Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tips on Mixing Fabrics

Thank you all for playing along with the Thrifty Monday party! I'm excited that you all enjoyed it and will look forward to next week. I had no idea how many would participate, so now that the word is out, I'm sure more will join in next week too.

Also, next week, on Wed., May 6th, I'm going to host a Garden party so get your pics ready to share. It will be a fun pre-summer fling to show off what's blooming in your yard OR what projects you are up to outside. I've been working my butt off in my flower beds the last couple of weeks getting some flowers planted, beds mulched and look forward to sharing. Come on back for the Garden Party next Wednesday! Grab the button & spread the news!

Growing up with a mom who sewed everything for us, I spent many hours following her around the fabric stores near our house wishing she would hurry up. I can still remember the old warehouse fabric store with bins and bolts of fabrics, but I wasn’t that interested as a young girl in the fabrics that came home with us to be made into a dress or blouse or something for us girls. She made all our clothes as youngsters and it was a happy day when I got to be a teen and earned enough money to buy some “store-bought” clothes, especially jeans and some fun pants. She even made Barbie clothes for us. We really lived a frugal life in those days. But, when I got older and bought my first house, I really was excited that my mom could sew. I spent hours dreaming of pretty window treatments and what I would do with all those windows waiting to be adorned. Mom was always willing to give it a try even if she wasn’t sure how it would turn out and she has sewed many window treatments for me over the years. I love the ones in my house to this day.

29152 36725 RA Eastfield bk Chocolate

(all from Fabric.com)

So, someone mentioned to me that they would love to hear about choosing fabrics and putting window treatments together, so that’s what we’ll talk about today. I dearly love caressing a pretty fabric now and really have to stay out of the fabric stores unless I’m looking for something specific or I could talk myself into buying all new fabrics and bringing them home. All those colors and pretty fabrics grab my attention every time. And mixing and matching patterns is so much fun to me now.

Robert Allen Darby Lane Fennel Robert Allen Lenux Lounge Fennel RA Wicker Fennel

(All by Robert Allen)

I’m not a total expert on mixing fabrics, but I think I have a pretty good eye for putting things together that work. I learned to mix stripes with florals and if you choose a main large print, then to make sure the other fabrics don’t compete with that. Choose your main fabric, then coordinate with it. I love stripes and florals or florals and checks or plaids. You can always throw in a small patterned print with those too. It really gets fun when you add in a couple more prints to the mix and I enjoy a room with about 4 to 6 different fabrics. So, how do you mix them without them looking like a hodge-podge? Well, as I mentioned, start with a main fabric, add a solid or near solid, a stripe or plaid, a mini-print, and go from there. You want to be sure the colors all relate to each other and nothing looks out of place when you line them all up.

RA Brandt Plaid RA Rochelle Antique RA King Edward bk

(All by Robert Allen)

Take a look at all of these fabrics I found online from Fabric.com. I thought these were good examples of mixing patterns. I know some people have a really hard time mixing fabrics, but it has always come pretty easily for me. I probably play it safe for the most part and am not nearly as adventurous as the designers out there are, but this method works for me. See if any of these appeal to you.

RA Glenoble Patina Bosporus 18866

(First Fabric: Robert Allen; next Bosporus)

Waverly Cottage Vine Blackbird Waverly Passage Onyx Waverly Chippendale Onyx

(All by Waverly)

Robert Allen

(Robert Allen)

In my own master bedroom, there are many fabric patterns in there and I think they all work together. I had a good time playing around with all of these when I was picking them out. I got the paisley and striped blues from Calico Corners and all the rest from other sources.


The main fabric that I chose first was the paisley, then I added the stripe and all the others. Since I wanted to bring gold in the mix, I used a small gold check and the small blue check with gold dots. The silk large check is just one accent pillow and the floral blue and gold brings it together too. So, you see you can have a lot of fun with mixing fabrics. Just let your creativity flow with it and your plans will all come together.
I’ve always loved custom window treatments (not the really high-end designer ones), but it scares a lot of people because of the price of fabric and labor. I’ve always had free labor with my mom, so that has helped me tremendously. But, there are plenty of ladies out there who still do sewing in their homes. Buying the perfect fabrics and having them sewed by someone is still very cost effective if you’re going for a more custom look in a room. Off the rack window treatments have also really improved in recent years too and now longer lengths can be found, but there is still nothing like picking the fabrics you love and putting them together for a custom look. To me it's totally worth it!

