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How to curate a fabric collection for a new quilt

I love fabric! All the fabric! I love beautiful, soft floral fabric and bold, bright batiks. I love striped fabric, solid fabric, fabric with little birdies on it, I even usually love the ugly fabrics. You name it, I probably have some in my collection or would be over the moon if you would share some with me.

This is the first quilt I ever made. The year was 1991, I was in high school in Arizona and my Aunt Nancy from Utah coached me over the phone until I had the top done, and then flew down to help me put it together. Do you have an Aunt Nancy? Who is your quilty mentor?

The block is a traditional Ohio star alternating with the main fabric as solid blocks the same size. It is an oversized queen size quilt with four borders, I guess I was ambitious.

I choose the fabrics after falling in love with the floral print and then choosing compliments that would read in your mind more like solids to let the floral print be the star of the show.

Here is a close up of each of the fabrics individually, You’ll see this quilt used a total of 5 different fabrics. I’ve included the solid muslin so you could see it’s just a solid.

This is how I normally curate a fabric collection, by choosing first a fabric that I love as a starting point, that has multiple colors to pull from to use as compliments.

I pulled a few examples here from my stash. (Don’t you just love the beautiful colors of the modern fabrics?!?, they are SOOOOO different from the fabrics used in my first quilt made in the 90’s!)

See I LOVE ALL THE FABRIC! Here’s my pull for a 4 color, a 5 color and a 6 color curated collection.

Let's name these curated bundles - Strawberry 4, Pinky 5, Bluesy 6.

Can you guess which was my jump off point? Which fabric did I start with and then work to complement?

Strawberry 4- to curate this red and green four color collection, I started with the strawberry print. The background green is a little tricky to match but the strawberries leafy top speaks well with the solid green that I pulled. I had a red background polka dot with larger white dots pulled here before I found these little red hearts and the small hearts were such a better scale when compared to the strawberries and the flowers so I went with that. The red floral print has just the perfect green but also brings more of the beautiful red to bring balance.

With the Pinky five color collection, I started with the beautiful Rifle Paper Co floral print, I love how the gold background on the strawberries is just the right color to match the gold in the floral. Then I found a dark mulberry and some light pinks to round out the bundle.

With the Bluesy six color collection, I started again with the Rifle Paper Co. floral but this time I pulled that beautiful blue circle batik that not only shows off the variety of blues in the floral but also has the similar round shapes of the flowers- win, win, right?. The solids I chose here are a rich leafy green and a bright blue. The blue tab fabric and the gold triangles continue to flatter the floral print and allow it to be the focus.

Alright, it’s your turn, go ahead and give it a try! Head to the fabric store, your local quilt shop or to your fabric stash and try it out. You’ll notice it is not only the color of the fabric that makes a difference here but also the scale of the print. Balancing darker and lighter shades and finding fabrics that you love and are excited to use really makes a difference!

Love, Tamara

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