Learn how to use both beautiful sides of fabric. It’s fun and easy!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

To use both sides of fabrics, you’ll first need to know what to look for when “shopping” your stash or a quilt shop:

  • Look for fabric that is beautiful on both sides. Since not all fabrics have pretty REVERSE sides, look for fabrics whose REVERSE sides are just as beautiful (if not more) than their RIGHT sides.
  • Find fabrics with nice contrasts between the RIGHT and REVERSE sides. (I’ll tell you how to do that later on in this post.)
  • Make sure the fabric motifs are the size and style you want for the type of quilt you are planning. For example, your fabric needs will differ if making a broderie perse bouquet quilt verses a pieced quilt, or one made from only templates. See more about this below.
Image of Quilted Treasure

You’ll soon learn what to look for when you start to audition fabrics for your projects.

Choose a pattern designed to use both beautiful sides of fabric.

There are three main categories of patterns designed for using both sides of fabrics: pieced, broderie perse, and template.

Pieced Quilts

Pieced quilts patterns, like VariLovable Star shown below, use the REVERSE of the fabric as a background (typically white) in a traditional pattern. In this case, the whole quilt is made with only three fabrics, because the background for each variable star block is made using that fabric’s REVERSE. There’s a subtle color difference and a movement in the fabric motif that catches the eye and adds sparkle to the quilt.

Use both sides of Hoffman fabric for  VariLovable Star Quilt
VariLovable Star for Hoffman

Broderie Perse

Next, there are patterns for using the broderie perse technique. These are usually a type of bouquet in which the flowers are cut using the fabric motif as the guide. (Although, I do have one sea horse quilt pattern that has a “seashell coral” made from the fabric motif!) You’ll want to choose your floral focus fabric based on the size of the quilt (how many flowers or motifs you want to cut) and the color and value of those flowers. The bouquet quilts have a vase of some sort of vase (see ice skates as a vase in Noelle below), so you’ll want the REVERSE to be appropriate for that as well.

Use both side of Christmas floral for Noelle

Patterns with Paper Templates

Lastly, quilts made with both sides of fabric can be made from templates only. These quilts are super fast to make! An example of this is Pinky, the baby octopus quilt. The body and binding is made from the RIGHT side while the underside of the tentacles and the floating bubbles are made using the REVERSE! Nearly all of my template patterns come with full-size paper templates, ready to trace onto lightweight fusible (check pattern listings for details).

Use both sides of fabric for Pinky
Both sides of “Fishbone Dance” fabric (designed by me!) for the Pinky Quilt Pattern.

Here’s how to audition both sides of fabric.

To test your fabric you’ll need to look at the values of both sides. You’ll do this using black and white photos. Place your fabric on a flat surface. Twist it so that you can see both sides. Hold a camera flat and as high above the surface as possible and snap some photos. It might take a few tries, but soon you’ll get the hang of it. Change the photo setting to “mono” or “noir”. (You might be able to change the setting prior to taking the photos, depending on your phone or camera.)

What do you see? You should see a good contrast between both sides of fabric. By removing the color, you can see the true values. Test all your fabrics in the same manner, especially if they will be next to each other in the quilt layout. Learn more about value in The Tricky Traits of Value and in individual patterns.

It’s all about value.

Each pattern from Creative Bee Studios comes with detailed instructions. You’ll learn how to audition both sides of fabric for the pattern you choose.

Learning more about value is a skill you can apply to all your future quilting projects!

Above all, use both beautiful sides of fabric to make your quilts sparkle!