Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE print fabrics, but sometimes a quilt calls for all solids! Or sometimes, I just can't find the perfect fabric collection I am looking for. Many people associate modern quilts with all-solid fabric, but in fact, you can create a beautiful timeless quilt of any style in all-solids. You'll have to check out some of my floral quilts below.
Every time I release a quilt made with all solids, I get many questions about working with these fabrics. How do you pick your colors? Which solids are your favorite to work with? How did you overcome the fear of working with solids? I didn’t realize this, but many quilters feel timid when working with all solids in their quilts. I used to be, as well, until I made my first solid quilt, Daisy Chain. Then everything changed for me! I no longer viewed solid fabrics as just background fabrics, but as fabrics that can really enhance your quilt design and quilting experience.
Below are some tips I have for making quilts using all solid fabrics.
1. Fabric Selection:
Fabric selection could make or break an all-solid quilt. To ensure I am selecting the correct fabrics for my quilt, I like to use a “Color Card.” A color card is a swatch book that has all the solid swatches of a particular fabric manufacturer. I like to use Bella Solids by Moda Fabrics, because they have a great variety of colors and their fabrics feel soft. I use the Bella Solids Color Card to “try out” fabrics I like. I start by picking my background fabric. Then I select fabrics that will have enough contrast and stand out against my background fabric. White or cream backgrounds are the easiest to use because they go with everything. I will typically stick to those, but on occasion, I enjoy a background with a pop of color. My favorite background color is Moda Bella Off-White 9900 - 200, Porcelain 9900 - 182, and Ivory 9900 - 60.
I cut up my Bella Solids Color Card so I can see what the swatches look like next to each other. If you do this, be sure to label the swatches. I staple a piece of paper to the fabric swatch and write the Bella color name and number. Something I like to do is group my favorite go-to colors together so it's easier to go through them. There are so many beautiful colors.
I got this tip from my sweet friend, Jackie of Sweetfire Road. I believe she got the idea from her friend.
Something to keep in mind: Solid fabrics are available for way longer than print fabrics, so if you run out or have to put your project down for a while, you will most likely be able to find more fabric if needed. This is awesome, but I will advise, not all solid fabrics are the same and they could be a tad lighter or darker depending on many different factors (exposure to light, dye process, etc), even if they have the same name and come from the same maufacturer. I would suggest not putting the old and new fabric directly next to each other, unless you have to (background). If you have to, closely look at both of the fabrics next to each other to make sure they are the same color, before sewing them together. I had this happen on my Daisy Chain quilt. I ran out of the Moda Bella Bunny Hill Pink 9900 - 195 I was using for my background and bought more to finish the border. The border color is slightly different although it is the same fabric color. I didn't notice until after it was quilted. I'm the only one that notices and it does bother me at all. Just something to be aware of. You won't be able to tell from the picture, she's still beautiful.
2. Quilt Pattern Selection:
Working with solid fabrics really enhances a quilt design (pattern). I like to pick patterns that have a lot of detail that would otherwise be lost when using print fabrics. The more detail or pieces the better! It can also be helpful to find patterns that the pattern designer used all solids for the sample, so you can easily convert the pattern colors to your favorite solid colors, if your struggling to pick them yourself. When I design patterns, I try to only show the diagrams in solid colors so it's easier for you to imagine your solid color as the block. Blooming Boutique is one of my favorite quilts I have made with all-solid fabrics. It had the perfect amount of detail and each of the blocks pop.
Blooming Boutique Pattern: CLICK HERE
3. Focus on Accuracy:
Because solid fabrics have more contrast, they will show off your piecing skills more. While print fabrics tend to help hide mistakes or unmatched seams/points, solids show everything. Take your time while cutting, sewing, and pressing your quilt to make sure your piecing is as accurate as possible. I recently released a blog post, My Top 10 Tips for Sewing With Small Pieces, you may find some helpful tips to achieve accurate seams. CLICK HERE to check it out.
4. Highlight Your Quilting:
Solid fabrics are the perfect blank canvas for machine-quilting. Whether you do a simple allover pattern or custom-quilt it, your quilt will showcase the quilting design and the quilting thread color very well. If you’re not confident in your machine-quilting skills, you may want to hire a longarm quilter to quilt an all-solid quilt. Or you can use thread that matches the fabric to help your stitches blend a little. If you don't prefer all-solid quilts because there's not enough texture, custom quilting can help with that.
My quilter, Gina Tell of Thread Graffiti quilted my Blooming Boutique quilt with an all over floral design. I love how the quilting fades into the background, but you can still see it. The quilting panto is called Pansies and she used Glide 60wt thread.
5. Thread Color:
Be sure to consider your thread color. I usually use Aurifil 50wt color 2021, but sometimes the solid fabric may need a different thread color. I always find that having some small Aurifil 50 wt spools of many primary colors on hand help if I need another thread color. The small spools are great to have especially if I only need it for a few seams. To test if you need a different thread color, consider sewing a test scrap piece with your solid fabrics to see if the thread is noticeable. I find that dark colors or colors with higher saturation usually need a different thread color, whereas lighter colors tend to be safe with my normal thread color. Also, be sure to bring your stitch length down to help with this. I use a 1.5 stitch length for most of my piecing and don't notice my thread coming through, even on dark fabrics.
You can find small spools at your local quilt shop or a thread box that offer a good variety of colors to help you build your thread stash of small spools. Here is a small spool thread box example:
To find more thread boxes or thread colors, CLICK HERE.
6. Building a Solid Stash:
One thing I really love to do is build up my solid fabric stash. I will typically buy the solid fabric colors I love or purchase a little extra for a project so I can have leftovers to put in my stash. Doing so makes it really fun to pull them out and play with them. Did you know you are more likely to use something if you already have it? I often find myself pulling out my solid stash to build a beautiful color palette that inspires me. To build my stash, I first started with Fat Quarter bundles in a variety of colors. Primary, pastels, and neutrals are fun to start with. Once I find a color I love, I will usually purchase a half yard to start or even several yards of it. Many times I don't have projects planned for my solid stash, but it sure is nice to pull on them when needed. Check out some of my favorite solid bundles below and start building your stash:
To find more solid bundles like these, CLICK HERE.
*Photos of the solid Fat Quarter Bundles are from Fat Quarter Shop website.
Put These Tips to the Test!
I promise, working with solids is so fun and easy once you dive in! If you want to try making a quilt with solids, these projects below are a great choice. They have a lot of detail and will let the quilt design and quilting stand out. If you click on the hashtag (#) you will be able to see more variations of each of the quilts. Enjoy!
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