Thursday, April 6, 2023

Quilting Basics ~ Fabric

Let's dive into the amazing world of quilting!

There is something about fabric. The colors, the patterns, the feel, the endless possibilities when you see bolt upon bolt. There is a reason we become addicted to the buying of fabric.

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There is so much to learn and say about fabric, that I decided to just touch briefly on a few things. I think I'm going to have to have a series for "fabric" alone!

Choosing Colors

One of the most difficult things in quilting is choosing fabric colors. There are so many to choose from, and if you don't have a plan in place when you start searching, it can get overwhelming. Then you add fun prints or amazing texture inspired prints and it can make choosing the fabric colors the most difficult thing. So where to start?

If I am unsure of a color pallet I will head to Pinterest and start scrolling through pins. I like to put in a color combo to start, like "red and blue," "purple and green" or just "teal" color pallet. I have a couple of boards that I pin to when I find one I like.

General Color Inspiration

Color Inspiration: Winter

You can also do a search for certain colored quilts to see if you actually like the combination.

Don't rule out the trusty Color Wheel! I used to have one, but it disappeared when I moved from my old sewing space to my new one. Since it was literally just a room around the corner, I'm not sure *HOW* it disappeared, but I'm also not surprised.

Based on reviews I have ordered these two color wheels to replace it. I'll give you my thoughts on them after they have arrived. Click on them to get their information.

Healifty Color Wheel

Mandarin Moose Color Harmony Wheel

I'm excited to get these and try them out. Have you used a Color Wheel to help with your color choices? I would love to hear about your experience.

To Wash or not to wash, that is the question.

And what a doozy it is! You will find quilters have their own opinions on this subject, and they are passionate about it. The wonderful thing about quilting is that you can take all the information given to you and use what YOU like. It's a craft that lets you express yourself, yes, even in the wash or no wash discussion.

I will be (and have been) asked what I do, so I'm going to share, but again, this is what I prefer. If you do something differently I think that is great!

I don't prewash. Ever. Ok, that's not true. If I'm sewing garments, then I will wash the fabric, otherwise I don't. Not even flannel.


I'm lazy. 🤣🤣🤣 Ok, that's not true either, but I AM impatient. When I buy fabrics it's usually for a planned project and I want to get going on that project ASAP. I could say it's all about the crinkle after that first wash, and I DO love that look, but if I'm going to be honest, it's because I am an instant gratification fabric buyer.

My tip, for if you DO wash your fabric before use, is once it's out of the dryer, fold it end to end, not selvedge to selvedge. This way you know it's been washed and you don't have to worry if you are using prewashed fabric with unwashed fabric. (Just don't forget to fold it selvedge to selvedge when you are ready to cut.) I also encourage you to take it out of the dryer right away while it's hot and fold it, to keep those wrinkles from setting in. If you forget and leave it sit, don't worry, we're going to talk about pressing in this series, too!

Suzy Quilts has a great article on the wash or not subject, you can find it HERE.

Keep it or let it go?

I was looking for an article I remember from a few years ago about using your fabric, not saving it, and it was funny because all I could find were articles on building your stash and saving your scraps. Since I can't link you to that specific article (PS if you wrote it, please let me know so I can share it again!) I'll share my thoughts on the subject. It is, as so many quilting ideas are, a personal choice, and as such, quilters feel very strongly about their choice.

I try really hard not to let my stash get too big. None of my children are quilters and I just don't want to leave them with boxes and boxes of sewing notions and fabric to go through. It doesn't feel joyful to me. Instead, I buy for specific projects. I use what I buy and I use as much of it as possible, which is why I love pieced backings. I do have shoebox sized bins of colors, but quite honestly it's time to go through and get rid of them, it's causing me stress, not joy, seeing them. The only fabric I tend to "stash" is fabric with flamingos on it. Someday I'm going to have a very scrappy flamingo quilt!

