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#QuiltLikeABoss – Choosing Fabrics – Colour Choice

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Welcome back to the next #QuiltLikeABoss post!

While sometimes you may choose a design first and then choose your colour scheme and fabrics second, you can also choose your colours and/or fabrics before you choose your design. This often happens to me; I have plenty of designs I like, but the design choice is influenced by the fabrics I decide to use. I’m separating the fabric choice posts into two sections – today is colours, and on Monday it’s prints.

Personally, I really enjoy picking out fabric combinations for quilts, I love to experiment with different combinations until I find the one I like. However, if you don’t want to pick out your own fabric combinations, or are finding it difficult you can always use fabrics from a range. Fabric companies will print ranges of fabric that are designed to go together, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with a good looking combination.

Also, keep reading to the bottom of the post for some fabric discount codes.

Colour Theory

When choosing colours for your quilt you can follow the colour wheel theory. You can use the colour wheel to select monochromatic, analogous and complementary colour schemes. To learn what all that means, there are lots of posts around the internet explaining it, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Read more here, or I found the lessons of the free 2014 Craftsy Block Of The Month class on colours very clear and informative (I didn’t bother with the lessons about sewing the quilt, just the ones on colour).

Picking Colours from a feature fabric

This is an approach I commonly use. You can let the fabric designers do the work for you! If you find a fabric that you really love, pick out colours from that fabric for your quilt colour scheme. You can pick out all the colours or just some of them, and you can try and be really precise or be a bit more flexible.

I find this a lot easier in person at quilt shops, but make sure you take the fabric round with you and hold it up to the bolts on the shelves, as you’ll be surprised with the fabrics that do and don’t go. However, if you want to buy your fabrics online it’s the same process, and some online stores even allow you to search by colour to find fabrics.

For example, here’ a selection I picked on the Fat Quarter Shop; I picked out the dark purple, red, orange and green from the feature fabric, finding fabrics in these colours that I liked and I felt ‘fit’ with the main fabric.

Fabrics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Fabrics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Taking inspiration from things around you

Rather than picking a colour scheme from a fabric, you could pick a colour scheme from pictures or other things around you. Here are some examples of colour schemes I’ve pulled out from pictures I find inspiring:

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 Thinking about Value

One last thing I wanted to add when talking about colour is to think about the value of the fabrics/colours. In this sense value is defined as the lightness or darkness of a colour. Value can be used to great effect in quilts (see here for some fabulous examples and more information), but if you forget about it you may run into troubles.

Let me try and explain with an example… I made this quilt in 2012 (see here for more):

The design in my head relied on it being a ‘scrappy’ appearance but made from the two colours I had selected (by scrappy I mean a random arrangement of a variety of fabric prints). Therefore I focused my fabric shopping on selecting greens and purples. However one of the greens I ended up with was much darker than all the other colours.

A really good way to get a view of the value of your fabrics is to convert a picture to black and white (you can even do this in the fabric store with your phone, I commonly do). When the picture of the fabrics is changed to black and white you can see that the greens and purples are almost all of similar value, as shown by how they are all similar greys, but that there is one green fabric that’s much darker:

2012 02-07 - Laura's Wedding Quilt

I first laid out my pieces with that darker fabric included as I was having trouble finding green fabrics and I was really hoping it would work. However, you can really tell in the below photo that the green is too dark as your eye keeps getting drawn to those darker squares. This is another time when photos are great, the decision to remove the darker green was so obvious when I looked at the photo compared to looking at the fabric on the floor.

IMG_5130 In this case, the difference in value worked against me, so it was removed. I hope that does a reasonable job explaining the beginnings of value and some tips for how to think about it.

Discount Codes

If you’re joining in with the #QuiltLikeABoss QuiltAlong and are planning to buy the fabric for your quilt online, we have arranged some discount codes for you:


  • Fat Quarter Shop – code: QUILTBOSS – 10% discount. valid until the 18th February 2016
  • Village Haberdashery – code: BOSS10 – 10% discount valid throughout February 2016
  • Fabric Worm – code: bossqal – 15% discount on orders of $25 or more. Valid throughout 2016.
  • Guthrie & Ghani – code: QUILT16 –  10% discount, valid throughout February 2016

#QuiltLikeABoss – Inspiration

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Welcome to the next post in the #QuiltLikeABoss series. Today we will be talking about inspiration, and we have a double whammy of posts; one here and one by Sarah over on her blog.

