Modern Yardage - a review

I was asked to review some fabric from Modern Yardage.  They are running on a new and interesting concept.  In very basic terms, they are digitally printing fabric, so all their designs are stored digitally.  When you order, they print your designs out and and send them to you.  The idea is less waste, more environmentally friendly, and you don't need to worry about running out of a favorite print.  You can read more about them here.

They let me choose the fabric prints I wanted to try.  I decided to pick some assorted fat quarters in the colors of my McElligot's pool quilt so that I could add more variety to these blocks that I'm slowly working on.

As you can see in the photo above, the fat quarters come printed all on the same piece of cloth.  Because the fabric they use is wider than traditional quilting cotton, they've got cute illustrations and ads all along the one edge.

Upon arrival, I found the fabric slightly stiffer than quilting cotton.  They use prewashed sheeting as their base cloth.  I decided to wash all the fabrics just to see how they would come out.  I was pleasantly surprised by the feel after washing.  It softened up nicely but still had a crispness.

I did notice some fading on the two darkest prints after one washing.

I made up a few of these blocks with these fun peach and aqua prints.  My favorite print by far is that floral with the white background.

One thing I want to mention about their website is the option to buy any of their prints in different scale sizes.  So I ordered this floral print in the smallest size.  There is also a medium and large size in this print.  This is a great option, something that I'd love to see in every fabric collection!  Sometimes I love a print, but wish it was larger or smaller.  Here you can do just that!

A few more blocks that I made in these colors.  That teal colored star print did have some fading.  The white stars were not as crisp as I was expecting, so that was a slight disappointment.  Overall though, I don't mind a slightly faded look, since I'm a lover of vintage and soft colors so this would not deter me too much.

This last print was not part of my aqua and peach color scheme, but I just had to order it cuz I thought it was fun!  I used this as my test piece and washed it twice.  Slight fading on the first wash (more than a regular quilt shop cotton), but after the second wash I noticed no more fading.  I was going to show you another photo after the second wash, but it would have been virtually the same.

So my final consensus?  If they had a print that I loved, I'd definitely buy it!  They are adding new fabric designers and uploading new designs all the time, so I know I'll be checking back!

Choosing Fabric for a Quilt {part 1}

We're slowly moving along in our Learn to Quilt with BlueElephantStitches.  There's so much one could learn and talk about that I find it hard to narrow it down into a bite sized chunk that makes sense!

So the #1 question I get is how I choose fabrics for a quilt.  The problem is there's not really a formula!  At least not for me.  I've been pondering this for days, how to show you something here that could help you and not just be a blurb out of my continually crazy brain feed that's constantly shoving new ideas to the forefront and equally as fast rejecting past ideas!

Today {part 1} we will talk a bit about how I approach fabric choices for any quilt.  Next time {part 2} we will talk about how we will approach fabric choices for the specific quilt that we are making for this quiltalong.

Here is what I often do subconsciously:  I make A Rule.  And then I Break It.

Does that make sense?

I didn't think so!  But actually it works really well for me, although I don't often think about what I'm doing.  So my most successful quilts seem to start with an overall vision of the finished product.  Usually I'll have a design or pattern in mind.  Then I'll make a loose rule that somehow involves the type of print, colors or values that will be involved.  And then as a tiny internal caveat, I give myself permission to break that rule at any point.

Let's take this one.  It's one of my all time favorite quilts in terms of color and design and well, everything!  It was made impulsively, mostly from my scrap bin.  So here's my thought process.

First the design....liberated log cabins.

Rule:  Center of blocks will be shades of mint and tangerine.  I'll do one ring around the center in the mint and tangerine, then I'll do shades of cream and white for the outside, making 12.5" blocks.

