I think it is safe to say that most quilters are fabric lovers. We tend to collect stashes and buy fabrics in large quantities simply because they are beautiful. Admit it. We’re fabri-holics. Sometimes we find that one piece that just really speaks to you, and it inspires you to create something truly amazing. The fabrics that tend to inspire me are the prints that have large images. Not just panels, but fabrics that have that large repeated picture of a rose, or a mermaid, or a flamingo. When you find those fabrics, you want to make a quilt that really shows them off, not chop them up and camouflage them into an intricately pieced block. Here are a few examples from our longarm machine renters of how to make a focal fabric really work for you.
Directional Focal Fabric
This is Joyce’s Woodland block crib blanket that she used for her certification class. She made it for her grandson. The beauty of this design is that the border is also the focal fabric. Those frames in the blocks just seem to float on top. She quilted this with the bubble design board we have available for our renters. It adds a nice contrast to the squares. Of course the trick with this design is keeping all fabric going in the same direction. It takes some planning.
Secondary Design with Focal Fabric blocks
Another example is this quilt from Beverly. Similar to Joyce’s, she also used the focal fabric in the border. But her frames are different. I really like the stripes of the matching green fabric. I could imagine that you could create any number of designs in the background, like a diamond. She quilted this with a meander that looks very nice on this floral quilt. Sometimes you really don’t need an additional design to complete a look.
Two Fabric Quilts
I chose this quilt by JoAnna because it really only has two fabrics. You can make a focal fabric stand out by simply not having anything else for it to compete with. She also used a focal fabric in the border which makes the alternate fabric seem to sit on top. She quilted this with Bolero, a paper pantograph. It is essentially a meander that curls around into s-shapes. So the butterflies in the print feel like they are winding their way between blossoms.
Simple Focal Fabric quilts
Sometimes making a fabric stand out is as simple as making the quilt simple. Trina made these quilts one after the other onto the same backing. That can really save time as she only needed to load the backing once. The quilt on the left is a simple block quilt, but you can see how that yellow fabric, while it is admittedly a background to the blue and orange squares, really shines. The quilt on the right isn’t much more complicated. She sewed blocks of a cute dinosaur print with sashing and cornerstones. I love how she used the two colors of sashing and cornerstones to put that zig zag stripe across it. Both quilts were completed with a meander, proving that simple can be beautiful.
More than one Focal Fabric
Colleen gives us our last example of ways to accent a focal fabric. She found these licensed prints of Disney princesses and made this charming quilt for her lucky granddaughter. Each print was made into an eight pointed star set in a white background. She also used her focal fabric in the border. The little princess who gets this is going to feel all the love Colleen put into it. Literally, Colleen chose to quilt this beauty with Whole Lotta Love. This paper pantograph is a fun mix of hearts in all sizes.
Next time you find that fabric that seems to call your name and beg to be purchased, don’t hesitate to act. Those beautiful large prints can make incredible focal fabrics for your next quilt.