Okay, here comes the fun stuff! (But, in my mind, it’s all fun!)
For some, choosing the fabric for your project can be the hardest part of the process. There are so many choices available. This isn’t just about calico prints anymore! One hard and fast ruler of thumb: choose the best fabric quality you can afford. And it’s always good to take the pattern along for reference when you shop.
Note: In recent years, cotton prices have risen dramatically, so it’s tempting to buy super inexpensive fabric when you see it – $2-3 per yard, for example. Simply put, the fabric most often used for quilting is printed on greige (pronounced like the color”gray”) goods; the higher the thread count and the more twists in the thread used to weave the greige goods, the longer the fabric will last, and consequently the higher the cost to make it. Average prices for new quilt-shop quality fabrics will range from $10-12 per yard currently. This can get costly, and you need to make choices to stay within your budget. I figure, this is my hobby, and I want to treat myself so I can enjoy my craft to its fullest.
For our Table Topper project, we’ll need at least four different fabrics for the quilt top. For some of the fabric choices you can substitute scrap fabrics.
Generally speaking the focus print, or the main player fabric is a larger scale print that has lots of color. The colors in the main player fabric typically inspire the selection of the accompanying fabric in the quilt. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
And so, right out of the chute we have discovered why choosing fabric can be both fun and difficult at the same time! There is no formula to follow. No hard and fast rules. Those that have a good sense of color and value (dark and light) will find this task easy, others may find it easier to follow the colors shown in the sample on the picture of the pattern.
For my model, I’ve chosen a fun petite floral made by Free Spirit Fabrics.
The First Timer Table Topper has four blocks, essentially made from large and small squares of colorful fabric, and rectangles made from white fabric. For the sample on this blog, I have chosen to make my blocks from all the same fabric, so I selected a fat quarter that matches my focus print.
What’s a fat quarter you might say? A fat quarter is a quarter yard of fabric. A yard of fabric is 36″ long. The width of the fabric for most quilting cottons is about 40-44″ wide. So a quarter yard of fabric would be 12″ (36 divided by 4) by 42 (on average) wide. A fat quarter is cut from a half-yard of fabric or 18″x 42″, then the half-yard of fabric is cut in half to make two fat quarters, each 18″ x 21″. Most quilt shops have a bin of fat quarters to select from. Some shops will cut fat quarters off the bolt if you ask them (nicely, of course!)
For the sample quilt on the pattern cover, I chose to use leftover fabrics or scraps from previous projects (check out ScrapTherapy, Cut the Scraps! for more details on using scraps!). So instead of a fat quarter, you can substitute 5″ squares of various prints from your scrap stash.
The blocks also have a contrasting fabric. On the pattern cover I chose to use white. A fat quarter will do. For my model on this blog, I’ve got a cute little dotty print to match my focus print. It contrasts nicely with the other fabric I’ve chosen for my blocks, and it goes well with my border, too! I liked that my blocks will be two different dot prints, one print is quite a bit larger than the other. I don’t want my blocks to be too blended or muddy, so I think these will work out okay. The large dot is from another print from that same Free Spirit line I chose for the focus or main player print. The smaller dot is made by Lecien.
In the picture, the sashing strips are the long gray pieces that help the blocks stand out. For my Quilting 101 modle, I’ll be using a cream solid. Choose something that ‘stops the action’ or doesn’t compete too much with your focus print or with the fabrics you’ve chosen for your blocks.
If you are using a fat quarter print for the blocks, like I am, then you’ll have enough fabric leftover for the cornerstone pieces. If you’d like to use leftover scraps, you’ll need 2″ scrap squares from your stash.
Time to shop! . . .