Last week I gave you a brief introduction to modern quilts and their history. Over the next few weeks I am going to explore different facets of modern quilts in more depth. But before we start on this I have something to say:

there are no hard and fast rules in modern quilting just as there are no hard and fast in any other type of quilting – there are no quilt police here! I would urge you all to make what you like and call it what you like and enjoy the process without fear of someone else’s opinion ….

OK now that’s out of the way let’s get on with it – this week is all about fabric.

When it comes to modern quilts you may have heard some words that don’t come up much in a traditional quilt settings such as solids, blenders, low volume, negative space to mention a few. Are these like a foreign language to you? I know that I had to work out what they all were when I started this journey so I think a few definitions are in order first:

A solid fabric is a plain fabric – it’s as simple as that! Where the word solid came from I have no idea but basically it is a fabric that does not have a pattern on, usually cotton or linen.

Blender – this is a fabric that has a pattern on it but could read as a solid


Low volume is fabric that is light in colour and from a distance can read as a solid it could be tone on tone or cream background with little light coloured dots on it – although there are a lot of different opinions on this.

Negative space – this is another way of saying background! In modern quilts there is generally more negative space than other types of quilts and very often it is made of a solid fabric.

My first all solid quilt was Churned to a T and I have to say it was a real learning experience – there is nowhere to hide when using solids. It even had me rethinking what thread and needle I would use for the piecing because those seams matter a lot when there are no prints or patterns to detract the eye.

So what did I learn?

I like to use a thinner weight thread for piecing and indeed do so on all my quilts now. I use either a 60wt and sometimes a 80wt polyester. I know there are huge debates/discussions/arguments about polyester v cotton but this is a friendly space so please no fighting. I also have rationalised my colours and do not try to match thread to fabric. I have found that a mid grey, darker grey and off white are all I need for most of my piecing requirements.

I would like to say that I have dropped a needle size but in reality I haven’t I still use a size 80 needle, which in fact I use for everything, although I do change it frequently.

I often wondered if there was indeed a right and wrong side to solid fabric but having made a lot now there doesn’t seem to be which is a bonus because it means you have to think less and for foundation paper piecing its wonderful because you don’t have to worry about the orientation of each piece.

It makes for a very high definition design which you may like or not.

The quilting shows waaaaaay more than on patterned fabric – again something you may like or not!

Head back soon for Fabric Part II – where I will begin the process of making a top using improvisational techniques but traditional construction methods.  There’ll be several downloadable tutorials coming up aswell.

I hope you come along for the journey into modern quilts with me and learn to share my passion!