The previous standard that I used was a third of a yard. Whenever I can, I stock up on new fabric. Because I want to keep my options open, I usually purchase a third of a yard at a time. Nowadays, the materials are so exquisite that there is always another one to take its place in the event that you run out of the first one.
Since I started designing quilts for my pattern firm, I’ve had to expand the amount of fabric you may choose from to a half yard. This is because I’m trying to avoid having my pattern designs so scrappy that people would become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to them and give up. My purchase size has increased from a third of a yard to a half of a yard over the course of the past few of years.
I almost never buy only one or two yards of a fabric unless it is a particularly striking or important piece. If it is for background or if it is a great huge bouquet of flowers and I need 20 of them, it is possible that I will need two yards to get 20 of them. That goes against the norm. If I’m going to utilise a blue-green colour, I’d much prefer have twenty unique blue-greens to choose from than just one or two. I would prefer to have five rather than just one.
In terms of the number of yards that are included, my collection of fabrics is not nearly as extensive as those of the majority of other people. Due to the fact that I just have a closet, I have to be very selective about what and how much I keep. I don’t really buy a lot of any particular fabric, but I do have a large collection of a wide variety of fabrics, and I truly enjoy having such a collection.
In the ’70s, Fabric A was only one fabric. Now, Fabric A, for me, might be 10 fabrics. If you are a person who’s been using one fabric for Fabric A and one fabric for Fabric B, you can’t suddenly go out to the fabric store and buy large amounts of fabric so you can have 10 or 20 for Fabric A and Fabric B. Your budget doesn’t allow that, so you have to grow with the flow.
When I go to a quilt store, I don’t usually buy for a project. I buy what I love on that particular day. I just buy the fabrics that I love. If I’m working toward an image, like in visual coloring, I will. If I’m just going into a fabric shop, I’ll pick out what I really love that day. The next day, I could walk in the same fabric store and pick out completely different fabrics. If I bought 12 fabrics at a third of a yard, that won’t kill my budget as much as if I bought one yard of each of those. I have to be a little bit frugal.
Plus, that forces you to use a lot of different fabrics in each quilt. If you don’t have a lot of one fabric, then you have to mix it up.
You’ll learn, too, that you need to have different values of fabrics. Most people stick with the same value. They have a habit of buying all middle-value fabrics or all lights or all darks. I try to make sure that I buy a variety of values in the colors that I’m attracted to.
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