How to make a Quilt Question 2

Think about this question a bit.  Especially for those who make quilts similar to the colors shown in the pattern, you may be doing so without realizing it.  When people send me pictures of quilts made from my patterns, I’m often surprised at how similar they are to the colors used in the pattern.

When we did the Bears in the Farmhouse Quiltalong, I was very happy to see how many people went off on their own and used colors completely different from what I had shown.  One quilter used a turquoise for the background and it was gorgeous!

Here’s the question #2:

When you see a pattern you want to make, are you more likely to:

(1)  Make the quilt in fabrics/colors as close as possible to the quilt shown on the pattern;

(2)  Ask the quilt shop ladies to help you choose the fabrics and then buy whatever they suggest . . without regard to whether you love it or not.  I know you wouldn’t buy it if you hate it but if they suggest something you’re not head over heels in love with, would you still buy it and then use it in that quilt?

(3)  Go home and “shop” your stash and see what you can come up with before buying fabric?  If so, do you still try to duplicate the colors shown on the pattern?

(4) Totally go with fabrics you want without regard to anything shown on the pattern.

Again, please don’t provide more info than what I’ve asked for.  There will be other questions to answer.



  1. 1


    Usually #4. I’m making your stash project quilt in colors that are similar to yours because that’s out of my comfort zone.

  2. 2


    I’m between #3 and 4.

    Shopping my stash is always first. I usually don’t aim to make a pattern with the fabrics they picked, unless it’s in my favorite colors.

    A lot of times the first thing I’ll do with a pattern is see if a black background with hand dyed fabrics would work well. That’s my favorite combination to work with.

  3. 3


    I purposely choose to not make the quilt exactly like the pattern; then I figure out the fabric trying to keep the values the same. For fabric choice I have done all the options — asked for help, shopped the stash & purchased all new.

  4. 4


    I try to shop the stash first. But usually have to buy needed background fabric if there is more than a yard needed for the pattern. Interesting questions.

  5. 5


    I shop my stash first. I rarely use the same colors as the pattern, but then I don’t always USE a pattern. I can usually find most of what I need in my stash and then go to the store and buy whatever is missing. Like you, I have about 70-80% of my stash is tone on tones because that is what I like the most.

  6. 6


    Usually 3. I try to use my stash then add fabrics if needed. Even so I usually try not to duplicate colors in the pattern.

  7. 7

    Kristie says

    Definitely #1 🙂 And hunting for the EXACT fabrics is part of the fun!!!

  8. 10


    I am definitly number 3 and 4. I see a pattern and will shop the stash. If there isn’t enough of one key fabric I could go in a completely different direction because I have enough of something totally different.

    • 11.1

      lesthook says

      I used to be a number 1. But I am finding that more and more I shop my own stash and stray completely from the colors of the pattern.. And I am making more quilts with no pattern or something I have sketched. My latest quilt was completely sew as you go.

  9. 13


    I am a #1. I don’t have much of a stash. I have stopped buying fabric unless I have a definite use for it. I found that I usually would not like the fabric a year or two later! I love kits or charm squares, layer cakes etc. I have not been quilting for many years and have not made many quilts. All of this may change as I make more quilts.

  10. 15


    I usually don’t buy patterns just for piecing anymore, unless its for a class that I will be teaching…….I will purchase the pattern if there is applique because I’m no good at drawing and its easier and faster to do what someone else has already drawn. Answering the question….I’m most like #4/

    What I would also add which sorta relates to this……….we are so influenced by the picture that is on the front cover. I think good photography aids in a pattern selling. I have made some great quilts from patterns that had very bad photography, most of the time these patterns don’t sell as well as a result of the bad picture, and we are missing out on some great quilts because its tough to get by our inital reaction to a pattern which is the picture. So when I’m looking for a pattern, I explore the elements of the quilt, trying my hardest to avoid looking at the colors…… tough to do that but with a few exercises it gets easier.

    Very good topic Judy………..making us think about how we do things.

