Monday, January 12, 2015

#BFTPqal - Fabric Requirements & Selection

Hurray -- we're well on our way to the Blocks From the Past Quilt Along! I'm so excited -- and let me just remind you, my friends and I will be posting my progress in realtime on Instagram using the hashtag #BFTPqal. :)

The fabric requirements really threw me for a loop with this project -- the fabric requirements for the sashing and border are listed on page 5, but basically Marie Henry says there's no way to calculate how much yardage you'll need, because you're doing one block at a time, and because it's such a scrappy quilt. I'm a HUGE planner, so I like to know how much fabric I need right from the get-go. I think the biggest reason for this is that I don't want to buy too much fabric -- I know, there's no such thing! -- because my fabric budget is pretty tiny. I can't be too sad, though -- we're trying to pay off all our debt, and I'm looking at the long-term. I figure by the time we get all our debt (except the mortgage) paid off, my kids will all be in school, and I'll want a bigger fabric budget because I'll have more time to sew! {My mother says that isn't really the way it works, but I'm still holding on to that dream. :)} Anyway, I don't want to buy too little fabric either, because then you either run out and have to use something that doesn't really go, or you have to rearrange things somehow.

I'll talk a little later this week about how I'm going to lay out my quilt and calculate my background fabric, but for this post not to be TOO epic, I'll just talk about the colored fabrics here. They're the most fun anyway! :)  I needed an estimate of how much fabric might be needed, so what I did was take all the fabric requirements for the first two blocks, and played around with cutting them out of a fat eighth.* I figured I could easily get two blocks out of a fat eighth, and four blocks out of a fat quarter.

*a fat eighth is a cut of fabric that is about 9"X21", give or take an inch;
  a fat quarter is a cut of fabric that is about 18"X21"

So, the math is like this:

So, if you're doing all 72 blocks, you would need 36 fat eighths or 18 fat quarters.

{Please note, this is a GENEROUS estimate for the quilt blocks and cornerstones -- you could probably get away with a few less pieces of fabric, but I really hate running out. And love having a lot of variation in my scrappy quilt.}

And if you're pulling fabrics from your scrap bin for this project, I'm with Marie on this one -- I probably won't ever be able to guess how much fabric you'll use!

Let's be honest -- this part is so much fun!!  And that's what I found when I was pulling fabric from my stash. I just couldn't stop!

My first thought was to use an AMH selection I'd gotten from winning the #sweatnsew hashtag one month. It's so pretty, but very different from the colors I generally use, and I thought this might be a great place to use it up. But I soon noticed the SCALE of these fabrics was WAY too big for some of these teensy pieces -- you can see it best in the two fabrics in the following picture:

See what I mean? I might be able to get one of the leaves on that giant rose into some of the bigger pieces, but when the size of a graphic in your print is bigger than your finished quilt block, that's a pretty good indicator that this is the wrong print for you to work with. :)

So, next I pulled some warm fabrics from my stash. These are fabrics I bought without any real intent in mind -- they were just so pretty I had to have some! When I am buying fabric just to buy it, I usually buy a fat quarter -- it's just enough fabric to really get a good feel for it, but at $2-$3 apiece, they don't break my budget to get one here and there.

I thought these colors were pretty, but they were kind of missing something -- and I decided it was pink they were missing. I tried a couple of pinks, but my favorite (shown below) is just a little 5" square from a charm pack I used for another project.

Doesn't that look so much better? I love that it just bridges that yellow and red a little. In real life, it's a little more coral, so it kind of takes the place of orange just a little too. Unfortunately, I didn't find it (or anything even close) at any of the local shops I visited, so I ordered some from an etsy shop in California.  It should come sometime next week. :)

Next, I went for some cool colors. I haven't used much black in my quilting, so I thought I'd throw a little of that in there, just to see what happens -- and I absolutely love it!  I realize I'm leaving out purple in this selection -- that's because I really don't love purple and only have one fat quarter in my stash that's even close to purple. I will probably put together ONE block that uses purple, just to be fair to the color -- but if I do, I'll use a kind of pinky purply berry color that I do like. A little. I know, I'm totally prejudiced against it.

And now the moment of truth -- do I like them all together?

I LOVE IT!! I've been learning a lot lately about what MY style is -- and I think this describes it perfectly. A lot of flowers, some polka dots, little bit of bright (that green floral!), a little bit of fun (yellow with pink flowers!), and a little bit of drama (black!). You may notice, I did take out the brown polka dot -- I felt like the gray was a little better on its own.

Since I took these pictures, I've gotten a couple more fabrics at my LQS, including (but not limited to) these beauties:

I may or may not use that blue polka dot on gray -- it might be a little too two-toned, since everything else is very much one color -- but I couldn't leave it behind. It would have been lonely for me! :) And I have a couple of baby blankies to make for friends soon, so that will be perfect for something I'm doing, whether it's this or not.

Now that I've got things (mostly) figured out, I can't wait to get started on my blocks!


  1. I love that you are using warm and cool colors. Do you plan to mix the warm/cool, or make some blocks only with only warm colors and some with only cool?
    Also, I did the math for my blocks the other day - I think I'll be able to get two blocks out of one layer cake square (not including background or sashing), which is what I'm using. :)

  2. I bought the book and made the first block, and they are not as easy as they look.

  3. I got my book yesterday. We are to do three blocks a week?


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