You might think that once you’ve chosen a good focus fabric, your work at auditioning fabric is done. But really, you’ve just begun to have fun!
Background fabrics for these quilts are really what make the quilts sing! If you’ve been in one of my classes you know there is a certain “feel” you are trying to achieve in the relationship between your focus and background fabrics.
It DOES truly begin with your focus fabric choice – you have to pick that first and foremost. (I’ll discuss focus fabric auditioning in an upcoming post. Tips for choosing focus fabric are included in each pattern.) Once your focus fabric has been chosen, you want to achieve a balance between your focus fabric and your backgrounds. I encourage using a mix of fabric styles and to use this quilt as an opportunity try something new. I figure, it IS a fun quilt– so use fun fabrics which may not be appropriate in your more serious quilt work. I’m going to use two quilts as examples. They just happen to me my first and my latest (not last) patterns:
Notice that the bee is made from very bold fabric. She really makes a statement. She’s not one bit shy. The background fabrics can be bolder for her because her focus fabric and her character allow it. When I take a black and white picture of Phoebee, some of the backgrounds are darker in value than I would use with my other patterns, depending not just on the focus fabric, but also the subject matter and what I want you to feel when you look at the quilt.
Now looking at Bubbles, I hope you see a sweet, endearing “fellow”…youthful, happy, maybe adventuresome… maybe up to something. Bubbles can be a boy or a girl and you can change his or her attitude just by choosing a different focus fabric! What I am hoping you have noticed by now is that the background fabrics also have a different feel. In fact, most of the accent strips I used are reversed to keep them from overpowering this sweet whale friend.
Once I’ve chosen my focus fabric, I lay the fabric out, loosely shaped for the pattern I’m making– but with a twist – literally, I twist the fabric so half of the fabric shows the reverse side. Then I take my backgrounds and audition them with BOTH sides of my focus fabric, taking lots of black and white pictures until I’m happy with the values I see. When I look at those pictures, I want to see my character (bee, butterfly, bouquet, cauldron, seahorse) first, my reversed fabrics next (flowers, vase, bubbles, etc.), and my backgrounds last. The accent strips are just that – small bits of fun that flirt with being “too much”, but because they are small enough, they can stay and add interest to the quilt.
My husband and “silent” business partner just happened to name the two above quilts.
Now compare the FEELS of these two quilts with relation to their backgrounds:
Now, you don’t want to get too serious about your fabric auditioning, because these patterns truly are fun, fast, and easy quilts to make. There are no matching seams. They are a good way to use up scraps. They make great gifts. I just wanted to give you a little bonus peek into the value of the #usebothsides backgrounds.
For more auditioning fun, take a #usebothsides class. Next up is “Christmas in July” at The Golden Needle in Cape Girardeau, MO. July 7, 10 – 3 p.m. Choose from Pepita, Rose, Emily or Kate. Sign up and prep info in shop.
Bubbles may be my latest#usebothsides pattern, but it is the fourteenth pattern using a scrappy 36-inch square background. See all my patterns by clicking on the Patterns Page above or click here.