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Mandy's Top Ten Tips of Buying Fabric

Secret Society Blog

Mandy's Top Ten Tips of Buying Fabric

Alison Owens

We all know buying fabric is easy, too easy in fact! Do you have lots of odds and ends that you loved when you bought but haven’t found a place for yet? Or do you have a project that you want to make but are not sure how to go about getting the fabrics that will match? If so help is at hand with my top tips on how to buy the right fabric, to make sure you make the most out of it and you get a good looking, successful project at the end!


1. Patchwork isn’t patchwork without a fat quarter, if you buy your fabric in fat quarters they will work in almost any patchwork or quilt design.

2. Buy four or five fat quarters from one designer's collection and add to this from other sources, this makes the quilt look more individual than a clone of someone else’s.

3. Lots of fat quarters of the same and similar colour but a different pattern, make a quilt so much more buzzy and interesting. Don’t be afraid to use small checks and dots to create interest.

4. Avoid solids, always use a fabric with a subtle design, Peppered Cottons, Makower Linen and Moda Essential Dots are some of my favourites.

5. Always keep an eye out for cheap backing fabrics, especially wide ones.

6. My favourite gardener, Sarah Raven, has a theory for making a balanced floral bouquet which consists of four key elements and I we can apply these to buying fabric:
• The Bride A big blousy number which will be the fabric you were first attracted to. it can be a larger print and be in the main colour choice.
• The Bridesmaids These will be two or three medium sized prints that co-ordinate with the bride but do not steal her thunder!
• The Mother of the Bride A couple of coordinating plainer fabrics which are not quite a solid.
• The congregation Where you have lots of nondescript tones, these could be the subtle background fabrics.     

7. Don’t skimp on your backing fabric, use a lovely patterned fabric, it hides dodgy quilting and is a lovely surprise when you turn a quilt over.

8. Fleece works just fine for a backing fabric, no wadding is needed and makes the quilt snuggly. Baste the quilt top and the fleece together with spray glue and quilt as normal. Fleece is perfect for kid’s quilts.

9. Strips and checks work really well on bindings. I often cut up all the scraps left over to use in the binding, so there is no waste.

10.Finally, I have said it before and I will say it again, only buy 100% cotton.

Download Mandy's Top 10 Tips on How to Buy Fabric here