Blog Tour/Giveaway: The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman

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!


  1. Lynn says:

    I love the orange and blue together! Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. Christine says:

    I loved the questions you asked, different from the other reviews, and very helpful! Elizabeth certainly has an eye for colour combinations!

  3. Kelly E says:

    If I don’t win, this book is going on my Christmas wish list!

  4. EJ says:

    This book is definitely on my xmas list!

  5. katherine higgins says:

    Wow! What a gorgeous and well-organized workspace. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win!


  6. Rachel says:

    please enter me ! thanks !!!

  7. Sara says:

    now i feel less guilty about not prewashing my fabric. :) thanks for the giveaway!

  8. kelly jo says:

    I love how she organizes fabric, it’s all so visible, but so neat too! Oh how I dream about organization in my sewing room! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  9. Amanda says:

    I just finished my first quilt. I decided to pre-wash since I was using light and darks with a lot of red. I’m glad I did because one fabric shrunk weird and the fat quarter I had ended up misshapen compared to the others. I’m so glad I did.

  10. Holly says:

    Very excited to get my hands on this book! If I don’t win, I’ll definitely be buying it!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Great interview. I also used to pre-wash everything but not so much anymore!

  12. kristy v says:

    Oh my, I wish my fabric area looked that organized! Thanks for the giveaway and I cant wait for the book to come out!

  13. Sarah says:

    I am dying to get my hands on this book!

  14. Kelsey Rose says:

    My favorite bundle in the hop so far – such pretty colors!

  15. Ruth says:

    Love the post! Great giveaway!

  16. Beautiful fabrics combinations! Love her workspace too : )
    Thanks for a chance to win!

  17. Selina :: 19nullsieben says:

    Oh, I love the fabric and the book! It would be great to win them! The interview is interesting, specially the part about pre-washing… I´ll think about skipping pre-washing in the future! ;)

  18. Janet K says:

    Thanks for the chance to win – the orange and blue fabrics are so uplifting! I have been very random about pre-washing so I’m glad to hear that Elizabeth doesn’t bother anymore!

  19. Susan C. says:

    I’ve only just started to stash fabric – I hope someday I have a stash like that one!

  20. Alison says:

    I love Elizabeth’s blog and her book looks great! Maybe I’m really risk-averse. I always pre-wash.

  21. CJ says:

    This is so much fun! Perhaps I’ll play around with not pre-washing too. I always have, but I also feel guilty about using so much water.

  22. Becky M says:

    I love knowing how people choose and handle their fabrics. I’ve just started to not prewash and it makes me happy to hear others do the same!

  23. Esther says:

    I always like the comments of Elizabeth!!
    Thanks for the chance to win a book.

  24. tanis says:

    oh to have all my stash organized and filed away as beautifully as Elizabeth’s! That’s inspiring! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the book!

  25. Nancy Lewis says:

    Orange and blue is my favorite color combination, keeping my fingers crossed.

  26. Lauren says:

    Count me in! Thanks!

  27. Candy says:

    I love the color combo, blue and orange is one of my favorites.

  28. mcregan says:

    Elizabeth is an inspiration to me; I would love to own her book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. tammie says:

    love these fabrics! thank you for the chance

  30. Sew Lovins says:

    Very pretty organization thanks for the chance !

  31. Shirley says:

    Wow! Great questions. Once again, the combination of fabrics is wonderful. I really wish I had that talent.

  32. Andrea H says:

    I only prewashed fabrics once, and I don’t think I will be doing it again. It made the fabric much harder to work with and actually unraveled some of it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  33. Stephanie says:

    Cute cute fabrics– thanks for a chance to win!

  34. Bailey says:

    I love the little glimpse into her workspace. Now if only I can that organized and neat

  35. Brianna says:

    No prewashing? *Gasp* What a risk taker! But her reasons are all totally valid and it seems to work for her. Love the way she combines prints and creates atypical, totally modern and inspired designs.

  36. Jodi says:

    The orange and blue combo is so pretty!

  37. Kim says:

    I gotta say…throw the word “prewash” out to a bunch of quilters and you could end up with a rabid conversation! LOL Lately I’ve been happy to steam press the new stuff I’m working with. And that’s fine, for the most part. But as much as I love batiks, I’ve never found one that didn’t fade at least a little bit in the wash. And I don’t have much faith in a color catcher thrown into an HE washer, so those new pieces will still get washed. My two cents worth. LOL

  38. maget says:

    I love the orange flora focal fabric and how the fabric bundle plays on the complimentary orange-blue colour combination! Thanks for the chance to win the book!

  39. Molly says:

    love hearing about how she goes about choosing her fabric. this book sounds amazing!

  40. Megan says:

    Oh my, how I would love to win a copy of this book. And to top it off blue and orange were our wedding colors. Just got married at the end of May this year.

  41. T.Rehder says:

    I enjoyed peeking into Elizabeth’s studio and fabric stash! Thanks for the great questions.

  42. I love that orange fabric! I’m a sucker for a good orange floral.

  43. Must be my favorite colours together. So pretty.

  44. Emily C says:

    Pretty much love everything Elizabeth does. Would love to get my hands on a copy of her book.

  45. Kate says:

    LOVE orange and blue! And I’m looking forward to the book!

  46. Sam E. says:

    Fantastic fabric! I wish I were that organized…

  47. I love that print too! Great fabric stack.

  48. Julie in WA says:

    Love your interview questions. It is wonderful to learn the methods of high profile quilters!

  49. Kristine says:

    Ooo, love the Nellie’s Garden print! Thanks for the giveaway!

  50. Annie says:

    organization is wonderful!