Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Light Bulb Moment

Some time ago Julie shared her scraps of text print fabrics with me. I knew I wanted to make a quilt featuring text prints but at the time I had no idea how I would approach it at the time.

There were prints with text scattered throughout my stash. The first thing I did was to pull them all out, to get a feel for what I had.

Of course I began buying additional text prints shortly after Julie's scraps arrived. Before long I had two piles!

The next step was to decide how I would use these prints. This is the most time consuming step for me, apart from actually making the blocks or parts. Just today I learned something about myself and this process.

I think when many folks come to quilt making it's because they want a certain type of quilt for themselves or their home. Maybe they want a Double Wedding Ring for their bed for example. It wasn't the quilt patterns that drew me in, it was the color and patterns in the fabric. I have always loved textiles but I never enjoyed making clothing. Quilt making provided me a venue in which I could play with color and pattern. So I don't buy fabric to make a Log Cabin or any other specific type of quilt. I buy color, I buy the possibilities inherent in a print. Which can make it hard to figure out how best to use all those lovely prints I've acquired!

There are a handful of blocks that are particularly good at showcasing special prints. Those are the blocks I tend to use the most. I've also found a few techniques over the years that I especially enjoy using. One of those is to layer several fabrics on top of each other, make a few cuts, shuffle the pieces, and reassemble them into a new piece of fabric or a block. I first learned of this method back in the early 1990's from one of Eleanor Burns' books. Since then I've seen it in books by Jan Mullen, Gwen Marston, and Karla Alexander. I suspect there are others out there as well, I'm just not aware of them. The point is that it finally dawned on me that these text prints might be a good fit for a version of a quilt Karla Alexander featured on the cover of one of her books:

I have admired that cover quilt for a long time. In fact, it was the reason I bought the book in the first place. Now, I doubt very much that I could ever come close to copying a quilt someone else had already made but Karla's quilt has served to inspire me to use my collection of text prints in a similar way. The last few days have been spent cutting seven inch by ten inch rectangles from the fabrics in my two piles.

Not all of the prints made the cut of course (pun intended). And I may very well have cut enough starter pieces for more than one quilt! That's okay though, I suspect there will be a child's quilt hot on the heels of this one, featuring some of the fun Dr. Seuss prints that are currently available. I also have a red and white quilt trying to coalesce in the mists of my imagination. It's quite possible that there will be a series of string quilts coming out of the Magpie's Nest in the coming months...


  1. Interesting! I started out buying based on what I wanted to make. About two years in, I started buying because I loved the color. Even if I had a quilt in mind, the fabric often ends up in a different project. Like you, I've learned not to fight with myself over this . . . let the colors tell me where they want to be used!

  2. I think your post was very thoughtful, Sue. I came to quilting with the idea of making copies of antiques, because I couldn't afford the real deal. Then, after a few years, I just fell in love with playing with the color and prints. The pattern of the quilt became less important.

    I still would like some antique-looking quilts, but they don't hold my interest to make an entire quilt like that! Well, obviously, a Gee's Bend-type would do it, since I've made one.

    I like your idea for your text fabric. I've never had a clear idea of what I'd like to use mine for, so I'll be watching yours for inspiration! It sounds like you'll be having fun.

  3. I'm excited to see how your idea turns out. I love text fabrics, but that's one theme I haven't (yet) collected.

    Your dog quilt turned out beautifully. The border really makes it sing.


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