I’ve been thinking of creating a smaller separate stash of fabrics suitable for just miniature quilts. But not just any small print will do.

 

Miniature quilts are so much fun to make but they have some special considerations when it comes to fabric choices, especially when making what I call micro-miniature quilts. These are miniature quilts with 1/4” and 3/8” finished size pieces. Despite being very small, the blocks should still use a variety of sizes and types of prints such as large, medium and small florals, ‘ditzy’ prints, directional prints, paisleys, checks, and stripes just like our big quilts. Look at the variety of types of prints in this little Birds in the Air quilt. Although these blocks are only 1 1/8″ finished size they still use a variety of print types to add visual interest and also draw the viewer in for a closer look.

 

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Birds quilt

Birds in the Air miniature quilt.

 

When working in the world of miniature, the prints need to be smaller as well as varied. What’s a small print for a large quilt becomes a large print for miniature quilts.

Alphabet quilt

The large scale floral border in this miniature quilt would be a small scale print in a large quilt.

 

Beyond scale, there are some other things to keep in mind. In general, color and value contrasts need to be stronger with miniature quilts. Subtle distinctions can be totally lost as the eye blends all the small pieces of a miniature quilt or block into one blur.

Bad basket block

The subtle colors in the top of this mini basket block tend to blend together when viewed from a distance.

 

good basket block

This block has sharper color and value distinction and is clearly defined from a distance.

Another problem I’ve run into over the years when working with very miniature quilts is the loss of points and corners where the similar colors of different prints meet on a seam. Look at this little star block I made recently. The background print has the cutest tiny little blue stars on it, which you would think are perfect for the block. But where one of the stars falls next to the seam with a dark blue triangle, a small bump appears that doesn’t look quite right to me.

star print

I don’t like where the tiny stars fall on the seam of a triangle, distorting the clarity a bit.

Now look closely at this next block where one of the little blue stars falls at the tip of the dark blue triangle. Notice how the clarity of the piecing blots out. If that star were to fall on an inside point, it would look like botched piecing.

star points lost

The triangle point on the left side of the block is distorted by the star print. It’s not a huge problem on this block but it bothers me.

 

You can see the same thing happening with this older Ohio Star block. You’d think a pretty little black print with the tiny pink roses would be perfect for a miniature quilt block but when the pink rose falls next to a pink triangle, the point is lost.

 

blurred triangle point

Notice how the triangle points are blurred by the little pink rosebuds.

 

Now look at the replacement I made using monochromatic prints. The points are sharp and not blurred by the interference of color from another print.

good Ohio Star

By using monochromatic prints, the points are all clear.

Monochromatic or prints without too much color are very useful for miniature quilts. This little Red Cross quilt has very tiny pieces. Those red bars and small blue squares are 1/4” finished size. Multicolor prints would have not worked at all in those tiny pieces but the distinct colors and lack of lots of colors in the prints I chose keep the piecing sharp.

Red Cross

The use of monochromatic or non-busy prints keeps the piecing sharp on this very tiny quilt.

 

The same thing can happen in reverse if a multi-color print has too many light spaces in it sitting next to another light print. The seams will totally disappear. On a large block there’s enough length of seam for your eye to fill in the seam line but not on miniature quilts.

 

blending of prints

Where the cream flower sits next to the small cream print, the seam will disappear on a miniature quilt. On the bigger seam of a full size block, your eye connects and fills in the seam visually.

 

It’s not that you can’t use multicolor prints in miniature quilts—you just have to be aware of what can happen and use them in such a way as to avoid some of these problems. For instance put a strong completely different color monochromatic print next to a multicolor print. The key is to make sure it’s not the same color as one found in the multicolor print. So I’ll go ahead and pull stripes, directionals, multi-color prints, florals, dots, checks, and miniature ‘border’ prints for my mini stash.

array of prints

Here is a diverse assortment of different prints that would work well in miniature quilts. Some would need careful consideration about where they are used.

 

When I start using those prints, I’ll have to keep all these other considerations in mind. It’s going to be fun playing in the stash!

 

‘Til next time~

 

Best Stitches!

 

Donna