    Karen L

  11. 16

    Ronda K Beyer says

    I choose my own colors, I generally won’t finish a quilt if I don;t love the fabrics I am working with… I am a play by myself quilter so I generally don’t want help I like the journey from start to finish of a quilt except when it comes to ripping… Great questions Judy

  12. 17

    Karen S says

    4. I have so many prospective patterns saved to my computer that if I don’t find what I need in my stash I move on to another pattern.

  13. 18

    Linda says

    I am definitely #4 and would very much like to shop my stash first…. but it just doesn’t usually happen. I have to buy new. I guess I just like to look at my full shelves.

  14. 20

    Rona says

    Used to be a 1, moving toward 2 & 3 and really want to be able to be at 4. If I pull from the stash they typically resemble closely the materials in the pattern.

  15. 21

    Kerstin says

    #4. I usually alter the pattern, too. Sometimes just the size, other times major changes.

  16. 22


    I generally don’t start with the pattern. Mostly fabric speaks to me and then I find a pattern. However, when I do start with the pattern it is because the fabric used in the pattern speaks to me, so I tend to use the same type fabric (especially the colors).

  17. 23

    Julie H. says

    Occasionally #1 (hunting the exact fabrics is fun), sometimes #3, sometimes #4 though watching the “values,” and never #2.

  18. 24


    My first attraction to a pattern is because of the colored picture on the front. I find myself buying patterns because I like the colorway the designer used. I’ve probably passed over hundreds of gorgeous quilts because the colors on the front of the pattern didn’t appeal to me. Getting better about seeing past that now.

  19. 25

    Lisa says

    I’m working on my 6th quilt. Of all my quilts, the first one was almost identical in color. The fourth quilt was similiar, but not identical. All of the others have been totally different!

  20. 26

    Denise says

    If I buy a pattern, many times it’s because I’ve got a fabric in the stash I know will be perfect for it or, well a fabric just might jump off the shelf at the quilt shop that is perfect. I tend to listen when fabric screams at me from the shop shelves. Quilt shop employees, while most have very good taste and a great sense of color – their tastes are not my tastes – I might end up with ditzy, pastelly florals and you know I don’t handle those well Judy! 🙂

  21. 27

    Katie says

    Sometimes #1, sometimes #4. Depends on what the pattern picture looks like and who the quilt will be for.

  22. 28


    I have done both — made quilts with the same colors and not. If the sample is an absolute knockout, I’ll choose colors that are pretty close. I’ve only done that two or three times, though. I usually try to imagine what a pattern will look like with all different colors first. Also, I will try to imagine it will the opposite colors; for example, if it has a light background, I will try to picture it with a black background. Occasionally I will have a color scheme in mind and make the pattern using those.

    I teach a class through the park & rec, and I present three new projects each session. I am always excited to see if the students will change the colors around — I love it when they do! But at least half of the time they will choose the same colors, sometimes even go out and find the very same fabrics, that are in my sample. It is very common. In a perfect world where I had an infinite amount of time, I would make each sample a few times in different color schemes so they could see how different the same quilt could be with different colors…

    I don’t think I’ve ever had the quilt shop ladies choose my fabrics for me. They have made some good suggestions when I was wavering on my choices, though!

  23. 29


    I am usually a #4, starting with the focal fabric first. I usually do end up shopping my stash, but that totally depends on the look I am wanting. If there is nothing in my stash that produces the picture I have in my mind then it is off to the quilt shop for just the right fabrics. I really want to make any quilt pattern I use to be “mine” by making something very different than what is shown. That way I don’t see a quilt just like mine hanging in every quilt show I attend.


  24. 31


    #4 for me too. I used to make the quilt shop lady cranky when she would help me pick fabrics cause there was always 2 or 3 she didn’t think would work but I am stubborn and I want to use what I like.

  25. 32

    Cindy says

    Totally #1. I would love to be one of the other 3, but, sorry. That’s just how I’m made.

  26. 33


    Wow, interesting questions, Judy! (1) I used to have to see the quilt made up in colors I liked, then I would basically clone that quilt. Now I love to “make it my own”, sometimes by totally changing the colors and fabric styles, and sometimes I reverse the light and dark values. (2) I don’t seek out advice in the shops, but if someone offers a suggestion that is kind of off the wall to me, I always consider it. (3) I’m better than I used to be about shopping my stash first, thanks to you, Judy!