I get my quilting inspiration from books (usually from the library) and from the internet. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not a big pattern follower, but usually find quilts, or particular design components of quilts particularly inspiring and come up with my own design based on these ideas. To me, that’s the beauty of quilting as compared to garment sewing; as the resultant quilt is flat it is much easier to make your own designs as you’re working in 2D rather than 3D. However, if you don’t feel like making your own design there are many many patterns out there for you to make use of. If you want to work from a pattern, many of the below examples are patterns so try clicking through to see if you like any of them. Otherwise, you could try searching on etsy, Craftsy or google for quilt patterns.

I’ve put quite a bit of thought into what I would show you for inspiration, and I thought I’d share some quilts I’m particularly drawn to that I also think would be suitable to try making as a first or early quilt, and why, with the easier quilts first. Just a quick warning in advance; this post ended up quite long, but hopefully the pretty pictures will help you through. Basically, I’m hoping that you’ll see something here that you’re drawn to, or at least looking at all the different examples helps you decide what you do and don’t like.

One last note before I move onto the quilts; when I’m looking at quilts for inspiration there are a few things that I take away from the images, including the overall quilt design, and the fabric and colour combinations that are used.

Strip Quilts

I’m a big fan of strip quilts as a first quilt as there is are no seams to match, They are a great way to highlight the fabrics you choose and can be constructed with or without sashing between the strips. Even if you’re not a beginner quilter they’re a great option for a quick an easy quilt that shows off the fabric you choose. With these strip quilts you can even make the whole process easier by doing the whole thing as a quilt-as-you-go quilt;  the quilt I made using this method only took me about 3 hours to make from start to finish.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

By making some small changes that don’t add that much complexity to the construction of the quilt you can really change the look of the quilt. An amazing variety of designs can be achieved by piecing the strips from smaller pieces of fabric, while still avoiding the requirement of matching seams.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Another simple design variation is easily achieved by piecing the strip quilt, slicing it perpendicular to the strips and adding a panel in the gap. Rotating one of the strips 180 degrees before piecing them back together can add something extra (see the last image below).

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Similar to this, a variation on a strip quilt is a coin quilt, where the strips are shorter, with or without sashing between the ‘piles of coins’. These can be constructed similarly to the quilts above where the long strips are pieced then sliced to be shorter, or can be individually pieced out of shorter strips. You don’t need to worry about exact precision here either, as you can stitch the strips together and then trim them even.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Another variation is a brick quilt, where the strips are pieced from uniform length pieces that are staggered between the rows, much like bricks in a wall.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Simple Squares and Rectangles

Moving on from strip quilts, the next step up in complexity (to me anyway) are designs based on a basic grid of squares or rectangles. The main step up from the above strip quilts is that these quilts usually require you to match seams at the intersections of the squares/rectangles, however as the squares aren’t pieced, as long as your cutting is accurate matching the seams isn’t very difficult, and the size of your seam allowance doesn’t actually matter as long as you’re consistent.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

You can choose a random layout, or you can create sub-designs by playing around with the layout of the fabrics.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

You can also vary the size of the squares you use.

Source: 1 | 2

Source: 1 | 2

Some great designs can also be created using rectangles, such as this variation called rail fence that alternates the orientations of the rectangles. The construction of a rail fence quilt can also be sped up by using the strip-piecing methods I mentioned in the design tips post.

