One of the things I fell in love with when I first learned to quilt was the limitless possibilities ahead of me. Any fabric, any pattern, any color, any size, any design… you get the idea! When you make your own quilts you can literally DO ANYTHING!!! But if you are like me, all these choices and possibilities can be a little overwhelming at first. If you could DO ANYTHING, what would you do first???
So I have written this to give a few of my insights for getting started with your quilting.
- Get yourself some graph paper.
I got this 12″x 12″ pad of graph paper from Joann’s and you can buy it online here.. You can also just make yourself a grid on some regular paper too if that is your thing. I start with a blank grid and make a little outline of what is in my head. If you have nothing in your head, look around the internet and grab an idea, but start putting something on paper. I have loved what comes out when I just grab a few colored pencils and start drawing. Most quilts are just a mix of squares, rectangles, and triangles in different sizes and configurations. Start drawing some and a quilt will develop.
2. Do some math.
This part is less fun, but I usually decide on the final size of my quilt first and then divide that by my number of rows. If you are doing something simple like 10 squares x 10 squares and you want your finished quilt to be 40″ square… then each quilt square needs to end up 4″ right??? Make sure you add your seam allowance, which is usually 1/4″ in quilting, and then you would cut out 100 squares that are 4.5″ by 4.5″.
This can get quite complicated, depending on the quilt.
3. Plan your fabrics
This is obviously the best part and the reason why every quilter I know is also a hoarder of fabric! Picking fabrics is really why I wrote this post. I just like to talk about ALL THE FABRIC!
When I have a quilty idea… I usually go for solids with some prints mixed in. The best tool I have found to help me with this is this handy Kona Cotton panel.
I purchased this from a little trip to Michael Levine Fabrics in Los Angeles, but you can find them here.. Kona cotton solids by Robert Kauffman are some great solid fabrics. They are a good weight, come in 340 different colors with a special “color of the year” added each year for fun! There are several other companies that offer collections of solid colors, but Kona cottons are a great place to start. I dream of one day owning a little scrap of every color!
I like to grab my color chart, grab my drawing and start assigning colors to each value in my drawing.
If you are using a print you love and want to add some solids to the quilt as well, you can use this panel to match which solids go with your print. Another tool to help you match fabrics is actually printed RIGHT ON YOUR FABRIC.
The edges of the fabric is call the selvage and this is where thousands of little needles grab the fabric to move it through the printer. On the selvage is printed color swatches. These swatches are each solid color that appears in the fabric. This can be really helpful for matching other prints or matching these prints to solids.
Another option is grabbing a collection of fabric. Much like clothing, fabric designers design fabrics in collections. They usually come out with two collections per year and each collection contains a mix of prints that work together.
This collection is from Monaluna Organic Fabrics and is called Bloom. The prints that are still in stock can be found here.. I love it so much that I have been afraid to cut it yet! This collection is a great example because there is a variety of prints, including different colors and different scales to make your project interesting. I love how the plum color of the butterfly print is a brighter color than all the other ones, but it still works. I also love how you have the tiny scale in the pink and white daisy print ranging to the larger scale of the bicycle print. Many times collections are sold in what quilters call “pre-cuts.” These are sets of either fat quarters, 5″ squares often called “charm packs”, 10″ squares often called “layer cakes” etc. These packs are great because they usually hold at least one piece of every fabric in the collection so you get a good variety without having to buy quite as much.
4. Buy a Pattern!
If all this just seems too hard, there is a wonderful solution, buy a quilt pattern! For a few dollars you can skip the hard annoying part of planning like doing the hard math and get right to the fun part, picking your fabric! There are lots of amazing quilt patterns out there, including mine found here! Patterns are a great way to get an excellent result the first time and skip the guess work. They can also be adapted to fit your needs and your style. Below is my first quilt pattern, the gingham quilt, and can be purchased from etsy here!
Thanks so much and I hope this has inspired you to start planning your first project today!