Tuesday, January 19, 2016

gypsy wife quilt along 2016 - fabric selection

 this is my pile of gypsy wife fabrics. i will need no where near this much fabric to complete the quilt, but this is where i go when i'm making a block and need fabric. this is the gathering of fabrics that would work in the quilt. my original pull is much smaller, but over the two years i've been working on the project, i've added and added pieces that seem right to me.

there are dozens of beautiful gypsy wife quilts out there, each with a unique feel and/or theme to it. over the next few weeks, i plan to introduce you to some of them. there is no right or wrong way to go here. i've seen gypsy wifes (wives?) that were all solids, all low-volume, all one designer, or all scrap stash and completely random. mainly, just pick a theme or mood and get pulling fabric. this is certainly a quilt that can take a huge spectrum of variety or would look great with a pared down palette, too.

 for me, when i began gathering fabrics, i was looking for things that said "gypsy" to me. instinctively, i know what this means. putting it into words is a little harder. but here goes!

admittedly, my idea of "gypsy" is personal and completely romanticized. when i think "gypsy" i think rich euorpean fabrics that represent their wanderings over the continent, a motley collection of scraps patched together out of thrift and necessity, bohemian style, rich colors. the image of the gypsy caravan, with it's outdoor camping lifestyle is conjured, so there's a certain element of "picnic" woven into my theme. and maybe a tiny bit of "circus" with trained animals because i think of gypsies as travelling performers.

as far as my color palette goes, when i first saw the quilt pattern, it seemed to me there was a predominance of red (my favorite!) and that appealed to me a lot. so i have tried to incorporate a lot of red in many tints, tones, and shades, which means a variety of pinks, too. yellow, blue, and green also feature strongly as supporting colors. orange and purple are not present, except maybe a few strokes included in some very colorful prints. if you look at the pattern cover, the original gypsy wife has lots of bright colors interspersed with many greys. i like the way they play off each other in that quilt. however, i haven't used many neutrals other than whites and creams in my own palette.

 my print selections can be grouped into several distinct categories i have purposely tried to include. first, there are the rich, busy prints with lots of colors. these are large scale prints and i use them for the biggest sections of the blocks. this is a place you'll find some AMH and Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry and Heather Bailey.

there are a few novelty prints that say "gyspy" to me, which i use for fussy cutting block centers.

 to support these busier prints, i have some monochromatic prints with the right feel and lots of dots, mostly because i noticed several dots in ms. kingwell's original gypsy wife quilt. dots make great supporting fabrics or layers in the blocks. and they are really good for the strips, too.

these ditsy florals and small scale geometric prints are also supporting fabrics in the blocks and are used for strips.

 stripes. i've used stripes a lot in supporting roles, too.

 and there is a stack of solid colored fabrics to break up the business of the quilt and give those prints a bit of room to breathe. i haven't used the solids a lot but find i like them as borders for the blocks that have borders since they will help separate the blocks from other elements surrounding them. i've also used the solids in some of the blocks with multiple layers to give the prints there some room, too.

i've gathered lots of low volume (light) prints to use as the backgrounds in blocks, and to add depth and variety to the strips.

the pattern fabric requirements are pretty vague, and for good reason. this is a scrappy quilt. the designer, ms. kingwell, is of the opinion "the more fabrics the better." and i agree. you won't need very much of any one fabric at all.

i started out by pulling from stash and then buying 1/4yd cuts of the fabrics i thought would compliment what i had gathered. because this quilt consists of many long strips, i think traditionally cut 1/4 yds are more versatile than fat quarters. but don't throw out the fat quarters if you already have them! this is just a tip for buying.

 i have a collection of scraps set aside that can be used in the blocks. there are some tiny components to some of the blocks, so put your little cut off pieces in one pile and dig through them when those small pieces are called for.

i've also been keeping a pile of strips put aside on a platter. when i was following the "make all the blocks in order they appear in the book" system, i was cutting a strip every time i cut into a new fabric. this way i didn't have to cut all 60 strips at the end. this will still work for the "make each section" system of attack, too.  you'll just need to cut a handful of strips at the beginning so you can put together the first few sections.

and while we're on the topic of strips, i need to say the info on the back of the pattern is confusing, or at least misleading.

the fabric requirements on the back of the pattern call for several 4" x wof strips and a few 2" x wof strips. however, the strips actually used in the pattern are 1.5" cut (1" finished) and 1" cut (1/2" finished). you could certainly cut your needed strips from those called for if you already had those sizes on hand. just don't cut your strips at those widths on purpose because you will be cutting again and wasting a lot of fabric.

i hope this has helped you think about what your gypsy wife will be.
next month we will have a link party for sharing fabric selections. in the meantime, please ask questions.

we're on instagram at #GypsyWifeQuiltAlong2016


  1. that is a gorgeous pile of fabrics, Hydee! I can't wait to see your progress!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  2. I agree, gorgeous!!!! I'm partial to the ditzy florals and geometrics (love DS!!!) and the low volume. My colors are orange, yellow, magenta, and red that I have been collecting about 2 years now. It's a pretty nice like at this point!

  3. Oh, do you know what the first part will be for the qal?

  4. Wow,sure you will have fun playing with those beauties.How many fabrics are there?Your quilt will be fantastic.Happysewing!


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