How to Pick Fabric to Make a Quilt

Sewing with Stacey Lee

How to pick fabric to make a quilt is part of a free online beginners quiltmaking course, if you would like to join along please sign up for the newsletter, details here.

For me, picking the fabric for a quilt is the most fun part of the process, which is probably why I have more fabric than finished quilts. When you also have this dilemma you’ll know, you too have the quilting bug!

If you are new to quilting and fabric you may want to start with this post all about quilting fabric here.

Picking fabric for your quilt should be a fun process, so try not to get too hung up on your fabric choices. As long as you love the fabric you have chosen, that is all that matters. It’s your quilt and your piece of sewn art.

I am going to teach you how I pick my fabric. I’m sure there are all sorts of formulas you can use, but I get along quite nicely using just a few basic rules and tips.

Head to your local fabric store, this might be Hobby Lobby, Joanns, or a quilting shop. If you are going to one of the first two you need to make sure you buy 100% quilting cotton, it can be a little confusing, and fabrics do get mixed up in the bigger department stores. If you are going to a quilting shop, it will be all organized nicely in designer collections and by color.


The most important rule to picking your fabric for your quilt is starting with a fabric you love – this is going to be your star fabric. Once you have a fabric you love, you can work from there. It’s ideal if the fabric has at least three colors, this will allow you to add other fabrics quickly. Because it ties all the fabrics together, you may want to use double of this fabric in your quilt.

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This is the fabric I chose as my star fabric in my YouTube video.

Using the fabric pictured above I can now use the same tones of purple, green/aqua, white.


Once you have the fabric you love – your star fabric – start setting aside any other fabrics that may work.

Ideas on how to find more fabrics are as follows:


Quite often you will find that the fabric you have picked is part of a collection, it will have a range of other fabrics that work perfectly with it. For example, it might be the same design but another color, or it might be a completely different design but exactly the same colors. These fabrics are all designed to work together. This is particularly true when it comes to designer fabrics that you can find online or in specialty quilt shops.

SL Quilting Fabric
I felt that these fabrics were part of the same family. Unfortunately, they aren’t labeled to easily work it out.


Find any other fabrics that you think will work. Don’t be fussy at this stage, take the fabric you love and hold it up against any of the fabric that could work, if it has potential, set it aside.


Now you have gathered all of your fabrics for consideration, you can work out which to keep and which to discard. Keep in mind how many fabrics you may need.

To help you decide which fabrics to go with, there are a few more things to consider.  


It’s important that you don’t have all the same scale of prints, unless of course, this is part of your design. Ideally, you will have a range of scale of prints, for example, little polka dots and large flowers. Having different scales adds interest, depth, and contrast to your quilt.

It’s important to note that the scale of the print should make sense with the size of the fabric pieces you are cutting, for example, you don’t want to use fabric with a very big scale when you are using it for small pieces, this would lose the essence of the print.

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The top row is plain, the bottom left row is small scale and bottom right is medium scale


Add different shades of the same color, you might have purple and want to add two or three shades of the same purple. You will soon know if it’s not the right shade because it won’t sit well with the other fabrics.

SL Quilting Fabric
Using the above techniques these are the fabrics I picked to use.


Designer fabrics come in collections that go perfectly together, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of picking your fabrics. You do have to pay a premium for this, but designer fabrics are almost always better quality than in chain store fabric.  

Below is an example of a fat quarter set from Free Spirit. You can see that it all works beautifully together and they have incorporated a lot of different colors which will make a fabulous quilt.

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This post is part of an online course to learn quilt making, to find out what tools you need click here.

To find out more about my free online quilting course click here.

Thanks for popping by my blog!

Stacey x

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18 thoughts on “How to Pick Fabric to Make a Quilt

  1. Kathy Puckett says:

    What size will the squares be? How much material will we need? I can’t wait! Thank you for offering this class.

  2. Kathy Mullanney says:

    If I can’t attend this class if I sign up for the newsletter will the next YouTube beginners quilting class be in there?

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Kathy, I am not sure exactly how a second class will work. But if you are signed up you will get all the emails and can do it at your own pace. Thanks, Stacey x

  3. Susan Crowl says:

    Can’t wait for the class. My biggest problem is choosing colors that go together. Hoping this will help me and inspire me. Thank you for this info

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Susan, welcome to the club! I hope you found the blog post and YouTube video helpful. Just remember so long as you love it, that’s all that matters 🙂

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Anna, did you watch my YouTube video, I kind of explain this in Hobby Lobby, sometimes you need to hunt around in the bigger chain stores. If you go to an independently owned quilting fabric shops they will be all grouped for you. Designer fabric is found at the smaller quilting fabric shops and yes you can buy online. Some of the shops I like are:
      and you can even find them on Amazon

      In this Fridays email there will be a link to my latest blog post going through this a litle more 🙂

  4. Debbie Christmas says:

    Stacey, how many fat quarters or how much fabric will we need for the top? (I.e. 10 different fat quarters for 8 different 1/4 yard fabrics, etc.)

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