Choosing the fabrics for a project has to be one of my favourite tasks and when it's for a large sampler quilt made of single blocks, each block as a potential canvas, I get very excited! For the Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along the obvious choice is vintage fabrics or repros. I do have some very old vintage from around this period but only in the form of these fan blades that a kind flickr swapper traded with me several years back.
So instead I'm turning to a mix of my stash and buying in some extra fat quarters. I did originally think I would use some of my vintage collection but the reality is that in a well used quilt, which I hope this one will one day become, they don't wear as well as new fabrics.
Pattern scale is an important factor for these 6 inch blocks. Some of the blocks can involve 50, 60, 70 and more pattern pieces. Some large designs or spaced out prints can get lost when cut so small. Larger designs could still work and provide a good sense of contrast but I think I will only use these occasionally. Many 1930s reproduction prints have the advantage of being small scale designs and either, non-directional with tossed designs that work in any direction or four-way so they can rotate in 90 degree increments and look the same. These are great for foundation paper piecing, especially the tossed prints as you won't have to worry about directional placement and there's less wastage.
I have a mix of modern prints influenced by vintage designed in my stash that I think will work in this quilt. I find just 1930s repro can be a little too sweet for my taste and these balance that out. Contrast is key when choosing fabrics for a block: there needs to be a sufficient harmony between the colours and prints but also a point of difference, something that creates a little tension, only then does a block shine!
I did pull a few small scale geometric prints too- too many floras can lack contrast and look busy; geometrics give extra dimension to a block and lead the eye in particular directions. I don't intend to break new ground with my fabric choices, like the book, I'll be adding a lot of solids too. Many repro prints are rather dense and solids create space and heighten colour choices.
Heather Ross's new Tiger Lily collection has a great mix of prints and colours that would combine with 1930s repros. These were a recent purchase from Eternal Maker, the top print is Hand Picked in Ecru by Anna Maria Horner. I'm planning to add this in too!
You could make this quilt in any fabric combination- solids, modern prints, monochrome but I know many of you are inspired by the 1930s repro fabrics in the book, so where to buy? Here are some ideas:
Sarah and Penny at Pretty Fabrics and Trims have a big selection of repro and vintage inspired prints. They also specialise in putting mini selections together in bundles and these come in different cuts, fat quarters and smaller. They are one of my blog sponsors so many of the 1930s repro fabrics in these pics are from their shop.
Jessie at Sew and Quilt is passionate about 1930s fabrics. She has a great selection of 1930s repros and has been putting a Farmer's Wife 1930s quilt kit together for those who prefer that approach. She also stocks hand sewing equipment for those who want to hand piece or English Paper Piece their blocks.
Tiina at Tikki Patchwork stocks a wonderful selection of repro prints both as yardage and bundles online and at her shop in Kew, London.
I don't buy much fabrics from USA these days so many of you may have ideas you'd like to add in the comments to these suggestions.
Connecting Threads have their own range of in house repro fabrics like 'Line Dried' as well as stocking other well known quilting brands- Michael Miller, Cotton+Steel etc.
I saw a lovely bundle on Instagram that Amanda had put together with the Farmer's Wife 1930s sampler quilt in mind and she kindly sent me a photo to include:
You may be lucky enough to have a local quilt shop with a great repro selection. Otherwise, ebay or Etsy and searching under 1930s repro/reproduction or Aunt Grace fabrics will give you a huge number to choose from. Please add suggestions from your country in the comments.
Lots of people got in touch with me when I first announced the quilt along including many who had made a quilt from the Earlier 1920s book. Patty of A Stitch in Time used a limited colour palette to great effect- red/aqua/grey/white- see the results here, stunning! I know a few people have mentioned to me that they'd like to make the 1930s blocks in just a few colours and Patty's quilt shows how effective that can be. Melinda of Quirky Granola girl has magic touch when it comes to combining fabrics. She is thoughtful in her choices and the results are often unexpected and all the more exciting for it. When I asked if she would like to share a few of her original Farmer's Wife and Pony club blocks, she wrote a wonderful post that I am privileged to host here, I will post it after this for you to drool over! She discusses how she puts different fabrics together and in particular how she uses contrast in colour, tone, scale and print. It is an informative read.
I'll be back next Wednesday with a few suggestions for tools and equipment for different construction methods. Basic tools are all you really need but there are a few other inexpensive bits and pieces that may make life easier. Don't forget the hashtag #fw1930sqal and you are welcome to tag me on Instagram for your Farmer's Wife pictures! I'm @verykerryberry on there.