Source : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Source : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Another easy option for adding variation without adding too much complexity is adding sashing between the squares.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Or using a combination of sizes of squares/rectangles (with or without sashing)


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Another really clever technique is the ‘disappearing nine patch’, which is created by cutting a block of 9 squares into quarters and sewing them back together again; this achieves an interesting design without having to cut out quite so many pieces or sew as many separate seams.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Half Square Triangles

One of the easiest ways to break down a square into more pieces is to create a “Half Square Triangle (or HST), which is a square made up from the two triangles that appear when you draw a line between the diagonally opposite corners. HSTs are an incredibly versatile block that can make an amazing variety of quilts. There are also some techniques that simplify and/or speed up the construction of HSTs, which I shall provide some links for in the construction section of the QuiltAlong. Sewing HSTs together is no more difficult than sewing squares together, particularly if you take the time to trim your HST blocks after construction to ensure that they are all consistently square and the same size.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

A ‘random’ layout of HSTs looks pretty awesome, but other designs can be created by using a solid fabric for half of the triangles, or by playing with the value or colour of the triangles and then playing around with the orientation of the blocks. The layout options are almost limitless, including squares, stars, pinwheels and many others.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Source: 1 | 2 |

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Log Cabin Based Blocks

Another frequently used base block is a ‘log cabin’ block, which is a square (or sometimes another shape, such as a rectangle) surrounded by one or more rounds of strips. The strips can all be the same fabric or a mixture, and can be the same or varying widths. Log cabin blocks can be trimmed to a consistent size after they’ve been constructed. which is a great way to mitigate any piecing inaccuracy.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Source: 1 | 2 | 3


For some examples of the versatility of this base block, these two quilts are essentially based on a log cabin block, but with some cleverly placed sashing strips between some of the blocks


Source: 1 | 2

The strips don’t have to be straight, adding some deliberate ‘wonk’ can look really cool


Source: 1 | 2 | 3

As with the disappearing nine patch block above, log cabin blocks can be pieced together and then transformed into something else. This below example is a log cabin block that is then transformed into a half square triangle block:

And these log cabin blocks have all been quartered and rearranged (sometimes called a ‘bento box’ design, or ‘askew squares’)


Source : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

A traditional log cabin variation has one colour on two sides, and another on the other two (historically a cool and warm side to represent heat in one side). As the overall look of this layout is much like a HST, it’s worth noting that the blocks created from this can be arranged in any of the arrangements used for HSTs


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Pieced Square Blocks

The above examples have been mostly simple, but the options are limitless. Here are some more examples of pieced, square based, blocks that may inspire you…


Source: 1 | 2 | 3


Source: 1 | 2 | 3


Source: 1 | 2 | 3


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Source: 1 | 2 | 3


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

The below blocks are called ‘string’ blocks, where they are made up of lots of thin strips (strings).


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Moving away from Squares

All of the above designs have been based on a square (or rectangular) blocks, however there are other shapes that can be used, including equilateral triangles and diamonds. Hexagons are another common base unit but I have deliberately excluded them from this post as unless they’re broken down into halves or equilateral triangles they require y-seams to assemble.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Just like the basic square layouts, a random layout of equilateral triangles can look great, and you can also add design elements by playing around with the colours and layouts.


Source: 1 | 2

Again, like with the squares, varying the size of the triangles or piecing some of them can add extra interest


Source: 1 | 2 | 3

And adding sashing can be a great effect


Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Diamonds are also a cool base unit


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

   And these parallelogram based designs are also pretty cool


Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Sampler Quilts

Sampler quilts are a great option for trying out different designs and techniques, as each block in the quilt is a different design. There are lots of different blocks to choose from, and some really varied ways to put them together into a quilt top.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Non-block based designs

All these designs are fairly geometric and/or block based designs. However quilt’s don’t have to be like this. They can basically be anything that you can imagine.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


And lastly (and well done if you’ve stayed with me until now!), rather than piecing a design you can cut out the design you want and stitch it onto the fabric; this is called appliqué. Appliqué designs can supplement a piecing design, or be the entire design.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

If after all of that you feel like looking at any more pictures of quilts, there are yet more on my pinterest boards. And don’t forget to head over to read Sarah’s inspiration post also.


Click here to go to the #QuiltLikeABoss page for links to all the posts in the QuiltAlong and other information!


#QuiltLikeABoss – Design Choice Tips

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Ok, and we are back with the next installment of the #QuiltLikeABoss series, apologies again for the delay. As always, head on over to the #QuiltLikeABoss page for links to all the posts.

