Modern Fabrics – Modern Design

There has been a great wealth of new fabrics on the market.  Many of these feature big bold patterns, clean lines, simple style.  They are beautiful, but at the same time present a challenge if we try to use these fabrics in traditional quilt patterns.  Patterns that create 12 inch blocks made up of 3″ or 4″ units do not find these fabrics as “user friendly”.

In designing patterns that feature these fabrics I have had to look for a new way to think using them in a quilt. I would like to share with you how I work with these fabrics.

I designed the quilt Modern View for McCall’s Magazine January/February 2013  issue. The quilt features the Bella line by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics.

What I try to do in my designs is to let the fabric shine.  Looking at the line, the fabrics that featured the tree and featured the white flowers on a blue or grey background stood out and I wanted to showcase these fabrics.

The challenge was that the tree image measures in at around 10 inches, so this dictated the size of a block in the design.  I needed a block that was no smaller than 10 inches so that I could feature the tree and people could actually see it.  If the block had been smaller, say 5 inches, I might end up with only a piece of white fabric, or just a little section of a branch.  So, I  started off by deciding that I needed a 10 inch block for this particular fabric, and then went onto design a grid based pattern that featured smaller blocks in which I could feature the smaller sized prints of the line.

Another aspect of this design is the use of white fabric to give space between the fabrics so that they can shine on their own.

I also recently designed a quilt Whole Lotta Love that uses Lotta Jansdotter’s Glimma fabric line for Windham Fabrics that is featured in the current August/September 2013 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. McCall’s is also offering a kit that features these fabrics in case you would like to make this quilt. CLICK HERE to find out about the kit.

Again, I picked two fabrics that worked well together and decided the optimal size that needed to feature these fabrics in a block.  The line also featured a directional fabric that I wanted to incorporate in some way. I had been wanting to create a quilt that used directional/stripped fabric to create a gird pattern – this fabric line lent itself to using the blue and white print to help connect the blocks.

Again, I have used white fabric to show off the individual fabrics and also to create larger areas of negative space that would lend itself to a quilting design.

So if you are wanting to design a quilt with some of the new fabric designs on the market here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Upsize your blocks – take a look at the focus fabric (largest print) and measure the size of the largest print and see what size of a block you would need to let the pattern come through.
  • Once you determine the size of the block needed decide if you want to go with a more contemporary gird design like I have shown or if you would like to try and use it in more traditional block design.
    • If you want a contemporary design, get out some paper and play around with different sizes of squares and rectangles and separate them with a neutral background fabric
    • If you want to use a more traditional block, you will need to upsize the block. Here is an example – We most likely would make this bock to finish at 12″ this block measures 20″ finished, the center block (the teal flowers) measures 10″ finished.

So, venture forward and explore these fabrics!


6 thoughts on “Modern Fabrics – Modern Design

  1. Nice work John. I can't get into “modern” quilting, but I can appreciate the time and effort you put into creating designs that make the best use of these new fabrics.


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