Zen scrappy

design, fabric, inspiration, quilting

One of my favorite ways to think about fabric design and fabric combinations in a new way is to consider individual designers or a single print as a guest at a dinner party. To make things interesting I’ll think about designers whose styles are completely different. Then I think about what other “guests” you would need at the party to keep the conversation going. The question “what if…” has resulted in many of our favorite quilts.

In the next three months you’ll see two quilts designed and made by us that use highly unusual combinations. Part of our motivation in wanting to put together these unusual combinations was to demonstrate to others the flexibility of some prints. Regularly at workshops we teach I will hear participants quickly identify themselves by the designers whose fabrics they use most frequently. It even happens within fabric companies. When we designed fabric for RJR they were puzzled that modern quilters would use Thimbleberries fabrics. Sometimes people will look at our quilts at lectures and then mumble to themselves with surprise, “Hmm. Those are just plain old tone-on-tones aren’t they?” In this same group are sometimes the Jo Morton fans who love Civil War reproduction prints.

On the opposite end of the room are the Kaffe-Amy aficionados. These folks love the big prints and bright colors and can’t imagine using the desaturated colors found in traditional fabrics.

So here was the self-imposed challenge: figure out how to use fabrics from both ends of the design spectrum for the ultimate scrappy quilt. So this is the palette of the quilt you’ll see in American Patchwork & Quilting’s February 2012 issue, on newsstands at the beginning of December.

The quilt features 36 fabrics from Amy Butler to Jo Malone and from Kaffe Fassett to Thimbleberries and everything in between. We can all just get along or at least our fabrics can.

We loved this idea so much that we decided to try it with a lighter palette with a sage green field and tan highlights. Here are the kits being cut for the release of this quilt later in the month.

The kits are a total pain to cut because some have 26 different fabrics in them so it’s a heck of a lot of cutting but it is an unusual collection of fabrics so I’m guessing that we’ll have calls requesting them.

Next I want to do a darker version and see how the colors play out. I’ll probably try a brighter version as well. For those of us who love pattern it’s amazing that the effect can be so soft given the number of prints competing for your attention. Sometimes the more prints in the quilt the less attention any one of them gets so the whole effect is calmer. Just the opposite of what you’d expect. I’m not sure but I think there’s some kind of Zen lesson in that. Hmm…

7 thoughts on “Zen scrappy

  1. What fun it must have been to fabric shop for this project! I have never bought a kit, but I can imagine doing so for this one, because of the large number and diversity of fabrics. Or maybe you’ll just inspire me for an extensive fabric jaunt of my own. . .

  2. Penny – We spent hours planning these palettes and bought from four different sources. People can certainly buy their own fabrics but nobody is going to sell you a Fat Eighth. Buying Fat Quarters would double the cost of the project if you just want a napping quilt. So much cutting time…

  3. Your comparison of blending fabrics/designers like dinner party guests is perfect. I’ve never heard a more lucid explanation of the benefits of expanding beyond a single fabric line.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your unique approach to scrappy quilts!

  4. Funny question — Is your blog designed as a narrow column? It takes up only about 1/4 of my screen space and I’d love to see the fabric pics larger. How to do?

    Otherwise I’ll look for the mag.


  5. Should we wash the fabrics in your kits before we construct the quilt? I’m hoping to get my Acadia kit started any day now…

  6. @Katiekl – The blog is formatted with a narrow text so it’s easier to read. The photos were not shot with super hi-res because some people find it annoying because it takes so much longer to load. The truth is that it’s hard to do close-ups of 36 fabrics at once. I’ll see if I can re-shoot it but I’m crazy booked getting ready for our big announcement and Market so we’ll see.

    @MiChal – Always prewash everything! If you need a primer, you can look at my post on this topic https://craftnectar.com/2009/11/22/keep-an-eye-on-the-dye/

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