Choosing and Using Solids

I LOOOOOOOVE SOLIDS.  All Caps and lots of O’s love them.  The right combination can make the pattern stand out and the print fabrics pop.  What mascara does for your eyes…solids can do for your quilt.  😉
They can also be overwhelming…there are 303 Kona Cotton colors to choose from and that’s just one manufacturer!  Choosing the right colors can be a pain, especially if your shopping online…so color cards can be a lifesaver.  Color cards are expensive…so if you can only buy one my favorite is the Moda Bella Solids card (purchased here).  The swatches are bigger and I find most of my top colors on it.  The Robert Kaufman Kona card has more colors, but the swatches are about an inch square and it’s hard to get a good idea of the true color…I still love it and use it often though (also purchased here).
The safest bet is to choose colors based on print fabrics I love.  If I’m making a quilt, I choose my print fabrics first, and choose out a few colors from the prints to buy in solids and add into the mix.  This quilt I color matched the solids to a few prints from the quilt, so it was a safe bet, but the solids still make the pattern more visible even though they are the same colors as the prints.
Or, you can add in a slightly different shade of solids to mix it up a bit, like the Kelly green and the dark blue in this quilt.  There is no other primary green in the quilt but with so many other greens…it works, and makes it more interesting!
(If I could travel back in time I would iron that quilt top before taking the picture!)
I’ve also found some of my favorite solids by trial and error, and from recommendations from others. I keep a big stash of my favorites that I use all the time and try to keep at least 1/2 a yard of each.  My background fabrics like white (the color is below) I buy by the bolt, or wait for a sale and buy a lot of it. Most solids are cheaper than print fabrics…another reason to love solids!  I usually add 2-3 solids to every quilt depending on the size, not including the background fabric.
Here are my current favorites solids…all of these are either Bella Solids, or Kona Solids:
White:  Bella 9900-97 Bleached White  (This is the perfect creamy background white!)
Beige/Tan: Bella 9900-242 Linen
Grays: Kona 1007 Ash, Bella 9900-83 Gray (more of a beige/gray), Bella 9900-184 Steel
Blues: Bella 9900-34 Aqua, Bella 9900-87 Teal, Bella 9900-137 Coastal, Bella 9900-227 Cobalt, Bella 9900-191 Seafoam 
Greens: Bella 9900-228 Grass (or Kona 317 Peridot is similar), Kona 411 Leprechaun, Kona 1141 Fern (this is a bright, true green), Bella 9900-268 Emerald
Reds: Bella 9900-47 Scarlett (True red), Kona 1087 Coral (Coral-red)
Orange: Kona 1265 Orange, Bella 9900-80 Orange
Yellows: Kona 1677 Curry (this is the mustard-yellow above), Kona 23 Lemon (true yellow)
Pinks: Kona 1228 Melon (dark coral), Bella 9900-88 Bubblegum (light coral), Kona 274 Primrose, Bella 9900-62 Rose, Bella 9900-89 Tearose
Purples: Bella 9900-203 Orchid, Bella 9900-204 Plum (these are both more mauve but pretty!)
You can always buy pre-cuts of solids too… it’s a great way to add to your stash without getting overwhelmed by choices.  I love buying my solids in person in a quilt shop, but I also buy a lot of my solids online.  I rarely pre-wash my fabrics, including my solids.  Since I’m buying mostly high quality fabrics I haven’t had a problem with them bleeding.  However if you buy a dark or red solid from a chain store, definitely pre-wash it.
If you have a favorite solid I didn’t mention or a great resource for solids please share in the comments below.  Most of these were Kona or Bella solids because I’m familiar with them…but other companies make some amazing ones too.  Shop around and see what you like best!
Happy quilting!

49 Responses to Choosing and Using Solids

  1. Sweetbug Studio January 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    I love the "arrow" quilt. Is there a tutorial on your site for that one? Also, I LOVE fabric. I do not make quilts,(gasp) so I never get excited about solids. (I made one in my early 20's and swore never again. I know I will be making them for grandkids and my later years.) I am so glad to read the importance of the solids. How can one NOT get excited looking at the color cards?? I follow Simple Simon and Co. too–do you know of the ladies? I shared your "Making" with them as they have kids. Love to see the beautiful quilts!

  2. kimberlier January 21, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    Thank you for all the wonderful new suggestions. Right now, my favs are kona Curry, kona midnight & kona kale.

  3. ✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾ January 21, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    I'm glad Kona ash still makes the list! This year I bought a bolt of Kona silver. It's one of my quilting resolutions to use more solids.

  4. Angela Atkins January 21, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    I seem to only use Kona white, Kona Bone and Kona black. I have branched out a little with a quilt I finished this month (using your scrappy summer pattern) and would love to make a two color quilt sometime this year, with either pink, turquoise or yellow. The options on the cards would even make that difficult though.

  5. Anna O. January 21, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    I love it 🙂

  6. Lisa January 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    Kona Melon is my favorite solid ever! Found it this summer and I use it all the time!