Where I broke my Rule:  After making a couple blocks, I chose one fabric that had a bit of light lime green.  Decided I liked it, so added a bit of green to my mental color scheme.  Somewhere along the way, one of the tangerine fabrics I added had a bit of bright pink (the middle block) so I decided to add one other strip of pink to balance it.  On one block (the middle left hand one)  I decided to do just one dark square and then do the rest in light colors, rather than my rule which was 'Center block and then one ring around in mint and tangerine'  You can also see on the middle block that I decided to add a darker strip in the cream portion of the block.

Overall, these fabrics were all taken from my scrap bin so I didn't spend time thinking about the actual print or picture on the fabric, but rather just the color.

Here's one I'm still working on.  The main top is completed, I'm just working on adding some star blocks to the side to make it the right width.  Here's another example of Rule/Break the Rule.  This one is a great example because I very consciously thought about this Rule before I started and while I was sewing.  (this brings out another thought, which is that I don't often pick out all my fabrics before starting.  Sometimes I do, but more often I just start sewing and pull fabrics as I go, like this one)

Design is Scrappy Trip Around the World.

Rule:  Fabrics will be mostly medium value.  Colors will be predominantly shades of warm yellows, oranges, greens, and a bit of pink.

To refine the rule a bit more, Value will be 80% medium and 10% light and 10% dark.  That means that in one block (which has seven different strips of fabric), there will be 6 medium value and one dark value.  The next block will be 6 medium value and one light value.  There will be no black and no white.

Colors will be orange, yellow, green, and pink.  Basically citrus colors.

How I broke the Rule:  I didn't really break the rule on the Value.  If I did, it was just by not following my percentages exactly.  (of course my brain could never be that precise, it was just a guideline!)

I definitely broke my color rule some, as I knew I would.  I add some aqua blue, maybe one strip every other block.  then I decided to add a bit of warm lavender, every third block (or so).  And then I added a couple of grayish prints just because.  And those I would actually take out if I did it again...

Now for my Posy Granny Square.  I'm showing you this one because it's quite a different process, but still a process!

Design/Pattern: Granny Square

Rule:  It will be made exclusively from one line of Moda fabric (I was doing a Moda Bakeshop tutorial)  It will have white as the background.  It will have a wide border that is a slightly darker color, but not as outstanding as the Granny Squares themselves.  (because I was crazy about this quilt)  The corners will be round.

How I broke the Rule:  I didn't break any rules on this one!

I'll elaborate a little more on this one because it addresses the topic of using all one collection of fabric in a quilt, specifically the precuts which Moda has made famous.

I think you can make great quilts with all one collection.  True, they won't be quite as unique, there may be others out there similiar to yours, but if YOU don't mind that, then I sure don't!  It definitely guarantees that your quilt will not turn out a hot mess.

Here are my thoughts on how you can make a one-collection-quilt look great:

1.Use a contrasting solid creatively.  Play it safe with white, or try something different like this one

2.Really think about how the collection looks as a whole and use a pattern that compliments this look.  For example, this Summersville collection looks great in this quilt because it has a soft subdued look.

3.Use an outstanding or graphic design or pattern as your focal point (as in this amazing owl quilt) and then using one fabric collection makes the fabric as more the grounding factor and becomes secondary to the overall design of the quilt.

And then sometimes I have an image that inspires the color palette.  As in the case of my McElligot's Pool quilt, or this one above.  On the triangle quilt above, I was inspired by the colors in this art print.

Design: Field of Triangles ( I was testing the pattern, which is still in testing stage!)

Rule:  Gray background in two shades.  Triangle colors in shades of warm orangey yellow and warm corally pink.

How I broke the Rule:  I didn't break the rule too much, just tried for the right shades of color and a mix of floral and geometric prints plus a few solids.  The mint colored binding was a last minute decision because I like the little bit of mint green on the leaves of that floral print in the triangles.

Sooooo.... I hope that was a tiny bit helpful to you!  It's really only one aspect of what I think about this topic.  I could go on and on!  Especially about having confidence in your own choices and if YOU like it, then it's awesome!