Whether you think a stash is needed or not, I would encourage you to look at your fabrics. Does it bring you joy sitting there taking up space? Or could you use it and find joy seeing it in a quilt on a bed, or on a quilt your snuggling under on a cold winter night?

Audrey of The Cloth Parcel posted this on her Instagram and I love the photo and the sentiment. You can see the post HERE and join in the discussion.

Heather Valentine of The Sewing Loft has some great ideas if you are looking for ways to destash you stash! Read the article HERE.

If you want something to hold your scraps and want to try and keep them to a minimum, these are the containers I use. I also use them to keep my projects in. You may be surprised how much they can hold, but if I'm cutting out an entire quilt, it will usually fit in this bin and stay all together until I'm ready to sew.

We've talked a little bit about color, washing or not, storage, what else would you like to know about fabric? I feel like a deep dive may be needed with all of the information out there. Put your questions in the comments!

Speaking of pretty fabrics. . .

Benartex is having their Virtual Fabric Show April 26th! There are limited spots available so make sure to register sooner than later! See their spring lines coming out, hear what the fabric designers have to say about their gorgeous pieces and get the design inspiration from the pattern designers. I'm excited to share about the pattern I designed for the Sunshine Days fabric line designed by Nicole DeCamp. Will I "see" you there?

Let's make something Extraordinary!


New to Patterns By Jen?

Don't forget to sign up for the Bites of PBJ newsletter while you are here for early releases and sales just for subscribers!

Find paper and digital patterns in my Etsy shop.

Find fun PBJ merchandise at Teespring

Join the Quilt and Learn with Patterns By Jen Facebook page.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily sneak peeks and updates. 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

2023 April Monthly Color Challenge

 As I write this I have no idea if March will go out like a lamb, but I'm pretty sure, as an experienced Minnesota girl, that I'm totally looking forward to April and the slow warm up that is coming.

As I promised last month, we are done, done, done with those Flying Geese units. I know they were different and new, but I'm going to miss them a little.

Photo credit:

This month our color is Olive Green. 

Benartex is sponsoring this year's Monthly Color Challenge with their basics line, Cotton Shot. These fabrics are so nice to work with and the colors are just saturated.

This month the light olive is Chartreus, the dark is Olive.

It's one of my favorite colors, but as I told someone recently, I really like ALL of the colors. As far as greens go, I love trees, and there are so many greens when you are surrounded by trees, that it is just a restful color for me.

This year we are doing things differently with the bloggers. There will be just one quilter a month that will be featured. April's blogger is Suzy.  I encourage you to grab your favorite warm (or cold if it's hot where you live) drink and stay awhile to check out what she's working on.

Find her on Instagram: @suzyssitcom

Ready for the block? Here it is! We're done making the Flying Geese units, but we're still adding a "modern" touch to each block. Modern for me, I'm a traditional quilter to the marrow of my bones, but I really enjoyed putting a little twist to these traditional blocks.

Join the Quilt and Learn with Patterns By Jen Facebook group (make sure to answer the questions so I know you are a real person 😉) where you will get a lot of support and questions answered! If you aren't on Facebook you can also follow Patterns By Jen on Instagram. Use #2023MonthlyColorChallenge when sharing so I can be sure to see your block.

I can't wait to see all of the olive green flood my world this month! 

Ready to get the pattern? Go to Payhip and download it now! The block is free for the month of April! Each set of instructions includes a "How To" video.

It's too late for the January through April instructions to be sent, but you can still sign up to have the May through December blocks (and the layout!) sent directly to your email for free. Sign up HERE.

Let's make something Extraordinary!


New to Patterns By Jen?

Don't forget to sign up for the Bites of PBJ newsletter while you are here for early releases and sales just for subscribers!

Find paper and digital patterns in my Etsy shop.

Find fun PBJ merchandise at Teespring

Join the Quilt and Learn with Patterns By Jen Facebook page.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily sneak peeks and updates.