When you spend a lot of time out at big Quilt and Craft events or even in a patchwork shop, you need lots of samples on the walls to attract people, demonstrate your products and sell. Having samples can be a really mixed blessing though because although they draw people in once there is a sample on the wall, everyone wants to make it EXACTLY the same. This can be very difficult for the patchwork shop owner as all fabrics have a use by date and in most cases in Australia, you get it once and have no chance of getting it again.
Think about it from the perspective of the patchwork shop. Reps show a range of fabric and the shop owner orders it. There are standard bolt sizes and a fairly common one is 13.7 metres (15 yards). Amongst great excitement the fabric arrives and a pattern is conceived to demonstrate it. The patchwork shop owner whips up a fabulous quilt using the new fabric taking, lets say for the purposes of this story, half a metre off each bolt. Immediately the shop is down about 4% of the fabric; 4% of the potential profit, gone to what is effectively a marketing budget. He or She will spend 6, 10, 20 hours making the quilt, all of which has an opportunity cost if not a direct cost and if the top is made into a quilt, there is the cost of backing, batting and thread. Assuming again that the fabric can not be replaced and the quilt top evenly used half a metre off each bolt and no one bought any as meterage or fat quarters, the shop owner has the capacity to make a maximum of 26 kits for said quilt. That is a lot of expense in time and money for 20 to 30 saleable items. Madness really.
If the quilt is great and original the shop owner may develop their pattern and sell it seperately. Creating patterns is far more economical as you can make one sample and sell thousands of patterns. Often, a shop owner will design a pattern or buy in commercial ones and order fabric to support the pattern. In any of these scenarios the shop owner is dependant on getting fabric that is identical to or close enough to those used in a pattern unless consumers can imagine the quilt in different fabrics. Speaking for myself and all my colleagues in the industry I can say with absolute certainty, it does our head in.
So the purpose of that very long introductory tale was to show you some examples of achieving an effect without using an identical fabric. For the purposes of this demonstration, I am using Jaybird Quilts’ Northern Lights pattern.
Originally constructed in Kona Solids, this quilt is a play on colour transition and can be done in so many different ways effectively. This is the original pattern with the original sample.
Jaybird Quilts patterns usually have instructions for up to five different sizes. This is the second smallest, the lap quilt size, and as such uses 8 different colours. The baby quilt size uses just 6 and the King size will use 16. Obviously if you move into the bigger sizes you are going to have to use some imagination to work out what fabrics to use because only 8 are demonstrated in the sample. And there really is not one answer to that. It comes down to what you like.
So, using completely different fabrics, ones that read as solids, but are not solid I made this example:
Now, I could have started with any one of these colours and built a run from there. For example, the two greens could have sat next to the blues on the right. I could equally have started with the red on the outer left and run through the rainbow in that more traditional order of the rainbow or I could have done a hundred other things with it.
So, working on a rainbow, starting with a baby quilt size and adding colours to the King, your fabrics could look like this: Baby quilt – 6 fabrics; Lap quilt – 8 fabrics; Twin (single) – 10 fabrics; Queen – 14 fabrics; and King – 16 fabrics.