But I really must stop now.

I'll just add a few links that I found here and there.  These are all other quilter's thoughts on choosing fabric for a quilt.  It's always good to hear other's thoughts on the topic too!  If you have more good articles on this, add them in the comments.

All About Fabric - A Quilter's Medium

A Few Tips on Choosing Fabric

The Art of Choosing

What Fabrics do I Pick for My Quilt?

Two Fab Shops {and a giveaway!}

Exciting news, friends!  You have the chance to win some amazing fabric!  First off we've got this bundle of great solids from MadAboutPatchwork.  You've likely heard me mention this shop before.  One of the main reasons I like to shop here is because it's in Canada!  Know what that means?  It means that for once, the 'FREE SHIPPING for orders over $$' applies to me!  This also means super fast shipping for me, compared to any US shop.  Now for you Americans buying from MadAboutPatchwork, there's really no disadvantages either.  The shipping is still reasonable and fast.  It seems to always be faster going South than coming North.

Another reason I shop here often is because she has almost ALL the basics I could ever need.  A huge selection of Kona cottons and Shot cottons, as well as the Essex Linen blends that I always keep in stock.

I could say more, like a nice selection of modern print collections, patterns and FQ bundles.  The final awesome secret is that she has a Shot Cotton color chart available.  If you're going to be using any amount of these fabrics, this is so valuable since Shot Cottons are notoriously hard to view online.

So now the fun part!  That photo of fabrics above?  You have a chance to win them! That's a half yard each of all those basics I mentioned in this post on fabric.  So the top four are Kona Snow, Stone, Natural and Aqua.  Then we have the four Shot Cottons, Aqua, Tobacco, Tangerine, and Persimmon.  Also included will be a half yard of Essex Linen in Natural.

I forgot to mention that Pam has the above bundle available to purchase in her shop!

And that is not all, oh no, that is not all!  Here's a Fat Eighth bundle of Modern Bliss, available to purchase from Westwood Acres.  If you haven't visited this shop yet, then head right over!  In the three years since Amanda opened this shop, it has become one of my favorites.

This shop is beautiful and inspiring.  Fabrics are mainly sold in bundles of fat eighths, fat quarters, and half yards.  This is somewhat unique since not many shops sell collections in these sizes of bundles (especially fat eighths!)  The next best thing is that I find the price to be very reasonable.  I always do the math on bundles to see how much it comes out to be per yard.  I don't think you'll find a shop with a better price than Westwood Acres!

Whenever a collection comes out that I know I'll want a bundle of the whole range, I always check Westwood Acres first.  If they have it in stock, I buy it here!

Amanda has offered to send this Fat Eighth bundle to one of my readers!

So now we have two bundles you could win.  The half yard bundle of Solids and Shot Cottons, or the Fat Eighth bundle of this bright and happy rainbow fabric collection.

TO ENTER, tell me this in your comment:  What's your favorite online fabric shop?  (If you're like me and have 10 favorites, then just tell me your favorite one today.)


Acquiring Fabric {building a stash} Part 2

Here we are for the second part of my post on acquiring fabric!  Last week I talked about the different colors and types of fabric you want in your stash. You can read the first half here.

Today we'll  talk about the practical side.  Where, how, and how much.

First we'll talk about WHERE.   Where do you buy fabric?  I think the ideal place would be fabric shop just down the street.  They would have a huge selection quilting and apparel fabrics, lots of notions, books and patterns, helpful staff, and all at a reasonable price with huge sales now and then!

The chance that you have something like this nearby is quite slim, I'm thinking!  That's why we have to shop around at many different places to buy fabric.

I think that buying fabric in real life at a store is the best option.  You can see and feel the fabric and you have a better chance of knowing that it's some thing you like.  Really, the only reason I buy online is because my brick and mortar shop options are limited, and online prices tend to be more affordable.

