Designer Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio shared her remedy for making use of those hard-to-figure-out-what-to-do-with fabrics in a quilter’s stash with executive editor Jennifer Keltner, who explains how she put the lessons to work with her own stash.
Have you purchased a piece of fabric with no plan for what you’d make with it? Have you later pulled that fabric from your stash and wondered, What was I thinking? Me too!
I was intrigued by designer Weeks Ringle’s description of her one-day class Rediscovering Your Stash: “Gain color confidence and plan creative ways to use your stash! Mix a big dose of color theory and color exploration with an in-depth discussion of combining patterns and a pinch of working with large scale fabrics, and you’ll end up with a plan for projects that you want to make from the fabrics you already have.” To gain her insights, I met Weeks at Stitcher’s Crossing quilt shop in Madison, Wisconsin.
Weeks Ringle first led me through her class, which is designed to help quilters creatively use their stashes. I learned a bunch in a short time, and then it was time for me to take my “test” to see if I could put into practice what I’d learned. Weeks tasked me with turning these five fabrics from my stash into a cohesive palette for a quilt. I still love them all, but, I confess, I wouldn’t have grouped them together on my own.
Finding a “bridge” to link the disparate greens in my five stash fabrics is key, Weeks says. This one seems perfect. It has both the light and the dark greens that appear in my fabrics.
Next I look at the selvage of one of my five fabrics to try to find a similar shade of purple to bring into the mix.
My next thought is to try to balance the mix of blues, greens, and purples in my palette. Turns out that this is a rookie mistake. “Equal proportions of colors makes for a less interesting mix overall,” Weeks says.
Based on Weeks’s input, I toss out most of the purples and the deep blue.
When I set my five stash fabrics in front of my stack of chosen fabrics, I notice that there is little purple and mostly blues and greens. (The bolts stacked on the left are the ones I opted to take out.)
I feel like I have the balance right now, but remember another trick of Weeks': I wrap my five stash fabrics around the bolts of chosen fabrics so I could see them in equal proportion. Good news! I like what I see.
To finish it off I think I need something to mediate the busy mix of prints. I search for a tone-on-tone or solid that will give the eye a resting point and allow me to see the seams in my patchwork. (After all, isn’t that the point of cutting apart and putting back together fabric pieces?) I chose a linen-look cream print. Are you still not convinced it all works together?
Here’s how my quilt turned out. I love the finished look and am happy I was able to use up some of my stash in the process. The hint of purple in the center blocks leads to a bigger splash of purples in the borders, tying it all together. I’m giving myself high marks for this test!
Try this exercise with your stash fabrics. My mission is to use up my stash so I have room for more!