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Thread: How do you pick your material for a project????

  1. #1
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    How do you pick your material for a project????

    I am a new quilter. I go into Joanns and there is so much fabric I just can't seem to be able to choose several different fabrics that will work together for a quilt. I have been looking at all the projects on here and they are all so pretty. How do you decide or find the coordinating fabrics for your projects? I just can't seem to be able to do it. I am at a loss. I made a few table runners and it took me so long in Joanns to pick fabric just for those. The christmas ones were easy because I had a limited choice of fabric but to make a quilt that will go on someone's bed is a big project. I would love to make one for my mom but don't even know where to start to find fabrics to match and would look good together. Any help would really help. How long does it take to get the hang of this?????? I have never been good at decorating either

    Deb

  2. #2
    Super Member Friendly Quilter's Avatar
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    I always start with what colors the person that I am making a quilt for likes. If you want to make them a throw what are the colors and style of there home, or the room you want to make it for. If is for a female or a male, young or old. Then when you have that figured out what patern you want to use. Then start out with a Main fabric that you like and pull your colors from that. You look at your pattern and decide what color will look best in the pattern. It takes awhile but if you break it down and use a main focal material that you like you will start enjoying the process and not be afraid of it. I hope this helps. P.S. I have many people that I have taught how to quilt that had the same problem, but now really enjoy the process.

  3. #3
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Thanks Friendly Quilter. That helps. I am just so worried about things not matching and looking good.

  4. #4
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Pick one multi color fabric that you really like. Now match several other fabrics to specific colors in your inspiration fabric. Sometimes, there are color registration dots in the selvedge that make this a really easy task. Try and pick out some lights, mediums and darks for contrast.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  5. #5
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    I agree with PaperPrincess = pick a multicolor that you like and go from there. Another trick is to pull more than you think you'll use, put the bolts together (lay them across the top of the shopping cart if necessary to see them together) then squint your eyes to see how they all fit together...while looking through "squinty" eyes, you'll be able to see if something looks too weird for the combination, see if you have too many darks or lights, etc. And move the bolts around so that you see different fabrics together.
    Kate

  6. #6
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Thanks PaperPrincess and ktbb for the quick reply and advice. I guess this just gets easier with time and playing with it. There are so many choices out there it gets confusing sometimes.

  7. #7
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    As a beginner, I went the easy route first, and started with 3 fabrics from a designer's line (in Joann's). The gals here seemed to think I did ok in matching the other two coordinating fabrics, so I feel 'qualified' to answer.

    What *I* did was simply pick out two colors from those fabrics, then went to the 'rainbow' fabric bolts and tested each one against the 3 I already had. It was a TEDIOUS process! We must have tested every shade of yellow/gold/mustard in the place. I finally settled on one that worked, then it was off to the browns.

    My mom couldn't figure out what I meant when I said I needed a "dirt" brown, and when we were testing them, to me it was clear (at least with brown) when there was a hint of red or a hint of rust or yellow or purple in the fabric that wouldn't do for the project. It's hard for me to explain without having them side-by-each to show you what I mean. Some were very close, but just a hair "off" and wouldn't match. Maybe having a little art background helps, but I find it a relatively easy task because I know what I'm looking for (in my head), but it's more difficult when you're standing in the fabric aisle and not seeing what you need.

    Here's a pic of my project fabs: Name:  387707d1358034881-rooster-fabric.jpg
Views: 2448
Size:  545.6 KB

  8. #8
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    All the tips that have been given are excellent! Also look at the little color bubbles along the selvage of the fabric and it will show you the colors that would look really good.

  9. #9
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Thanks Teeler. Love, love your fabric selections. That will be really pretty. You sound like I was when I was trying to select material for my table runner in the fall. It took me forever in Joanns to find something I liked. Mighty I always wondered what those colors ont he selvage were for? Ha. I guess I have alot to learn. It's hard to believe that I've been sewing for years. I used to sew my girls clothes when they were little. Now they are grown and I have grandchildren that I love to sew for.