Now you have decided to make a quilt, you need to decide what it will look like. The options are almost limitless, which you may find exciting or you may find intimidating. As this QuiltAlong is a little different in that we aren’t specifically quilting along the same pattern, we wanted to provide some tips and inspiration to help you in making your decision (although we will be sharing information on how we make our quilts which you’re welcome to copy).

So, to help you choose what quilt to make, today are these tips, later this week we will provide some inspiration and then share the specific designs that we are planning on making up. Next week we will be continuing talking about the choices that need to be made by discussing fabric choices.

The Anatomy of a Quilt

But first up I wanted to briefly cover the ‘anatomy’ of a quilt top, so when we are talking about designs you know what we mean. Traditionally, quilt tops are made up of smaller components called blocks. A block could be made up of one piece of fabric or many pieces stitched together into a design, but they are the smallest common repeated shape in the quilt. There will usually be multiple blocks in a quilt, and they may be all the same, be a few repeated or all be different. The blocks may be all stitched together directly, or have strips of fabric, called sashing, between them. This may be the entire quilt or there may be borders around the outside. Lastly the final quilt will be edged with binding to create a clean finish around the edge of the three layers.


Some quilt designs will only have some of these components, and some won’t even have any, however as they are very common it’s worth being aware of the terminology.

Now, lets move onto the main topic for the day…

Factors to consider when choosing a design…

There are two main things I would think about when considering a design: how many pieces there are and how precise the piecing needs to be.

1) How may pieces are there?

Do you know if you’ll enjoy sewing lots of pieces together? Obviously the more pieces the longer it’s going to take to construct your quilt top. Do you want something quick that will allow you to try out quilting in a low commitment way? Or are you more certain that you’ll like it and are more willing to go with a more involved option?

Personally I enjoy it and find it quite meditative (particularly if I listen to an audiobook at the same time). However others have a lower ‘threshold’ for the repetitive piecing tasks. If you’re not sure I would recommend going down the simpler path, or perhaps just start with one block to see. Thankfully design options are incredibly varied in this respect.


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

However, be aware that for some designs there may be techniques that allow you to piece more complex designs with less effort, such as strip piecing where long strips are sewn together before being cut into shorter pieces (for more info on strip piecing see here, and for a tutorial I wrote on the topic see here). This technique could be used to make the following quilts:

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


2) How precise does the piecing need to be?

Another consideration is the precision required when stitching the pieces together. If the design has loads of intersections where really precisely matched seams are essential to prevent the design from looking bad then you want to be pretty sure of your piecing accuracy before committing to the design (although we will be talking about piecing and providing you with some tips to try and help you with your piecing accuracy). In contrast, there are some designs where there aren’t any seams to match at all, or where if it’s slightly off it wont affect the look of the quilt.

You will have to decide for yourself how precise you think you can be (or how precise you want to need to be). If you’re practised at precise stitching with garment sewing this might not even be a consideration for you; it’s entirely personal.

If you’re not sure or don’t want to worry about it this time around, there are plenty of great options that have few or no seams to match, for example:


Source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

However, don’t be afraid to give it a try if that’s what you’re drawn to; while designs might ideally have all perfectly matched seams, as long as most of the seams match or are close you won’t notice if a few aren’t perfect. For example, ideally all the seams should have matched in my Genome Quilt, but I can assure you that there are plenty that are off, but you don’t notice it unless you start looking really closely.

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Another thing to note is that some blocks can be trimmed down to a consistent size after construction, which makes sewing them together easier, here are some examples where this is the case:

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Source: 1 | 2 | 3

Other design aspects to think about

There are also some specific design aspects that I would recommend avoiding (or thinking carefully about before choosing) if this is an early quilt, as they are generally considered to be harder techniques. These include:

  • Curves (You want your quilt top to end up as flat as possible, so straight seams make this very simple. As soon as you have a curved seam this becomes a fair bit more complicated, read more here)
  • Y-seams (most quilt designs can be sewn together with straight seams that you sew from end to end, but a few require you to stop part way to join a third piece of fabric, these are termed Y-seams, read more about them here)

How much support do you want with your design?

