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Dec 4, 2015

Bonfire BOM 2016 - Selecting Fabric

Dec 4, 2015
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The Bonfire Block of the Month Club starts January 1, 2016 right here.  And if you're like me, one of the best parts about starting a new project is auditioning fabric!  By sharing my process in selecting fabrics, I hope this post today will help you decide what you like.

First, here is what the original Bonfire Sampler quilt looks like in the book.  It is a scrappy quilt, mixing prints and solids, fabric lines and manufacturers.  The block background is Kona White and the larger background is Essex Linen in Natural (both by Robert Kaufman).  The star points are very small scale tone-on-tone prints that almost read as solids.
Now of course, in making this quilt for the second time around, I naturally wanted to change things up a bit.  Since the first quilt was scrappy, I decided I wanted to make this quilt from one fabric line.  (See the Choosing Fabrics section (p. 7) in the book to elaborate a bit.)  The quilt above is made with 9" blocks; this time I'll be making 12" blocks.  To get started, we need the all important fabric requirements.

Lap Quilt - 64" x 64" (9" finished Blocks)
1/2 yard total of each of 5 colors (aqua, purple, gold, orange and red) 
2 yards Linen in Natural (outer background)
1 1/2 yards White Solid (block background) 
1/2 yard each Red and Orange Prints (fabrics for large setting HSTs) 

4 yards Backing 
5/8 yard Binding

Large Twin Quilt - 82" x 82" (12" finished Blocks)
1/2 yard total of each of 5 colors (aqua, purple, gold, orange and red) 
3 yards Linen in Natural (outer background)
2 yards White Solid (block background) 
3/4 yard each Red and Orange Prints (fabrics for large setting HSTs) 

7 1/2 yards Backing 
5/8 yard Binding

When I am shopping for a line for one of my sampler quilts, I first look at the colors.  Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis for Robert Kaufman has some awesome vibrant colors.  Karen's best-selling screen printed designs are printed on select shades of Kona Cotton Solid's rainbow.  I like to choose small to medium-scale prints for samplers.  The tone-and-white prints in these designs are perfect for use in a sampler.  If I am choosing multi-color prints, I prefer to choose only a few of those.

There are 3 different colorways (Cool, Bright (shown below), Neutral).  The Bright colorway is the one that spoke to me. 
Bright Color Story of Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis for Robert Kaufman

Once I find colors I like, I check to make sure the line fits into the break down for the Fabric Requirements.  The callouts above list 1/2 yard each of 5 colors.  Can the bundle I've chosen breakdown into at least 5 color groupings?  Yes.  The Blueberry Park Brights FQ bundle can be grouped into reds, yellows, oranges, purples and pinks.  And there is at least (usually more) 1/2 yard of each color group.  Perfect!
 If we're getting really picky, you can see that the oranges can be broken down into even small subgroups.  Oranges and salmon?  But I didn't need six groupings, only five, so keeping them grouped as oranges works for me.
 Ok, I've selected my bundle of prints that I plan to use for the interior sampler blocks.  My next step is choosing an overall background (where the Essex Linen is in the above sample).  For this quilt, I wanted to go bold, so I decided to choose a coordinating Kona Cotton Solid in Cerise.
 The last fabric I need to select was for the large Half-Square Triangles (HSTs) that make the star points in the Bonfire quilt.  In the book sample, I used only 2 colors (red and orange) in the HSTs. 
Again, to change things up and show you a slightly different variation of the quilt, I chose to use 4 different colors in the Blueberry Park line as the star points.  Those four shades are shown below.  The Valentine print on the far left is actually similar to the Cerise shade once I saw it in person.  The jury is still out on that one.  I may change out that fabric in the end - and since the star points will be made at the very end of the BOM, I can wait to decide until much later in the quilt along.
PARTNERS:  SO - remember, I am partnering up with my mom to make sister quilts of the Bonfire Sampler, right?  Well, if you've decided to work with a partner, remember that you will be making 2 blocks each month and trading with your partner.  You and your partner should agree on what fabrics you are using for the blocks.  Lucky for me, Mom was immediately on board with Blueberry Park.  I think it would be fun to use a scraps or to use only certain colors too.  Just make sure you discuss it ahead of time!

1.  Block Background.  For our sister quilts, my mom and I decided to use Kona Snow.  It looks great with these fabrics and will make the block designs stand out.  Plus, I already had a bolt of it in my stash.  :/ Not sure if I should admit to having bolts of fabric in my stash.  This will make the blocks that both of us piece consistent and coordinating.  You may decide to use different shades of the same color or all low volume fabrics, etc.  Just make sure you talk about your plan.

2.  Block Fabric.  There was actually enough fabric in the FQ bundle for my partner and I to split the bundle.  Each person needed 1/2 yard of 5 colors, or 2 1/2 yards total of color prints.  Since the FQ bundle of Blueberry Park came with 6 1/4 yards, we were easily able to share one FQ bundle.  We actually cut all the FQ into fat eighths so we each could have all the prints to work with.  This is all up to you, I'm just trying to give you options to consider.

3.  Larger Background Fabric.  You and your partner may want to choose different large backgrounds.  As I mentioned above, I selected Kona Cerise.  My mom chose to work with Quilter's Linen in Natural.  Both background selections are on the bottom of the below photo.

4.  Star Points.  Once the basics are settled, choosing the star points is simply picking 1-4 fabrics that contrast nicely with your Large Background fabric.  Make those star points pop!
If the thought of doing all of this is daunting, take it one step at a time.  I have a coloring sheet of the quilt layout available to help you plan colors if you like.
So here are the sketches of what our sister quilts will look like.  I love it!  Two coordinating yet different quilts.  Each will demonstrate the individual's style, yet showcase the same fabrics.  AND we get to trade blocks along the way!  I am so excited to make this quilt with my "sister" for this quilt along, my mom.
SISTER QUILTS: My Bonfire version (left) and Mom's Bonfire version (right)
Are you joining us?
  Copies of Sister Sampler Quilts have arrived!!!  Order your copy here or here.

Let me know if you have any questions or if I left any details out.  Sorry for the wordy post, I hope this helps you in thinking about your selections!
A Special thank you to Robert Kaufman for providing fabrics for this Bonfire Block of the Month Club.  They are beautiful! Pin It


  1. Looks great I can't wait to get started, Hopefully I will have Moccasin done on time!

  2. You always have the very best block setting ideas. Can't wait to get my book!

  3. How exciting!!! Congrats on the book!

  4. I have a quick question! I'm doing this bom with a friend. We are trying to pick our fabric right now. I just took my book to staples today and it will be a day or two before it's ready to be picked up (I'm having a spiral binding put on it). It's her first bom so I am trying to be helpful. If we were working scrappy would it be possible to use a layer cake for some of the block pieces? We are using Kate Spain and want to use aria too but it's not available yet except in precuts. I have lots of other Kate Spain and don't want to buy a whole fat quarter bundle of aria. Thanks!!! I gave your book to two friends and my sister for Christmas. I love the idea of making with a "sister."

    1. Hi Jamie-What size blocks are you planning on making?​ Does the total yardage of a layer cake equal the yardage needed for the quilt? You will need 2.5 yards of assorted colors to make the quilt. If you don't mind supplementing with other fabrics that coordinate, then I'd say go for it. There may be some bigger cuts you will need to make that may require you to use a FQ. Just make sure you have the total yardage to make it scrappy. Can't wait to see it! AM


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