  27. 34

    Linda C says

    Sometimes what draws me to a pattern is how the colors the designer used work with that pattern. In that case I’m going for similar fabrics (never exactly the same as the pattern) from stash or purchased. Once I find the focal fabric, everything goes from there and I shop the stash or store to fabrics that will complement it.

    That’s one of the reasons I’ve started designing in EQ in grayscale rather than colors, so I can have more options in what I use to actually make the quilt.

    I only take the quilt shop’s suggestion when they’re right (ie I agree with them.) ;-p

  28. 35


    # 1. I am mostly visual, so when I see something made up and I like it, that is what I want. I have a hard time “seeing” the pattern in a different color way. I really don’t like the quilt shop lady to show me all the colors “she” likes, unless I am really stuck.

  29. 36


    Mostly # 3….probably 95% of the time….and # 4 the rest of the time. I very rarely try to mimic the colors in a pattern UNLESS it’s something very specific like a patriotic pattern and then I certainly would use red/white/blue and not something like purple/green/pink!!!

  30. 38


    For me it really depends upon the pattern, but I do lean a little bit more towards using similar colors as shown in the pattern as that is what usually draws me to the pattern.

  31. 39

    pdudgeon says

    i do #’s 1, 3, and 4,
    (1) Make the quilt in fabrics/colors as close as possible to the quilt shown on the pattern;
    (3) Go home and “shop” your stash and see what you can come up with before buying fabric? If so, do you still try to duplicate the colors shown on the pattern? (4) Totally go with fabrics you want without regard to anything shown on the pattern.

    I haven’t asked a shop person for help with fabric for about 9 years now.

  32. 40

    Robin says

    I’m a #1 sometimes a #2 ( though I wouldn’t buy something I didn’t like) but hope one day to be a 3 or 4!!!!

  33. 41


    What attracts me to the quilt is how the person put it together, so if the colours are awful, I don’t buy the pattern. Do I want a repica?? Not usually, I don’t buy the line of fabric it was done in, but – I do use their color recomedations.
    And I ask for help choosing my fabrics. Sometimes I do buy yucky!! but, it works – and that is what I am looking for. If I hate it, no it does not come home with me!!!
    So, # 1 and 2 for sure.

    Do I shop my stash???? If it needs a ceratin colour and I have it, and it will go, yes, I use it. But I don’t really have enought to shop the stash completly. For the Stash Busting projects I have found here, yes, I used all them from my stash, but I also am not trying to win prizes, or am planning on giving them as gifts. They are fun and for me to use. Utitlity quilts!! 😉 Totally useful, but not so pretty!!
    So, #3 is a yes too.
    #4. I have not made alot of quilts ( lets be honest here, I don’t quilt – I make tops, so…) If I found a pattern that I really liked – I could see myself defintly doing it ‘my way’ in regards to colours. I just have not done that yet. Not really. When it says to use a jelly roll, I find one that I like and use that – does that count for being a rebel?? 😉

    god question. I don’t think I really answered it though. I said yes to them all……

  34. 43

    Norece says

    I have been known to do all of them. My husbands thinks I should make the quilt look like the pattern and in pleasing him I have left it up to the quilt shop to find the perfect fabrics for the pattern. #4 would be the one I do the most.

  35. 44

    Carol says

    Usually #4 with a dash of shopping my own small stash. Of course, if it’s a particular kind of quilt, like a scenic (I have an appliqued fish pattern from Alaska, for example), I’m likely to try to use similar colors if possible.

  36. 46

    Linda says

    I don’t have a very big stash but I do look there first then #4…I like to use patterns but then change them to make them more “mine”!

  37. 47


    I usually go with # 4. Since I am a former shop owner I felt it was important to think “outside” the box and try new combinations. I remember one time putting together colors and fabrics that were not selling. I sold out of both colors in no time. Most of my customers liked me to help them pick the fabrics. I always made them choose at least one fabric to start and then gave many options of what could be used with that fabric. Rarely did I actually choose any fabrics. The most difficult pattern for me to choose fabrics for is the traditional log cabin.

