Co-ordinating fabrics is a skill and, just like any skill, not everyone excels at it. It's also subjective - we all have different tastes. However, there are certain combinations which appeal almost universally. Some people just have the knack of knowing what fabric combinations work well.
I'm not one of those lucky people. I have to work at getting the right fabrics for a project. The good news is that with practice, your skills at choosing fabrics will improve.
When I choose fabrics for a particular project, I like to shop from my stash, as I cover the floor with different combinations. It's a bit hard to do this in the shop. Usually, but not always, I start with what I think will be the main fabric and I just keep pulling fabrics till I get the ones I'm happy with.
For me, it's most often an aha moment - I know the combination that will work for me when I actually see it. I am insanely jealous of those who can visualise combinations in their head.
When I chose the fruit fabric in the red skirt, I initially had no idea what I'd put with it. As I so often do when sewing children's clothes, I ended up with polka dots. The red in each ties it all together.
The blue and green skirt is one of my favourites. The two fabrics are by different manufacturers, but just happened to contain the same green. It's not all about finding the right fabrics. The proportion of each fabric is important, too.
Through practice, I'm becoming faster at choosing fabrics. As I look at the photos here, I can see that, for me, a largish or bold print works with a smaller print or solid. The larger print is usually the one I choose as the dominant fabric.
When choosing co-ordinating fabric for children's clothes, there are two main factors to consider: the colours and the prints. Both are important for the combination to work, but as I said at the beginning, it is subjective.
- approach juvenile prints with caution
- tonal and two-color prints look very fresh
- look for updated versions of traditional prints
- be eclectic
And here are a couple of more general posts:
When it comes to patchwork, more factors come into play. The pieces of fabric used are much smaller than on clothing and there's more of them. I thought I'd play with patchwork for my last zippered pouch. My results did NOT work for two reasons; the design and the colours.
I cut random sized rectangles and sewed them together, not thinking about the finished arrangement. There are too many pieces of similar size and oriented in the same direction. To make it worse, the three colours just don't work. I won't be using this patchwork on anything, but I will keep it to remind me of a combination to avoid in the future.
I know the colours don't appear to be the same, but the photos were taken under different lighting. The true colour is somewhere in between. To my eye, removing the grey makes all the difference. This now works for me. It's not... ooh, aah, I love it, but I am happy with the combination.
I do love my QAYG fabric basket, though. Now I can't take any credit for the fabrics. The trimmings came in a packet from Umbrella Prints, so naturally, the colours and prints co-ordinate well. That only left me to work out the shape, size and arrangement and I think I've nailed it.
Not only am I new to patchwork and quilting, there are more factors to consider when choosing fabrics. I know my skills will improve with practice, but I've found the following resources which I intend to read through.
- How to choose quilt fabrics in five minutes
- How to choose fabric for your patchwork quilt
- How to Choose Quilt Fabrics
- Choosing Fabric
- Colour in Quilts
- Tips & Techniques for Choosing Fabrics for Quilts
- How to Select Fabric for Quilting
And two more which are related to home decor:
Quilts are another step up from small patchwork projects. I bought a jelly roll for my Scrappy Blocks quilt. Again, I had to decide on the design, this time for the block, keeping to the same colourway for each, and also the overall look of the quilt.
At the moment, I'm finishing off another quilt sewn with a jelly roll. Again, the colours just work with no effort on my part. It's a good way for me to pick up clues and learn more about co-ordinating fabrics for quilts.
Are you one of the lucky ones who can pick up a piece of fabric and just know what other fabrics will look good with it? Or are you like me and have to work at it?
If you have any tips on choosing fabrics and what works for you, I'd love you to share your thoughts below. Feel free to leave links to any resources on the topic.