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 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I am in love with batiks at the moment!

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Contemporary and batik!

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I do not have a favorite – love Kaffe and Lynette Anderson

    thanks for hosting the giveaway !

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I love 30’s reproduction fabrics and civil war fabrics. Two of my favorites. I have made several 30’s quilts over the past 5 years. And now I want to use Civil war prints and make a few with those.

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I love Shasta would work great with the others I just purchased for a project
    I do like the candid papazera of black. White. And red they would play well with a pattern I plan to start at retreat.

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Hey Michele,
    it is hard to choose but I am probably in the non traditional (figures lol!) or other category these days! The fabrics are all so lovely though.

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:04 am

    You know most of my students say they have the hardest time choosing fabrics for their projects. As for me, my fabric style changes with the wind. In the past I would look for “matching” colors-boring!! And then I learned to “think out of the box”, be bold and bright, experiment and always choose a “sparkle” fabric-that one fabric that makes the quilt “pop.” Yesterday I read a quote that said “get rid of the box” !! So for me, most anything goes! I do believe we are most fortunate these days to have such talented designers who create a colorful world for us to choose from.

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I think I am still figuring out what my style is, as I love so many different fabrics and designs. I still cherish traditional quilt fabrics and patterns so I would say it it my basic style for now. Colors play a huge part in anything I do, whether I choose muted or vivid colorations. It is just so wonderful to see all the inspiration for quilts and other fabric creations available today!

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I love all fabric styles. It depends on the project at hand. Sure love that yellow and gray up there.

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:19 am

    OMG what wonderful fabrics. I LOVE it all. But you can not lose with Moda, they design the most fantastic lines!!!!

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I seem drawn to the reproductions but florals always catch my eye too.

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I love the Ocean Wave Batik. Thank you for the nice giveaway!

  • March 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Love the new modern look. Clean and fresh.

  • March 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I love ALL fabrics, and my style is constantly evolving. Presently I’m favoring batiks and bright contemporary fabrics, but would love any and all fabrics won, I’m sure! Hope to be chosen. . . :-)

  • March 21, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I love all fabrics but right now I am stuck on reproduction (Jo Morton) and the thirty’s.

  • March 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I like all fabrics but if I had to pick just one it would be batiks.

  • March 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I am a fabric junkie, I like it all, but my eclectic style supports my collection.

  • March 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I don’t have any particular style but love coordinated fabric bundles. I love pastels, love Kaffe Fassett type fabric, love Moda lines. I like to try a variety so that my quilts don’t all look the same. Just give me fabric and I’ll make something with it. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • March 21, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I love love love love Adventure with Alice. Having said that they are all beautiful

  • March 21, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I love all the new “funky” prints that are now out there. Thanks so much for the chance to win an awesome prize.

  • March 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I love traditional reproductions and marbles.

  • March 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Ooh – my favorite right now is “Other” – I am loving solids right now.

  • March 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    It’s hard to say which fabric I love the most – it always depends on my mood and the reason why I am making a quilt.

    If the quilt is for my home, I usually stick to solids and batiks. If not, I rather pick classic Contemporary prints.

    My kids looooove novelty prints (of course!).

    I kinda dislike too “old fashioned” looking stuff. That’s just not me nor do I want to work with fabric that I totally dislike. Even when someone asks me to sew something for them and actually offers to pay me for my efforts I say “No way!” if they want old fashioned fabrics.

    Sewing/fabric is supposed to cheer me up – which will never happen while working with civil war style fabrics for instance.

  • March 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Oh gosh it is impossible to pick just one fabric style! I love just about all of them.

  • March 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I am mainly a lover of Contemporary/Modern fabrics. I dislike overly flowery or those ‘muddy’ styles…but I do buy a small amount of other fabrics for a few reasons…

    Batiks are nice for a watercolor/rainbow kind of look sometimes.

    Seasonal fabrics – in a modern style – are such fun for the kids

    And brights and 1930’s reproductive are favorites of my 11 year old daughter, so I stock a bit in my stash.