I hope this helped a little with choosing fabrics and how to mix and match them for a fun room. I’ll do another post soon about window treatments and how I’ve put those together in my own house. I’m very fortunate to have a sewing Mama and she has sewed so many things for me over the years. She’s almost 81 now, so I really don’t like to ask her to do a lot of sewing for me anymore and now that I found a bargain sewing machine at a yardsale last year, I really want to learn to sew a few things myself. I will never be as good as she is though!
We’ll talk window treatments in more detail soon!

Tim, the Remodeling Guy, is hosting a Spring Round-up Party on Friday, so I'll be posting mine a day early on Thursday and linking to his party on Friday. I've got a fun fountain project that I've finished up outside and can't wait to share. Click the pic and go on over to Tim's and check it out if you'd like to participate too.

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Kathi said...

I've been hoping you would do a window treatment post! I'm still looking at my fabric stash and trying to figure out how to do my living room curtains. Searching online has just made me more confused. I found a pretty red striped fabric (99 cents for 7 yards!) I really like it but when I washed it the color wasn't fast.
Not sure I can use it now with my white sheets. Befuddled here. Thanks for your ideas! Can't wait to see more!

Amanda said...

I am a fabric junkie! My heart starts fluttering and beating real fast when I go into a fabric store. I had taken some interior design classes in college with the intent on becoming a designer (but decide to stay home w/ the littleones instead)I rememberlearning about mixing fabrics 101- main piece, stripe, small print, etc. When we lived in PA there was a great Waverly Fabric outlet nearby- I would go in weekly just to browse & dream up new rooms. Cant wait to see your fountain makeover!!!

Deb said...

My mom made all our clothes when I was growing up too, I hated it until I got older then she went back to work and didn't get to sew as much...I remember being in the fabric store thinking will we ever get to go home, now I love walking around just looking at all the different fabrics.

Vanessa Greenway said...

Love the fabrics! It gives me a lot of ideas for a new project. Thanks!

Natalie Meester said...

my mom used to sew doll and barbie clothes for me as well! She still loves to sew and I reap the rewards:)

Thanks for a great post on choosing fabrics.

Dream Mom said...

Oh, you definitely have a knack for that. I just love those fabrics. The blue was really pretty and I love the monogram.

I have never purchased fabric in my life. I don't sew and it makes me a little dizzy seeing all of that fabric or even going into craft stores. I think it's just so much stuff that gives me a headache. I can never wait to get out of there!

I have made drapes out of a heavy cotton tablecloth for a project once. It turned out beautiful.

I have been itching to get some new toile fabric for a project I want to do.

Debbie's Garden said...

My Mom sewed alot of our clothes too. I can remember going to bed while she was working on something for me and waking up to find it hanging on the door knob ready to wear to school. Its a Cinderella feeling for a little girl. I muddle through and make simple projects. Plain 'ol stubborness pulls me through them.
I did just buy some pretty fabrics and put them in big frames (11x17) in a spare bedroom. They turned out really nice, and CHEAP.

Betty Jo said...

Awesome post Rhoda. This is very much the way I choose colors and texture for my scrapbook kit creations. I begin with the background colors, textures, then create the prints, stripes or plaids, and solids. Working with the graphics for three years has helped me in my own decorating as well. ♥

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Great post. I am with you in that I LOVE fabric. I can roam the fabric stores for hours dreaming and looking at all the fabulous possibilities. It is always such fun and I love to mix patterns and the more the merrier. Your tutorial was very informative for someone trying to learn. Great job. Hugs, Marty

Sandra said...

Thank you for your very informative post! I love all the fabric combinations! I just recently started sewing so i'm still learning. I love it though!
Have a nice day!

Debbie said...

Thanks so much for stopping by. The party was fabulous and thrifting is so much fun. Ready for next Monday. I love picking out different fabrics and experimenting with them. I love making curtains, pillows and even quilts and using different fabrics. I'll be showing curtains in that same room that I will be making/altering. Debbie

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

Great post! How wonderful that your Mother was able to make such pretty things for you! :) I love using stripes and florals together! Can't wait to see your window treatments!

Jenny said...

My husband also grew up in a fabric store. He didn't learn anything about fabric though! LOL!

I love the fabrics you choose. I also like putting floral prints with plaids.

J.Covington said...

Great post... and the sad thing is, I sell a slew of fabric but can't sew and I'm always oggling fabrics wishing I could. Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

I just purchased a sewing machine (again) and will be re-teaching myself how to sew.

Waiting for my Fabric.com order to come in so I can set up my sewing area and make it all pretty.

Sewing area is going in the master bedroom (under renovation right now). Can't wait!!!!

