The Phoebe Quiltalong Week 1 - Fabric Selection

The Phoebe Quiltalong Week 1 - Fabric Selection

Welcome to the official beginning of the Phoebe Quiltalong! To get started this week we will have a blog post (this one right here), a live video on Instagram at noon PST today (I will save the video in case you can't watch it live), and I will send out an email later today with links to both the blog post and the video.

This week we are going to talk about fabric selection. I am going to mostly talk about the lap size quilt, since that is what most people in make in a quiltalong, but this should be pretty easily adaptable for all quilt sizes. You might also find some of these tips useful for selecting fabrics for other projects that use 2.5" strips.

The Phoebe Quiltalong Week 1 - Kitchen Table Quilting

How much fabric do I need?

To make the lap size quilt, you need (29) jelly roll strips (that is most of a jelly roll), 20 fat eighths, or 10 fat quarters.

Using a jelly roll will give you the most fabric variety, but the blocks are arranged in a way that all options will give you a good mix. 

What types of fabrics work best in the Phoebe Quilt Pattern?

This is a great project for solids, near-solids, or prints. The main thing you are going to want to look for is a selection of fabrics that will appear distinct from each other and from your background fabric — you don't want everything to blend together. This can be accomplished by having a variety of colors, values, or prints.

One option that will not work very well (and this is true for most jelly roll-friendly projects) is to use lots of large scale prints. Because you are cutting a thin strip of the fabric, you lose the look of the print a little bit and it is hard to see the shapes in your quilt. You definitely can use large scale prints, just make sure to mix in some smaller scale prints or solids. 

The Phoebe Quilt in Pixel

Background Fabric

I know that many of you are more daring than I am when it comes to picking a background fabric. The main thing that you want to worry about is making sure that your background fabric is distinct from your other fabrics. Since we will be cutting the background fabric into 2.5" strips, this is also not a great place for a large scale print or a directional fabric. 

If you would like to use a print, a small dot or not-too-busy small scale floral or most near-solids (Speckled, Grunge, Spark, etc.) should work here. 

Using a dark background vs. a light background will give you a drastically different look. These quilts both use Achroma. Since you don't need the full 40 jelly roll strips (if you are using a jelly roll) you can pull out strips that are too similar in value or color to your background fabric. Notice that I switched things up a little bit to account for this in these mockups.

Achroma Comparison

Can you use a scrappy background fabric or more than one background fabric? 

Yes, but it will give your quilt a little bit of a different look. Here is an example where I used 2 different background fabrics — one color on one side of the block and another color on the other side. If you decide to try this, I definitely recommend downloading the coloring sheet for the pattern and planning out your layout before you start sewing.

The Phoebe Quilt 2 Backgrounds

You can also use a scrappy background. I do this frequently when I am making scrap quilts. When I use a solid as a background fabric, I usually have a few inches leftover and I end up with a few inches of a bunch of different shades of white. Here is an example of what that might look like for the Phoebe Quilt.

The Phoebe Quilt Scrappy Background

What am I using for my quilt?

Good question. I don't know yet! I have a couple of jelly rolls in my stash, but I am leaning toward the fat eighth bundle of Strawberries and Friends that I recently bought. I need to check my stash to see if I have a background fabric that would work for the project. I am also considering cutting my own jelly roll from various Carolyn Friedlander prints that I have in my stash. I don't know! Decisions are hard!

If you have picked your fabrics, or if you need some help making a decision, post a photo on Instagram using the #phoebeqal hashtag. If we all follow this hashtag, we can keep track of what everyone is making and offer advice and words of encouragement to each other.

Comments 6

Kathy on

Oh, that two color background is fabulous! I’m not that daring this time around, maybe next time though!

Marie Haag on

Paula, page 2 Fabric requirements show the background yardage for each quilt size.

Marie Haag on

Sonia, at the very top of that page in Cutting Instructions it says 120 2.5×6.5 strips. Take 1/3 of that number. This saves space in writing for Erica as she would have had to put the numbers down for each quilt size which for some people is confusing to see all of those numbers in ( ).

Val on

Speaking of scrappy background, I’ve a jelly roll of low volume off white ish strips already. If I’m doing the math right I could just use that as the background fabric? Is that right? (Needing 36 or less of those strips at 42" long each?) That could be a fun way to go about it

Sonia B on

Can you please post the exact amount of the 2.5 × 6.5 pieces we need not 1/3 of them? No one else patterns are written like this.

Paula on

Somehow I am not seeing how much fabric I will need for the background if I am using yardage.

Leave a comment