Quilters and Sewists: Do you Pick Your Fabric or Pattern First?

Sep 9, 2020 12:30:58 PM / by Erica Bottger

September is National Sewing Month, so what better way to celebrate than to talk about some of our favorite sewing questions and tips? First up, an age old question: do you pick your pattern or your fabric first? For many quilters, when it's time to start a new quilt project, this question is like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg! 


Do you find a fabric or fabric combination that you fall in love with and set out to find just the perfect pattern to show it off or do you find a design that really “speaks” to you, and go in search of the perfect fabric to compliment it? For most, it’s probably a combination of both.

piles of fabric precuts jelly rolls fat quarter stack and layer cakes on sewing table


Fabric First

When I first started quilting, I fell into the Fabric First category most of the time. I would find fabrics that I loved and go in search of just the right pattern to showcase them to their best advantage. It might be just one print, or it could be a collection, but I would dive in, buy a yard (or so), take it home and stare at it wondering what it would become.


The increasing popularity of pre-cuts makes it easier than ever to get your hands on a little bit of everything in a given fabric line – oh, those tempting stacks and rolls of fabric! Thankfully, there are many patterns designed around pre-cuts and making your job of finding a pattern easier.


Pattern First

Yes, this is for those times that you spot a pattern or project that you know you need to make - when you find just the right fabric, that is. It could be a pattern that is perfectly suited for gifting to someone, for a special occasion or just because it appeals to you.


Maybe it’s a pattern that looks like a good challenge – or one that wouldn’t be a challenge at all! I admit to making several quilts from the same pattern when I was a new quilter because I found a pattern that was easy to cut – before AccuQuilt, that is.


Inspiration is All Around You

No matter which direction you are coming from, the good news is that there is inspiration all around you to draw from.


  • With COVID-19 keeping us at home, more and more of us are drawing inspiration from online sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook as well as various websites and blog posts. I don’t think that I’m alone in admitting to losing myself in searching these sites for quilting ideas. Be sure to follow AccuQuilt on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube and subscribe to our blog!


  • Nothing inspires me more than walking around one of my favorite local quilt shops and eyeing all the fabric, which is even more exciting when you haven’t been able to visit for awhile.


  • Another social distancing safe way to get inspired is by following our GO! Getter team on their social media pages!


  • Electric Quilt and other design software are great ways to design your own patterns around any colors or fabric that you would like.


  • Don’t forget quilting books and magazines!


GO! Quilt

If you haven’t yet tried out AccuQuilt’s GO! Quilt pattern customizer, now is the perfect time! GO! Quilt is a free and lets you select patterns and try out different colors and fabrics. There are hundreds of patterns to choose from and a wide variety of fabric lines to audition – plus the ability to upload fabrics from your very own stash. Now you can choose either the pattern first OR the fabric, either way, this fun online tool can help you plan your next project with ease.

woman using laptop in sewing room to find a quilt pattern with GO Quilt customizer


It’s easy to get started, just log into your account at AccuQuilt.com and click on “GO! Quilt” in the upper right of the site. From there you can start to play by clicking on the “Create New Project” button, then sorting by skill level, size/type, technique and more. When your creation is complete, you can save it and print out the directions so you are ready to GO!


Have fun creating your next quilt – no matter how you get started!



Topics: Quilting Tips, National Sewing Month

Erica Bottger

Written by Erica Bottger