Test Your Skills Sampler Fabric Requirements

Okay, admit it, you just said, “FINALLY!” It’s okay, so did I.

Test Your Skills Sampler FINAL (for real this time!)

The sampler will finish at 70″ x 86″. Your fabric requirements are as follows:

Background: 5 1/2 yards minimum
I recommend 6 yards just to be safe. If your background is anything other than white, you may want to get an extra yard in case of emergency. You don’t want to find out you need more two months from now and end up with fabric from a different dye lot. Trust me, just because it’s the same name doesn’t mean the color will be identical.

Blocks: Total of 2 yards assorted fabric
If you want to match the layout of the illustration exactly, you need:
Aqua – 1/2 yard
Purple – 3/8 yard
Pink – 3/8 yard
Orange – 3/8 yard
Green – 3/8 yard
Yellow – 3/8 yard

If you’re comfortable being less organized with the fabrics, you can choose 10 – 12 fat quarters or a variety of scraps instead.

I do not recommend precuts (jelly rolls, charm packs, layer cakes, etc.) for this project. You might be able to do some of the blocks this way, but the overall quilt isn’t really precut friendly.

Binding: 3/4 yard

Backing: 6 yards
You can get away with 5 1/2 yards if you’re good at piecing backings, but 6 is easier. You may also choose to do a pieced back with extra fabrics, additional blocks, etc. I find that this sort of pieced back adds interest and saves fabric. I often create a pieced back with two main fabrics and a row of extra blocks set between the two.

As I said in an earlier post, I recommend you check out the fabric selection posts from the Skill Builder Series.
Skill Builder Series: Part 2A – Fabric (Sandi)
Skill Builder Series: Part 2A – Fabric (Jeanne)
Skill Builder Series: Part 2B – Fabric (Sandi)
Skill Builder Series: Part 2B – Fabric (Jeanne)
Skill Builder Series: Part 3C – The Use of Neutrals (Jeanne)
Skill Builders Series Part 5 – Fabric Fundamentals

Don’t forget to include your background fabric when you consider the value of your fabrics. A medium background can create a striking quilt, but you will need to select your block fabrics more carefully. Look for more darks and lights and fewer mediums.

Although the sample is shown in solids, most of the blocks are large enough to handle even a medium scale print, and all of them can handle a small scale print. Tone on tone fabrics (those that have prints in the same color as the background) will look fantastic. Be adventurous! This isn’t about making a perfect quilt, it’s about expanding your skills and having something to show for it later. Check out the Quilting Skill Builder Series group on Flickr and share your progress photos! I’ll also put a bunch of EQ mock ups out there for inspiration.

Here are some PDF coloring sheets for your use. I created a blank one, of course, but you may prefer one of the others if you’re using medium or dark background fabric. Click on the images to open the PDFs.

Finally, you have a pretty good sense of how much time and work Jeanne and I have put into this sampler and the Skill Builder Series, and we ask that you honor our respective copyrights. We’d love for you to tell people about it, but please direct them to our blogs rather than printing out information and sharing it. You’re welcome to use the instructions to create quilts for anything except commercial production.

If you have any questions about fabric or color choices, we’re here to help! Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly. Remember, though, that this is about YOUR quilt, and your aesthetic. Value is important, but everything else is fairly subjective. Trust yourself!



  1. Ha ha. I was wondering, but figured I had just missed the fabric requirements in another post and didn’t want to look dumb by asking. 🙂

  2. Hi! I love the design for this sampler!! I’m just wondering what will the time frame for the quilt along be? I have scanned the other posts for the information, maybe I didn’t look close enough…
    murielvanderploeg at planet dot nl

  3. I’m officially in! Thanks to your beautiful mock up with the red, black and white colorway, I went ahead and ordered Kona Rich Red for the background.

    Now I hate to prewash, and I’ve had good experiences with the Shout color catcher, but I don’t want to be foolish, either. I’ll test a sample, and I’d love input. Have you, or anyone reading this, had red fabrics bleed even with a color catcher?

    Thank you.

    • i’m lazy, so i’d throw in 4 or 5 color catchers. but i’d also worry about it. if you don’t want to worry with red and white, then prewash.

      but, you may be asking what Sandi would do. do we need quilted bracelets: WWSD?

  4. It’s wonderful – I’ve just read back through your previous posts about the design process, fascinating! It’s reassuring to know that other people have the same internal debate about aspects of the design. I love all the subtle alterations you’ve made to the previous designs – looking forward to seeing what people make!

  5. I’m a little late – been busy – but in the next few days I’ll be heading to a fabric store for my backing fabric…I’m planning Navy blue but can’t decide the other colors…whether they are creams, greys, blues, ???I was thinking twinkling stars, but I”m going to need more contrast than white white white

    • Hi Suzanne! First, I’m going to direct you to a couple of Skill Builder posts:
      Part 2B: Fabric (Sandi)
      Part 2B: Fabric (Jeanne)
      Part 3C: The Use of Neutrals (Jeanne) – hint: your Navy could be considered a neutral

      If you’d like some help choosing colors, try looking at color schemes that have already been created. Here are a few places to look:
      Color Schemer Gallery – click Search Schemes (top center), enter the word Navy and click search. This brings up 51 color schemes that include navy, and one of them might trigger an idea for you.
      If nothing jumps out at you there, try Kuler. Again, enter Navy in the search box at the top left and you’ll get 1,616 (!!) color schemes.
      Design Seeds is a very popular site with beautiful color schemes inspired by photos. Click on Palette Search (top left) and scroll down to the column of colors. Click on the blue one and you’ll see pages of palettes with blue in them. (When you get to the bottom, click “Older Posts” to see more.) Not all contain navy, but you can look for darker or lighter versions of the colors in the palettes.
      Similar to Design Seeds is Photo Card Boutique blog. The post other things, but if you click on Cool Colors under Categories at the left, you’ll see all of their color palettes. Again, click Older Posts to see more when you reach the bottom.
      Are you familiar with Pinterest? I have a pin board devoted entirely to color palettes that I’ve found around the internet. You can also click in the search bar at the top center and type in Color Palette. When you get the results, click the #### Boards link at the top left to see a collection of all of the color palette pin boards that others have created. Click on a photo mosaic to open the board and see all of the individual palettes. Try the search using the phrase Color Swatches to get even more.

      There are a ton of resources out there – you’ll find something you love in no time!

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