So, selection and price are the two factors that make me choose online shopping a lot of the time!  There are many, many online fabric shops!  I'm not going to list my favorites now, but I'm hoping to have a comprehensive list of some great shops in the near future.

So the one disadvantage to shopping fabric online is that the swatch you see on your computer screen can be misleading.  Here's what I do.  I look for actual photos of that fabric, rather than just a flat computer generated swatch.  This means that I do a google search on the name of the particular fabric I'm eyeing.  Hopefully someone has already sewn something with this fabric so that I can visualize the scale, color and texture.  Also there are some shops that take actual photos of their fabric, and this is very handy to look at!

Are you concerned about the quality of this fabric you are ordering?  If you order from well known fabric companies like Moda, Free Spirit, Westminster, Robert Kaufman, Michael Miller(and many many more of course) You're basically guaranteed a consistently good quality.  The regular price of quilting cotton these days is US$8-$10, so that can be a bit of a guideline.

Brand new quilting cotton is not the only fabric you can use for quilting!  I love using vintage fabrics as well.  If you have some thrift stores nearby, you may find some real treasures.  Etsy and Ebay also have lots of options, although you are dealing with possibly higher prices and the risk of not knowing the feel and quality.

I guess I kinda covered the HOW above, where I talked about finding actual photos of the fabric you're looking at.  I think most of us know a little too well how to hit the Add to Cart button, so maybe I don't need to go into that one!

So let's touch a bit on HOW MUCH?  I get this question quite often.  I'd say that my method has definitely changed over the years.  I think I've got myself about figured out by now, so the way I do it is tailored to the way I think.

I buy mainly half yard pieces.  I find them to be a useful size for the quilting I do.  I also buy some quarter yards or fat quarters from shops that have them available.  I almost never buy more than a half yard when it's a fabric I've never seen in person.  I've been disappointed by thinking a certain piece would be perfect for a quilt back, plus it's on sale!  And then when it arrives, it's just not quite how I pictured it.  Or maybe I still like it, but it's just not something I'll use that much of.  When I find myself loving a 1/4 or 1/2 yard piece, when I cut into it almost right away and start to worry that it's going to be used up soon, then I consider buying more.  ( I said consider)  If over time I find it to be a versatile fabric that I love the color of, and know that I will use more, paired together with finding it on sale somewhere, then I might purchase 2-3 yards.

The photo above shows examples of fabrics that I have repurchased because I found myself using them and know I'd use them more.  A couple of them are basics (like the bottom three) I never found them on sale, but I knew I'd use them lots, and I do.  The next two are not necessarily 'must-haves' but I found them on a great sale and knew from experience that they were prints I liked, so I bought a few yards.  These kind are pieces that work well for quilt backs.  The geometric green print second from top is my all time favorite green print.  I find it hard to find the perfect shade of green, and this is one I love, so I can't imagine what I'll do when it's gone!  And the very top print is just one that I loved because of it's vintage look and I had to have more before it was gone!

The funny thing is that really my favorite cuts of fabric are the fat quarters and quarter yards.  They just seem more special, I can have more variety of fabrics, and I find myself using them sooner.  For some reason I don't find myself cutting into large 1 yard pieces when I'm making patchwork.  I've learned that there will always be another piece of fabric that I love just as much, so when this one is gone I don't need to worry!

On the other hand, you simply DO need some larger chunks of fabric.  Maybe for sashing, or a pattern that has a lot of one background.  And for quilt backs of course.  Here's the thing: I never choose backing or binding till my quilt top is complete.  So it is nice to have a bit of selection when that time comes.  I like to have a few Ikea sheets on hand for larger quilts.  I also always have a few 56" wide voiles on hand since I love the feel of them on the back of a quilt (plus they're a bit wider)

Ok, I must run now, although I could talk longer!  Any other thoughts or comments, please feel free to add and I'll try to reply in the comments below!

