Do You Fabric, Take This Pattern…

From fabric that “speaks to us” to marrying that fabric to the quilt pattern, I want to cover all of this in today’s blog…

Like I stated in last week’s blog, I’m not sure what makes me pick a certain fabric as my focus fabric.  Sometimes I’m going for a certain color scheme on a quilt (especially if I’m making the quilt as a gift for someone and they have a favorite color), but most of the time it’s just a fabric that appeals to me for any number of reasons.  It could be the use of color.  It could be full of possibilities.  It could be whimsical.  To be honest, I’m not sure, I just have to have it and take it home with me.

We will explore color and fabric choices in the next several blogs, but to kick us off, let’s just start with this:

Lime Green and Purple — Woot!!!!!

I found this beautiful lime green and purple fabric at Quilting at the Beach*. This particular fabric is the focus fabric for a quilt I’m making called Garden Gate.  Lime green is also a favorite of mine, so to find it coupled with my very favorite color purple, was simply a dream come true.


This pretty quilt is designed by Diane Nagle and can be found in the September/October 2016 edition of Quiltmaker magazine. This particular pattern calls for seven cuts of fabric and some assorted scraps for the squares in the borders.

For those of you that have taken my beginning design class, you may remember that you really only need five fabrics to make almost any quilt. And for those of you who haven’t taken my beginning design class, there it is – the critical information you need.  Five fabrics – that is all.  You need a focus fabric, a neutral, two tertiary or analogous colored fabrics, and a complementary colored fabric. **

We discussed neutral fabrics a couple of blogs ago.  Technically, neutral fabrics are those falling into the color realms of white, black, ecru, beige, tan, or gray.  The neutral fabric is kind of like the mortar that holds bricks or cinder blocks together.  Neutral fabrics don’t really get a lot of attention, but they’re the glue of the quilt.  They make the quilt flow and ebb and allow a resting place for the eyes as they travel over the quilt.  Quilts without these tend to make me a little edgy because I have no idea where to look first.  It is interesting to note at this point, that the definition of neutrals (white, black, tan, ecru, beige, or gray) is changing a bit.  Several quilt designers have opted for other solids as the neutral if it enhances the quilt better.  For instance, I recently completed a quilt that pink was the neutral.  And the pink wasn’t a light shade that trended more toward white, either.  It was a true pink.  It simply did the quilt a bigger justice than any other neutral, so I used it.  When the quilt is out of competition phase, I will be happy to share it on this blog, but I cannot until then.

On Garden Gate, I fell back to my favorite neutral – gray.  I think it worked better for the lime green and purple than anything else.


Since the pattern called for seven cuts of yardage, I chose four analogous colors instead of two.  Analogous colors are those colors that are side by side on a color wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.  I wanted to play up the purple on the lime-green focus fabric, so I opted for these analogous fabrics.


Complimentary colors are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.  In this particular situation, I wanted the complementary color to be opposite of purple instead of green.  In this case, that color was yellow.  This is the particular fabric I chose.


Why did I chose the complementary color to be opposite of the purple instead of the green focus fabric?  I could have.  If I had, the complementary color would have fallen into the orange-range.  However, personally, I didn’t like the way that orange played with purple, so I opted for the yellow.  And if you look at a more detailed color wheel (one with more than twelve colors), you can see that lime-green is a complementary color of purple which is a complementary to yellow, so really the yellow-purple-green-gray thing is going to work better than almost anything else.

Besides, I think yellow adds a little more sparkle to a quilt.

In addition to  the colors, there were some other ideas I had to keep in mind about this quilt.  Finished, this quilt is 63.5 inches by 76.5 inches or a little over 5 feet by 6 feet.  It’s not a huge quilt.  As a matter of fact, it falls between the youth and twin-sized quilt range.  None of the fabric that is cut to make the pieced blocks is over 7.25 inches square and these blocks are cut on the diagonal to make two triangles.  The solid blocks in the middle are 9.5 inches unfinished. Armed with this information, I quickly realized that large prints would not work well for this project.  Those would overwhelm this sweet quilt.  I also realized that if I chose fabrics with a pattern on them (which I did), the pattern would need to be fairly close together or I would lose impact.

So besides taking color into consideration, it’s also very important to read the entire pattern directions.  Remember when we were talking about project planning back in the summer and I emphasized that it was important to take the entire project into consideration and not just the pretty picture on the pattern?  This is another reason why it’s important.    It’s perfectly wonderful to buy a pattern because we love it and it’s perfectly wonderful to purchase fabric because it “speaks to us.”  However, when you marry the two, it’s important to count the cost and have all the details.  Quilting is an investment of time and money, so make sure the fabric you love will work with the pattern or the pattern will work with the fabric you love.  If they both marry well, then you will have a project that you will love to work on and be happy with the end results.

Now I  have a focus fabric, four analogous fabrics, a neutral fabric, and a complementary fabric.  All of them play well together and will work with my pattern.  If I can get this sucker cut out and ready to take to Quilt Retreat at the end of the month, I’ll be in business.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



*Quilting at the Beach is a wonderful quilt shop located at 3246 Waccamaw Ave. in Myrtle Beach, SC.  If you’re in the area, it’s well worth it to take the time and stop in for a visit.  It has everything from reproduction fabric to batiks to the latest lines that are seen in current quilt magazines. Plus the staff there is so helpful and friendly, you feel right at home in a matter of minutes.

**This information does not pertain to scrap quilts.  Those are a whole ‘nother ballgame.

If you’re new to my blog, or if you’ve forgotten, I am not employed by any of the publications, publication companies, or other industries I mention in my blog, with the exception of Dragonfly Quilt Shop in High Point, NC. 

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