    Great summary, and wonderful giveaway…thanks for the chance to win!

  • March 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Asking me to choose my favorite fabric style is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. I love them all, even many of the modern ones I initially was not attracted to. But if I had to choose one, I would say solids, since I go back to them again and again, and coordinate them with every other style. How’s that for diplomatic? ;-)

    Thanks so much for the chance to win – great prize!

  • March 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I love the Kate Spain modern fabrics, with lots of color, also the 1930’s.

  • March 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I love the new batiks. I love how they have color variations and how it is easy to blend those colors together to make wonderful things. I also love the fun spring prints too. It is hard to pick just one.

    Thank you so much for a chance to win.

  • March 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    My absolute favourites are the reproduction fabrics, especially the 19th century once. I love history and do not only buy this fabric but also the many books showing off the beautifull antique quilts and the stories that go with them. Thank you for giving us the opportunity of winning some free fabric :-)).
    Jenny in Belgium

  • March 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I love Batiks at the moment. I have never made a quilt from them but have admired the ones I saw. I did buy a kit so I’m excited to try this fabric

  • March 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I like mostly contemporary prints.

  • March 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I’d say I’m mostly drawn to Modern Style fabrics – sometimes brightly coloured, sometimes soft and muted. You’ll find me drooling over some crazy novelty prints too :) Thanks for the gorgeous giveaway!

  • March 21, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    So hard to choose a favorite fabric type, but maybe batiks would be my favorite…. Thanks for the giveaway!!

  • March 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I am a primative country gal. Simple elegance is my staple.

  • March 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I guess I am hooked on 30’s prints, so much like quilts I wish I had inherited.

  • March 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Right now I have to say batiks, bold and surprising fabrics.

  • March 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I love all the bright fresh colourful fabrics Ruby Is my latest have to have I guess we are a little behind here in Australia and don’t have as much choice….am known to buy from Fat 1/4 shop….. lol great prize !

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I love Modern quilts. Great bold colors & fantastic patterns. Kaffe Fassett, mmmmmModa solids, geometricals…

  • March 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I love civil war fabrics, but I find that my taste change and after I make a few quilts out of my current favorite.

  • March 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Love the Batik’s. Always a surprise for me with the variety of colors blending. I tend to use the fall colors more often but love the fresh spring greens and ocean blues as well.

  • March 22, 2012 at 1:27 am

    I have not really gotten a style yet however I am leaning toward contemporary. There are soooooo many fabrics out there that it is a hard choice at times!! he he

  • March 22, 2012 at 2:02 am

    I like classic contemporary fabrics.

  • March 22, 2012 at 2:59 am

    At present my favourite is Peace Love And Rock And Roll.
    Being a baby boomer, this line sets a tingle in my heart.
    It’s groovey man,
    Del Soden.

    Remember, keep stitching
    We can sew our world together Peace By Piece.

    That’s my own invention. I thought it up in 1992.

  • March 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I enjoy fabric with a forgiving style… that will look good no matter what I choose to do with it.

  • March 22, 2012 at 10:59 am

    For me it’s a toss up between solids and batiks – my very favourite fabrics are the mottled batiks without recognizable objects (like the top corner pieces of the Ocean Waves colour card). I also love the small abstract and floral patterns in that Asian fabric. If I had to choose one style, though, it would be solids.

  • March 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I love, love, love BRIGHT colors, but then, I also am in love with 30’s fabric, probably because they remind me of my mom and the quilts that she used to make. Any fabric can make you feel like you have another project to add to your list!

  • March 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    It’s absolutely bright and bold for me. I love working with happy fabrics, sometimes novelty, but just alot of bright pinks, turquoise, lime. I just quilted my my recent quilt with lime thread!

  • March 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I think Im late to join the giveaway. Well, I don’t celebrate St. Patty day. I just went to my mom’s house to have dinner.

  • March 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    hummmm the more I look the more that I realized that I LOVE those “muddy” Civil War Era fabrics like those that designers Judie Rothermel and Barbara Brackman share with us. Thank You for your time.

Comments are closed.