Arrow Quilt

Acquiring Fabric {building a stash} Part 1

First of all we're going to talk about what kinds of fabrics we want in our stash.  We'll pretend that the practicalities like how and where and how much, aren't an issue.  Those will be the second part of this post.  So for now we'll pretend we have a lovely brick and mortar quilt shop just one block over, a huge online shop with every fabric imaginable on it's pages, and of course a Paypal account stocked with $1000!

The most important fabrics in your stash are your basics.

Some plain solids - I use Kona cotton but any brand will do, as long as it's 100% cotton.
A few colors that I always keep on hand are Snow (the perfect white), Natural (more of an muslin color), Aqua, (the perfect aqua), and Stone (a warm medium gray).   Of course I always have other colors on hand too, but these three I try to always keep around.

Another basic that I love is Essex Linen in Natural.  It's a cotton linen blend that is slightly heavier than other cotton.  Because of the cotton content it's super easy to work with and goes well with all my cottons.  I use it often as my background fabric in a quilt, just because I like the natural color and the texture.

Shot Cottons by Kaffe Fassett are my number one favorite solid.  I'd use them all the time except for the fact that they cost slightly more and don't have as many colors as regular solids.  They add stunning depth to any quilt because of their woven look.  The warp and weft are two different colors, so they shine slightly different when looking at them from different angles.  They are also very soft, which makes them a great choice for quilt backs!  Here's a list of my favorite colors in shot cottons.  Aqua ( a smoky blue, reminds me of light faded denim), Persimmon (absolutely the best red!  Basically the only red solid I use.), Tangerine (the best orange!) Tobacco (a golden caramel color with warm yellow undertones).

Neutral colored fabrics are also of great importance.  I always have to make  conscious effort to stash these fabrics, because they're not as exciting as the bold and bright prints.  Depending on your style though, you're likely to find yourself using these fabrics more than your fun rainbow floral prints.

I like to have a wide variety of different shades and colors, and well as different prints.  These fabrics are similiar to solids in their practicality, but they have a print which adds some interest to your quilt.  I like to have a variety of prints.  Some stripes, polka dots, old fashioned geometrics and tiny florals, modern graphic prints, text, and reproduction fabrics.  (Just a word on reproduction fabrics, which are those tiny prints that have been reprinted and inspired by fabrics from years ago.  I find a whole quilt made from these fabrics to be drab, but I love to mix a few in to my quilts.  These old fashioned collections have some great basics that look amazing when paired with the more modern prints.)

This stack above is examples of the next category that I shop for.  These are prints that are dominantly one color.  These are the most useful for creating your desired palette.  They may have two or more secondary colors in the design, but they read mostly as one color.  You will find yourself using this type of fabric alot.  Again, I like to have a variety of different types of prints in all the colors of the rainbow.

From the above category, there are two subgroups.  The four prints above are easy to categorize into color groups, but they have quite a few secondary colors.  These are great for creating blending in your quilt.  They add interest and give a softer look.

Then you have the simpler graphic fabrics like the ones shown above here.  They generally have one secondary color that creates the design.  These help keep the simple graphic look that I like.

The last official group is multicolored fabrics.  These are the ones that I tend to fall in love with first.  They jump out at you and convince you to make a quilt right now!

You must be careful not to buy only these types of fabrics though, or your quilt will be very busy, and you'll have a hard time finding fabrics that look nice together.

I squeezed in one last little unofficial category.  I'm not sure what it's called, but it's those little pieces of extra special fabric that you MUST have.  just because!  Maybe it's a rare fabric, or a Liberty Lawn floral, or a fat quarter of Heather Ross Linen.  Whatever the case, those little pieces of special fabric are used sparingly, but they are so fun and inspiring.  There's no criteria for this category, it's your own personal taste.

Soooo.... this post is plenty long and I've only covered half of my first topic!  I'm going to stop now and write the next post seperately.  I'll talk more about how I choose fabrics online, how much I buy, etc.