  10. #10
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeborahH View Post
    I am a new quilter. I go into Joanns and there is so much fabric I just can't seem to be able to choose several different fabrics that will work together for a quilt. I have been looking at all the projects on here and they are all so pretty. How do you decide or find the coordinating fabrics for your projects? I just can't seem to be able to do it. I am at a loss. I made a few table runners and it took me so long in Joanns to pick fabric just for those. The christmas ones were easy because I had a limited choice of fabric but to make a quilt that will go on someone's bed is a big project. I would love to make one for my mom but don't even know where to start to find fabrics to match and would look good together. Any help would really help. How long does it take to get the hang of this?????? I have never been good at decorating either

    Deb
    FOR INSTANCE-----------the other day I bought a yard of fabric intended for a dress for my 18 mo. old GD. I got home and looked at it more and more. I'm going back Friday and picking some companion fabrics for a quilt down the road. No, I dont' know what pattern, but I'm picturing a Warm Wishes quilt right this minute.

    Many times, I see a fabric that I think I can't live without. So I buy it, maybe a companion and then decide what I want to do with it.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  11. #11
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Ok GrannieAnnie, but if you find that fabric how do you know how much to buy if you don't have a specific project in mind to read the pattern? I keep hearing on here about building a stash, but I don't know how you know how much to get for future use. I love sewing for my gd.

  12. #12
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teeler View Post
    As a beginner, I went the easy route first, and started with 3 fabrics from a designer's line (in Joann's). The gals here seemed to think I did ok in matching the other two coordinating fabrics, so I feel 'qualified' to answer.

    What *I* did was simply pick out two colors from those fabrics, then went to the 'rainbow' fabric bolts and tested each one against the 3 I already had. It was a TEDIOUS process! We must have tested every shade of yellow/gold/mustard in the place. I finally settled on one that worked, then it was off to the browns.

    My mom couldn't figure out what I meant when I said I needed a "dirt" brown, and when we were testing them, to me it was clear (at least with brown) when there was a hint of red or a hint of rust or yellow or purple in the fabric that wouldn't do for the project. It's hard for me to explain without having them side-by-each to show you what I mean. Some were very close, but just a hair "off" and wouldn't match. Maybe having a little art background helps, but I find it a relatively easy task because I know what I'm looking for (in my head), but it's more difficult when you're standing in the fabric aisle and not seeing what you need.

    Here's a pic of my project fabs: Name:  387707d1358034881-rooster-fabric.jpg
Views: 2448
Size:  545.6 KB
    Love, love, love how the plaid matches everything so well. Yellow is next to impossible to match IMO.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  13. #13
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeborahH View Post
    Ok GrannieAnnie, but if you find that fabric how do you know how much to buy if you don't have a specific project in mind to read the pattern? I keep hearing on here about building a stash, but I don't know how you know how much to get for future use. I love sewing for my gd.
    Something I assume will be a background will be about 3 yards---------also generally neutral enough for other projects. Then maybe 2 of the focus, and a yard each of others.

    What I've got my eye on right now is 4 different colors of the same design so I won't need a bunch of any one color.
    (and it's on sale!)
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  14. #14
    Super Member gramajo's Avatar
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    Find a pattern you like and want to make. Use the designer's color scheme to help you get started. Try doing this for a few quilts and you'll start getting the hang of it.

  15. #15
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Thanks GrannieAnnie and Gramajo for all the great advise. I'm looking forward to quilting more.

  16. #16
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I always pick the focus fabric first. Then you can shop around different places for coordinating fabric. Picking fabric is not a slow task and some don't like it which is why some opt to do kits with fabrics already picked. Another suggestion is to pick a line of fabric. Like I have a BQ2 pattern and I fell in love with moda lovely so all of the fabric I purchased was from that line for that quilt so they are already complimentary. I have done a lot of kits but have picked out fabric for a few quilts, I can tell you I spent about 5 hours in a quilt shop for my bargello quilt which was the hardest fabric for me to pick out and you have to stand back far to make sure they are differrent values so it is not easy but a must for some patterns that don't come with kits, but I do like moda and precuts as well like fat quarters for getting coordinating fabric.
    Brother (XL-3500i, CV3550, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D), Juki MO-2000QVP, Handiquilter Avante

  17. #17
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    Taking new quilters to Joanne's is fun.

