This is how I start my sewing day. Usually, I’ve spent some time during the week thinking about what a few fabrics I want to try. Think of it as Mama-meditation, or being distracted by thinking about fabric while biking to school, cutting fruit, watching toddlers eat lunch, and on and on. In the morning, I clear some space, pull out a few starting pieces (these are usually the bolder patterns) and then start looking for good pairings in the stash. It all sounds so simple, but over the years I’ve had to learn a lot in order to make it work.
In the beginning, there were pretty fabrics that called to me among the bolts and I would snatch them up and take them home. There would follow many moons of gazing at these treasures and wondering what to do with them. Slowly, I learned about pattern weight and how a pattern might read as a solid. I saw that a geometric pattern needs to be combined differently than an organic pattern. It has been and continues to be a huge learning experience that I enjoy thoroughly.
The first picture shows some combinations I put together for card holders (more on those soon). It’s a messy start and not always clear to me how they are going to look when I cut and sew them. I take a picture at this stage so I have a reference for later. Sometimes things get moved around or I have to stop in the middle of my work, so the pictures is a helpful reference.
The next two pictures are pairings I made for bibs this week (and yes – more on those soon, too!). The print on the bottom matches each of the three on top – three pairs, so three bibs. The middle picture (the colorful rulers) are an example of prints that read as solids. I love these kinds of prints. They’re just the kind of little detail that tickles me. I love the red on red snowflake that doesn’t look like a snowflake and have really gotten hooked on the linen look fabrics as well. Polka dots I’m not so sure about, but the red on red here I can manage. I also like that the dots here aren’t perfect circles. They soften the rigid pattern of the polka dots.
The last picture show more pairings for bibs. I Love the bright colors of that yellow print (it’s American Jane’s Magic Beans for Moda). I decided to pair it with solids, so the print can shine. For me, it’s an example of a strong geometric pattern that I’d rather compliment than try to match. Some of the fabrics I find are so beautiful – the only thing I want to do is try to find ways to bring out different elements of the beauty I see.
The idea of pairing fabrics for accessories comes from admiring countless beautiful quilts online over the past few years. There are a lot of daring quilters out there who put together bold patterns with wild abandon. One of my favorites is Maureen Cracknell. The things she does with a pile of fabric are mind boggling. While I can appreciate the approach, it doesn’t speak to me. On the other hand, finding six different pairings for one fabric and seeing how each of them work out, it has the potential to send my little heart soaring. Of course, it also often stars me on list making to buy more fabric, but that’s another issue entirely.