Sew along ! Treasures from the scrap bin Week One

October 17, 2019 4 Comments

Choosing background fabrics | Sew Along Sharon Keightley Quilts

Hello Everyone

Choosing fabrics is a big topic to cover, there are so many options. I am going to go over how I choose my fabrics, and how to re-create the look of the quilt in my book Autumn Bouquet. Although please feel free to go with whatever fabric combinations you desire. I am so looking forward to seeing all of your choices, I would also love to hear how you like to choose fabrics too.                                     

Let us start with the supplies you need. Firstly the fabric quantities and cutting directions are listed in the book on page 13. This gives you an overall idea of the number of fabrics and the cut size you will need to complete the quilt.

Here is how I go about choosing my fabric selection. Firstly I do not choose all of my fabrics, to begin with, I know this may seem a little strange at first but I like to go with the flow and see how things are coming together as I work on each section before I choose fabrics like borders, etc.

I am going to start with choosing the background fabrics I will be using for the Shoo Fly blocks. I start by going through my bins of light scraps, these are leftover, hard to part with fabric pieces that may find a new home in this quilt. Take a look at the cut size of the backgrounds, the little squares and triangles in the Shoo Fly blocks to see if any of your scraps will work for you. I think these should be fairly mellow, meaning not too stand out in the crowd fabrics. Blenders that have little prints, not showy. But........ in saying that it is perfectly fine to have the odd one a little on the showy side to give a bit of interest. I am also looking for a collection of fabrics that blend well together, almost the same shade, with the exception of one or two that are lighter to give interest. I do not have many large pieces of fabric in my stash, 1/2 yard is usually the largest. Fat eight's and fat quarters are more my style. I don't like to be too repetitive, I like a large selection of prints to work with. Below is a picture of my selection of scraps, then a picture of other larger fabrics in my collection that work well with them.

The first couple of pictures are for the Shoo Fly Blocks.

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

Although this picture looks like the fabric pieces are rather large, believe me, they are not. They are all different shapes and sizes, I have made sure that they will all cut into the square size needed to complete the Shoo Fly blocks.

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

In this picture, I have added a few more to the pile. As I sort through what I have I keep adding, even if I have already started making the blocks.

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

I love the one with the red flower, I think this will give a bit of interest in the quilt. These fabrics are for the setting triangles and corner squares.

I then start selecting the dark fabrics that will work, I firstly selection some orangy/reds going with light to dark. Then added browns and tans to the mix, golds dark to light, then blues dark to light. When I am selection these I like to place them against the backgrounds I have selected and see the relationship that forms between them. I will also add in fabrics as I am making the blocks if I think it is needed. The odd purple or green etc. Always choosing fabrics I love.

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

Sewe Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

I love using golds and browns, and these are some of the fabrics I chose for the Shoo Fly blocks.

A block fabric never goes astray, I love to add black in small amounts. It always seems to add a little something extra.

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

For the half square triangle blocks I have chosen these two fabrics, sometimes it is wiser to wait until you have made the Shoo Fly fly before you choose these fabrics, that way you can audition them together to see what works best. I have a thing about floral fabrics and just adore the fabric on the bottom.... those gorgeous sprays of flowers with a little shot of colour divine! Although the half square triangles are reasonably small, the shot of random colour I feel gives so much more interest. Take a look at the picture further down, these two fabrics are nestled in the center of my Shoo Fly blocks. This is a good way to get an idea of whether the fabrics will work together with the blocks.

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts


I hope this is helpful, as I am pretty 'organic' in the way I select the fabric, it is more about the feeling I get when I see how the colour combinations between fabrics make each other sparkle. Remember just because you chose a fabric, in the beginning, does not mean you need to stick with it if it is just not working for you.

I also think the hue or tone of fabric is important, meaning if you are fond of a more muted colourway, then I find fabrics that are muted usually go together. Colours that are bright usually go together etc.

Don't be afraid, follow your instinct and have fun. Choose the fabrics you love, and you will then love your quilt. If you have a print fabric you love, look at the colours in it and pull out fabrics to match. You may not end up using the print but the colour combination will be a winner.

