestad

Wednesday July 24, 2019 – Holly Table Topper

            Becca Fenstermaker

            Suzy Webster

Thursday July 25, 2019 – Mug Rugs & Coaster

            Nancy Scott

Friday July 26, 2019 – Poinsettia Bed Runner + Pillow

            Stephanie Bertics

Monday July 29, 2019 – Jingle Bells Quilt + Wall Hanging

            Kathy Bruckman

            Joanne Hillestand

            Marian Pena

            Rona Ribbit Herman

            Andrea Tisdel

Tuesday July 30, 2019 – Mistletoe Magic Throw & Pillow

            Marlene Oddie

            Rohn Strong

            Pam Morgan

            Andi Stanfield

            Tammy Silvers

            Sherri Noel

            Sherry Shish

Wednesday July 31, 2019 – Tree of Presents

            Tracy Stauch

            Terry Vanden Bosch

            Laura Tulloch

Thursday August 1, 2019 – O Christmas Tree Wall Hanging

            Lisa Ruble

            Jen Shaffer

            Joanne Harris

            Ellen Ault

            Sandra Healy

Friday August 2, 2019 – Friendship Star Throw

            Anorina Morris

            Ellen Ault

            Maryellen McAuliffe


Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at!  Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  And did you know?  I travel and teach!  Contact me to schedule a trunk show and/or workshop!


Exploring the Basics: Picking a Pattern

Post 2 Exploring the BasicsIn this post, we are going to explore choosing a pattern., right?  And yet sometimes stressful.  I get it. I would LOVE to tell you I have the ideal solution to ensure you pick exactly the right pattern.  Ah, dear friend, if only.  But....I will provide some guidance and suggestions to make sure you're pretty darn ok with the pattern you DO select!

First, your homework from last time - did you do it?  And if you missed the blog post, just click here and read it, then come back and let's get started!

So homework - here's what my responses look like:

Projects I'm considering:

    Fusible applique flowers   

  • this one is a "just for me" project, because the flowers I have in mind are a personal favorite
  • because I won't have a pattern, my estimated time to complete this project is about 4 weeks

    Baby quilt

  • of course this is for my grandchild!  He can NEVER have enough quilts
  • I plan on selecting a simpler pattern, so guesstimate is about 2 weeks, start to finish

    Small hand embroidered mini

  • this is from my Bucket List (more on that in later posts!), so no recipient in mind
  • because it will be a pattern in development AND because there is handwork involved, my estimated time for this project is about 3 weeks

What does YOUR list look like?  What were your projects?  Why those projects?  And what kind of time are you looking to invest - or do you think the project will take you?  All great things to consider.

Let's narrow things down.  For the purpose of this narrative, I'm going to use the baby quilt I want to make as an example. Baby Quilts

I've been to my local quilt shop (thank you for supporting your local quilt shop!) and combed over the many many selections.  Or I've browsed my favorite designer's website (thank you for supporting independent designers!) and have found some possibilites. So here are my contenders.  How do I choose the best pattern for MY needs?

Let's look at the options I have above.  All are about the same size - in the 40s x 60s range.  So relatively small - perfect for a crib quilt.  Check!

But wait - didn't I say this was for my grandson.  So should I automatically discount the two in the center (Ashley Elayne and Peaks and Valleys)?  Those are distinctly NOT boy fabrics.  Ah...that's where you want to practice looking BEYOND the fabrics and look at the lines of the quilt itself.  

I know, I know.  That isn't always the easiest thing to do.  It is super easy to become distracted by the awesome fabrics and terrific color combinations.  But that's one of the joys of quilting - the ability to take any project and make it YOURS.  

So I won't rule out a quilt based on the fabrics used on the cover.  So what DO I consider?

Project Size

I want to make a crib quilt, so I'm looking for patterns that offer the option of a smaller size.  72" x 90" is NOT going to work for this project.  

Become a Pattern Detective and go beyond the cover picture.  Look on the front and on the back to see what size or sizes the pattern offers.

Pattern Lines Ashley Elayne Sew Sweet Teal

This one is a bit harder, but here's what I mean by this.  Let's look at Ashley Elayne.

