City Sampler Sew Along: Choosing Your Fabric

Sew Sweetness
This post is part of the City Sampler Sew Along.
For more information or to see blocks completed so far, click here!

Welcome to the pre-sewing post of the sew along for Tula Pink’s new book, City Sampler: 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. It’s already a top pick on Amazon, so hope you’ve picked up your copy (and if not, there’s still plenty of time!).

Me with other sew along hosts Emily Herrick and Julie Herman, at Quilt Market. Kim and Gina were working!

Besides me, there are 5 other hosts for the event. I felt like we would be able to collectively offer more inspiration and help to everyone sewing along at home, especially those new to quilting, if we came together as a group. Today, we’ll all be sharing our fabric choices with you!

Sara – I decided to use solids for my City Sampler quilt (I saw these textured solids at Quilt Market and they are pretty freaking amazing, if you’re looking to do yours in solids). I talked to Tula when I first got my copy of the book, and she suggested choosing groupings of fabrics that have a lot of contrast in them. For example, if you decided to make some of your blocks in various blue prints, don’t choose all of your blues to be similar shades. Make sure you have a good range of lights, medium tones, and darks. That way, when you start assembling your blocks, the features of each one will stand out.

It’s not stated in the book, but Tula also suggested that, if you are assembling fabrics to make your quilt, that approximately 5 yards will make all 100 blocks. So, for instance, if you’re looking to make your quilt out of all Tula fabrics, then you might take a look at i Heart Tula Pink, where you can find all the current lines and also a lot of hard-to-find fabrics as well! There’s a City Sampler Starter Kit for your convenience!

Going along with choosing fabrics, I’d also like to recommend figuring out a good way to organize your cutting and finished blocks while you work. We’ll be sewing these for the rest of the year, so you don’t want to misplace anything! Some folks in the Flickr Group suggested sticking the finished blocks in your book where the appropriate block’s template is. I’ve been cutting the fabric for my blocks out about 10 at a time (because it seems time consuming to cut out 1 block and then sew it, etc.). I have them in zip-lock bags with numbers on them, so when I’m ready to sew I can just whip through them. After the blocks have been finished, I put a piece of masking tap on the back with the block number. That way there’s no forgetting which is which, in case I get a little bit ahead.

Julie from Jaybird Quilts is dipping into her stash of Tula Pink fabrics. She is using fabrics from every line that Tula has ever put out, and from the looks of it, she’s got them all!

Emily from Crazy Old Ladies is borrowing Julie’s photo; she’s using Tula Pink’s line that will be out later this year, called Acacia. That color palette is seriously stunning!! I have to sidebar that Emily’s new line, Technicolor is out in June, which is just about now, and it’s pretty amazeballs. In case you want to use that on your City Sampler quilt.

Kim from My Go-Go Life is using Bobbins and Bits, Pat Sloan’s new fabric line for Moda. This line looks great, and the grays are particularly amazing!

Gina from Gina Pina  : Hey there. Gina Pina here. I am so excited about making my own City Sampler! I have been in love with this quilt ever since I saw it at QuiltCon. I kinda have a thing for rainbows.. and Tula Pink fabric. I have decided I want to do the cover quilt rainbow version Gridlock. It really is too yummy to pass up and I can’t wait until I have my own to snuggle with. At first I was thinking it would look really cool to dig into my Echino stash and pair it with other Japanese fabrics, but as I was sewing the blocks the little voice inside of me was screaming “for the love of Tula, woman! Use your Tula stash!” So I pulled ALL of my Tula Pink fabric out of the shelves and threw it all on my cutting table; new stuff, old stuff, hoarded Neptune fat quarters, OOP jelly roll strips from the Quilt Shoppe, everything. I painstakingly sorted through all of it and put it in color order and shoved it back onto the shelves. Having it all in color order will definitely help with pulling fabrics for blocks later. Now if only I could do that to the rest of my stash! If your stash and scraps are already organized you will have a fun and easy time pulling fabric for your blocks.

Instead of spending more time sorting fabric I have been buying up cute rainbow bundles in solids, shot cottons and tonal prints to supplement my Tula stash. I feel pretty set, but I know there will be a few secondary colors that I will be lacking in (looking at you, Orange). I think a Fat Eight (9″x22″) piece of fabric is plenty for most of the blocks and is the perfect size for bundles since you can sample a lot of fabrics for less. Another way to get a good Fat Eight bundle is to split a Fat Quarter bundle with a friend! I always like to starch and iron my fabrics before I cut my pieces. I am not a fabric pre-washer, but I do feel a good steam and starch will help set the fabric and always makes it easier to sew and less likely to fray while handling. I will talk more about my fabric preparations and cutting when we get to sewing blocks.

After all of my pieces for 1 block have been cut I have been sticking them into little snack size baggies with a Block # label. This way I can cut a lot of blocks at one time during prime cutting time and then have all the blocks ready to sew as I can get to them. Thanks to Jenny WC in KC for that one. I made a few copies of the Gridlock layout so that I could scribble and mark them up without ruining the pictures in the book. I also numbered one to show where the block falls on the finished quilt. This has helped me a lot when I am choosing fabric. I am making each block the same color as Tula uses in the book, but I still like to refer to the finished quilt picture a lot to know exactly which shade I should be making. Another copy I have been using to mark the blocks as I finish them. I have been keeping my book and blocks for now in a giant laminate pouch from Form and Fabric. I am on the lookout for a little box or bin to keep my finished blocks safe. I am really excited to see this quilt come together. As much as I love the speed of chain piecing, this quilt has so many opportunities for playing with fabric color and contrast and highlighting favorites. I can’t wait to see all of the different versions that everyone will come up with!


Hopefully this has helped get your creative juices flowing, if you haven’t already chosen your fabrics! If you are new to quilting, you don’t need any specialty rulers to sew along. Tula told me that she created this book so that it would be accessible to all quilting levels, even for newbies. So don’t be shy if you’ve never made a quilt before. I would just recommend a cutting mat (I use a 12″ x 18″, which my friends laugh at me for because it’s small, but it does the trick), rotary cutter, and a ruler.

Just a reminder, if you’re posting any block photos to instagram, don’t forget to tag them #tula100

We’ll see you here next Monday for the start of blocks 1, 2, and 3!

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