Preparing your fabric: I like to wash my fabric before I start using it, this is a personal preference. The reason is that I like the feel of washed fabric, I like to get all the sizing etc out of it, I like how it sews once it's washed. It also helps with any problems of dies running that may occur. The fabric will also shrink before I use it in my quilt, giving me no surprises later. I also love that I really get to know my fabric during this process, I love that I can see how the different colour combinations start to form when you see the fabrics hanging on the line. I love that I get to spend time folding and playing with them all that time learning and dreaming of how I might use them before they go away in my fabric bins.

You can read more about my fabric preparation process on my blog here.

A few of my favorite tools for piecing are a good quality fine thread, a new needle in my sewing machine, a clean and oiled sewing machine, either a quarter inch foot or a 1/4 guide, an awl or a wooden cuticle stick to guide the fabric, small scissors for clipping threads. Also a good iron and water spritzer bottle for pressing seams.

See you next week, the fun begins with using the beautiful fabrics you have chosen and piecing the Shoo Fly blocks. If you have just joined us, you can find previous posts here and here

Sew Along | Sharon Keightley Quilts

I hope I have covered everything, please leave a comment, share your tips for choosing fabrics. If you have any questions I can answer them there.

Join me on the 24th of October for week three. Piecing the Shoo Fly blocks.

 We have winners for the giveaway 'Autumn Bouquet' book!

Congratulations to:

Jane and Jenniffer Howling.

All fabric requirements are on page 13 of the Autumn Bouquet book. 

If you are still waiting for your book to arrive, don't worry..... there is still plenty of time. You can join in the sew-along at any time and work at your own pace. 

I can't wait to share all my tips with you all and learn your tips too. Sharing the process is so much fun so please post pictures to my facebook group or Instagram.   

You can follow along on the Sew Along via my blog posts, Facebook group and Instagram. There will be a hashtag on Instagram #treasuresfromthescrapbin you can post to or you can join my Facebook group so you can post your pictures there and share with everyone else in the group.

If you are signed up to my newsletter all information will be posted in the newsletters.

You will need to have a copy of my book Autumn Bouquet, for the Sew Along. You can find the book online a Martingale or Amazon or here on my website.

My Instagram is @sharonkeightleyquilts

Facebook Group link here

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, good luck with the next giveaway coming up.

hope you will join in with the fun.

Happy Stitching


Autumn Bouquet Book | Sharon Keightley Quilts

You can find more of my Quilty Ramblings blog posts on all things quilting here

Take a look at some of the downloadable PDF patterns available

See more of my video tutorials here

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Sharon Keightley Quilts





4 Responses

Sharon Denney Parcel
Sharon Denney Parcel

October 19, 2019

Love your book! It came this week and I am ready to delve into my scraps. I like the way you described your process as organic….that is me as well. If it feels right I go with it!

Sharon Keightley
Sharon Keightley

October 18, 2019

Thank you for your comments, so glad the blog post was of help to you. In answer to Lynne Walters question regarding judging the scale of the design on fabrics and how it will look once pieced in a block, I thought I would answer it here in the comments so anyone reading can also join in. For me I find if a print is large and fairly widely spaced out, I try to fussy cut / incorporate the part of the design I want. It could be the colour in the flower, the design of the flower, or the leaves etc. This I think comes with a little practice as I always have a vague idea of how I think it will look. Once again for me, it’s usually a combination of the flower and colour is what that has drawn me to that fabric so that’s what I try to add-in. I do not always like a very controlled fussy cut look if possible I like it to look more randomly cut, not matchy matchy. I like the flow of adding in a random part of a bigger scale print can give to the overall look of the quilt. I think it is fun to play with your fabrics, have faith and go with your instinct.
As I progress with making the quilt you will see more photos of this happening, and I will show where I have incorporated these types of fabrics.


October 18, 2019

Excellent detailed description of a process that’s hard to describe! Your fabrics are lovely — you must have a wonderful stash. It took me a while to settle on my scrap choices but I finally got going and I’m ready to work on my churns. Thanks for this sew-along!

Lynne Walters
Lynne Walters

October 18, 2019

Wow beautiful photos, and lots of help too, thankyou.
Can I ask one thing for the future? I love the close ups of the prints and the blocks but as you state they are only small pieces so it’s quite difficult to judge the scale of the design on them. Is it possible to have something in the photos to have something included to help us to do that? Thanks, and keep up the good work. The book is stunning.

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