Patchwork: When the Wrong is Right
Some three decades ago, Jo Morton was just beginning to teach in our home state of Nebraska. She came to our fledgling guild and taught us to make Log Cabin blocks with strips that finished at 1/2″.
There weren’t any reproduction fabrics in those days, so Jo was inventing ways to make new fabrics look old. One of the secrets she shared with us was this:
Sometimes the fabric’s wrong side is exactly what you need.
At the time it made me uncomfortable. I came from a garment-sewing background, and the voices of 4-H judges were forever whispering in my ear about anything not up to snuff.
But over time I have embraced this idea, and never more than in my most recent finish. I needed a lot of light neutral fabrics because I made all of the backgrounds very scrappy. They had to be lighter than the mediums which form the design.
I have learned that value is more important than color. It takes a while to understand this, but once you do, your quilts improve significantly.
The hardest fabrics to use are those with areas of both very light and very dark. They tend to be splotchy—to draw unwanted attention to themselves. You can cut them into very small patches, which sometimes helps. Or…
…you can use the wrong side. See the back of my quilt top, above. The fabrics marked A and B weren’t going to work for this project unless I turned them over for a softer look. See how the wrong sides fit right in, below.
Here are a few more examples. I couldn’t think of any place I would use this fabric with cutesy Asian motifs.
But when I turned it over, it worked just fine.
I liked the novelty print with a peacock, below, but the right side wasn’t lighter than my mediums.
I flipped it over, and voila, perfect.
In the photo below, I’ve marked the wrong-side fabrics with a W.
There are more than you’d guess!
I’ve heard it said that when you buy fabric, you’re paying for both sides. Remember to flip it over to see if the back could be useful. Quilt on!