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How to Choose Your Fabrics for the Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt

The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sew-along: Learn to sew the 99 Blocks from Laurie Aaron Hird's book The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt" with Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com, Fat Quarter Shop and From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates. Find out more here: http://gnomeangel.com/farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt-sew-along/

Fabric selection is often the most exciting and fun part of a project for me (followed closely with seeing how those fabrics work when the blocks are constructed). But for some it can be a really daunting thing to do. The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-along has provided the perfect opportunity for me to sit down and really think about how I approach fabric selection and some of the different options that are available.

I’m going to show you some of the fabric options that I considered when it came to choosing fabrics for this project. I’d like to give a little disclaimer here: fabric selection is like picking from a desert smorgasbord – it’s all dessert (yum!), but we each have our own favourites and our own preferences for how we choose. This is how I approached it, I hope this insight into my process helps you with your fabric selections, either for this project or for one in the future.

To help you understand how I made the decision I did I’m going to list out the options that I considered, give you some examples and explain what I think about each and then list the pro’s and con’s for each one as I see them.

gnomeangel-designer-line

1. Chloe’s Closet 30’s Playtime 2. Lakeside Gatherings 3. Me and My Sister LOL 4. Nocturne 5. Meadowbloom

Use all One Fabric Line

This is the most obvious choice and it’s also the one that I tend to use least. I have a few designer crushes and I buy whole lines of fabric when they’re released but I’m yet to have a positive experience of using all one line in one quilt. For me (and remember this is how I work and we’re all different and there’s no right or wrong) I find it too limiting, but for others I’ve seen some mind blowingly amazing quilts made with just one line of fabric. I find there’s always one or two fabrics in the line that I just don’t like, either the colour combination is off or I don’t like the print that much. I’m so hard to please. *wink*

Pro’s:

  • All the fabrics work together in harmony and will give you a consistent look and feel to your patchwork.
  • You don’t have to spend hours thinking about each fabric you’ll use.
  • It’s often the cheapest way to get all your project fabrics.

Con’s:

  • You may find that there’s not enough contrast in the prints to make some block patterns work.
  • You may end up with a quilt that looks like someone else’s.
IMG_5163_shad

Image source: Rachel @ Wooden Spoon Quilts is going with a mix and match palette.

Mix & Match

This is my go-to when it comes to fabric selection and it’s often interchangeable with “scrappy” quilts. I like to have control over the fabrics I’m using and I like to be able to inject a little bit of my personality into all my projects. This option also allows me to add fabrics to the mix as they’re released and my tastes evolve.

Mix & Match also allows you to work in some solids which in turn may help to balance your fabric selection. Solids can provide a nice visual break and also help accentuate some of your feature prints.

Scrappy quilts are where you use your scraps to make your quilt, however I like to think of scrap quilts as mix & match because I still actively choose which scraps to use. It’s about the fabric, not the size of the fabric for this technique.

Pro’s:

  • You’re in control.
  • You can change your mind as you work.
  • Your quilt will be unique.

Con’s:

  • It can be really daunting to choose which fabrics to use and where.
  • You can spend a lot of time standing in front of your fabric stash trying to decide what to use.
  • It can be more expensive because you buy way more fabric then you need to be able to have a depth and variety.
Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt Sew-along - 50 FQ Bundle by Angie of GnomeAngel.com for Fat Quarter Shop paired with a rainbow of threads from Aurifil.

My curated bundle for The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-along available at Fat Quarter Shop.

Curated Bundles

The love child of using one Fabric Line and Mix & Match is curated bundles. This is where you purchase a bundle of mixed fabrics that someone else has put together. For example, I put together a bundle for Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-along with Fat Quarter Shop to help people get a custom look without having to spend hours and a fortune on selecting all the fabrics. There’s lots of great shops that are working with bloggers and designers to curate fabric bundles to help people test the waters of mix and match fabric use.

Pro’s:

  • The fabrics should all work together harmoniously.
  • You don’t have to spend hours thinking about each fabric you’ll use.
  • It’s often cheaper than buying individual fabrics.
  • The bundle sizes can be custom to fit specific projects.
  • They’re a great way to step outside of your comfort zone, but still have a security net.

Con’s:

  • You may find that there’s not enough contrast in the prints to make some block patterns work.
  • You may end up with a quilt that looks like someone else’s.

gnomeangel-solids-kaufman

1. Robert Kaufman Elizabeth Hartman Designer Palette 2. Robert Kaufman Emily Cier Designer Palette 3. Robert Kaufman 2014 New Colours

Use All Solids

I’m a huge fan of solids and I love mixing solids into my quilts. I think of an all solids quilt as the ultimate quilters colouring in. There’s so much impact in an all-solids quilt because, even with all the modern quilts, they’re just so rare when you compare them to quilts made with all prints or a mix of both. A solids quilt done right can be breath taking and take something ordinary and elevate it to art.

The other great thing about solids is that you can buy a lot of bundles now that are entirely solids which gives you all the benefits of working with one line of fabric without the hassles of having to choose your own fabrics (unless you like that kind of thing of course, I know I do).

Shot cottons are also a great way to get the look of a solid quilt but with a little more interest. The only thing I would caution with using shot cottons on a quilt with small piecing is that, in my experience, the fabric frays really easily. Just use a good quality starch and be careful when handling your pieces (although that should go for all fabrics).

Pro’s:

  • Contrast in your quilt blocks can be easily achieved.
  • Your quilt will be unique.
  • It’s a high impact way of making a quilt design really pop.
  • Solids are cheap to purchase.
  • There’s a big array of colours available.