  7. Vicki Price January 21, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    I have fallen in love with three Konas: Fog, Paprika and Ice Frappe.

  8. greeneggs January 21, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

    This is so helpful. I'm trying to build up my solids stash, and I'm finding the process so confusing, given the incredible range available. This post has really helped.

  9. Laura January 21, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

    My favorites next to Kona white is definitely bubble gum, pearl pink, ochre and iron.

  10. Helen L January 21, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    Allison, I've found the Riley Blake solids fray less than the Bella and Kona. But they are hard to find! Try them when you get a chance! Love your Arrows quilt: I have it! 🙂 Hugs, H in Healdsburg

  11. Marjorie's Busy Corner January 21, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    Heavens…I was hoping you were giving me that stack of solids…lol. I love solids too. When I first started quilting way back about 30 years ago,, that is all I used. I love Kona and I am hand quilting my Churn Dash right now in Bella solids.

  12. Wendy P January 21, 2015 at 11:09 pm #

    Color cards are a huge help. I just wish that the solids had a selvage with the name on it!

    I have a color card from Clothworks as well as Kaufman. Someday I'll splurge on the Moda card.

    The Clothworks(AMB) have very limited colors, but I have collected a lot of their print fabrics, so the solids are an easy match.

  13. evelyn January 21, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    How timely is this! I am going to the quilt store tomorrow to pick out the fabrics for a new block of the month that they are running. I have been thinking about solids and I have very few in my stash. Maybe I can invest in a fat quarter bundle.

  14. ModernMaterialGirl January 22, 2015 at 1:52 am #

    I love Kona Ash, Pewter, and Medium Grey. I also like the Hawthorne Hues solids from Hawthorne Threads. They have a limited, but very pretty color palette, and they have a reasonably priced swatch ring that comes in handy for matching colors!

  15. Ellomee January 22, 2015 at 4:03 am #

    I rarely, if ever use solids, but you may have just inspired me enough to try. That being said, I did purchase a solid navy (Kona, I believe), and I had a heck of a time figuring out the wrong/right side of the fabric. Any suggestions??

    Thanks,
    Emily

  16. Sandra W January 22, 2015 at 4:32 am #

    I'm a big fan of Kona solids and haven't tried any of the others. I like Curry, and Kale, like a previous comment. These are really good for backgrounds, and not an obvious choice.
    I also use a lot of Kona Snow. Kona sage is also a great color
    I pre-wash everything and use a dye catcher. I have found the Kona blue bleed a lot. Surprisingly, not so much the reds.

  17. Patti January 22, 2015 at 4:36 am #

    Can I ask how u keep track of the color name for when you need to restock? No name on the selvage makes me crazy!!

  18. Donna January 22, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    I love your post about solids. I have a few and have been slowly adding to my large stock of some prints and a lot of tone on tone fabrics, and then of course there's all my Civil War fabrics. At any rate, I need, yes I said need, more solids.

  19. Unknown January 22, 2015 at 6:33 am #

    I like northcott color premium quilting cotton. A little harder to find and not as many color choices, but has a nice hand due to the 60×70 weave (compared to others that are 10×10). And I agree with others that I feel kona frays a lot. That said, I have used kona and the color choices are great.

  20. Unknown January 22, 2015 at 6:35 am #

    ****Oops, that would be 60×60 weave.

  21. Linda January 22, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    I love Michael Miller solids and American Made Cottons, too.

  22. Jenny L January 22, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for a great post, one I must keep to hand. Living where I do in the UK means the option of choosing from a range of Kona or Bella in a store isn't feasible. (If a kind reader knows where there is a good stockist in the Midlands/North where I can eyeball these ranges then please let me know!! ) So having advice about good choices is really helpful.

  23. datarhill January 22, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    Please tell us how to buy a whole bolt of kona?!?

    • Kris September 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

      Hobby lobby sells kona cotton, you can use their 40% off coupon and they will sell you a whole bolt! Happy Quilting

  24. lalaluu January 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Bella solids are great because they come in lots of colors, but even my LQS has begun carrying American Made Brand (AMB), which I LOOOOVE (see – all caps and lots of Os!) When they didn't have basic black that I needed for a border, I went online and ordered it. (I've used Bella Black before, and it frays like crazy. Didn't want to go there again!) Thanks for encouraging us all to use solids. I am trying, but practice (and gentle prompting from some favorite bloggers!) is still needed!

  25. et al January 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    I love the Kona blue. I buy all my fabric on-line and now ask the shop to put a little sticker on the fabric with the colour on it. I got caught out before when I wanted to re-order and didn't know what the colour was and I had bought several different blues in the same order. I have been thinking about getting a colour card – this post was very very helpful, thanks

  26. kathy-o January 22, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    This is the BEST information on solids I've ever seen – thank you so much! I want to make a yellow/white quilt and couldn't remember which yellow you suggested….curry – lovely!

  27. Marianne January 22, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    I lean towards the Kona only because I think the quality is nice. I was so disappointed with Moda Bella in White my last experience with it. I recently bought a stack of Peppered Cottons, and all I have to say is, O.M.G.

