The fabrics you depend on..

I’m writing an article about building a fabric stash for the new Crafteroo magazine and a very much at the ‘composing in my head’ stage.. one of the things I am thinking about is the pitfalls you need to avoid…

One of the mistakes I know I have made a lot, so far, when buying fabric (especially as I’m on a very tight budget!) is to be attracted to the eye-catching prints and designs – the things that really jump out at you and say ‘you must have me now’! All well and good (and who doesn’t love a cupboard – or big plastic box in my case – full up with gorgeous sing-aloud-with-joy fabrics?), but then when you come to put a project together it turns out that you can’t find stuff  that will work well together.

Recently, for example, I’ve been really enamoured with Heather Moore’s Cut Out and Keep collection for Cloud 9, especially this gorgeous print – Free as a Bird:

Free as a Bird by Heather Moore for Cloud 9

It’s big and bold and just lovely – but since I bought some, back in the spring, it’s been sitting around unused, because I don’t have fabrics that complement it, without detracting from its loveliness.

This lack of bit part fabrics has become a real problem for me, so over the last couple of months I’ve been trying to address it  by focussing on buying prints that will become the workhorses of my collection – smaller, more discreet patterns, that look good, and just as importantly really work with the showy fabrics around them.

I’m finding small polka dot prints to be really invaluable – for instance I’ve just bought some more of this navy and white polka dot from Gone to Earth:

Navy Blue and White Polka dot fabric from Gone to Earth

Here it is, hard at work in a little pincushion:

Blue flower pincushion by Very Berry Handmade

Other fabrics that I’m finding that I turn to all the time at are small geometricals. I love Four Square by Denyse Schmidt (Hope Valley) – it’s solid but not dull, strong, but not overpowering:

Four Square, Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt

This is the lovely shade called Berry.

At the Festival of Quilts I picked up half a metre (amongst other things!!) of Farmdale Crosshatch (by Alexander Henry) in pink from The Eternal Maker.
Crosshatch by Alexander Henry at The Eternal Maker
It’s already in the running in the Very Berry Fabric Oscars for Best Supporting Print – it’s simple, but that 40s/50s feel gives it a real edge for me.

I’d love to hear your nominations for the best supporting fabrics!


18 thoughts on “The fabrics you depend on..

  1. I think I may have the opposite dilemma – I think I have more blenders! Most of my stash is left over from projects where I have bought the fabric specifically for that project. (I’m sure I could word that better but it’s late!) Like FB I try not to randomly buy fabric, if I really love something I buy a FQ but only if I can think of at least a couple of stash fabrics that will work well with it.

    1. I think you need to run some fabric buying training courses! I always have the awful dread that a fabric will disappear before I get my hands on it, so am rather to prone to random fabric buying..

  2. LOL I so know what you mean, I buy large bold prints for their drama – but they only seem to be good for bags, cushions and wrap skirts. Not so affective for patchwork, pincushions, purses and small cute projects. So I’m seeking out ditzy and dotty basically, although not forgetting solids. All three are probably very under rated. Looking forward to your article on Crafteroo.

    1. I think ditzy and dotty are the way forward (with maybe a few stripes and solids thrown in). One thing I am finding is that large bold prints can be quite good if you are cutting small patchwork pieces – you can get lots of very different effects from the one piece of fabric.

  3. yes I know what you mean…(a large dresser and a 4 drawer chest filled with fabrics in my case) but with me its the feel and weight I get wrong. The other day I bought a new gingham to compliment something and the weight was too heavy…Laura Ashley…. (it is beautiful) but I will either have to get more fabric or choose another project…*sigh* hehe

  4. I have that problem. I have a really impulse buy problem so I’m trying to make sure I buy matching fabric together or buy as and when I need to buy. I’m just a fabric addict :-p

  5. I know exactly what you mean. I think we all get a bit drawn to the shouty out fabrics at the expense of blenders. I think most of Hope Valley plays well with other stuff.

    1. Jan I so agree about Hope Valley. DS’s other fabrics are equally useful I think – I wish Greenfield Hill would appear in some shops over here – and I feel very sad we can’t get hold of the cheaper collections she’s done that only seem to be available in the States..

  6. Beautiful fabrics. I am teetering on the edge of starting a quilt (I’ve been teetering on that edge for over a year now…) and after reading your post I realise that apart from the fear of cutting into virgin fabric, I don’t have enough supporting players. Trip to John Lewis pencilled in for the moment the kids are back at school! Love all the bags and little purses a few posts back.

  7. I buy what I like but have learn to seek out the mixers too, they do a vital job. As you say, the polkas and the cross hatches but also text prints especially newsprint type, they make for great mixers with the louder fabrics

    1. You’ve got to buy what you like, I am sure, but as you say, it’s important to focus on the mixers too. I had forgotten about text prints – and am a bit nervous of them – but am always so impressed that with the work that you and Ayumi do with them, and the lovely things in Suzuki Koseki’s books. I am definitely going to take the plunge next time I see a text fabric that appeals.

  8. With you on the polka dots, I love Ta Dots. I think I need that Farmdale Crosshatch though.

    I am trying to only order fabric for specific projects rather than random buying – doesn’t always work that way, but it’s a strategy!

      1. If I like a fabric I tend to buy it because I get that little voice too!! Result: I have too much fabric stash!! The Farmdale Crosshatch would be a case in point – definitely a 50’s/early 60’s feel. (Remember the black and white crockery “Homemaker” we used to buy from Woolworth’s now fetching good prices on eBay?) My problem is that I don’t have a good eye for colour. I need someone to help me to bring combinations alive. When i am on my own, mine are just ordinary!

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