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Dec. 99 Summary: Mryna Giesbrech muses about using fabric found on the Internet, in quilt software, and designing quilts on the computer. A little light humor can go a long way!

Expressive Quilters' Newsletter
Supporting The Expressive Quilter In Tradition, Innovation, Art & Computer Quilting

Issue 7: December 1999
Editor: Sharla R. Hicks
Newsletters index for all issuesTable of contents for this issue

Fun Fantastic Fabric Finds

by Myrna Giesbrecht, copyright 1999
Fabric - the essential ingredient in any quilter's palette. The odd time I've wished I was a painter so I could take a little dab of this and mix it with a blob of that to get that just right colour. You know what it's like when you lay your feature fabric along the entire coordinates section and somehow the perfect match isn't there. It's somewhere between this colour and that. So, you end up taking a piece of both home to "try it out" but keep right on shopping for "Mr. Right". But then again, the search is half the fun and we need those try it and see fabrics to build our stash.


When I first starting designing quilts, I used graph paper, coloured pencils and a ruler to put my designs together. It was rather tedious to say the least, especially if you mixed up the colours and squares and put something where it didn't belong. White out just doesn't look too good on a design! Ruins the total effect!
It was a wonder I persevered since I'm a "yesterday would have been nice" kind of girl but I'd just learned how to use a word processing package and the difference between that and old-fashioned typing is light years apart so I knew there had to be an easier way. I tried out a few paint programs, which were too simple for the process, and even AutoCad, an engineering package, which of course was way beyond my needs. I settled on a standard drawing package and hired a tutor to come over and show me how it all worked.


You can imagine the look on his face when I said I didn't care about all the bells and whistles, I wanted to design a quilt and that meant draw, colour, change your mind, flip rotate, put on point, change your mind and flip back, add borders and so on. He told me he learned a lot he didn't know about the program working through the process. Funny I have a friend who has a Doctorate of Math and I had him proof the mathematics in one of my books. He said it was way more complicated than he'd thought. Just goes to show quilting is the highly intelligent, highly developed, art form we've been saying for years.

I design my quilts using a gray scale. I started out using colours but my favorites are fuchsia, lime green and purple and I got in a rut clicking on them all the time. Using a grey scale I can focus on the design itself and on highlighting particular areas and creating contrast throughout without worrying about what colour it is. After I'm happy with the design, I reverse the colours and make an opposite sometimes just to see what happens, other times to alternate blocks within the design or whatever. It's fun.

After that I'd make a mock up and hold it in front of a mirror to see how the fabrics blended. Mock ups are great fun to do but very time consuming. My daughter and I just did one for her socials studies class to depict a mosaic. It took us about four hours to cut and fuse but we had so much fun. She says she hates fabric - can you imagine - so this was one of the few times we've played in it together. She's an incredible painter though. We're taking up fabric painting to blend our interests. Sorry, enough Mommy bragging! Anyway, unless you're looking for a new print to frame or gift to give away, there's an easier way.

Many computer quilt design packages have actual fabric patterns and colours as fills with regular upgrades as new lines are released. Textures can also be scanned from Internet sites and used as the "fabrics" in your computer quilt. Again these are actual fabrics so when you're done the design, you're as close to seeing what two fabrics stitched together will look like without actually stitching two fabrics together.

After that, you can purchase those fabrics and sew your quilt together with confidence. You already know what it looks like. No worries about finding the right fabric. Since you scanned it from an Internet quilt store, you know where to buy the fabric. You're not likely to be disappointed by not being able to find it.

There are lots of incredible fabric sites on the Internet. Just type quilt + fabric into the search engine and a list will come up or head to one site and link through to others from there. To get you started here's a few I've found, each with an extensive list of fabrics and separate thumbnails for each rather than blended together - easier to scan. -
Lunn Fabrics -

Design, colour, create with pleasure and then stitch together the quilt of your dreams. And, have a wonderful time doing it. Happy Quilting!

Myrna Giesbrecht is an artist who writes about, teaches, and creates textile art. She lives in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. Visit her website or email her at

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