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My Color Guru

For many years I have watched my friend, Katie Migliano, pull fabrics for customers and herself with amazing results. Katie is a prolific quilter and she doesn't stick with one style. She has an intuitive sense about what should go together and what needs to be left out of a fabric pull for a quilt. Recently, Katie and I got together for breakfast and a conversation. I really wanted to pick her brain for her thoughts when pulling fabrics for a quilt, what she considers when choosing a fabric and what inspires her. I originally thought we would do a Q and A, but we had more of a conversation. The following is my take-aways of her philosophy and less of hard answers.

"Quilting is so personal." You have to like the pattern and fabrics OR piecing and quilting become a chore. Quilting should be fun and feed your soul. As you continue to quilt you find your niche as you see all the options for patterns and fabrics that are out there.

"Quilting is looked at as a Fine Art." Some quilts are so intricate and beautiful. You might not ever consider creating an art quilt. But take a look at Bisa Butler quilts - I saw them at the Chicago Art Museum and they were amazing and powerful! Look at the Gees Bend quilt collection - very different, but they still are considered art quilts and have been featured in major art museums as well.

"Listen to what the fabric is saying." Choose an inspiration fabric and start working with that. Have a visual in your brain, but understand that the inspiration fabric doesn't always make it into the final fabric selection. Think about what fabrics will work with the inspiration fabric. Do you need a background? The background shouldn't only 'sit back', but it supports and lets the other fabrics do the work. (It doesn't need to be boring, but its 'job' is to let the other fabrics shine.)

"Play with the fabrics." Look at the Color, Pattern, Texture and Shine of the fabrics you are choosing. Choose a variety of values in the colors! Have a variety of pattern in your fabrics! Have a mix of scale in the patterns is important too. Texture can mean that you add a silk fabric or a wool fabric to the mix.

"Don't be afraid to walk away and let it 'ferment'." Sometimes you need to give your brain a rest from looking at the fabrics. If you walk away and leave it for a while, you can come back and the 'problem fabric' will jump right out at you. I need to let my brain rest.

"Take a picture." One of the nice things about technology is that we can take a picture on our phones and look at it in a smaller scale. This allows you to see how the colors or fabrics work with each other. Sometimes one color can be too overwhelming. Others can look like they don't belong at all. The other thing you can do with the photo is change it to black and white. This will allow you to see the contrast of the colors. Reds translate as very dark - almost black. With colors that pop - you don't need as much of this fabric in the quilt to have it be effective. Photos will help you decide which fabrics to keep and which to eliminate.

"Start with a baby quilt." Starting with a smaller project and allowing yourself to play with scale, color, geometrics, stripes, polka-dots frees your brain to see what you like and don't like. You haven't made a huge investment into fabric and time and find you don't like it. You may look at it as an experiment, but you can learn from it regardless.

I always have a great time talking with Katie and I find her work very inspiring. She is inspired by other quilters as well. Check out these quilter's websites to see what you are inspired by:

Denise Burkitt:

Kathy Doughty: books/patterns found at

Anna Maria Horner:

Alison Glass:

Bisa Butler:

Quilting is a journey and it should be fun and satisfy a creative spark in each person.

Quilt with joy!


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You are so right about Katie! I always loved when she would pull fabrics for me. She looks wonderful in her picture.

I learned so much from Katie when she worked with me making a quilt.

I’ll keep this blog post as reference!

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Hi Juleen!

How are you! Miss you!

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