I know we’ve barely gotten started with the Quilt Market blitz, but let’s take a moment, shall we, to sit down to take a breather with the lovely miss Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson!. I have always loved her approach to quiltmaking. I think of it as a very modern, clean, graphic approach to the aesthetic of vintage quilts from the mid-1900s — simple, unfussy arrangements of colorful prints set off by solid backgrounds. This approach really lets the prints shine, and for fabric lovers/collectors, it’s a great way to honor and preserve one’s “archives.” It’s also a great approach for beginners. Elizabeth’s debut book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker is THE perfect manual for the sewist interested in taking up quilting for the first time. Quilters with some experience under their belt will find four intermediate-level patterns, and everyone will be inspired by her eye for design and the way she juxtaposes prints.
For her blog tour stop on True Up today, of course I had to ask Elizabeth all about her fabric stash! Stay tuned till the end for a chance to win a copy of the book and the bundle of fat eights featured in the interview.
How do you choose fabric?
My only rule is that I use what I like. I usually go into a fabric store looking for inspiration, or looking for a very specific type of fabric. If I don’t fall in love with something in that store, I’m happy to keep looking. One of my favorite recent fabric discoveries is this orange and blue print (above) by Nancy Mahoney from her Nellie’s Garden collection for P&B. I just love the colors!
How do you combine fabric?
I rarely start pulling fabrics together until I have some idea what kind of composition I want to create. I know that some people wait until the end to choose sashing, but it’s one of the first decisions I make. I find that thinking of the sashing as a background onto which the block fabrics will be placed helps to focus my selections. Once I know what direction I want to go, I start pulling fabric out of my bins and making little audition stacks on my work table to see what I like together. It’s often a messy process! If I’m in a store, I try to stack up bolts of fabric to get the same effect. The above photo shows a selection I put together of print and solid fabrics, featuring the same Nellie’s Garden print.
How do you store fabric?
I have almost equal amounts of print and solid fabrics, which I keep separate. Within each group, I store each color in a different clear plastic bin. I also have bins for my vintage linens, silks, and anything else that doesn’t quite fit into the monochromatic print and solid bins. I love having each type (e.g., red solids or yellow prints) in a different container that I can move to my work table and then put back when I’m finished. I usually have a “to be filed” pile of fabric going and, when it gets truly out of control, I’ll stop and sort everything back into its proper bin.
How do you treat fabric?
I used to be very fastidious about pre-washing all of my quilting fabric, but I’ve gradually stopped. I use so much fabric and make so many quilts that it got to the point that I was feeling really guilty about how much water I was using! My personal experience with skipping pre-washing when using quality quilting fabric has been very good. I wash my finished quilts in cold water on gentle cycle and it’s been years since I’ve had an issue with bleeding, even though I so often combine white and dark colors.
Having said that, I encourage anyone choosing to skip pre-washing to consider it a calculated risk. I’ve found that what I do works well for me, with the materials I use, but pre-washing is really the only way to know for sure whether a fabric will do something strange in the wash! Additionally, if you’re concerned about residual chemicals from the printing process, pre-washing is a good way to get rid of them.
Thanks so much, Elizabeth … we wish you much success with this terrific book! For your chance to win a copy of The Practical Guide to Patchwork and the blue and orange fat eighths bundle above, just leave a comment on this post. Comments will close and a winner will be drawn next Thursday, November 11, around noon central U.S. time. Good luck and happy quilting!