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One of the beautiful things about quilts is they can be made from whatever fabric is on hand. Because you’re combining lots of small scraps, you don’t need to buy big pieces of uncut yardage. Historically, quilts were made to squeeze the last useful life out of worn-out clothes and curtains.

This is my favorite quilt I own. I don't know the maker, but I received it as a gift from my friend Brian. It was crafted out of well-worn clothing.

For the example in the video, and for most of my personal work, I use fabric that’s naturally dyed. I love how the subtle shifts of color can elevate simply-pieced designs. However, you can also build great-looking quilts with fabric that is dyed conventionally.

A few suggestions:

  1. Stick to natural fibers. You’ll want to look for labels that explicitly say 100% cotton, linen, or silk. I don’t worry too much about mixing different types of fabric in a single quilt, but I avoid synthetics and blends. They don’t wear as gracefully as the real stuff.
  2. Avoid patterns. Printed fabric can feel dated quickly because of the style of the illustrations and the printing technique. Sometimes I’ll use small scraps of vintage prints, but if it’s too much, it competes with the block design.
  3. Save every scrap. I toss any trimmings larger than a postage stamp in a basket. Then, when I get a chance to make a scrap quilt, I dump them out and sort them by size. Having a miscellaneous palette of color can help jump start a block idea.

At a minimum you’ll want two colors to make this quilt. The amount of fabric you’ll need will depend on the size of the quilt you make. Don’t forget to also get enough fabric for the back of the quilt and the binding (outer edge). I typically use a single large piece of fabric for the back of my quilts. I think it helps to highlight the hand quilting. For very large quilts I’ll sew a few large pieces together for the back.

Baby Size Quilt (36 x 36 inches)

  • 1.5 yards of fabric of various colors for top
  • 1.5 yards of neutral fabric for block foundation
  • 2 yards of solid for backside and binding

Twin Size Quilt (70 x 90 inches)

  • 3.5 yards of fabric of various colors for top
  • 3.5 yards of neutral fabric for block foundation
  • 4 yards of solid for backside and binding

Queen Size Quilt (90 x 110 inches)

  • 8 yards of fabric of various colors for top
  • 8 yards of neutral fabric for block foundation
  • 9 yards of solid for backside and binding

Again I would recommend finding a local fabric store and talk to one of the employees there about your project. They can help make recommendations and special order things as needed.

However, I’ve done some research and found that fabric.com has a decent selection for online ordering (although sometimes with large minimums). I encourage you to choose colors that you find personally compelling, but I think these selections in linen work well together.

ivory linen natural leather peach rose pewter dusty blue

Lastly, you can also deconstruct old clothes to use for quilts. Sometimes when I’m shopping in a thrift store I’ll find incredible fabric used for a outdated suit or worn-out shirt. I don’t feel any guilt cutting into these and giving the fabric a new life.

Now that we've got all the fabric and supplies, let's start piecing together a quilt block