Saturday, March 05, 2011

Better Choices for Fabric for Better Quilts and Textile ART




I should keep my mouth shut but I can't. I spent the last hour looking at new fabrics on line on many of the spots you all buy fabric from. I should mention that last year I spent thousands of dollars on fabric for my palette. Tonight I thought I would just shop around and see what is exciting and fun out there.
As many of my students know, I like fabric with alot of color dots on the selvege as it shows depth in a fabric that has a large number and also fabric that is dyed and made in better places has more of these. I like at least 14 or more. I avoid fabric with two colors because the fact is fabric manufacturers can get these made cheaper and the dyes are not as good and the fabric looks flat in quilts. Why use a flat polka dot when you can use something that has light and ultimate beauty built in before you even begin to make the quilts.
In my experience (I am old and have alot of it) I have found that those fabrics that are flat and have two or three colors do not hold their color. I have examples of quilts I made that are now beginning to be brown and gray and as Freddy Moran found, some of the black and white fabrics she used in her quilts are now brown and white. Cheaper dyes that do not hold their color are what this is about and who wants a black and white quilt that turns brown and white a few years later with other fabrics retaining their black color?
My discovery tonight while I looked at hundreds of fabrics is that many fabrics are what I call "collector" fabrics. They are pretty and have butterflies or flowers or things on them and they are great for a piece of fabric. But their role in life is to be a "STAR" and they do not work or play well with others. I see people pick these fabrics all of the time and it is a shame because though the fabric is pretty, they do not mix well with other fabrics except possibly two things in that same line and who wants a quilt that has no surprises, no artistic license for imagination and no creativity outside of the line? Isn't this why we are quilting and working? Don't we want to do things that people will say "Great choice of fabrics I would never have had the nerve to use those." Or "my goodness what a stretch and a fun use of those fabrics!"
"If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always got." I don't want to always get what I always got and frankly, I can't imagine half of the fabric for sale on some of those sites as anything but paint by number and with the result of flat and boring once you back away from the fabrics chosen.
If you see a bolt of fabric up close that you love for the little design on it, then make sure it enhances the other fabrics once you get four or five feet or more away from it. If it is flat with not much value, it is going to moosh and look flat with the rest of the fabrics in your quilt.
Ok, I am not sure if I make any sense and manufacturers won't like me saying this because they don't like you to know that fabrics with only a couple of colors can be printed somewhere cheaper and we still pay big bucks.
With all of that said, I stand on the fabric that I design because it has light, it has interest, it plays well with others and it makes pretty and interesting quilts.
In the end, I hope you buy fabrics with lots of dots on the selvages, buy fabric with light, buy bigger prints because when they are cut up they are interesting and that you buy things with three values all in one fabric for those will pump up your quilts and make your blocks far more interesting. Hope you learned something from this.

12 comments:

Maree in NC :-) said...

Your timing is absolutely perfect, Mary Lou! Tonight, I've also been online looking at fabrics - even googled yours! :~) There surely are a lot of flat ones out there! You have taught me so much about choosing fabrics and colors and I truly appreciate that! :~D

Sandy D said...

Thanks for the great information. I will remember that the next time I am fabric shopping. Must be why I love Kaffe's fabric so much.....and didn't realize it!

mary.keasler@gmail.com said...

Well said! AMEN

Cossett said...

Gret post Mary Lou! Good information to know and can't wait to see your new line of fabric.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder on selecting faabrics. I remember how helpful it was to shop with you and my classmates at Assilomar. I learned a lot and this refresher was very helpful. Fran from Iowa

Carol said...

I try to check your blog everyday and I always learn so much from your posts about color. Today is no exception! Yes! It makes perfect sense and what beautiful examples in the photos that you posted! I'm going to go through my fabrics again with a whole new perspective, and, I'm counting the dots! Bless you, Mary Lou!

Quiltdivajulie said...

You used the term "light giver" during our JCCFS class and that term has stuck with me. It is SO true ... star fabrics become boring while the blenders and play-well-together types live on and on and bring joy day after day.

Here's to LOTS of dots!!!

Sharon said...

I certainly learned something today,,,thank you so much for sharing this information with us. I'm anxious to see your new line of fabric!

Sharon said...

I so appreciate your sharing this information with us......I'm still learning and Very anxious to see your new fabric line! :)

The Happy Camper said...

Color is what I love most about your quilts. When I see them, I really try to study how you make put prints and colors together and make them work so beautifully. When I took your Hoochy Mama class, I purposely picked prints and colors that were outside of my comfort zone, but they still were flat and mostly the same value. This is such a good reminder! As always, I always learn so much here. Thank you!

Cheryl said...

A good reminder for us, Mary Lou. Thanks! Cheryl

Diane said...

I love, love, love your fabric choices. I have many of them 8-). Who makes the orange, pink, purple and green plaid? I can't remember ever seeing it, and I want it!