The Making of a Quilt (ballerina) – Fabric

by Kate on March 21, 2011

Thanks for popping back for the second installment in ‘The Making of a Quilt’ series. If you missed the first installment, you can find it here.

Putting fabrics together for a quilt is by far my favourite part of the entire process but I have to admit that selecting fabrics for this quilt kind of stumped me.

I was gifted a stunning piece of vintage barkcloth by Kirst. It is, without a doubt, the most spectacular piece of fabric I have ever clapped eyes on and given it’s beauty, I really wanted it to standout.

So, why the stumped feeling? Well, the primary colours here are purple, duck egg blue and coral. You can take it from me, there are not THAT many fabrics in coral (or that co-ordinate with coral) and I’m not really a purple girl but after half an hour up at patchwork, I realised that I needed to embrace ‘the purple’.

These are the supporting fabrics that I ended up going with.

Not a huge selection (which is different from how I normally approach selecting fabrics) but as I mentioned, I want the barkcloth to be the standout. There are only going to be small amounts of these fabrics scattered throughout the quilt and lots of white will be used.

How do I normally pick fabrics for a quilt?

Last week, Kirst asked: ‘Do you always start from a “feature” fabric or do you just haul all the blues out of the stash?’ It really depends on what sort of quilt I am making. If I am making something primarily from scraps then I may pick one colour and add fabrics that are varying shades, you can see examples of this here, here and here.

The other way I tend to put fabrics together is to pick a feature fabric, preferably one that has at least 2-3 colours in it and I work my choices around this fabric. I generally try to select at least 8 different types of fabric, I believe it creates more interest and pushes me to select fabrics that I may not have initially thought worked. It is these pieces that almost always end up being the piece of fabric that makes the quilt.

Sunday Stash #28

Pillow Talk Round 2

Liberty and Japanese fabrics are great feature fabrics to use. They may be expensive (especially the Liberty) but a little goes a long way and most prints have a few different colours which makes it a little easier for me. You can see how I have done this here, here and here.

Sarah T asked: ‘How do you know if fabrics are 1. appropriate for quilting, and 2. if different fabrics will work well together (and I mean as far as weight and texture rather than color and pattern)? I’d also love to know if you feel like fabric selection is more something people either do or do not have an eye for or its is a skill that you can develop though practice?’ I use good quality cotton and linen fabric for quilts and love the look of different weighted fabric used together. Linen almost always shrinks so it is a good idea to pre-wash before using.

When it comes to fabric selection I think some people have a fairly instinctive approach but I do think the more you experiment the better and more confident you can become. Rita, recently wrote a fantastic post about colour and if you haven’t already read it, I would take a look.

There are also a few places online that I go to for regular bursts of inspiration and colour combos. The color collective is a great place to start as is Emma Lamb’s regular colour palette series.

I really try to just have a bit of fun with it, at the end of the’s only a quilt ;)

Next Monday, I will be going over all things cutting! Hope to see you then x

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cindy March 21, 2011 at 7:55 am

I really am looking forward to reading through your step by step process and it is nice that it all doesn’t just come easily every time (I don’t know if anyone is a coral person since the 80′s are they). This fabric is truly divine, I remember seeing it at Kirsty’s forever ago and can’t wait to see it all come together.


2 Nova March 21, 2011 at 8:04 am

Great post Kate.
I just about fainted & fell off my chair when I saw the ballerina fabric. So excited to see the quilt as it grows…
Can’ wait for the next installment :)


3 Jo March 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

Wow, that ballerina fabric must have been nigh on impossible to choose supporting fabrics for – so pretty, yet it would so easily be overwhelmed by any crazy fabrics. Love your choice, can’t wait to see that quilt come together!

I’m slowly learning more and more about colour selection, and increasingly stepping out of my comfort zone, but I definitely agree that if you start with Liberty or a cool Japanese fabric, you can’t go too far wrong!


4 Mel March 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

Yes! Embrace the purple I say! As I was HAND QUILTING (yes, I’m an idiot) Sienna’s MASSIVE pink and brown quilt last night it hit me that she will no doubt just be entering the ‘purple’ phase as I complete the bloody thing! Love the ballerina fabric – it’s very “Maddie”!

And love the sentiment – it’s only a quilt. I reckon my best quilt was my first because I didn’t over think it. Just found fabrics I liked and chucked ‘em all together. I know now I wouldn’t have the guts to do that!


5 Kate March 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

Just throw it together and you will love it…well I always do when I don’t over think it ;)


6 Kirst March 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

I’m enjoying learning more about how you put stuff together. and I’m looking forward to further quilty adventures of my own.

Can’t wait to see the girls come to life. x


7 Nanette March 21, 2011 at 10:25 am

Great post! And I’ve got some of that fabric from Kirst too! What say you to a ballerinas quilt-along? It might be just the kick in the backside I need!!


8 Kirst March 21, 2011 at 10:55 am

I couldn’t remember…but I thought I’d gifted the other lot to you. NOTHING would give me greater pleasure than to see the rummage girly quilt sitting along [online] side the ofo girly quilt.


9 Kate March 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

Rummage is cutting into the fabric and I am looking forward to seeing her ballerina creation!


10 essie March 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

that feature fabric is stunning. i think you made the right choice going with the purples – it’ll make the coral pop.


11 karlyn March 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Kate, that barkcloth is stunning and the fabrics you have chosen are perfect. I have that rose fabric in my stash, I backed Rosa’s very first quilt in it. Can’t wait to see this one.


12 Sarah March 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

oooo… lots of things I love here. Ballerinas, barkcloth, purple, coral and Liberty! Looking forward to where you are going Kate. Loving the cowls too. You inspired me, so I’ve started one with Rowan Kid Silk Haze and Koigu.


13 Holly McLean March 22, 2011 at 9:57 am

I love old bark cloths and this one is so pretty! I agree; you do need to embrace the purple. that and orange together, I just love. i look forward to seeing it progress.


14 mary-jane March 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Love that ballet fabric and I know you are going to turn out something beautiful. I have trouble with purple but it’s my daughters favourite colour and she wants a quilt made so I am trying to embrace it now too!


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