Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Quilt Story, Part 2

I knew I wanted to make Joel Dewberry’s Aviary 2 line in plum/lilac my main fabric set. I’ve found that choosing a central set of coordinating fabrics helps the fabric-selection process immensely. But the pattern I was using required no fewer than 16 different fabrics, so I had some more research to do.

This part was very stressful. I saw way too many fabrics I liked. Some wouldn’t quite fit in with the vibe of the quilt, so I had to convince myself to leave those behind. Some fabrics were just too expensive and I couldn’t warrant buying them for my first quilt, which may or may not have turned out to be a success. I took a look at just about every quilting fabric site I could find, trying to get a feel for which designers I liked, which colors would work best, and which patterns would go well together. Because I’m a planner, I mapped out all of my prospective fabric choices in a table before making my final decisions. I opted to stick with the Aviary color scheme – a variety of purples with hints of pink, aqua, and green. I thought a creamy color would work best for the sashing, with a purple-y binding. I didn’t care so much about the backing. I just needed something that would be cheap, since I’d have to buy several yards of it.

I bought most of my fabric from Hawthorne Threads (recommended by my boss), the Fat Quarter Shop, fabric.com, and various fabric sellers on Etsy. The most important lesson I learned about fabrics is that they are EXPENSIVE. Unless you go the Jo-Ann route and sacrifice a bit of quality for price, it’s typical to spend $8-10 for a yard of designer quilting fabric. So, it was important for me to buy only what I needed. This generally meant purchasing fat quarters. The Fat Quarter Shop (obviously) has a great selection of fat quarter bundles, but sometimes you don’t need the whole set. That’s where I found Etsy to be helpful. There are dozens of small online fabric stores selling their merchandise on there, and they’ll often cut you a break on the price the more you buy. Some allow you to mix and match fat quarters for a flat rate, too, which is awesome!

After my various fabrics arrived, I had to pair them up. The pattern called for several blocks made up from each fabric pair, so I had to make sure the fabrics in the pair actually looked decent together. This part was excruciating. I went back and forth on these pairings for days, and ended up swapping out a few fabrics at the last minute (even after I had already cut into them!). For the most part, I kept the Aviary prints together, matched busy prints with solids, or put large patterns with smaller geometric patterns. I’m pleased with how the pairs looked in the end, but it took me a while to get there!

Without further ado, these are the fabrics I used in my quilt:

Pair 1
Tula Pink Parisville Topiary in Sky – I found this using the color grid search feature on Hawthorne Threads, since I needed some more aqua in the quilt. (Such a handy tool!) This has a great combo of purple, aqua, green, and pink. I think it’s very romantic!
Free Spirit Designer Solid in Mulberry Wine – I was expecting this to be a slightly different shade, but it’s a good balance to the darker purples in the quilt. I think Free Spirit makes my favorite solids. They have a nice sheen to them and they are easy to work with.

Pair 2
Patricia Bravo Lace Elements in Plum – In doing my fabric “research,” I fell head over heels for all of Pat Bravo’s lines. I was worried this would be a little too dramatic for the quilt, but I think it plays nicely with the Aviary patterns.
Patricia Bravo Pure Elements in Cabernet – I didn’t love this solid. It snagged a bit while sewing the blocks. But since it is part of Pat Bravo’s line, I thought it would have the best chance of matching the Lace Elements pattern. It worked out better when I used it for the binding. (See below!)

Pair 3
Joel Dewberry Heirloom Blossom in Amethyst – I actually bought this for a memory board I made for my room and ended up using the extra yardage at the last minute. It’s a little more red than the other plums in the quilt, but because it’s the same designer, it works.
Free Spirit Designer Solid in Red Plum – A perfect match for the Heirloom Blossom print. One secret I’ve uncovered in this process is that when in doubt, stick to colors from the same manufacturer. (Free Spirit makes Joel Dewberry’s fabrics!)

Pair 4
Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 Sparrows in Plum – I’m not sure why this is called “plum,” since it’s actually aqua, but I love it!
Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 Damask in Plum – This is probably my second favorite print in the collection. Damask is timeless, but the aqua and purple make it look modern.

Pair 5
Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 Ironwork in Plum – Another great print. Seems a little bit Moroccan-inspired, which I like.
Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 Lodge Lattice in Lilac – This could have paired with just about any of the other patterns in the quilt. It ended up here by process of elimination!

Pair 6
Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 Sparrows in Lilac – The inspiration for all of this!
Patricia Bravo Bespoken Jacquard in Orchid – I didn’t think I was going to use this, but I was having problems finding a partner for the sparrows print that wouldn’t take too much attention away from it. (It is my favorite, after all!) I bought this fabric thinking it would be more purple, and was disappointed to find that it was actually a raspberry color. But then I thought it couldn’t hurt to have a little more pink in the quilt. It’s not a perfect match, but it draws out the pink in the sparrow pattern.

Pair 7
Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 Bloom in Lilac – I love this one, too!
Buttercup Vines in Petunia – I found this on sale at fabric.com and bought it on a whim. I wasn’t sure it would match, but it was cheap. It ended up being a perfect pair with the Bloom print. I like how the tiny birds echo the sparrows in the Aviary prints. I’m looking forward to using the rest of the yardage for something else!

Stand-bys that I didn’t end up using:

Patricia Bravo Pure Elements in Verve Violet – It was a little too pink for the quilt. I’ve stashed it away for a future project.
Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow Herringbone in Pond – I adore this print, but the aqua was way too bright and it drew too much attention away from the plums. I wanted to keep aqua as an accent color, not the focus.

You'll get a better look at these in my next post...

Free Spirit Designer Solid in Natural – It was really hard to pick the right neutral for the quilt! I knew regular white would be too stark, but if I chose something too creamy, it wouldn’t go with my existing duvet cover. This turned out to be the perfect shade of off-white.

Pat Bravo Bazaar Style Moroccan Streets in Night – I wasn’t a big fan of this at first. It was too modern looking for me. However, the back of the quilt required 4-ish yards of fabric, and I had already exceeded my budget. This pattern happened to be on sale at fabric.com and had the right colors, so I figured I would live with it. Now that it’s done, I love it! It complements all of the flowers and birds nicely, and the light gray-lilac background adds a bit of interest without overwhelming the senses.

Pat Bravo Pure Elements in Cabernet – This deep purple matches both my duvet cover and my curtains exactly. This was not planned! I originally wanted to bind the quilt with the red plum solid that is paired with the Heirloom print in the blocks, but once I saw it in person, it was way too reddish in color. I felt that the binding for this quilt needed to go with all of the various purples, plums, and lilacs, and the red plum just didn’t work. I was concerned that the cabernet would be too dark, but since it borders the natural-colored sashing, it provides a nice little contrast. 

So that's the long story of how I agonized over fabric for days on end. It was totally worth it to have a quilt I'm 100% happy with, though -- at least, fabric-wise. The construction may leave a little to be desired, but I'll save that for Part 3!