Thoughts on fabric
When, a few months ago, I was creating the gallery pages just beneath my header bar I had the odd experience of realising that my fabric choices are far more limited than I'd imagined. As I scrolled through the pages of my blog, I realised that most of my projects (because there is a great deal that doesn't come under the clothing or quilting umbrella and so remains ungalleried), if not using an anonymously unpatterned solid fabric, tends to come from just a few designers.
Anna Maria Horner crops up repeatedly and because she prints on so many substrates her fabrics can be used for every conceivable sewing purpose - they're fabrics that I've used almost constantly for the last five or six years and her designs still seem to please me in the way that they did on first seeing them - they are not outgrown easily and they don't seem to have anything that ties them to use for a certain age group (so many of my fabrics were unexpectedly outgrown as my children moved into a different phase in life). I've noticed that with each new range, while they work as completely cohesive collections, they contain a diverse range of colours and prints, so her fabrics may mean different things to different people, depending upon what you choose from the ranges. I tend to opt for the smaller-scaled, limited colour palette prints for myself, but I realised when I made Sam and Leanne's quilt and chose fabrics to suit their personalities that within the same collection one can also find lively, joyful and more free-spirited prints.
Others, I am often drawn back to, but they tend only to appear in a very particular type of project - if I'm making something Christmassy or for an older relative or a younger girl, then I appear to be drawn to Tilda fabrics - I love working with these and I adore the prints, but as they don't really fit in with our own home (nor are they printed on base cloths suitable for dressmaking) so the times when I can use them tend to be frustratingly infrequent.
I realised that in many ways my fabric choices are a reflection of my personality. I tend to choose small-print, reserved, self-contained fabrics. The exuberant swoops of colour and uncompromisingly large scale prints that ran through the Kaffe Fassett quilt I made over the summer felt thoroughly adventurous to me and I think, in retrospect, felt slightly like I was dressing up and pretending to be someone else when I sewed with it - not altogether a bad thing as sometimes it's nice to try on different hats - but not necessarily a reflection of my true self. It's an attention seeking quilt that seems to demand comment from all who pass it by and I often find myself looking at it feeling as though it's an impertinent third child who doesn't feel quite like part of our family and begins a mortifying display of showing off and throwing cartwheels just inches away from people's faces the moment visitors arrive. I feel I have to explain that it's actually the garden quilt and not really meant for indoors because it feels as though it needs explanation and some apology for its bad behaviour...but I can't quite bring myself to put it away. Where does one store a garden quilt? I don't want to put it in the garage where it will feel uninvitingly chilled and spidery when it's first brought out and laid on the grass. Reader, you may be very logically thinking: a cupboard. Unfortunately, there is currently no room at the inn in any of the downstairs cupboards.
|Badly behaved Kaffe Fassett quilt|
|French General quilt in progress|
But it's all so subjective. Just as my Kaffe Fassett quilt feels badly behaved and boisterous in my house in yours it may fit in perfectly, while a quilt of small-print reserved fabrics may feel like the prissy head-girl sitting censoriously in the corner asking if everyone could please just be quiet because she's trying to work.
I don't tend to think fabric choices through this consciously - it's far more instinctive than I've made it sound here. But sometimes it's interesting to mull over choices that are normally made without thinking about whether they form a bigger picture. What fabrics are you drawn to? Do the colours and scale have any reflection on your personality? Does it make you feel like an imposter or just full of delight when you sew with fabrics outside your comfort zone? Are there any designers or collections that you can't ever imagine falling out of love with?