Why basic fabrics are so important to your quilting projects

Well, it’s hard to believe that we’re already at the fifth blog post entry of the week; and that means that this is the last post of the week in this particular series featuring the Urban Elementz Basix Collection from Northcott Fabrics.

Yesterday we worked on a lovely Welcome Spring table runner with these adorable dot prints. In fact, the whole week on this wonderful QUILTsocial blog has been filled with new Bill Locke Designs that I have been so pleased to share with you. For the last four days we have been talking about the Basix Collection from Northcott’s Urban Elementz line.

There are many other beautiful fabrics in this collection that I’ll get to share with you next month but as in most collections, my belief is that basic fabrics are on the A-list of importance when it comes to our projects.


Click here to view Urban Elementz. Click here to view Urban Elementz Appliques. Click here to view Urban Elementz Patterns.

Why are the basic fabrics are so important?

When we work with a specific collection, there’s always a wonderful choice of prints and colors. We have the main focus prints, there are some basic prints and sometimes even some solids. They’re all wonderful, but today I want us to think a little about the importance of the basic fabrics to the collection as a whole. If we take a focus print on its own, without any of the basic fabrics that are made to coordinate with this main print, we’ll see that by itself, the focus print isn’t as strong when it doesn’t have the support of its coordinating basic prints. The support that comes from the basic fabrics provide a wonderful backdrop for the focus prints; making them stand out beautifully in our projects. The basic fabrics are like little soldiers supporting the reigning fabric monarch.

As you have seen this week, we’ve been using the basic fabrics as focus fabrics in our fun projects; beautiful, strong basic prints do indeed have a lot of punch!

When we’re working on a new project, I believe that we have to give just as much consideration to the basic/supporting fabrics as we do our main fabric selections; together they make the whole project ‘sing’.

The Urban Elementz Basix fabrics are so wonderful with their stunning colors and polka dot prints, that it’s hard to really say that they’re just the basic part of the collection. Basic fabrics are so much more than the filler fabrics of yesteryear. We’re seeing exciting developments in fabric printing; even the solids are now available in a huge array of stunning colors that coordinate with all of the wonderful prints in each collection. As you’ve seen this week, I have been using some of Northcott’s ColorWorks solids with the polka dot prints because they work so well together.

Meanwhile, with regards to this week’s projects, there are a couple of projects that we’ve done this week that we’ll revisit when I return to be your guest blogger from May 1- 5.

We have a little strip of our striped panel that was left from when we made the Little Artist’s Case and Apron that I’ll be using for another project and the Welcome Spring table runner will be getting a touch of something new added to it from the additional fabrics.

Using up this week’s leftovers

Today we’re going to use up some of those little pieces that were left from this week’s projects. I would like to have a little fun with a simple project that will be bursting with color so I’ve designed this fun BILL’S ALL STARS TABLE TOPPER just for you.

I’m not going to give you the usual material list at the beginning because I believe that it will be easier for you if I give the material list and cutting instructions as we work our way through this project.

That being said, to start today’s project, we’ll begin with a 12″ x 30″ piece of solid white fabric.

This will be the center panel of our table topper.

Making the applique shapes

Using the star templates attached below, trace an assortment of star shapes to the paper side of your fusible adhesive. For the record, my favorite fusible adhesive for cotton appliques is the Heat N Bond Featherlite.

When tracing my star appliques, I used five large stars and seven small stars.

Bill’s All Stars template, click on the picture to download PDF

Once you’ve traced all of your stars onto the fusible adhesive, roughly cut out the 12 stars about ¼” outside of the star shapes.

For my star fabrics, I used assorted pieces of scraps left from this week’s projects.

Lay the templates, shiny side down on the wrong side of your star fabrics.

Following the fusible web manufacturer’s instructions, use a hot iron to fuse the templates to the fabric.

Cut out all of the star appliques by cutting directly on the lines. Peel off the paper backing from each of the stars.

Twelve star applique shapes

Arrange the star appliques on your white table topper center.

Remember, this is a fun project. No need to measure where the stars fall, just randomly place them all over the white table topper center. Once you lay them all out, you can rearrange them afterward before fusing. The one rule that I tried to follow was to stay at least 1½” from the edges of my white center.

Once you like the layout, use your hot iron to fuse the stars in place on the white background fabric.

Stars fused to the white background

Adding the borders

The next step to our project is to add a black inner border.

From solid black fabric, cut two strips 1½” x 30″ and two strips 1½ x 14″.

Using a ¼” seam allowance, add the two 30″ borders to the longer sides of the table topper followed by the two 14″ borders to the shorter ends.

Press seams towards the black border.

Black inner border has been added to my table topper

The outer border, we’re going to do it piano key style.

From leftovers and coordinating fabrics, I cut an assortment of 12″ long strips in various widths. The number of strips you’ll need will depend on how wide you cut your strips. I used strips that varied from 1½” to 2½” in width. Lay the strips on your work table to get an idea of how you’ll want them to appear as you sew them together.

Using a ¼” seam allowance, sew all of the strips together along the 12″ length; keep adding strips until you have a striped panel that is at least 12″ x 32″.

Once you have completed this step, cut the striped panel into three sections that are 4″ x 32″.

Striped panel cut into three equal portions – 4″ x 32″ each

Trim two of these strips to be exactly 32″ long and add one of these to each of the long sides of the table topper, pressing the seams towards the border.

The piano key border is added to both of the long sides of the table topper.

Cut four 4″ squares from the solid black fabric.

From the remaining piano key 4″ strip, cut two strips that are each 4″ x 14½”.

Sew one of the black 4″ squares to each end of the two border strips.

Pin in place on the short ends of the table topper and stitch in place using a ¼” seam allowance, being careful to match up the seams of the inner border and outer border cornerstones when pinning.

Press the seams towards the piano key border.

To finish my table topper, I’ll be using a blanket/buttonhole stitch on my sewing matching to stitch around the stars before quilting and completing my project.

Bill’s All Stars Table Topper is now ready to be machine appliqued.

I do hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing the Urban Elementz Basix Collection from Northcott being presented in an array of fun projects this week!

Be sure to join me from May 1- 5 when I’ll be presenting the balance of the Urban Elementz collection; it has some fun prints that we’re going to have a blast using in our projects.

Happy Stitching!

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: How to applique a modern landscape tablerunner

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Erin April 9, 2017 - 10:24 pm
Beautiful design!!
Donna Simpson April 7, 2017 - 12:18 pm
I mostly make lap and baby quilts... I LOVE this design with these colors. See a new "modern" baby quilt in the future. Thank you for this idea.
Bill Locke April 8, 2017 - 6:28 pm
Hi Donna, That's a great idea..I think that this project could be a great start for a fun baby quilt!
Milena April 7, 2017 - 11:24 am
I never thought that quilting would be for me but when I see the beautiful modern patterns and designs - it's just gorgeous - could be my next adventure !!!
Bill Locke April 8, 2017 - 6:29 pm
Hi Milena, Tha's super...I am glad that the fabrics and design have inspired you to start stitching ;-)
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