    We start out with a bolt of fabric that just sings to the person. Then we start to pull other bolts we think will look good and start a pile of bolts, one on top of the other. We stand back and look at a distance to see wht is not working and pull it out. And keep going until we have enough for our pattern. And half the fun is that others will soon join in if you let them with suggestions and comments!

    Think of it as a fun time!

    (After the quilter is more skillful, then I introduce them to the LQS!)

  18. #18
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Hi Dolphyngyrl, thanks for letting me know that. Now I don't feel like it's just me that takes so long to figure out what fabrics go together. I spent an entire afternoon once trying to match fabrics for one of my table runners. I thought, it has to be easier than this. Then I see all the beautiful quilts on here and think 'how did they pick all that out'? It's amazing to me to see some really beautiful quilts on here. Some of the fabrics I would have never thought to put together but they look great

  19. #19
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    I do have alot of fun time just looking at all the fabrics. Yes, you are right sewmary, it has to stay fun.!

  20. #20
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I start with one piece of fabric that I really like. I add to that as many fabrics that will compliment it either buy new or from my stash. The color and print doesn't matter as much as the contrast. You have to have dark fabric to play against the lights and mediums for most quilt patterns.
    Got fabric?

  21. #21
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    If I find a pattern I like I print it out several times and color them with colors until I find out what color combinations I like best then go fabric shopping. Most of the time I just buy the fabrics I fall in love with then go looking for a patters and fabrics that go good with it.

  22. #22
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Thanks BellaBoo for the advise.

  23. #23
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Deborah, I have been quilting for 3 years, and this color selection has not gotten any easier for me. However, I now allow myself to enjoy the process, rather than being frightened of it. I am no expert, for sure, and probably never will be. I do try to make sure I have darks, lights, and mediums. And when I am in doubt, I go with different shades and fabrics of one of one color. That always pleases me. I know I still tend to "match" fabric too much, when often I should be looking for a contrast. I envy those more experienced who just "know" when a fabric is right. I never know, and I can't visualize at all a finished quilt by looking at fabric. But, like I said, I am now enjoying the process when it used to terrify me.

    You will get better at it, and if that doesn't happen, you will just get more comfortable with it.

    Dina

  24. #24
    Junior Member DeborahH's Avatar
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    Thanks Dina, I'll have to remember that about the darks, mediums and lights. That's a good way to determine it.

  25. #25
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    You've gotten great advice here (as always!). I first pick out the pattern I want to use then move onto the fabric selection. As the others have said, I pick out the main focus fabric - or at least main color I want - first. Sometimes I'll pick out a couple of different main fabrics as it might be easier to get the remaining colors to work with one of those focus fabrics than another. When I get the first couple of colors together, I'll lay the bolts next to or on top of another with proportionate amounts of the fabric on the bolt showing that will be in the quilt. Kind of like the 'squinty look' that someone else mentioned. Any one or more of the colors or just the fabrics themselves might change a few times before I have it all worked out. I don't go fabric shopping when I have somewhere to be at a certain time!

    Many times the sales folks, particularly in a LQS, will be more than happy to help you with fabric/color selection. Sometimes I'll have it all picked out, look at it for a bit and completely change my mind, put it all back and try again another day.

    As to stash...I'll probably be one of the few people here to tell you not to worry about it. Particularly at this stage in your quilting career. Your tastes will likely change ALOT in the coming years and what you think is really great right now could easily become one of those 'what was I thinking?' fabrics. Just overbuy for your projects. That way you will have enough fabric to account for booboos in your current project and you'll end up with a bit of a stash over time. I don't have room for a stash and don't have to worry about the bucks I'm spending on it either. Or deciding that after a couple of years I'll use x fabric for this quilt only to not have enough of it for where in the quilt I want to use it and then can't find more of it.

    Just relax and enjoy the process. It's not a race.

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