Choosing Color…Maybe

Sometimes people ask me how I choose fabrics for a project and I would like to share some thoughts on that process with you.

It’s almost always a particular piece of fabric or a hunk of color that catches my attention. I can walk into a quilt store and just let my gaze roam over the shelves and all of a sudden something will stop my eyes. It’s not always the brightest, boldest piece on the shelf, either. But that’s when I’m out in the world, looking at fabrics!

More often than not, I’m thinking about new projects early in the morning or late at night and picking from some of those eye-catchers that I have already collected. You saw a couple of stacks that I straightened up here and I would typically reach for one of those stacks and pick a piece that I liked at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.

Then I would start going through stacks and selecting lights and darks and mediums that went along with it, not really making decisions until I figured out what I was making. That’s one way I choose.

Other times I work on something, maybe change my mind, set things aside and discover them later…you work like that, don’t you?

I had this piece that I constructed for a background and did not use. I pinned it up to the design wall and started throwing fabrics up with it. THIS is how I usually start a project.

I really want to use this background. I don’t want to cut it up into something smaller. I think just some shapes on top of it would be a good starting point. So are any of these combinations good?


And what shapes do I want? Circles might be good, or combinations of geometric shapes. Fantasy flowers? No, don’t think so. Tree shapes…again? Not. I have these hexagons that Mary showed us how to make, and I could make various sizes of them…

But maybe this fabric goes better with this background…

Wow! Look what I found lurking in the yarn bins…

Surely that will have a place in any piece using these colors…

Clearly choosing colors for me is not a quick process. I rarely decide anything the first time I throw fabric up on the design wall. That’s the beauty and the curse of working improvisationally. I’m never quite sure where my fabric will lead me!

Of course, there is the rare day or two when I have a clear design pictured in my head and just have to pick fabrics that fit into that design. Doesn’t happen to me often. Maybe if I made realistic looking things it would be easier, but that’s just not me!

At the end of this day, I really hadn’t made many firm decisions. I may try going with a whole different set of fabrics on that background tomorrow–or late tonight!!!

Maybe something I select will set off a new train of ideas that doesn’t even include that background and it will go back on the shelf again for a while. Maybe…maybe…maybe…it’s not the decisions but the possibilities that make quilting so exciting. Never a chance at boredom as long as you can say ‘what if’ ‘how about’ ‘maybe’ and try it!

It’s only fabric, after all and it just sits there waiting for you, waiting for the next ‘what if’ session!

2 thoughts on “Choosing Color…Maybe

    • I absolutely love that piece of fabric and I have so little of it! I think I need to leave it in big pieces when I do use it. The colors in it are so intense…and I’m looking forward to using the yarn, unraveling, couching, maybe even some independent knitted fragments…why are there still not enough hours in the day?!!!


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