  38. 48

    julie says

    This is hard to answer, and I even went away to think about it.
    I am a #1, since it is the colors of the quilt pattern that attracted me to it.
    If I make the quilt twice, then I am a #4.

  39. 49

    CarolE/UP says

    I enjoy picking out my own colors, if not from my stash then from the LQS or online.

  40. 50


    I usually “Shop My Stash” first. If I need a specific color or fabric to round out the quilt and it isn’t in my stash, I will try to find it at a store. Alot of times I just find a quilt block pattern w/out specific colors, so it is easier to use my own color plans.

    Trish in Kansas

  41. 53


    I am more likely to do #3 first (but not necessarily choose fabrics like the pattern, unless they are colors/or fabrics that I really like. If I am unsuccessful, I then go to #4, again unless the fabrics/colors on the pattern are ones I would choose anyway.

  42. 54

    Bobbie says

    I try to do #4, but get nervous about what I’ve picked–but I usually pick my own, unless the picture of the pattern is exactly me. Hugs, Bobbie

  43. 55

    Karla says

    I would do number 4, I pick my colors that appeal to me and how I think they would look with the quilt pattern.

  44. 56

    Laura says

    #4, definitely, combined with #3 as I always shop my stash first. I am never driven to duplicate the colors in the pattern unless they are the colors I would choose anyway for my own version. I can’t see myself ever doing #2 as that is way too much control by other people over my quilt LOL.

  45. 58


    3 & 4… I am too shy to talk to the quilt shop ladies! And since the assistant is usually running with me, picking her own fabric, I don’t usually dawdle long enough to determine the entire quilt palette at the shop. I like to work in blues and greens, so I usually change patterns to work with that, and I like to pick a few things from my stash, then buy more to fill out the edges.

  46. 62

    dawn says

    I do #4 totally go with fabrics that I want. I dont like cookie cutter quilts that copy the one made. I like to see it done in different colors, putting the lights where maybe the darks were etc to see a different design emerge.

  47. 63

    Lizzy Hentze says

    I’m a number 4 girl – I try really hard to see the design of the quilt and not the fabrics it is made up in.

  48. 64

    Diana says

    I would use #3 and then if I need something more, go shopping and maybe ask for help with colors but usually don’t pick the same stuff shown in the pattern.

  49. 65


    I’m a #4 girl myself… I often will draw up a pattern in EQ and look at it in different colors/fabrics to see how it will look.

  50. 67

    Lyl says

    I am unable to use a pattern without changing it – usually completely re-drafting. I like to think of them as jumping-off points, because I always want more blocks, or less, or bigger quilt, or no border, or not quite as complicated … so by the time I’ve changed the block, altered the layout, gotten rid of the border and made everything half as big again, there’s no way I could stick with the fabrics in the original pattern. It all gets overtaken by events for me.

    When it comes to picking fabric for whatever pattern I end up with / invent, I go to the stash.

  51. 68

    Sherry B says

    I’m a newbie and do 1, 3 and 4. If I really like the way a color combination plays
    together, I try to do my own similar version. I only have a small stash but try to
    pull from it now that I’m on a tighter fabric budget. And now that I’m starting to
    get a little color confidence, I’m starting to go my own way with color.

  52. 71


    HI Judy,
    I do a combination of number 3 and 4. I shop in my stash after I find a pattern that I want to make- sometimes I find two combinations of colors that I want to make and make two quilts – occasionally it turns into a series of quilts LOL.
    I like the quilt to be a reflection of me so I like to choose my own color combinations.
    Fun question, Judy!

  53. 72


    I’d like to think #4. Which is why I’m not big into kits. Having said that, I’ll admit my Kansas Trouble Fabrics will end up in KTQ patterns, and I have bought 2 other kits – which I still haven’t made up. Of course if I actually compared my quilts and quilt tops with the patterns, I might see something else entirely. There are the BOMs I’ve done, and my Egg Money quilt and Scrapy Hearts are both done in 1930 as the pattern shows. Hum… maybe I need to actually look and see what the truth is.

  54. 73

    Cynthia H., El Cerrito, CA says

    Somewhere between #3 and #4. I like my own color combinations, but sometimes can tell that I’ll run out of a given value before finishing the quilt top. (Backs are completely on their own!)

