Finding the right fabrics for art quilts

Trees 37

I’ve been making art quilts for almost 10 years.  My studio looks like a fabric shop with around 500 or more different fabrics…AND YET…there always seems to be a unique color or design I’m looking for.  My late husband used to joke that he hoped my quilt business would at least pay for my fabric habit!  It has and more!  

I have come to a road block though with one fabric, a birch tree design fabric.  It is shown in this photo of a tree art quilt I made recently, using the very last of the birch tree fabric in this quilt. I have purchased about five other birch bark fabrics but none of them are varied enough compared with this original fabric to meet my standards for my art quilts.  I am awaiting a sixth fabric this week from an on-line order to see if I have finally found a good replacement. 

My only other option is to create my own abstract birch tree fabric by sewing thin strips together and then cutting tree strips as needed from this larger pieced fabric.  That may be next week’s major project.

Finding the right fabric OR finding a previously purchased fabric is often a huge challenge.  While print and blender fabrics often have longevity of production, I have found batiks to have no  identifying number or names on the fabric selvage making it difficult if not impossible to find a favorite color or design if more is desired.  I’m careful to purchase enough for a specific project but often find myself wishing I’d purchased more initially when, months or years down the road, I want to use it again and there is just not enough.

This challenge of finding the right fabrics or trying to find a previous fabric has forced me to be more creative with what I have.  In some ways that need harkens back to original quilting which started with scraps.  Accepting that this is a good plan and often leads to very creative art quilts has helped me reduce stress in the creative process.

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