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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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~