What I notice first (beyond the pretty fabrics) are the strong lines.  This will work well with a lot of different fabrics, not just soft florals.  In fact, if I'm willing to brave some awesome stripes or plaids and mix in some "reads as solids", I have a nice graphic quilt on my hands.

This may help to - and get permission, if you are in a store.  Take a picture of the quilt cover and convert it to black and white.  Ah....a completely different story, right?  Now you CAN see the lines of the quilt without the distraction of colors.  

Find lines that appeal to you.


Complexity of Project Peaks and valleys Juniper

How much time do you want to spend on the project?  Are you looking for something that is quick - perhaps a weekend project?  Or are you wanting to get lost in the process of cutting, stitching, pressing and slowly creating a new quilt?  All things to consider.

While all of my potentials are about the same size, a few look to have more pieces and more fabrics than the others.  

This is a great time to peak inside the pattern (if the shop allows it) to get a gander at how many different blocks make up the quilt, and what the assembly looks like.  

In fact, looking at Peaks and Valleys, it looks like a simple shape repeated over and over.  So while I do see a lot of different fabrics (more on that later), I feel like once I got the block or blocks down, I'd probably be good.  Probably.

Hmmm....still not sure?


Technique TT Dash Quilt

Are you looking to try a new technique?  Or to hone your skills in a newly acquired process?  Or to make something in a favorite style?  Perhaps you've fallen in love with English Paper Piecing and are getting ready to take a cross country road trip with the family, so you want a great hand project for all those hours in the car.

All things to consider.

Let's go back to my example of making a crib quilt.  I want something fairly quick.  And while I love Confetti, it is a paper pieced quilt.  

I love paper piecing.  But I also know it will take me a bit longer AND I'll have the pesky task of pulling out all those little papers in the end.  Ah - so nix Confetti from the list.


Skill Level

Now this is a highly subjective area, but still worth considering.  

Does the pattern have a skill level listed?  Yes, dear reader, Beginner can mean different things to different folks, all true.  But....if the pattern lists the skill level as Intermediate or Advanced, and you consider yourself a beginner, you realistically may have a challenge on your hands.  Just saying.

On the other hand, if you are an experienced sewer and the pattern is listed as a beginner, you may find it boring.  Or if you're looking for a quick project, it might be just the ticket!


Number of Fabrics Modern Churn Impressions Quilt 49 48x60

Everyone has a comfort level with how many fabrics they like to work with.  I did a quilt once with 35 different fabrics.  It was awesome!  But most wouldn't feel that way.

You know what your comfort level is.  You also may be working with your existing stash, or within a certain budget.  You may love scrappy quilts, but the pattern you are drawn to is a three fabric quilt. Can you do it?  Sure!  But know ahead of time that you've created a bit more work for yourself in that you'll have to do some estimating as to how much of each of your scrappy fabrics you'll need AND where they will go in the quilt.

If I'm looking for a limited color scheme or number of fabrics, Modern Churn with only five fabrics might be my choice.  Really, I would only need four fabrics that play nice with a single background - so if number of fabrics/colors are a consideration, that might influence my choice.

Favorite Designer/Author

One last consideration - do you have a designer or book author that you really like?  Perhaps you've made another pattern by them and found their style of writing and/or illustrating very easy to understand.  If so, when looking for a new project, check out what the shop or website has by that designer.  

I mentioned a few things above that I want to revisit. In the next post, I'll be talking about choosing your fabrics. I did mention that the number of fabrics a pattern calls for may be a consideration. But first we have to select a pattern.  

If at all possible, take a look at the pattern itself.  Inside.  See how the instructions are laid out.  Look at the cutting directions.  Every designer has their own writing style and there are a lot of variations here.  Make sure that the writing style works with your understanding so that you'll have a successful project!

A couple of years ago, I did a Facebook live on reading a pattern.  You may find it adds some additional useful information.  You can find that video here - and I've included it here in the blog post.


I'm looking forward to seeing what pattern you choose for your next project.  Look it over, and then come back when we talk about choosing fabrics for a project!

Head over to Kate's blog.  She has, as always, great insights for you as well on selecting that perfect pattern.

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