Using photos for quilting inspiration

Picking fabrics for a quilt

When Northcott Fabrics asked me to use three of their lines to create one project, I was very excited but quickly realized that there were A LOT of different fabrics to pick from and the possibilities were a bit overwhelming. The Toscana line itself had 135 colors to chose from!

So I decided to do what I usually do when I’m picking fabrics for a quilt – I find one fabric that I LOVE and I go from there. I knew that I LOVED the Artisan Spirit Shimmer striped fabric and definitely wanted to use it, but which one to pick?? I decided to try using photos for quilting inspiration and quickly found a few photos online that I just loved.

The possibilities were endless!

Click on each of these links below to see the fabrics that I had to choose from. What a selection!!


100% cotton – looks like suede – feels like silk Toscana captures the subtle tones and elegant textures of an Italian fresco and it looks just like suede! The kaleidoscope of 95 colors provides a comprehensive range in values from rich deep shades to delicate pales ideal for contrast in quilting.

Artisan Spirit – Shimmer

Shimmer by Northcott Studio encompasses an extensive range of exquisite textures in vibrant colors with metallic accents. Shimmer is the premier collection for Artisan Spirit, the latest Northcott brand designed for the inspired quilter.

Artisan Spirit – Sandscapes

Artisan Spirit Sandscapes includes a wide range of exquisite marbleized textures in vibrant hues with metallic accents. Twelve palettes ranging in progression of value can be used alone or in combination with other palettes for both traditional and modern quilting.

Stepping outside of the box

Lately, I’ve been drawn to more “artistic” quilting and I’d like to dabble in it a bit myself. So when I saw the Artisan Spirit Shimmer “striped” fabric, it really jumped off the screen and spoke to me. BUT which colorway to pick??

I was initially drawn to the blues, but Nellie and I have done a lot of blue colorway designs for Northcott lately, so I decided to try to work outside of the box and pick colors that I wouldn’t normally be drawn to. Here is the pattern that Nellie and I designed last year with the Sandscapes fabrics. We used all of the “Atmosphere-Lagoon” colorway fabrics and added in some coral and beige for contrast. These fabrics were just lovely for designing and quilting and I couldn’t wait to get more to play with!

Coral Beach pattern by Upper Canada Quiltworks

Size: 77″ x 99″

The “Sunglow” and “Autumn” colorways were lovely (as were all of the rest) and something about them made me think of sunflowers. So I looked online for some photos to use as inspiration.

Northcott Artisan Spirit Shimmer #20425M-39

Fields of sunflowers

These sunflower photos that I found online helped me to narrow down my selection of fabrics to ones that were brown, gold and green. But I still wasn’t sure which striped fabric I wanted to use for the background. Sometimes it’s best to actually see the fabrics in person so that you can audition them with your other fabrics so I decided to ask for both!!

Photo 1 of several others that help with fabric selection, perspective, and detail of incorporating a flower in a quilt.

Photo 2 of several others that help with fabric selection, perspective, and detail of incorporating a flower in a quilt.

Photo 3 of several others that help with fabric selection, perspective, and detail of incorporating a flower in a quilt.

I picked 4 Sandscapes fabrics, 5 Toscanas and 11 Shimmer fabrics and emailed my list off to Elaine at Northcott. Before I knew it the box had arrived!!

A box of yummy Northcott fabrics

Time to play

Now that the fabrics have arrived I can’t wait to get started! I’m going to lay them all out to see how they look together. Tomorrow we’ll start using the sunflower photos for quilting inspiration – see you then!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Using fusible applique to make an art quilt

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Cindy Plourde June 9, 2016 - 8:13 pm
I love sunflowers! Those Northcott Fabrics really make them shimmer, no pun intended. Such a lovely collection of fabrics!
Christine Baker June 9, 2016 - 9:00 pm
Yes, these Northcott fabrics are amazing. I just loved working with them.
Marie June 9, 2016 - 12:30 pm
Beautiful fabrics
Christine Baker June 9, 2016 - 9:04 pm
They sure are! It was awesome working with them!
Shari Lund June 9, 2016 - 11:44 am
Love the Artisan Spirit – Sandscapes and Love the free motion quilting on the sunflower. Wish I could do it better, need lots more practice! :)
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