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Quilt Fabrics or Quilt Pattern; What Inspires You More? Part 1 of a 2 part Series

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. Is it a quilt pattern that we come across, and say, “I’ve gotta make that quilt.” 

Or do we come across fabrics, that we imagine in a future quilt?

For me, it’s both. 

I spend a lot of time looking at fabrics online. Prior to the online fabric boom, I would visit my local fabric store once a month. It went out of business in 2008, and I miss it so much. There aren’t any “nice-sized,”fabric stores with lots of beautiful bolts of fabric near where I live anymore. 

When we travel, I always check to see if there are brick and mortar stores to visit and shop at in a new city. 

Quilting is a very tactile process. Not being able to feel the fabric is an element of the process I really miss. The other missing element is taking the bolts of fabric out and lining them up next to each other, or on top of each other to audition what works together and what doesn’t. Many of the web sites for online shops have a board the user can copy and paste their choices onto for the audition process. It’s okay, and I use them. But for me, it’s still not the same as seeing those bolts of fabric in good light, in person

Let me get back to fabric inspiration. Often I will find fabrics, some traditional, some modern, where it is “love at first sight.” And, I know I will use those fabrics in a project very soon, or down the road. Here are some photos of these.


None of these were purchased together. This was my thinking process when I bought each.

1. Text fabric, and green fabric with yellow buds – They were “love at first sight” choices. The text fabric was something I was looking for as I began to collect modern fabrics. 

The colors in the green fabric with the yellow buds was so colorful, and the scale of the buds were not overwhelming. I knew I could use either of these as a focal fabric or a blender. But in this arrangement of fabrics, I would use them as focal fabrics.

2. Cherry fabric with green leaves and yellow background – Because I am currently working on a 1930’s reproduction quilt, I purchased that fabric because I knew it would work in well with the fat quarters I originally purchased for this project. And I have leftover to go with this group. Also the color and scale of this fabric are just right for this grouping.

3. Yellow-orange fabric with modern green, white and yellow designs in it. I have to admit, this was a “love at first sight” choice too. And I bought it in a few different colors. It’s a great blender with these fabrics.

4. Gray – Green fabric – Another, “love at first sight” fabric. Why? The simplicity of the lines and the two colors together in this fabric create a neutral that works so well as a blender.

5. Yellow fabric with green and red twig designs – Yes, this could be considered a holiday or winter fabric; or not. Because of the simplicity and scale of the small, repetitive designs against the yellow, it is a good blender that adds some extra interest in this fabric combination. The spacing between the twigs in this fabric design, in contrast to the other prints in this group is spacious, and has more negative space in it than the others, providing it with strong contrast.

As I mentioned, I’ve been working on a king size quilt that uses 1930’s reproduction fabrics. What I am going to use for the fabric on the back has been on my mind a lot. Originally, I played around with the idea of using the extra squares I made in a modern design for it. But then, I found this….

And the word PERFECT, came to mind immediately. Modern text design, with mostly food related words,and a timeless font.  Yup, “love at first sight!!”

In Part 2 of this series, I’m going to focus on those “Gotta make it,” patterns that have come my way and have probably come your way too.

In the meantime, please comment on your thoughts about what inspires you more, fabric, pattern or both, and tell me why.  Kind of interesting to think about those choices.

Have a great weekend, and happy quilting!!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl August 14, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I can definitely go either way with quilting inspiration. For a long time, I have to admit that I found a pattern and then bought fabrics to the pattern's specifications. Now, though, a lot of time I will go fabric shopping and then figure out how to use it! I like aspects of both inspirations, but I do find that I tend to lean more toward fabric inspiration at the moment. Next month might be a different story, though!

  • Reply Beth Sellers August 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I agree with you about being able to pull bolts of fabric and see them together. I have a few quilt shops nearby, but they don't carry the more modern fabrics I like, so I do a lot of online shopping. It's so hard to do online sometimes – colors don't always show true on a monitor or iPad. I'm usually inspired by fabrics, but also have a pile of patterns that I have to find the perfect fabric for! So many projects…… 🙂

  • Reply CapitolaQuilter August 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    It's both for me too. I use to buy online more than lately. It's no bargain if I don't use it and there is something gratifying to pet fabric in person and bond with it. Because I work scrappy a lot it gives me the freedom to pick up a bit rather than worry about the required amount for a pattern.

  • Reply Mary Ann August 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I love,love looking at fabric! I really like seeing all the new fabrics online that I don't get in my area. I have a small quilt store in my area that does a good job in carrying some new lines of fabric. Enjoy reading your blog.

  • Reply annieb August 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Thanks you. I'm happy you enjoy reading it.

  • Reply annieb August 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Many projects and not enough time.

  • Reply annieb August 18, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I agree.

  • Reply annieb August 18, 2014 at 11:51 am

    As each person's quilting journey continues, these choices change and change back.

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