The Learning Center - Hosted by Pat Sloan

Hi everyone, it’s your host Pat Sloan here today talking about fabric styles.

When I made my ‘first first quilt’ I did not have many fabric options. Calicos, Calicos, Calicos, and solids. By the time I made my official first quilt the variety of fabrics had greatly increased, let’s do a big cheer for THAT!

Quilters now have so much variety of fabric it is wonderful, but it could be a tad confusing. When you hear someone describe a ‘style’ of fabric what do they really mean?

The other day I did a very scientific study of quilt styles when my friends showed up for sewing night. I asked the first three who arrived their thoughts on quilt Styles (well we DID have a very thorough discussion on it…. Wink!)

These are my thoughts on style, and I’m sure I’ve missed one or you will have your own take on it.. that is what our comment section is for!

Fat Quarter Shop has been super generous and allowed me to share photos from their store.. and.. hold on.. you are NOT going to believe this.. Fat Quarter Shop is sponsoring this post with a FQ bundle give-away. Which FQ bundle? Well the winner can pick the Moda bundle they want.. be still my heart!! exciting eh? See the end for how to enter.

My first observation about style is that color matters. Take the paisley above. This is a very traditional if not leaning towards civil war type print. This is a Jo Morton paisley that she is famous for.

This is NOT traditional by anyone’s terms. BUT it does have a paisley in it. Interesting eh? (I say eh to fit in with Michele.. she is Canadian ya know). And scale. Look how much larger this paisley is.. and more playful. This is what I’d call a contemporary fabric, from Heather Bailey

So let’s look at some BROAD categories (remember the comment section down there!)


In this group you will tend to find lots of warm toasty colors, some call them muddy fabric (wink!). There are really a lot of styles within the traditional category.

Civil war prints are loved by many. They are reproductions of fabrics from the civil war era and use the same colors and patterns. The photo above is classic from Judie Rothermel.

People who love and use civil war fabrics are often recreating quilts from that time period. Historian Barbara Brackman has a blog about civil war quilts… check it out to learn more!

Calicos are generally small prints… a bit harder to find in this day and age as we tend to want more from our fabric! But Calico’s are fantastic blenders.. as is shown by this piece in Prairie Paisley II from Minnick/Simpson.

I feel like a country style fabric is cozy. It does not need to be ‘brown’ but it should be warm, toasty and full of the feeling of a farm house or your grandma’s kitchen. This line from The Quilt Patch feels country to me.

Americana and patriotic, whether in a traditional design or a contemporary, is classic! This line from My Mind’s Eye is bright and fun and waves the stars and stripes proudly! Great for solider quilts and decorating for 4th of July!

The 1930s prints are like civil war, they are reproductions of a time period of fabrics. They tend to be pastels with some reds and blacks. Lots of small prints. This is a new favorite of mine from my friend Darlene Zimmerman. And this line is called Adventures with Alice… I LOVE Alice in Wonderland!

Not Traditional

There are so many fabrics that fall into what I call “Contemporary” fabrics. This line called Candid Paparazzi from Red Rooster fits the contemporary class for me. Clean shapes, clear colors, and big bold sweeps of shapes.

Fresh Cuts from Heather Bailey is a classic Contemporary fabric. So much so this is a repeat of the line loved by many! (me included!)

I asked my good friend, and 3 time winner of the Modern Quilt Guild challenge, what she thought a current modern style fabric is. Heather Jones of olive & ollie said:

I think Lizzie House’s new line, Hello Pilgrim, is a great example of a modern line. It has bright, bold colors and and the designs of the prints are really fun and whimsical. I love it because it has some really unique patterns (like Native Foliage and Falling Leaves), and also a lot of prints that would be great basic stash builders (like the Dotted Circles and Stripes).

John Adams, QuiltDad, is not only a modern style quilt maker, but one of the editors of the online quilt magazine FatQuarterly. I asked John what he considered some of the current Modern style fabrics on the market. John said …

I also think that Miscellany and Cut Out & Keep by Cloud 9 Fabrics are great examples, too. – Thank you John!

Wow oh wow are Batik fabrics POP-U-Lar!! Serious.. do you have a piece in your collection? How many… wink! Many companies produce batiks. I feel the draw of a batik is the often subtle color changes and the tone on tone ‘feel’ with more pizzazz! This is a selection from Hoffman. Fat Quarter Shop has a whole category for batiks on their left side bar.. go cruise!

Asian Style Traditional or Modern? This classic piece of Asian style fabric is from Kona Bay. They really do a wonderful job with this style. From a focus piece like this one to blenders and overall florals. Visit their web site for loads of inspiration!

Good Fortune by Kate Spain is a contemporary take on Asian fabric and I love it.. I even used it in a quilt for my latest book!


“Other” is a lovely category. A place to slot solids, Novelty prints and seasonal.. which are a form of novelty but I think they deserve their own category!

Bella Solids by Moda are so darn popular you can even get a color card!

Also Michael Miller solids.

and Robert Kaufman solids.. oh yeah!

Going Coastal by Emily Herrick is a perfect example of a novelty print. Who uses bottle caps with seaside images.. umm…err… I do!

Or Peace Love and Rock and Roll man.. yep… any fabric with funky fun images is good to be called a novelty

one more!! Space fabric from Andover.. gotta love it!

Seasonal for me are those Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s day, Easter or any other fabric that is very focused on the season. I tend to make quilts using them that stay within that theme. And these tend to lean heavy towards a novelty print feel. Like this Halloween print from Teresa Kogut.

And the Fat Quarter shop loves Christmas fabrics ALMOST as much as I do.. wink! They love it so much they put them ALL in one place for us Christmas crazy collectors! I’m loving this Basic Grey line.. all for that snowman!

Kathy Miller of Michael Miller fabrics does a fantastic job on the company blog with fabric inspiration boards. I am currently obsessed with Gray and Yellow combinations, so I really loved this board she did called Citron Gray.

Cruise the fabric company blogs and web sites for great fabric selections.. here are just a few of the many fabric companies out there today:

and I could go ON and ON and ON! Love a company? Put their name in Google and see what you find!

A few weeks ago I interviewed 4 fabric designers on January 30th including Kathy Miller of Michael Miller fabrics. And I interviewed Kimberley Jolly of the Fabulous Fat Quarter shop too!


Fat Quarter Shop Logo

Enter to win a Moda fat quarter bundle of your choice from the Fat Quarter Shop! Tell me below in the comments What is YOUR favorite Fabric Style?

One winner will be randomly selected next Wednesday, March 21, 2012.

Winner announced: Congratulations to #573 Renate. Check your email for a message.


Pat Sloan - The Voice of Quilting

Pat Sloan is owner and founder of the quilting design and publishing company Pat Sloan & Co. She has published over 25 books, more than 100 patterns, nearly 10 fabric lines, and has had her work featured in all the major Quilt magazines. In January 2010, Pat started hosting her weekly Internet Radio show called Creative Talk Radio.

Find Pat here:

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Fabric Styles
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653 thoughts on “Fabric Styles

  • March 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I took my daughter and grandchildren for coffee/ cool drinks after baking cookies which they delivered to the neighbors after tasting a few themselves!

  • March 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Oh, I’ve liked Asian fabrics for a while, but just lately I’ve developed a real fondness for bright colors, so Good Fortune would be a great choice for me. Thank you.

  • March 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    i’m working on my first quilt–our wedding guest book–using pieces of fabric our guests signed. my husband and i met in the military and live in texas so i used muted red, white, and blue colors for quilt top. i’m strugging to choose the boarders and backing fabrics! i don’t have a favorite fabric yet! but i’m hoping your site will help me choose :)

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