If you are new to quilting, buying fabric can be a little (lot) stressful. It is not cheap, but you are about to spend a whole bunch of your time working on a project so it is worthwhile to spend time (and a little money) buying something that you really love.
The fabric requirements for the Luna Quilt are listed in the pattern and I am going to walk you through what all of these mean, talking specifically about the lap size quilt but you can apply this to any quilt size. There are 4 different types of fabric that you will need : feature fabric, background fabric, binding fabric, and backing fabric.
These are the colorful prints in my quilt. You can choose to make your quilt from scraps, fat quarters, or jelly roll strips (or really any cut of fabric you want, it just won’t match the fabric requirements in the pattern).
Scraps - We will talk about this more next week. Stay tuned!
Fat Quarters - For the lap size quilt, you will need 10 fat quarters. If you are using a collection that has more than 10 prints and need to narrow down what to use, I would recommend looking for variety in color, print, scale, and value.
Jelly Roll - Most jelly rolls have 40 strips which is perfect for this pattern because you need 36 strips. Choose you 4 least favorite fabrics from your jelly roll and just don’t use those — usually I will pick the strips that are the most similar in color or value to my background fabric because I want to make sure my feature fabrics have plenty of contrast.
If you would like to play it safe with your quilt, pick a white, cream, or light gray for your background fabric. These will work with most fabric collections and almost always look good (as long as your feature fabrics don’t have a lot of white, of course).
If you want to be a little more daring, pick a color that coordinates well with your feature fabrics. This is a little trickier because you don’t want your feature fabrics to blend in with the background — they need to stand out! So you will need to pick a color that isn’t predominately used in any of your other fabrics.
One thing that I always try to take into consideration for background fabric is the thread color that I plan to use for quilting. I like to use a single color for my entire quilt (you can use different colors, that is just my preference) and I generally use white, cream, or light gray. If I were to pick black as my background fabric, there would be a lot of contrast with my thread and wibbles and wobbles during quilting would be more noticeable.
Buying a fabric for the back of a quilt is a bit of a financial commitment, but remember: this is half of your quilt! Sure, it’s the side that won’t get as many photographs and won’t be admired as often, but it is still part of your creation. You have a few different options.
Piece your backing. Do you have leftover fabric from your quilt top? You can piece some extra blocks or just sew large scraps together to create a backing for your quilt. I always admire this when I see it, but it’s not something that I do for my own projects for a couple of reasons. (1) when I am done with my quilt top, I want to be done piecing. (2) I prefer the feeling of not having seams on the back of my quilt. This is definitely a personal preference thing though — if you don’t mind the seams, go for it!
Using a wideback print. This is my favorite type of fabric to use for a quilt backing because I don’t need to piece a single seam to make it happen. More and more fabric companies are printing 108” backing fabrics to coordinate with collections and I am so glad. These can also be more economical than buying yardage. To make the lap size Luna Quilt, you would need 2 yards of 108” wide fabric.
Using yardage. This is the route I usually go since there are more prints available in standard 44” widths. You need 3 3/4 yards of fabric for the backing of the lap size quilt.
You can find out more information about how backing fabric works in this blog post or stay tuned and we will cover it later in the quiltalong.
Choosing a binding fabric is actually one of my favorite things to pick. You can pick a fabric that blends with your fabric — this could be the same fabric you used for background fabric or it could be one of the more mid-value prints from the collection.
I like to use the binding fabric to frame my quilt, so I usually pick a dark or bright solid fabric. This is kind of a boring choice, however I like the effect that it has on the quilt so I am 100% ok with being a little boring sometimes. My go to binding colors are navy, dark gray, and black.
The pattern calls for 1/2 yard of fabric to bind the lap size quilt. This assumes that you will cut your binding strips 2 1/2” wide and it doesn’t give you much wiggle room for cutting mistakes. Some people prefer to cut their binding 2 1/4” or even 2” wide if you would like a thinner, more modern looking binding. I actually cut my binding strips 3” wide — if you decide to do that, you will need 2/3 yard of fabric.
I hope that is helpful to you. Remember, there are several shops offering really great quilt kits if you want to take away some of the stress of picking fabric.