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. Melissa H. says:

    I would love to read that book! Looks like it’s full of great information.

  2. Norma says:

    gee, I wish my closet looked like that!

  3. SewLindaAnn says:

    I love all the combinations of colors and prints she puts together. She really has a knack. Need to go check out the Nellie line now.

  4. Marjolein says:

    I just keep trying to win this great book; if not, I’ll have to buy it!

  5. Bonnie says:

    Love her blog and am sure to love her book as well!

  6. Toby says:

    I’ve been reading all of the posts on the blog tour and I’m amazed that everyone can still come up with such great questions!

  7. Erin Marie says:

    I wasn’t liking that orange and blue print until I saw it with all the other fabrics. Now, I’m in love!

  8. Carissa says:

    Am so excited about this book. Love Elizabeth’s blog, patterns, & quilts!

  9. Judy R says:

    That book is on my wishlist and the fabric is perfect. We are having another boy in February, and I am doing his room in Submarines and whales with a blue and orange colorway!
    Enjoyed the interview too!

  10. Molly says:

    The tip about starting with the sashing is genius! It gives me a new focus when combining my fabrics!

  11. Victoria says:

    If I had a fabric closet like that, it would put a smile on my face everytime I looked at it!

  12. Erin M. says:

    Those orange and blues are lovely. Thanks for the interview and chance at a giveaway.

  13. Wendy says:

    I can’t wait to get that book!

  14. Alex says:

    This looks like such a great book!!

  15. kate C. says:

    Thanks for a great interview! (and a neat blog too – this was my first visit!)

  16. Joyce says:

    I’m dying to get my hands on this book- I love what I’ve seen!

  17. heather w. says:

    Please count me in! Love the fabric and the book :)

  18. Thanks for another great interview with Elizabeth Hartman. (I have been following along with all the great interviews/giveaways in celebration of her new book.) I just love her blog and quilt designs!
    I especially was interested to see her fabric stash closet, (so organized & lovely-maybe someday I will get there!) and how she gets chooses her fabrics.

  19. Jo Chu says:

    I’m probably the only quilter in the world that doesn’t enjoy fabric shopping. It’s just so hard to decide on the perfect combination of prints and colors for a specific project.

  20. Jacey says:

    Thank you for an opportunity at a lovely stack of fabric and what I know will be a fantastic resource for years to come!

  21. AmandaL says:

    How much do I love the blogging tours for books? They give me such excellent information, and insight into the author. Thanks for participating!

  22. VickiT says:

    I always pre-wash myself but wondered how that would affect a quilt getting a nicely wrinkled look now that I am starting to learn quilting.

    I sure would love a copy of this book. It appears to be perfect for a beginner like myself given the experience Elizabeth has.

  23. Regina W says:

    I would love to win a copy of Elizabeth’s book! I’m hoping to make my first quilt this winter to help the time pass, so it would be a great reference for me. :)

  24. Magdalena says:

    Waiting 4 the book and longing for that beautifull fabric!

  25. Megan says:

    Beautiful! I totally want this book!!

  26. kathy says:

    i really want this book! if i don’t win it on this blog tour, i am definitely asking santa for it :) thanks for the chance to win. i appreciate the work you do to let us know about all the fabric goodness out there!

  27. michelle says:

    beautiful fabric! i love hearing how other people choose fabric.

  28. Trisha says:

    Love the questions you asked! I was just eating up those answers. Thanks for the chance to win this awesome book!

  29. Alisa says:

    I’m loving this blog tour. Thanks for the insight into your thinking Elizabeth. Can’t wait to have a look at this book. :)

  30. Amy says:

    Lovely combination. I can’t wait to see this book in person!

  31. Jen B says:

    I’m so looking forward to seeing this book! And that fabric bundle is gorgeous!

  32. Amanda W says:

    I would love a copy!!! This book looks fab!

  33. Alyssa says:

    Wonderful tips! Thanks!

  34. Rachael says:

    This book looks great!

  35. Bobbi says:

    I am LOVING the blog tour. I really, really hope Santa brings me this book for the holidays!

  36. Debbie says:

    I’m hoping to win the book. It looks amazing

  37. sharon says:

    i want to make the quilt with the petals or leaves

  38. Kathleen says:

    Interesting that Elizabeth picks her sashing so early in the process. What a great tip. Would love to win the book to see what else she says.

  39. Kate says:

    Those oranges and blues are gorgeous together!

  40. mjb says:

    I think my method of choosing fabric is opposite from hers! I let the fabric determine the design.

  41. Kate P says:

    Oh! I’ve been a fabric hound for years. Collecting, collecting yet not making much of anything. This might be just the ticket to get over the fear of making that first cut into the fabric. I’ve looked at the Oh, Fransson! blog in the past and remember it being clear and able to make quilts less intimidating.

  42. Briana says:

    I don’t pre-wash either! It’s been my big quilting secret because I thought it was a big “no-no.” So glad to hear that I am not the only one.

  43. Jaclyn says:

    Thanks to Elizabeth I never pre-wash :) I’m going to have to try picking sashing first!

  44. Aditi says:

    Loved that photo of the fabric closet!

  45. Cindy says:

    I’m really enjoying following this blog tour! Lots of good info and eye candy.

  46. Anna Fournelle says:

    Thank you for sharing with us. I love her color combinations and her use of solids and prints.

  47. Nikki says:

    This book is top of my wanted list, I’d love to win a copy. Very interesting to hear how Elizabeth choses her fabric, I love her colour choices and combinations.

  48. Kate says:

    Beautiful fabric! I am always so inspired by her color selections. Looking forward to reading this book!

  49. Kathleen says:

    I’d love to win a copy of this book. I’m trying to curtail spending on myself in preparation for the holidays!

  50. Michelle says:

    I love the orange and blue combination!