There isn’t much I can write about solids – Bella Solids – that you don’t already know. They’re a basic, a staple. Quilts made entirely with solids can be very traditional or very modern, or both. (See above.) When I started quilting, they were easily found in every color available… probably because there weren’t that many colors and if a shop didn’t have solids, they didn’t have that many bolts.
It’s much harder now that every fabric manufacturer has a line of solids and that there are so many more colors available. Did you know there are almost 300 colors of Bella Solids? The only thing harder than finding them all in one place is figuring out which color you want. Even with a color card, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which of those four shades of pink works best with the fabric you’re trying to match.
There is something coming soon that will help. A lot. And it won’t cost anything. It’s pretty cool and I think you’ll love it. As soon as that egg hatches, you’ll be the first to know.
While we wait, I do a couple of things that might help do some of the things you’ve asked about.
Keeping track of colors. I’ve been asked why the Bella Solids don’t have the color and SKU information printed on the selvage. That information is printed and solids aren’t printed, the color comes from the dyeing process. But there is an easy kind of fix to that – when I buy a piece of Bella Solid, the first thing I do when I get it home is write the color name and number on the selvage with a Sharpie pen. I don’t worry about where it is, if I wind up cutting off that piece, I can just write it again further down the selvage.
It’s not fancy of particularly nifty… but it works. When I’m marking the number, I put a piece of cardboard behind the fabric to make sure it doesn’t bleed through to another layer – the piece of cardboard from a charm pack works perfectly.
Color Cards. The color card you can buy is terrific – really. I love them and I update mine every two or three years. But matching a fabric next to that teeny tiny swatch is hard… so I’ve made my own “swatch set” modeled on the kind I’ve seen used by interior designers. When I buy a piece of Bella yardage, I cut a 5″ x 5″ square to put on my swatch ring. And when there is a batch of new Bella Solids, I get one of the charm packs. On a small card-stock tag, I note whatever information I want – stock number and color name – and I staple the fabric to the corner of the tag. The tags are put on a 3″-diameter binder rings from the office supply store – and I like the tags because the hole is reinforced. I used to hang the rings on a key rack but then I found an S-shaped carabiner that lets me hook the rings onto the basket drawers in my sewing room.
I’ve also done this kind of a swatch-ring for the Weave, Quattro and Dottie collections. It’s not as good as having the bolt right there but this has been the next-best-thing for me.
The other resource is the United Notions – Moda Fabrics website. A few years ago, Moda started including the colors of coordinating Bella Solids on the catalog pages of new collections. Depending on the collection, there might be anywhere from five to eight colors. I wish I could tell you that every collection going back to the very beginning has this information but only some do. Still, it’s a possible starting point.
To find that information, go to the United Notions website and look at the very bottom of the screen to Downloads. Click that. Enter the Collection or Designer name in the box that has “Keyword Search” and click the Green Scissors when the collection name appears below. That will open a PDF with images of the fabrics in the collection. (The PDF can be printed or saved to your computer – using your mouse or trackpad, move the arrow to the lower right corner or the screen for those icons to appear.)
Here is an example of a collection that includes the Bella Solids – Horizon by Kate Spain See Page 3.
Since not all the collections have this information, I also look through past collections by the same designer. Most of the time, I’ve been able to find a color that matched and in a few cases, I think it matched the new collection better than the “old one”. At the very least, it gives me a starting point.
If there isn’t a perfect “Bella Solid”, I also look at the “near solids”. Grunge. Weave. Rustic Weave. Crackle. And the various Marbles – Dots, Swirls and Stars. These are all printed fabrics that have a printed texture.
From left to right…
- Bella Solid – 9900 37
- Weave – 9898 70
- Rustic Weave – 32955 36
- Crackle – 5746 125
- Essential Dot – 8654 72
- Marble – 9880 21
- Grunge – 30150 226
These work really well when you want to add a few more fabrics to a scrap quilt, or add a little more of certain colors from the prints. They’re also a little bit “softer” than an actual solid since the color isn’t “flat”. As much as I like using Bella Solids, I use these fabrics more as I use more print fabrics than anything else. It’s just personal preference.
For actual texture, there is the Crossweave collection. It’s an old-new collection, meaning that it was first introduced a few years ago and it’s back this month with new colors and some new textures. (It’s gorgeous… I’m already in love with these.) Pictures coming soon.
Even when the “new thing” is ready, everything I’ve mentioned is still going to work. I’ll still use the swatches on my ring to match my fabrics, and I’ll still need to know whether that 2-yard piece of “white” is Bella 98 or Bella 200. In the right light, I can tell them apart.
At least that’s what I tell myself.
I’ll keep the Sharpie handy.