Great Tips for Choosing Fabric for Quilts

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Use Them for Your Next Quilt and to Perfect the Skill!

Years ago when I worked in a quilt shop (best job ever!) I worked almost exclusively in the fabric room helping quilters choose fabric. A few quilters arrived with firm ideas of what they wanted and good instincts about what would work well together.

However, many quilters came in with a pattern in hand, an idea of what colors they wanted and then were completely lost. It was a lot of fun helping quilters choose fabric – and seeing the resulting quilts. But, it often took a lot of time and effort to put a nice combination of fabrics together when working with a quilter with little understanding of how to select fabric for a quilt.

Great Tips for Choosing Fabric for a Quilt

Quilt by Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter.

I often wished for a concise fabric selection guide that covered all the basics. While I’ve yet to find the perfect guide, an article by Amy Smart covers many of the most important points.

She does an excellent job with color, and how to choose a “zinger” to add that bit of spice to a quilt. Amy then goes on to discuss scale, as in the size of the prints. Both are important considerations when selecting fabric for a quilt.

Her article makes these concepts easy to understand, and provides a good guide for selecting fabric for your next quilt. You’re sure to refer to it again and again.

Click here for the “Choosing Fabric for a Quilt” article.

More in-depth study of fabric selection centers on contrast. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an otherwise beautiful quilt that went off the rails because an important design element faded into the background. Both color and value contrasts are key elements in choosing fabric for a quilt.

Great Tips for Choosing Fabric for a Quilt

You’ll find a good overview of the types of contrasts to consider in an article by Deanna McCool for SewMamaSew.

As Deanna says:

“The concept of contrast is so important in quilting that it can sometimes trump the color completely.”

This is often evident in scrap quilts. A variety of seemingly mismatched colors can be stunning when a quilt is built on value contrasts.

The study of contrasts will do much to improve your quilts, and Deanna does a good job of imparting the basics without being overwhelming.

Click here for the “Color Theory for Quilting” article.

While these articles provide good guidance for choosing fabric for a particular quilt, it pays to also use them to further develop your eye for fabric selection.

Great Tips for Choosing Fabric for a Quilt

The “Ugly Fabric Quilt” by Becky Goldsmith is designed around contrasts.

When you find a quilt you like, take a minute to analyze the fabrics, thinking about the points made by both Amy and Deanna. What makes the quilt work?

Do the same when you find a quilt with fabrics you don’t like. What makes them not work together? Is it just simply that you don’t like those colors, or could a tweak here or there turn the fabric combination into a winner?

Good artists study color for their entire careers. The ongoing study of color and fabric combinations is important for quilters, as well, especially those who want to perfect their craft. And, if you get stuck, your quilt shop staff will always be glad to help!


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