I’ve always been very gung-ho and adventurous when it comes to quilt designs. The first pattern I ever used was Abby’s Luminous Quilt Pattern just last year. My quilts before then have all been made based on bits and pieces of knowledge I’d picked up for different components of a quilt rather than a pattern that covers the whole thing (This is probably partly due to my initially learning quilting as a child from my Gran so subsequent quilts required only small additions of information rather than being something completely new).

This is another great thing about quilting, you can identify how much information you require and how you’d like to receive it. During this QuiltAlong we will be taking you through the big picture stages of making a quilt, and pointing you towards more information; this may be sufficient for you. However, if you want a more cohesive set of instructions for your quilt you may wish to choose to use a pattern, which as well as providing information on the construction of the specific design will provide information on other aspects such as fabric requirements.

The reason I mention this now, is that this may factor into where you look to find inspiration for choosing your quilt; if you want more comprehensive support you would probably be better off searching specifically for patterns (or traditional QuiltAlongs for a particular design). If you are more willing to ‘wing it’ then you can look around more generally at pictures of finished quilts, which may or may not come from a pattern. As part of the QuiltAlong, as well as the general information we will be providing instructions for the specific designs that we choose to tackle, so you can also choose to follow along with the designs we choose (which we will share at the end of the week).

As part of this QuiltAlong I am really keen to assist you in any way I can, so if you find inspiration in a quilt that’s not a pattern, or want help in adapting existing patterns to fit your design vision please speak up and I will try my best to help, for example I (or other readers) may be able to identify the component blocks of a design to allow you to search for construction instructions, we may know of a possible pattern that is similar to your design, or we may be able to help you with a list of things to think through if you want to design it (or adapt a design) yourself.

Please comment on the #QuiltLikeABoss posts at any time if you have any questions and I will do my best to help. Alternatively, use the #QuiltLikeABoss hashtag and tagging me (@maiestia) on instagram to share your ideas or questions.


Click here to go to the #QuiltLikeABoss page for links to all the posts in the QuiltAlong and other information!

Quick update..

Hi all, I just wanted to post a quick update and apology at the lack of #quiltlikeaboss posts this week.

I broke my arm earlier in the month and was hoping to continue the series as planned, but between surgery and some other issues I’ve been out of action longer then I thought I would be and as a result I’ve not been able to keep up with the QuiltAlong as planned.

I hope to get back to posting very soon, and appreciate your patience. I hope that you will still join in with the quilt along.

#QuiltLikeABoss QuiltAlong and Win!

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Have you been enjoying the #QuiltLikeABoss posts so far? Hopefully you’re getting inspired and are planning to make a quilt with us as part of the QuiltAlong. This is the last post before we get into the nitty-gritty of choosing our quilt designs and get started, but I wanted to share some exciting news that may just tip you over the edge into deciding to join in…


If you join in with us by making a quilt and sharing it with us before the end of the QuiltAlong at the end of May you will be in the running to win a great prize! Some awesome companies have agreed to sponsor the #QuiltLikeABoss QuiltAlong by providing some prizes for participants. So far the following generous companies have donated prizes:

the-village-haberdashery-logo craftsySpotLogo hawthorne fabricworm aurifil
purl_logo fqslogo

The prizes so far up for grabs are:

  • £25 voucher from The Village Haberdashery,
  • a free class from Craftsy,
  • a $25 voucher and some sample strips from their in house designed fabric from Hawthorne Threads,
  • a $50 voucher from fabricworm,
  • either a yard of each of their linen grid fabric or a $50 voucher from Purl Soho
  • a $50 voucher from the fat quarter shop
  • 12 large spools of thread, 10 small spools of thread and a colour chart from Aurifil


We will also soon be offering some discount vouchers for some of these stores when we get to the stage of the QuiltAlong where we talk about choosing and buying fabrics. More information on this will follow and the #QuiltLikeABoss page will be kept up to date with all the details and links to all the posts.


I know I’m pretty excited about this, and hope you are too! Will you be joining us? Which would be your ideal prize from the list?