Using a Bold Print
As always, thank you for sharing your comments with me last week! I had so much fun talking to you about inspiration that I thought I’d continue the theme and get straight to the promised post about using an inspiration fabric.
Specifically, I thought it would be fun to go in depth into how to use a bold inspiration fabric, such as a large-scale, multicolor print, since this is one of my favorite ways to get a new project started.
Finding the Fabric
Finding the fabric itself is fairly easy. It’s just a matter of waiting until one speaks to you. When I begin a quilt this way, I usually just browse the aisles of my local quilt shop until a fabric jumps out at me.
I usually know it is a “good” inspiration fabric when 1) it makes me feel excited about my new project, 2) it has multiple colors in it, and 3) the print itself is something I like enough to make the “main attraction” of the finished quilt.
Picking a Pattern
What I mean by that is that it can be a bit visually overwhelming to have a busy print and a busy pattern! So I have to be comfortable featuring the print instead of the pattern. I keep the pattern simple, with large pieces, so the print can be showcased instead of chopped up.
Avoiding chopping the large-scale print into pieces too small allows the print to really shine - Imagine chopping up a farm animal fabric for a baby quilt, for example. If you don’t use a pattern with big enough pieces, you might just end up with a bunch of cow rear-ends, pig feet, and chicken heads instead of adorable, whole animals. Yikes!
Choosing Accompanying Fabrics
The reason I like to pick a multicolored print as my inspiration fabric is because it makes picking the rest of the fabrics for the quilt much easier! The way I see it, there are two ways to go.
- Pick your other fabrics to match the colors in the inspiration print.
- Pick a neutral color set, such as greys, whites, blacks, or even blues, to put the loud print against.
If you choose option 1, you might end up with a quilt that looks like this:
The inspiration here was the floral print. Note that the other colors surrounding the busy print are not solids. Although solids would certainly work and can be beautiful, I really love to inject a little extra pizzazz into my quilts by using prints that read solid to accompany my large-scale print.
Definition of “A fabric that reads solid” - a print that is mostly one color, but which has some dimension or a small scale print that gives it some extra visual interest.
Option 2 is my favorite to use when I have picked an inspiration fabric that is proving hard to work with. Sometimes I end up with a large-scale print that has colors that are difficult to find in other coordinating fabrics, and it doesn’t seem to play nicely with anything else. Or sometimes too many colors accompanying a wild print can feel too chaotic!
Neutrals go with everything and are a sure-fire way to make any bold inspiration fabric work.
In this quilt, I had a very bold print and I tried approach #1, but it ended up looking insane! Even I, Carolyn - Lover of Color - can get overwhelmed by too much color sometimes! So I unsewed the whole thing, threw out my other fabrics (just kidding. I carefully folded them and put them away.), and picked just one neutral. In this case, a dusty pink!
How do you work with bold prints? Share your favorite bold-print-inspired project with Quilter’s Mart by emailing a picture of it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love seeing and sharing your projects on our Facebook and Instagram pages!
- Carolyn Knees