Tips for Designing Fabric for Quilt Art

Many quilt artists dream of designing their own line of fabric. Maybe you constantly doodle designs in your sketchbook, or maybe you’ve created a pattern in your quilt art that you’d love to see repeated in yardage.
Just Dandy! fabric by Josephine Kimberling for Robert Kaufman fabrics. Photo by Natalie G. Photography.

For insight on what to take into consideration when designing textiles, especially combining patterns, here are some tips from fabric designer Josephine Kimberling.

I definitely love bold and exciting patterns, and even more than that, I love mixing them together! Some tips I have on combining many different patterns together successfully are:

1. Drama. Find a pattern that is truly amazing, either by the detail it involves, the largeness of its scale or one with a lot of color throughout it. This is your “A” print. Then to accentuate it, find a “B” pattern – one that is either smaller in scale to balance it, or one that has the ground color that is an accent used in the “A” print. I usually don’t like mixing “B” and “C” prints together because sometimes they can lack interest. When mixing a lot of different fabrics together, you can also have multiple ‘A’ patterns to balance.

2. Mix Master. Mix contrasting fabrics together until you bring out the best in each pattern. For example, contrast in scale, color position (pattern with blue accent + pattern with blue ground), repeat type (linear + tossed), or density (open ground space + densely packed).

3. Harmony. Put patterns with different color balance within them next to each other. Allow the arrangement of the patterns to keep color moving throughout so your eyes don’t get stuck in one place.

“Inked stems” fabric design with seamless repeat created in Photoshop Elements, by Margaret Applin.

4. Personality. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box and try something new! Keep playing and push yourself outside of your natural boundaries.

Would you like to try your hand at fabric design? Not everyone can have a line with a fabric company, but the availability of digital printing makes it easy and affordable to see your fabric designs as yardage.

All you need are design skills, access to computer software, and you can be uploading and ordering your fabrics in no time. There are, however,  tricks to creating a repeat pattern that looks professional.

Join us February 13, 2014, when Margaret Applin will present her brand-new live web seminar, Exploring Unique Textile Design: Creating Seamless Repeat Patterns in Photoshop Elements.

Whether you want to design fabric to use in your own quilt art, or you are thinking of selling your fabric designs, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn Margaret’s expert tricks. Register now!

P.S. Have you ever had your fabric designs printed? Do you have any advice for others? Leave your comment below.

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Art Quilt, Easy Quilting, Quilting Daily Blog

4 thoughts on “Tips for Designing Fabric for Quilt Art

  1. The tips Josephine gives apply to selecting commercial fabrics for an art quilt, too. I sometimes wonder why certain things “work” and others don’t. Her descriptions of designs really helps!

  2. Yes, Leslie B! If you cannot attend Margaret’s web seminar at the “live” time, register anyway. You will receive a link to the recording of the seminar with 48 hours plus be eligible for any discounts offered. You can watch the recording at your convenience.

  3. Hi, I’m Val with Fotos On and this is what I’ve been doing, for 3 years. I print 58 inch widths , be it portraits or small designs. I use soft Kona cotton fabric and it is WONDERFUL, no bleeding or fading so if I can be any help to you ladies out there or if I can give any advice or information, I would be happy to do so.
    I’ve designed “ladies golf” fabric to” Power in Pink” fabric but mostly I print custom projects for my ladies.. I”ve displayed my work at the Houston Int’l Quilt Festival, MQS in Witchita and the Minnesota Quilt Show. I have been asked to show my custom prints/work at the April 25th, 2014 Mn Horse Expo because of my love for horses. So please use me for information !!