Sunday, December 5, 2021


 I love fabric and the more fabrics I put in a quilt, the better I like it. My process is simple and this is the process I use to help new quilters get started with Fabric Selection.

Start with a Focus Fabric OR a Focus Theme. Themes are things like "Baby" or "Christmas" or "Fall". Each of us has something that comes to mind when we think of those themes.

Since I am more Fabric Driven, I usually start with a Focus Fabric. A multi-print fabric  that speaks to me. I use it to choose the colors for the new project. 

For Garden Party Down Under, the 2022 Block of the Month quilt designed by Irene Blanck exclusively for The Quilt Show, I started with this fabric, a Timeless Treasures fabric, designed by the late Patricia Campbell. It's called Jacobean Arbor and is probably 20 years old: 


From that fabric, I selected the color families to use and adapted them to my stash. More yellow, less peach, more lime/bright green, less olive, etc. I dug deep in my stash of fat quarters or even smaller than that. If the color was right, it made the selection cut: 

The backgrounds are a wide variety of tone-on-tone prints. I only needed a 2 yard piece for the outer borders, everything else could be cut from smaller pieces. The two pieces in the back, the blue/tan dots and the gray/white dots never made it in the quilt--they were too busy: 

And this is my finished quilt. It does not contain ANY of the Focus Fabric:

My fabrics are somewhat different from the original quilt, designed by Australian designer Irene Blanck. It's no surprise hers has a more "Australian" feel to it. Here is hers:

The Quilt Show has put together a beautiful kit of fabrics similar to Irene's fabrics. She used many fabrics, as I did, and many were old favorites of hers so the Kit is not an exact copy of hers. It simply has the "feel" of hers. You can find it in the Shop of The Quilt Show, while supplies last.

If you would like to assemble your own palette, select your favorite Focus Fabric or Theme and play. This quilt is VERY SCRAPPY so small amounts of your favorite fabrics can easily be included.

Here are my suggestions for each fabric color group I used. You can always add more or change color families:

Background:  2 yards for outer Diamond Borders—they should be cut lengthwise for Irene’s applique method. Those who piece the outer border will not have to cut lengthwise, but still can if they like.

 5 yards additional Background fabric is needed—select five 1 yard pieces for a wide variety—this is more than enough.   I love the look of a variety of backgrounds but you can use only one if you     prefer--6.5-7 yards total.

Stems:  1 yard total is needed to cut stems on the bias.  3 Fabrics, 1/3 yard each for variety or only one fabric  There is almost 600" of bias stems in the entire quilt.

Vases:  There are 12 vases and each can be made from a 10" square of fabric--select a variety and use a different fabric for each vase  OR If you prefer fewer fabrics, select 1/3 yard EACH of 4 fabrics—this is more than enough for all the Vases—each Vase fabric will be used 3 or 4 times.

 The following Color Families are strictly based on personal preference. Use your favorites:

Yellow:  4 fabrics, ¼ yard each

Red/Pink:  6 fabrics, ¼ yard each

Purple: 4 fabrics, ¼ yard each

Orange/Brown:  4 orange fabrics, ¼ yard each.  Brown for the baskets in the corners Month 2—1/4 yard is more than sufficient--my baskets are purple.

Green: 6 fabrics, ¼ yard each, for leaves

Blue: 5 fabrics, ¼ yard each

 I hope this gives you an idea how to get started on your next project. Anything goes, if you like it, use it. For Garden Party Down Under, some have asked about using 1800's reproductions, batiks, 1930's reproductions, or completely modern fabrics. Each of those choices would work and be beautiful in their own way. It's your quilt, you get to choose.

Let's quilt.



  1. I find it interesting that you don't use the focus fabric. Is there a reason for not using any of it? I ask because this is a new way of thinking for me. If I have selected a focus fabric, then I choose fabrics to go with it and use them all in the quilt including the focus fabric. I am intrigued. Thanks for sharing your process with us!

    1. Lori, the Focus fabric just gave me the color palette I wanted to play with. The actual print really wouldn't work in these small pieces. Sometimes my focus comes from a photograph that has great colors--one of my favorites is a photo of a brilliantly colored rooster on Kauai. There is no Rooster in the quilt, just the colors from the rooster. Same with this Focus Fabric.

  2. Like LQuinlan, I was surprised that the focus fabric wasn't in the quilt at all, but I see your point as to the print not working in this pattern. I have never looked at a focus fabric as just being used in selecting a palette. That is pretty cool, Barbara. Thanks for enlightening me.
    And the quilt is stunning. That palette really worked!

  3. Your quilt is beautiful! I love the bright bold colors. Thanks for sharing your method of color selection, happy stitching!

  4. Thank you, Barbara, in advance,for all your great ideas, tips and guidance throughout the BOM journey!! I purchased the TQS kit but plan to switch out some of the fabrics to make it more mine. Your insight above will be helpful. Can't wait to get started!!

    1. Me, too. It’s going to be fun! My LIVE broadcast December 27 will show my NEW Month 1 center made mostly from Kit Fabrics.

  5. Just watched you live broadcast 12/27 on 12/30. Learning website
    I hope this gets to you Hazel Fowler

    1. I hope you found the Live helpful. Look around The Quilt Show site to see where things are. Welcome!