How to Pick Fabrics for Your Next Quilt

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Learning to Read Fabric is an Important First Step!

Fabric selection can sometimes be the most difficult part of making a quilt. Fortunately, the good people at your local quilt shop are sure to be able to help. Plus, pre-cuts come in coordinating combinations, which can help to simplify the process.

However, sooner or later you’ll want to put your own combinations together, even if that’s just to use up some of those goodies in your stash. With practice, over time you’ll hone your eye and become increasingly adept at putting together interesting and beautiful fabric combinations.

Meanwhile, there are a number of ways to go about selecting fabric for a quilt. In the following video Mary Fons shows you how to read fabric, an important first step, not just for selecting fabric for a specific quilt but also for honing your skills at creating successful fabric combinations.


One point to remember is that it’s important to determine what the primary color (and value) of a fabric is. That’s not always easy with colorful prints, but it helps to step back from the fabric until the colors blur into one predominant color. You may sometimes be surprised how different that color is from what you see up close.

During the close-ups of the quilt on the wall, notice that some of the “pink” pieces don’t seem to have any pink at all. Yet, overall the quilt reads as pink and navy. Adding a few complementary patches, such as Mary has done here, adds considerable interest and keeps the quilt from becoming too matchy matchy.

In this second video Mary goes a step further and demonstrates how she chose fabrics for a specific quilt. It helps to start with a focus fabric, as she does, and coordinate from there. Notice how she worked in red as an accent color, without it being part of the focus fabric.


While you can, and probably will study color theory and fabric selection during your entire quilting life, the tips shown here can help you take the next steps in developing your eye for choosing just the right fabrics for a beautiful one-of-a-kind quilt.


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