Sewing with neutrals: Denims, Linens and Chambrays

neutrals fabrics texture-002This weekend I was playing with a lot of neutral fabrics and lots of texture. This pile is for a quilt for a friend. I started it a while ago and needed to add a few more fabrics. It’s been fun to look for neutrals with texture to make this one interesting.

neutrals-quilt-amy-smart-001I’ve got blocks pieced (I’m going with simple half-square triangles) and ready to start sewing into rows. Because of the really subtle shades in this quilt, I had to lay it out in the day with the natural light to really get it right. I tried one night (while watching MASH reruns on Netflix) and couldn’t do it well enough.

Update: you can see the finished quilt here!
Denim, Linens, and Chambray fabrics from Robert Kaufman

Then, this gorgeous bundle arrived from Robert Kaufman. I’m teaching a class at a social media and creativity conference this week – using my tried-and-true table runner tutorial. Since we’ll have a wide variety of tastes there, I thought it would be fun to go with another neutral look that would appeal to a variety of people.


Since Denim is a huge trend this year – and I’m really loving anything indigo at the moment – I though it would be fun to play with denims, chambrays, and linens.

Robert Kaufman Bradford Herringbone Chambray Yard Dyed Linen

I’ve been eyeing Robert Kaufman’s denims and chambrays for while now, really wanting to make something with them, so I was SO excited when they were willing to sponsor this class! Above are a few of the textiles we’re sampling in the scrappy table runner. At the top are two of the Bradford Herringbone wovens in indigo and tan. Bottom right is the Essex yarn-dyed linen in flax (an old favorite) and indigo (a new favorite), and on the bottom left are two Chambray Union.  The drape on both of these is amazing. They must make gorgeous garments. I’m going to need to buy some more and actually try sewing some clothes.

raw and very refined robert kaufman These two are called Raw and Very Refined. I especially love the texture on the top one.

denim indigo linen handmade table runner

This was a quick version of the table runner – and since I’m gearing this class for sewing-newbies, I didn’t do as much quilting as I usually do. But I kind of like the less-finished effect.

chambray linen patchwork

Such a fun way to play with shades and textures rather than dramatic color contrast. I really want to make something more with all these pretty shades.

Robert Kaufman Chambray LinenIf you’re looking for Robert Kaufman denims, linens, and chambrays, I’ve seen them at Fabricworm, Imagine Gnats shop, Fabric.com, or Hawthorne Threads. Essex Yarn Dyed linens found at Pink Castle Fabrics.

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  • Reply
    Patricia Cash
    April 21, 2015 at 5:13 am

    Just looking at the pictures of the fabric, makes me want to touch them. Thanks for the view.

  • Reply
    sunshine quilt studio
    April 21, 2015 at 5:21 am

    this past weekend I made Jeni’s Giant Vintage Star using linen as my background. it was tricky! I love the look though. Your runner is really pretty!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      April 21, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Linens are tricky! Especially on the bias, I’m sure. The Essex linens are a cotton blend and make things a little less tricky. 😉

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Lovely! I, too, am loving linen and indigos. I never thought of combining them with denim – it works beautifully!

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 8:28 am

    What a beautiful runner – it’s subtle but also striking.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    These fabrics are awesome and amazing!
    I would love to own them ALL . . .

  • Reply
    Rebecca Grace
    April 21, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    What a great class idea for beginners! It’s a lovely project that your students will actually be able to use and proudly say they made it themselves. I hope you all have a blast learning together!

  • Reply
    Kelly O.
    April 21, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I love the look of the denim paired with the neutrals… I often use dark denim with brights or wild fabrics but this was just beautiful!

  • Reply
    April 22, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Really like the quilt of neutrals you are making for your friend. As a fairly new quilter some of the very patterned quilts do not appeal to me. I have never seen one like this. Please post the finished quilt. Is it hard to quilt over textured fabric?

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      April 23, 2015 at 10:03 am

      I’m excited to see how this turns out! I’ll definitely share pictures when it’s done. I’m going to have it machine quilted professionally, so hopefully they’re okay with the textured stuff. 🙂 But those machines are so big, they should be fine.

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Quiltineering
    April 22, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Beautiful!! I just saw essex linens are in stock at the Fat Quarter Shop so I’m tempted to check them out!

    P.s. I just checked out the first season of MASH from the library – can’t wait to start watching while I stitch 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      April 23, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Yes! I love MASH. It’s been fun to watch it again. My favorite seasons are 4 & 5. 😉

  • Reply
    Claudia farley
    April 23, 2015 at 6:15 am

    I love Robert Kaufman’s denim, such beautiful shades of blue with subtle patterns. Great work with that table runner, that would be perfect for beginners. Good Luck with the class!

  • Reply
    PEta - shequiLtsalot
    April 27, 2015 at 12:03 am

    What a beautiful stack of fabrics Amy, you are truly an inspiration. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      April 27, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Thanks, Peta! 🙂

      • Reply
        February 14, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        Hi Amy! I realize this is an older post, but I just came across it. Would you be willing to make this runner for purchase?

  • Reply
    Laura @ Prairie Sewn Studios
    April 27, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Very nifty! I love the way the different textures look together, and I get they’re even more delightful to touch in person.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Lovely fabrics in a lovely combinations!

  • Reply
    Marcie Moya
    May 24, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Could anyone please tell me how to purchase these fabrics as shown? Or how I may contact Amy to get more information? Please! I have searched and don’t know where or what to buy and every place Icall that carries Rovert Kaufman fabrics has no idea what I’m talking about.
    Frustrated in California .

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      May 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Marcie,

      You definitely want to ask at independent fabric shops (as opposed to big-box shops like JoAnn or Walmart) for Robert Kaufman fabrics. Here’s where you can put in your zip code and it will tell you the nearest shops that carry RK: http://www.robertkaufman.com/where_to_buy/

      You can also find them online. Here’s one example: http://bit.ly/1WMGeXF. Here’s another: http://www.hancocks-paducah.com/SHOP-BY-THEME/Robert-Kaufman-House-of-Denim

      Just google Robert Kaufman Denim and you’ll find lots of retailers online.

      There are different weights in the denim department for RK from heavier denim to the really light-weight chambrays. Check the weight in the listings if you end up buying online.

      Hope that helps!

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