How to Use Large-Scale Prints in Patchwork Quilts

For some of us, choosing fabric for patchwork quilts is a favorite part of the quilting process. And for others it’s something to get through, (or dare I say, overcome) before we can move on to our preferred step.

quilt with large blogs, great for practicing curved piecing and showing off large prints
Gosia Pawlowska utilizes over-sized quilt blocks to show off a variety of large-scale prints in her “Moonlight Quilt.”

While most quilters are somewhere in between the love and hate ends of the choosing fabric spectrum, I think we can all benefit from a few tips from Cheryl Arkison about large-scale prints before we make our next visit to the fabric store.

These prints have long been popular in traditional quilts, often as a central fabric choice upon which all other fabrics for a quilt are chosen.  More often than not you’d see these gorgeous prints as a border which frequently makes for an unbalanced quilt that detracts from the meticulously pieced patchwork.

Lately I’ve noticed, as have many others, a trend in modern quilting that utilizes, or even highlights, vibrant large-scale fabric prints. If you don’t use large-scale prints in your quilts or if you’re like me and buy them but don’t know how to integrate them, you’ll want to check out these tips from Cheryl so you can start using large-scale prints in your next quilt:

Cut it up. Yes, chop it up and use it like any other fabric in your piecing. A large-scale print takes on a whole new life when used in small pieces. Each piece is different, which makes your finished piecing dynamic and visually interesting.

Use it on the back. Let the fabric be your inspiration for sure. Choose all of your colors and fabrics based on the large-scale print. Then put it on the back. It automatically coordinates with your quilt top. A large-scale print will hide your quilting stitches—an added bonus for some of us—so you can have fun with free-motion quilting and not worry too much about what it looks like on the back.

wall quilt using print fabric in the background.
Christine Barnes uses print as her background fabric in this wall quilt titled “Pop Beads Quilt.”

Swap it for solids. Using a white or grey solid as a background is about as second nature as breathing for most modern quilters. Change up your quilt by using the large-scale print as your background. You will harness the beauty of the print plus, by changing the background game, you can create an exciting new quilt.

Cheryl has such great ideas and suggestions for creating quilts with color confidence. As someone who struggles during the fabric choosing process, I always find her articles helpful and inspiring. To learn more about building your color confidence, read Cheryl’s article filled with exercises to help you get started in the Spring 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork.  Download this issue and all of the other past issues of Modern Patchwork instantly.

Happy quilting!

Brenna's Signature

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Patchwork Quilts, Quilting Daily Blog