  55. 75


    I will choose my own fabrics (#4) unless the pattern is just a knock out in ‘my colors’. If I’m that attracted to the picture on the pattern because of the color, I’ll try to follow along and that would be a #1. Hmmm… tough questions and making me search my reasoning for why I made certain quilts in certain colors.

  56. 76


    I go with #3. I shop my stash first and buy more only if needed. I never go with colors similar to the pattern. I think playing with color is my favorite part of quilting.

  57. 77


    4 will that be, but sometimes they just design it in fabric I totally like and than it will look a lot like what the designer did. In the beginning I was more a kit person, not anymore.

  58. 81


    Sometimes it depends. There are times when I love the colors shown on the pattern I want to do. Other times the colors don’t really speak to me and I go through my stash to find what I like. I guess it just depends on my mood at that time. 🙂
    These questions are fun!!

  59. 82


    I usually do #3 and #4. I love picking out the fabric and coordinating it so I don’t often ask for help and I don’t think I’d ever purchase a fabric I didn’t like because the shop lady picked it.

  60. 83


    #3 and #4~ I don’t think I’ve ever had a shop help me choose fabric, I love doing that! I usually check my stash and if I need a coordinate or a larger piece for background, purchase it. I have followed pattern colors if I really, really like the colors, but most times I go with my favorite palettes.

  61. 86

    Deb S says

    Definately #4 – right now, it’s batiks – everything can be made in batiks – the biggest question is dark/light backgrounds.

  62. 89


    hhmm,, you made me think! I always shop my stash, but with the Bears in the Farmhouse, I did use your fabric ideas,, not completely but mostly ( grin ). That isn’t usual for me — I’m usually the maverick and do my own thing.

    hhmmm,,, Judy,,, for me to be a copy-cat, you must have had the fabric that choices that I really really liked on that quilt!

  63. 90

    Sharon says

    #4- I look at a pattern always with the intent of using something I already have. Unless it is for a special gift or project.

  64. 91

    Traci says

    I usually do either 3 &/or 4. Depending on the color of the pattern & who/what I’m making it for.

  65. 93


    I usually draft my own patterns in EQ and play with different colorways until something appeals to me. I don’t have a large enough stash to “shop” for a complete quilt top so I’m a #4 quilter.

  66. 96


    I would say #1 .. when I buy a pattern first, it’s often because I’m drawn to the fabrics and colour choices used too. I seem to buy mainly applique or unique scrappy patterns. I usually shop stash before I buy the fabrics though.

  67. 100

    Pat B says

    I do a little of both 1 and 4 but am more likely to go my own way with color and types of fabric

  68. 101

    Kathy C. says

    Well, the very first quilting class I took was based on a pattern. I didn’t want to screw it up too badly and bought similar colors from wally-world for 2 bucks/yard… (yep, I’ll never do that again! It was hard to quilt!) I learned from the experience how to really read the pattern and now I’m more comfortable choosing colors/fabrics that I like.

  69. 102

    Rebecca says

    Pretty much #3, but partly because of the “theme” of the patterns, or because I really liked the look. However, a two-color pattern had me choosing my own two colors.

  70. 103


    I almost always use my own fabrics/colors although I’ve been know to make a note of color schemes I like and use them in a completely different quilt — usually in a scrappy version.

  71. 104


    It depends, sometimes I will try and follow the fabric color in the pattern with my own fabrics and other times I will use my own color scheme. I rarely use the fabric line shown with the pattern.

  72. 105


    I will usually make my own choice of fabric/colours, but a sample might somehow get stored away in my brain and then pop out and influence me at a later date

  73. 106


    Sorry, I’m catching up on my blog reading so I am a little late to the discussion:

    1. Usually have an idea of what or where I want to use the finished design so usually want it in my own colors.

    2. Have never consulted with the quilt shop ladies — when I go in a store I usually already have an idea about what I want/need.

    3. Ever since doing your “Stashbuster” challenge I am shopping the stash way more now at the start than I used to. Before I would only shop the stash to fill in in an emergency. Even then, colors chosen will depend on the use for the quilt.

    4. Happens most of the time and is part of the thrill — to try to make it “different”.