Con’s:

  • You may need to spend a lot of time choosing your solids.
  • You may get bored with just using solids.
FWQ-HD-800x618

Image source: Peta @ She Quilts Alot is picking one designer for her Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Quilt

Use all One Designer

This is a great one for those of you that have a designer crush and a deep stash of fabrics. This can be a lot of fun to do, especially if the designer has a vast back catalogue. There’s been some amazing quilts made using this fabric selection parameter. It also means that if you’re like me you can ditch those pesky prints that you don’t like without having a hole in your line up.

Pro’s:

  • You’re in control.
  • Your fabric selection is controlled so you may not loose a lot of time working out what to use.
  • You can change your mind as you work.
  • Your quilt will be unique.

Con’s:

  • You can spend a lot of time trying to decided on fabrics if you’ve got a large collection of them.
  • It can be more expensive because you buy way more fabric then you need to be able to have a depth and variety.
  • There can be added expenses if you purchase out of print collectable fabrics to work with.

gnomeangel-limited-palette

1. Robert Kaufman Ratatouille 2. Robert Kaufman Dusk to Dawn 3. Robert Kaufman Blushing Bouquet 4. Robert Kaufman Fancy Floral 5. Robert Kaufman Lush Lagoon

Limited Colour Palette

I’m a big fan of this technique as another way to add interest to your work. For example in The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt there’s only a total of 4 colours needed to make all the blocks in the book. Most of the blocks only have a variation of between 2 and 3 colours. This means that you could create a 4 colour palette and then select fabrics based on this to provide cohesion and uniqueness in your quilt.

I’ve shown examples of solids grouped by palette, but you could easily do the same with prints. Think navy, white and pink for example. Using a site like Design Seeds can also help you find colour palette you’d like to work with. Once you’ve decided on the colours just mix and match prints and solids to find something you’re happy with.

Or if you’ve got an image you’d like to create a palette from why not check out Play Crafts Palette Builder. The beauty of this free tool is it matches colours to fabrics and thread so you know just what to order!

Everyone loves a great rainbow and this can be a fabulous way to give yourself boundaries if you want to go with a mix & match or scrappy quilt. However it can also make it a lot harder if your stash isn’t well balanced as you may find yourself purchasing more fabrics.

Pro’s:

  • It can help provide you focus when it comes to selecting fabrics.
  • You get the benefit of being able to mix and match but with more structure.
  • Your quilt will be unique.

Con’s:

  • It can be more expensive because you buy way more fabric then you need to be able to have a depth and variety.
  • It can be really daunting to choose which fabrics to use and where.
  • You can spend a lot of time standing in front of your fabric stash trying to decide what to use.
collage ombre basics with text

Image source: V & Co – These aren’t available until January 2016.

Monochromatic

I had to go to wiki to find out the true meaning of monochromatic and here it is: “Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using its shades, tones and tints.” The most obvious way to do this would be to use all solids, however you could achieve a similar effect with careful selection of prints in the same colour family and use the value (color value is a term that refers to how light or dark a color is in relation to surrounding colors) of those prints to provide the progression of colour.

Pro’s:

  • If done properly this technique can pack a lot of punch.
  • It will be unique.
  • Solids are cheap to buy.

Con’s:

  • It may be hard to get the required depth of colour needed for this to truly work.
  • It can be more expensive because you buy way more fabric then you need to be able to have a depth and variety.

Special Mentions

Seasonal Fabric

I’ve been really loving seeing people decide on seasonal fabrics for their quilts. This is where you use fabrics that are based on a season or holiday, like Christmas or Halloween. I can’t wait to see these quilts come together and I think this is a really fun way to make a great family heirloom.

Batiks

I love Batiks, but I don’t work with them. I’m always in awe of the quilts that are made each year in our Guild from Batiks. There’s something about the fabric that provides the quilter the ability to show light and shadow in there work in a way that no other fabric can. I’ve seen Batik quilts that practically glow and I love them every time. The problem I have is that I just can’t seem to get Batiks to work with my style. But that may change as more and more modern designers start adding Batiks to their fabric lines.

Make Your Own Fabrics

I’m blessed to follow a few people on social media who are screen printers and seeing their work always makes me wish I had the same skill set. If you’re feeling adventurous making your own fabrics is a great way to ensure your work is unique. You can also use a service like Spoonflower to print your own designs or purchase designs made by the public. It’s a great way to add interest and uniqueness to your work.

Looking for Inspiration

If you’re wanting more ideas for fabric selections for The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-along then why not check out what some of the other official bloggers are doing:

Another great way to get some inspiration is to join The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-along Facebook Group and share your thoughts about fabric selection and see what others are planning to work with.

This is just how I approach fabric selection, I’d love to know what your go to is when it comes to picking fabrics for a project and any tips or tricks you might have. Did I miss anything?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a very small commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link, in fact in some cases I can offer you a better price via an affiliate link. I will not recommend something that I do not use myself. These commissions help me keep being able to provide you with great content for free. Thank you, in advance for your support!

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Comments

  1. I adore your curated bundle, and I’d really like to use the floral from it. Could you tell me the name of the fabric line those are from?

  2. Count me in. This looks like fun. I already have both of the Farmer’s Wife books, just waiting to do something with them, opportunity just knocked. Thanks for doing this. I love gnomes, too. Enjoy your posts.

  3. Angie, thanks so much for all the inspiration. I have a large stash from one designer that I’ve been hoarding over the years. I am thinking of using this for a second quilt. Staying with my original plan I have pulled from my stash as well as purchased more to supplement, this will be my “mix and match” version. When all is complete, it will be interesting to see which I like best. I am so looking forward to this journey!

  4. That was some great information, I do have my colors picked out, but will use this information in the future for other projects. I tend to use same line and still over buy, my biggest fear is making a cutting error and not having enough fabric to finish.