We quilters love love love fabric. I admit to wanting to marry cotton. No, really. I love the entire tactile experience of working with cotton in patchwork and handquilting. So when it comes to selecting fabrics for quilts, I consider colors, prints and texture.
Which hues, tones, and color combos to use is a normal set of early decisions along with scale(s) of prints. I generally make those choices with balance in mind and tend to second-guess myself. Those decisions should be more of a gut instinct about what the patchworker appreciates rather than there being a formula we are all required to apply. And I feel quite free to change my mind midway into a project if things just aren’t working out.
I knew that I wanted George to be crisp. That was the only idea in my mind. So primarily solids seemed the way to go in order to emphasize angularity in design. Because I was in the middle of piecing the blocks of this quilt top at the time,
I chose to stick with the same tonal range of blues; these are the Gee’s Bend semisolid blues made by Windham. The leftover piece of the orange/yellow dots could provide some small bit(s) of contrast just for fun.
I only needed to add a neutral. And this is where the texture could be achieved. When sticking to regular quilting cottons, Kona’s snow or white are standard go-to choices. But this nascent idea required something else: flour sacking. It is an unbleached natural loose-weave cotton cloth that is only slightly heavier than Kona and costs half as much. I buy it by the ton online from Reproduction Fabrics and pre-shrink a few yards at a time to keep it ready to go in the stash. Here you can see the texture before (right) and after (left) shrinkage.
In its raw state, this flour sacking is the definition of crisp and has served me well in the past. It has a rustic hand that just gets softer and softer over time.
I made a full-size white-on-white log cabin quilt with unshrunk flour sacking. This photo shows the swatch I made in order to calculate the expected shrinkage (which was 20%, by the way). I think this photo gives a better sense for the amount/type of texture to expect. Even when pre-shrunk before being pieced, the fabric will shrink a tiny bit more in the first wash of the resulting quilt to give that vintage-like wrinkly quilt goodness.
Tomorrow: The first incarnation of George.