Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fabric Pulling Inspirations for The Hex-A-Long

Lots of people have expressed interested in my fabric choices and combination for my quilt for the Hex-a-Long.  One person even referred to it as 'steampunk quilting' which had already crossed my mind as I searched online for fabric to purchase.  There are probably some very sage rules, written by some very wise quilting folk that I have broken in starting this quilt. However, for those of you that are interested in going down the thematic route, or simply curious about my inspirations and motivations I thought I'd blog about the process.
Seeing this hexie by Lynne of Lily's Quilts, and in particular the food pictures on the fabric reminded me of the beautiful illustrations in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. 



It made me think of Victorian/Edwardian Britain. Genteel ladies in flowing flowery dresses having tea and cake. In particular I began to think of my two great aunts. One had given the other this book as a Christmas present.  I began to think of other things I associated with them. Which included vintage postcards; as they, along with their siblings had given their mother a postcard album, which she filled with cards from them. That postcard album started my collecting postcards as a child. I still have quite a few vintage cards.


And one of the things I've always loved about vintage postcards is the lovely old writing on the backs - those wonderful messages.  Glimpses into other peoples lives.


I began to go through my fabric stash and pulled together anything that had a vintage vibe about it. I came up with this bundle.

Vintage Romance - HAL

I didn't know if I'd use all these fabrics, it was a starting point though. Then I started to trawl online to find other fabrics that fitted my theme. I absolutely adore text on fabric so that was going to be a must. I had no idea I was going to luck out and find fabric with postcard backs on it!!!

Postcard Fabric Hexie

I already had some wonderful pale blue fabric with birds eggs on it and writing under each one labelling each egg.


I felt it would lift the already pinky looking set of fabrics I'd pulled. It reminded me of how the Victorians/Edwardians would collect things like butterflies and birds eggs and put them in wooden cabinets. Some Michael Miller French Journal Fabric not only gave me some bold fabrics to create giant hexies, but continued the vintage theme, refining my colour scheme in the process.   Now I had my tea drinking ladies sending postcards and letters home and collecting birds eggs. Well, maybe not. But what if these ladies were travelling around, exploring and having adventures?


Maybe they stashed all their treasures and lovely floral tea drinking clothes in an old tin trunk just like the one I have in my bedroom. The one my grandmother used to bring home some of her belongings when she travelled back to England from Australia just as WW1 broke out. Not an easy job for a woman to undertake alone in those days with two small children in toe. 

Progress so far

So rather than make a quilt that used only a specific range of fabrics that all matched completely I decided an eclectic mix within a similar palette would give the quilt a more vintage feel. I didn't want everything to be too matchy matchy. I wanted the over all feeling to make you think this quilt could be years old. It would only be close inspection of the fabrics individually that you'd see that they were modern. One of the most important elements would be the theme. Bringing together fabrics that told a story.  That gave the quilt another dimension.

If you look carefully at the one's I've sewn together so far and examined the fabrics carefully you may think that certain ones don't go together. I once heard a famous gardener (who's name escapes me now) that nothing really clashes in nature so how can it clash in a garden? Which is advice I always bear in mind when gardening in my cottage garden.  You can break all the rules and it can work. You just have to think about how you do it.

You may think that the Hope Valley fabric in one of the tumbling blocks above is too purple/pink and the heavy floral design of the fabric in some of the Penelope from Lakehouse Drygoods is too red.  Even the pale blue of the birds egg fabric doesn't go with the deep aqua blue of the clocks fabric. Well you'd be right if you want to be fussy about it. However, this is what gives this a vintage charm. As long as you place any of these fabrics so they are near ones they do match or neutralise them, before you place one they clash with, the overall effect works.  So far all the text fabric is acting as a neutral.  I can use all these aqua/pale blues together as long as they are not immediately close to each other.  I can slap in busy florals like that Penelope as long as I think carefully about what I put next to it.

So if you fancy designing a quilt this way look around you for inspiration. Trawl Flickr. Maybe create an inspiration mosaic. Pull out fabrics from your stash to fit in with your theme. Create stories around your theme to expand it. Have fun looking online for other fabrics that fit this theme and gather them together.  Then get cutting and sewing and have fun!


  1. I love this post -- and your hexies really do speak to all of those influences and inspirations you have described. But I also think you have a nice mash-up of vintage and modern here, which keeps you far away from the realm of the twee, and gives the whole thing a nice contemporary edge. Your tea-drinking adventuresses are doing a little time travel...which makes them all the more appealing :)

  2. Nicely done!
    You have made lovely choices and the thought you are putting into your quilt shows. I look forward to seeing this progress!

  3. love the trunk and really love the quilt! I love old fashion mixed up quilts. They totally go, 50 years from now no one will know what lines went with what!

  4. Such a brilliant thought process, and it looks stunning x

  5. Seeing your inspiration pictures alongside the fabrics and your hexies shows a lovely narrative of how your quilt is coming to life. The postcards are an amazing source of ideas!

  6. I really love your hexies that I've seen on Flickr and I really enjoyed reading about how you chose your fabrics. It's going to be a really beautiful quilt Jan :)

  7. I've really enjoyed reading this post and I'm looking forward to seeing this quilt grow!

  8. It's nice to learn how others pick their fabrics and yours truly do make your quilt look vintage. :D

    What size are your hexies in this quilt?

  9. Thank you for joining in the giveaway! I agree with you totally about using a wide range of colours and patterns to give a vintage feel - I am doing the same with my Farmer's Wife quilt.

    Pomona x

  10. Love your fabric choices and style, great post! What size are your hexies? Are you using purchased paper templates or do you make your own? Thanks for getting me motivated!

  11. Love your vintage-ness! I'm trying to do vintage feel hexies too! Your fabrics are really lovely. Jxo

  12. the fabrics are great, and you have put them altogether really quickly!


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