Rose - Watching Waves said...

I'm like Dream Mom - I don't sew (but want to) and am overwhelmed with the chaos of fabric types, textures, patterns, etc. when I go into joann's (the only fabric store here). What kind of fabric is used for what? I just want to make a couple of pillows. I always leave frustrated.

My mom sewed clothes and ballet costumes for me. Yards of tulle gathered for tutus! She made my beautiful wedding gown, too.

I prefer very simple in everything, including window treatments for my home. Simple panels that lift and blow in the ocean breeze here, light and sheer for most of the windows, a sweet white cotton for the living room.

Your combos are beautiful and so perfectly Rhoda!

aguhmom said...

Dear Kindred Spirit-
I so love your posts. . .
we share so many similarities in
taste as well as colors. The
kiwi & chocolate theme is the LR/DR
and blues with lemon in the mbr.
Check out Serena & Lily's paint colors - the "air" is what we are
painting our bedroom in. It will
set off the Williamsburg blue pieces - thanks for sharing your
talents with us. . . patti

Blondie's Journal said...


Very informative & helpful post. I love the fabric samples you showed~a lot of ideas there. You have a great eye for mixing colors! Thanks so much! :-D


Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Thank you!!! I am pretty clueless (and scared) when it comes to mixing fabrics. This was a great post. :)

Alchemy said...

My mom has those green Waverly fabrics, along with a few others, mixed and matched on pillows throughout her living room. How funny that some of the fabrics you have chosen are ones I recognize.

Kelee Katillac said...

Thank-you for the tutorial on fabrics! Nice post!
And I love the story about sewing when you were small.

love, kelee

Sofia Striffler said...

Great job on the fabric choices. Nice job it is nice to see sometime a little different.

Carmen Baker said...

Excellent post. Beautiful fabrics. I used to be so happy when my mom made new Barbie clothes, thanks for bringing back the warm memories.

a beach cottage said...

hey rhoda nice post, I enjoyed those beautiful fabrics


Anonymous said...

Are you my twin sister?! My Mum made all our clothes when we were little, all of them. I felt so empowered when I got a part-time after school job, just so I could spend my wages on (real) Levi's, and underwear which wasn't homemade. All our Daisy and Barbie clothes ... sigh. As a Mum I now understand the love and necessity which made her do it, and feel sad that she now can't. You certainly have a way with putting fabric together, your suggestions are lovely. Thank you for the time you put in to your amazing blog!

Nancy said...

Loved the post. I had just gotten
home from United Textiles when I
read the post. Have you found this
wonderful fabric store out in
Bessemer yet?
My Mom made all our clothes and Barbie clothes too. I made my
girls clothes when they were little
and now that they are married I'm
always working on projects for someones home. Curtians, pillows,
cushions. Even now taking upholestry class so I can do even
more and loving it!!

Misti of Studio M Designs said...

Hi Rhoda! The rustic toile (colored pattern) is one of my favs. We started this fabric in a client's home and sadly never got the chance to finish due to their finances. We did make a table cover and it was beautiful! Have a great day. I love how it looks antique and crackled!


Lori E said...

I think the ladies just don't trust themselves to make the choices for window treatments and things because of the expense involved.
I noticed one of those green Robert Allen striped fabrics is almost the same as on my blogs template. I am sure these women have made the best "fabric" choices already when putting their blogs together. Now they just need to transfer that knowledge and talent to the real fabrics.

Its So Very Cheri said...

Can you tell the name of the fabric that is in the grouping of samples that is the third group from the bottom (not counting your fabrics. I love the pastoral toile type fabric but can't find it on their sight. www.kenandcheri.blogspot.com

Melissa said...

Thank you, Rhoda! I never feel like I know what I'm doing when I mix fabrics~this was perfect :) I loved Edie's kitchen as well...have a great day.

Lilliana said...

Rhoda, I really enjoyed reading your post. I have learned to put fabrics together and not look like a mess! I made slip covers for my sofa and overstuffed chair and I used over 9 fabrics for my whole living room! It looks beautiful and they all combine just right. I also have learned that if they're in the same color scheme it will work. I'm redoing our guest room and I'm trying not to go too overboard with fabrics but so far I'm up to 5 fabrics. Thanks again for the information.

sara@augustfields said...

Rhoda...thanks for this post! I really like the fabric combinations in your bedroom and would love to see more! This was a good reminder that its OKAY to mix it up a bit :)

anna said...

Thank you, Rhoda! I've been looking forward to this post and appreciate all of the tips. I love your bedroom fabrics!

Anna from Raleigh