Low Volume Quilts and Fabrics are the ‘New Neutral’
What Is A Low Volume Quilt?
Low volume quilts and fabrics are neutral, light colored, prints used in an all over pattern. They are not new, but I somehow missed their debut a few years ago. Discovering them only recently, I am totally smitten with these soft, quiet fabrics. Low Volume quilting is similar to designing a collage background to display your showpiece fabrics. These subtle fabrics are used in many different styles of low volume quilts and play an important role in each one.
Low volume quilts may be muted or designed with high contrast. Using all low volume fabrics for a light, pastel quilt is an easy way to familiarize yourself with exclusively quilting with these fabrics. Try choosing subdued fabrics in your primary pattern for an overall gentle, quiet look. This method results in a neutral wash of pale, light colors.
Low Volume Quilt Companion Fabrics
Adding some pastel print fabrics will bring more vibrancy to a focused design or pattern against your low volume background. If you prefer high contrasting colors, low volume fabrics create an organic neutral background to let your brighter fabrics shine. Whatever the method, low volume fabrics are definitely fun and creative to work with.
These are my precut strips for my first low volume quilt. While I didn’t get them sewn together for this post, I’ll get some pics added soon. My low volume fabric selection primarily includes very soft, neutral prints along with a few pink prints with small patterns. I cut enough for two baby quilts and will try a couple of piecing ideas to see which I like best.
Since I don’t have a finished quilt to show you today, take a look at my Low Volume Quilt board on Pinterest. There are quite a few variations to give you some more ideas.
What Are Low Volume Fabrics
Low volume fabrics are commonly shades of white, beige, gray and pale pastels with low-contrast prints. Many have graphic designs such as text, dots, florals and novelty prints. The distinction of low volume fabrics is that the overall color and design are neutral enough to be considered a background fabric. Subtle and understated, low volume fabrics blend together well creating a beautiful backdrop for your showcase fabric pieces.
Easy Low Volume Quilting Method
The easiest way to introduce low volume fabrics into your quilts is to replace solid backgrounds with low-volume fabrics. You will still see the neutral background surrounding your focal design, but the overall quilt becomes much more interesting. When looking closer, little patterns and prints become visible that otherwise blend into the background.
Low Volume Quilt Fabric Bundles
This is where collecting FQs is a necessity! The more low volume fabrics you use, the better the total look with be. Let all the low volume fabrics blend together to create a fabulously understated background for your chosen design. Don’t be afraid to use low volume prints with a bit of color. These flecks of color add a pleasing diversion when looking at a completed low volume quilt.
Since more is better, it makes sense to purchase curated bundles of low volume fabrics. Not many local quilt stores may stock a multitude of these fabrics by the yard. Fortunately there are many, many different collections to mix and match. I found quite a few beautiful assortments at QuiltCon last month. Actually, that was my primary quest and I hit the jackpot as you’ll see in my first photo above!
Choosing Low Volume Fabrics
As a general rule, if you do buy your prints individually rather than a curated bundle, lay them out together to ensure none of the fabrics appear to stark. All the low volume fabrics should blend well together as any background fabric would. If one really stands out when assembled in the fabric group, it will definitely draw attention in your quilt. Consider if that’s what you are looking for.
3 Easy Tips to Choosing Low Volume Fabrics
Neutral color is the primary characteristic of low volume fabrics. Generally including shades of white to beige to grey, there is an incredible spectrum to select from. Then add a few pastels and you’ll be amazed at how many different fabrics you’ll have to work with. Take it a step further by adding some vibrant, bright colors and you’ll love the contrast.
Low Color Value
Low color value is a truer definition of what low volume fabrics are. Quite simply, they have minimal color intensity making them very subtle. The all over color is very soft and any colors in the design will be more of a pastel.
Low Contrast Print
A low contrast print maintains the understated nature of low volume fabrics. The print is often tone-on-tone or a gentle contrast in colors. This aspect makes them a perfect blending fabric for either a background or design element. The prints vary from graphic to organic lines, from text to novelty prints, and often feature fun and interesting motifs. Beware, low volume fabrics are surprisingly fun to shop for given they are almost all the same color!
A Beginner Friendly Low Volume Quilt
An Easy Low Volume Quilt
Begin small and easy. For me, baby quilts are perfect for testing new ideas. They only require a couple yards of fabric, it takes much less time to make, and there’s always someone looking for a baby quilt. It’s a win-win for everyone! I’ve cut enough to make two baby quilt top and will have some pics available here in a couple days.
Low Volume Patchwork Blocks
My easiest go-to pattern is a 4- or 9-patch block. They are simple to cut and quick to assemble. Since it’s a small quilt and the low volume prints need to blend, the fabric squares should be kept smaller. I find 2 ½” blocks are a perfect fit. They are especially easy to cut from all those precut bundles available. But don’t be afraid to mix and match your block sizes!
To use these blocks for a low volume quilt, decide if you’ll use all low-volume fabric or also include other colors in your design. Using predominantly low volume fabrics in each block will maintain the distinctive, understated look that sets these quilts apart.
Combine Low Volume Fabrics with Other Quilt Fabrics
For the low volume fabrics to make a statement, they need to be the primary fabric used. If you use a 4-patch block, only include one color square with the other three being low volume. In the 9-patch block, switch between three- and four-color squares using low volume for the rest. This will result in a random pattern of color across your quilt, keeping the low volume fabric as the main design element.
Low volume fabrics may be used in any quilt design. Think of them as a background fabric and consider replacing solid fabrics with these tonal prints. They make a great contrast to brighter fabrics and work great in an alternating block pattern. Pick out a few and try a small project for starters. How ever you choose to design your low volume quilt, you’ll enjoy the journey of delving into these gentle prints. Please be sure to post your projects on Pinterest #createmorebeautyinyourliveeveryday.