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Thread: which comes first- fabric or pattern?

  1. #1
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    I'm new to quilting, working on my first right now. I have caught the fabric bug and I buy fabric when its on sale. I usually buy a 1/2 yd, sometimes 1 yd. I've been lookin at patterns and I end up coming up short on a particular print(s). Do you tend to change the pattern to fit your yardage or size of quilt that you want or do u tend to find a pattern first and then buy fabric? Any help would be great!!

  2. #2
    Power Poster cjomomma's Avatar
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    I may not be a good one to answer this question cause when I see a fabric I like I just buy it then dream of a design that I think it wil be pretty.

  3. #3
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    I usually buy 3 yds at a time and then if I see a particular pattern I like I buy the contrasting fabric to go with it. I also buy white on white (WOW) a lot to have on hand. If you buy fat qtrs aor 1/2 yd pcs you never seem to have enough to work with, at least I don't. because you have to figure the border and binding take quite a bit. But everyone has a different view on this subject.

  4. #4
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    I usually buy the fabric, then find a pattern that will be good with it!!

  5. #5
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Most of the time I get the fabric as I see it and decide on a pattern later. I buy 1/2-1yd pieces mostly, unless it's something I think I'll use as a border or in more than one quilt. No matter which way I do it, I always end up changing my mind before cutting and buying more. :)

  6. #6
    Super Member cuppi duke's Avatar
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    I too used to buy a lot of 1/2 yard pieces. I never knew what to use them on and then I discovered bargello quilts. I was able to use up a lot of my smaller pieces because bargellos don't require a lot of fabric of one pattern or color. For instance for a twin quilt I use only 1/3 yard of each of 12 or more fabrics.

  7. #7
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjomomma
    I may not be a good one to answer this question cause when I see a fabric I like I just buy it then dream of a design that I think it wil be pretty.
    This = me. :oops:

    Some, I can't justify the purchase by anything except that I like it. But sometimes,it's a pretty "blender" that you can use later. Like, I have some creams and yellows that I bought mostly just because I could use them someday, and that someday is coming up soon. :D I'd say for novelty or unique fabric, have a project in mind, otherwise you may be hanging onto it forever.

  8. #8
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    When you're just starting out it's a lot easier to get the pattern first and get the required amounts of fabric for the pattern. After you've been quilting for a while and have a stash built up then you can pull fabrics you like together and find a pattern that works with what you have.

  9. #9
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    I've done it both ways. Once in a while I'll find a pattern I love and then buy fabrics for it unless I have some in my stash. But usually, I buy fabric and then I will "bundle" fabrics that I like together for a future quilt. Then I look for a pattern for it. I usually buy 1 yard pieces except for fabric I intend to use for a border, then I buy 2 or 3 yards. Sometimes, I find that I only have enough fabric to make a throw or wall hanging, but I always thought I'd rather have a big stash of smaller pieces than a smaller stash of big pieces! Lately, I've been making a lot of scrap quilts, in a controlled color-way, so I will pull a pile of blues and whites, or burgundies and tans, or navies and creams. All those half yard and 1 yard pieces really go a long way when cutting a few strips off for a scrappy quilt.

  10. #10
    Senior Member quiltswithdogs's Avatar
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    My true answer to your question is that in my 10years of quilting, I have done it both ways.

    Nowadays, thanks to job losses + over the top medical expenses, we're now officially bankrupt so for the past 2 years, I've been pretty much broke. I can only buy fabric if I truly need some when there isn't enough in my stash to complete a pattern or border. I'll be going to Joann's soon with my Jan birthday gift certificate since I've run out of plain beige of all things. All I need it for is a narrow border on this pillow. That gift certificate will be used sparingly for only necessaries. I miss buying fabric just because I like it, with no project in mind for it. That was fun. Luckily, I have fun small gift projects my stash will support and some bigger WIPs for which I have enough fabric so I'm fine ...except for that thrill of spontaneity.

    Oh, and I'm hesitant about even accepting a windfall of a big amount of free fabric like someone mentioned here (cleaned out someone's garage) since I may not have room if we must move to a tiny apt. Someday though...

  11. #11
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I will admit I always try and use my Joann's coupons. Since I make a lot of Linus quilts I can always justify purchasing fabric, especially if it is a kid's print. When I had a lot of handquilting customers I purchased six yards of anything that would make a suitable backing when I saw a good buy. I have several boxes full of such fabrics. Most of them are tone on tones or solid colors. I love when the clearance fabrics go on sale for 50% off of the marked down price. Much of my fabric stash for Linus came from that section of the store. A couple of weeks ago I went to Sauder's in Lancaster, PA. They have a spectacular annual sale. 5 of us from the Linus project went together. They had whole bolts of fabric most at least 15 yards starting at $1.99 a yard. I didn't get any bolts this time but I did purchase enough remnet flannels and children's prints to make at least 20 or thirty Linus quilts.

  12. #12
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I just love fabric!
    When I buy, I may or may not have a particular project in mind. For me the fabric tends to dictate the design I will use. Sometimes a piece of fabric will 'speak up' and demand a particular means of showcasing it's beauty...just gotta listen!
    Also I usually have several in the 'thinking stage'...want to do a quilt in say black & white, don't have a clue what design I'll go with, but know I want to have quite a few different black and white fabrics - black on white, white on black, small print, bigger print, maybe a polka dot or stripe, and so on...
    I've never yet bought a pattern, just found pictures of something I liked and taken it from there. If I did buy a pattern I'd most likely change it up somehow anyway!

  13. #13
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    Thank you everyone for your ideas and advice! Much appreciated! I'm also looking up bargello quilts for I have never heard of them before. I've wanted to quilt for over a year now but am finally really starting. It is so relaxing!! I have two toddlers and have another one on the way in a few months and having a little time to myself to make something memorable is so soothing. I'm so thankful for this blog! Thanks again everyone!

  14. #14
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    I buy fabric when I like it and it calls to me. If I find a pattern I love I will buy fabric specifically for it. I'm no help at all.

  15. #15
    SuSu's Avatar
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    I too do it both ways. I love seeing quilts made up in shops. I have two patterns that I bought because of samples quilts -- and I had skipped over the patterns before because the pattern picture was ugly. I used to buy 3/4 but now never less than 1 yard. I do like picking up jelly rolls and almost always get yard of fabric to go with it or a layer cake or a couple of charm square packs. Sometimes I think I need to stop saying my hobby is quilting and start admitting that my hobby is collecting fabric!

  16. #16
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    When I first started quilting in 1992, I would buy a quarter yard. Now, it's no less than two yards of any one fabric for a very good reason. I have lots of variety, and not much of any one thing. When I get ready to do a large quilt, I know I will not have much, so the quilt ends up being smaller. When I plan a quilt in advance of buying the fabric, I use a calculator to figure how much I will need, and then get an extra half yard.

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