  28. phototeach January 22, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    I have been ordering some of the Timeless Treasures solids, they seem to have a finer hand than the Kona cotton which I find frays fairly easily. Unfortunately they do not have a color card available to the public, but they say that quilt shops have them. Maybe a nudge from you would get them thinking about a color card.

  29. Cathy L January 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I see lots of quilts that use solids and I wasn't sure how to use them in my quilts. I think I'll try it now!!

  30. Carrie Wikander January 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    I too love solids with a capital L! My favorites are Cherrywood, I want to dive in and live in them! But I will check out the Moda Bellas. I'm kind of picky about texture and as beautiful as the Konas are, I don't always love the texture. I use 'em though, because the color sometimes trumps texture, you know?

  31. KnicKnitsnQuilts January 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    Unfortunately I don't have a local quilt shop to purchase solids from but I recently discovered fabric shack online. I think they have all the colors of Kona, are $5.49yd, shipping is $3 and they sell in 1/4yds too. Just thought I would share for anyone in the same predicament.

  32. Doris Rice, The Quilting Queen January 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    I rarely ever used solids until I did a blog hop requiring Kona solids about a year ago. I fell in love with them! I use them often now!

  33. Anne January 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    I use mostly Kona and have one of their cards. Curious like another commenter on how you keep track of the color/manufacturer in your stash. Do wish everyone would sell with a little label listing the name.

  34. Staci January 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    Solids are awesome! When I am shopping online and find myself a little short of the required $ for free shipping, I'll pop in a couple half yards of a solid so I can keep building my solid stash. I use mostly Kona and Bella, but Art Gallery has some awesome solids. Great colors & super soft.

  35. Deanna McNay January 22, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    I have also experienced bleeding with Kona Navy and Kona Celestial. I prewash because I have a sensitive smeller and sometimes the dye smells get to me.

    I want to make an all solid quilt one day.

  36. Laura January 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    This is such a great post. I hadn't realized that you could get the color swatch card from other manufacturers than Kona! Also, love your comparison of solids to mascara!

  37. Julie Beard January 23, 2015 at 12:13 am #

    Hello Alison,

    I must admit that I'm just now starting to get the idea into my brain that solids are good to use and add more interest into a quilt like you! As I grow I will try to add more solid as I go along. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. As always happy quilting.

  38. Britney January 23, 2015 at 3:06 am #

    Love this post, thanks! I just bought a Kona color card and am slightly disappointed about how small the swatches are but still love looking at all the pretty colors. Now the question is, where on-line do you buy your Kona solids?

  39. allison January 23, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    Sweetbug Studio – that pattern is Pow Wow..it's in my shop. 🙂

    Emily – As I understand with Kona's and Bella's and most solids there is no right side wrong side…I was told that at quilt market so I assume it's right! 🙂

    Patti – I used to pin a little paper with the name on it to the fabric..but I've gotten out of the habit. I wish they had the names on the selvage!!

    Datarhill- I've bought a bolt from fatquartershop.com or straight from the distributors before.

    Britney – I buy mine from fatquartershop.com, cantonvillagequiltworks.com , pinkcastlefabrics.com and someone mentioned fabric shack above. I'm also lucky to have a quilt shop with a great selection!!

  40. Georgie January 23, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Love them…seriously coveting the stack of solids :3

  41. felicity January 23, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    My go-to solids that I use frequently are Kona Medium Gray and Kona Coal. I also love Kona Snow. I find the Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids to have a lovely hand – almost like lawn – but they're very fine and see-through, especially the lighter pastel colours. Moda Bella Solids are nice, too. The hand of the Art Gallery solids is beautiful – the weave seems a bit tighter, though, and while it looks lovely with a lovely sheen, my machine's tension goes bananas whenever it needs to sew them.

    Thanks for spreading the word about how versatile and exciting solids can be! Many, many traditional quilters are of the belief that solids looks "flat" and don't give your quilt movement and dimension but I completely disagree. I love working with all solids, and work them into nearly every quilt I make regardless.

  42. Susan January 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    Thank you for all the great info! Good input for thinking ahead when purchasing fabrics or planning a quilt. I recently have found American Brand Solids and love the fact that they are made in America – not sure, but maybe in Washington or Oregon (up your way). I bought a few solids to try and I believe the are a little cheaper too.

  43. Ashley Calder January 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    Amazing quilts!! Thank you for this run down on your favourite solids. I've only bought a few different Kona colours but after your review, I'm going to try some Bella, too! Thanks! 🙂

  44. ParadiseBreeze Quilts January 25, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    This post is terrific, along with all of the comments above. Thank Allison

  45. ParadiseBreeze Quilts January 25, 2015 at 12:54 am #

    *thanks*

  46. StubbsFamily January 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

    I buy my kona from either fabric.com or Joanns, and I know they can order by the bolt, (I use the 60% off coupon)

  47. Pam February 1, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    I love Kona solids!! I use Moda Bella solids also, especially if I am coordinating with their prints. I really need to purchase color cards! Thank you for your inspiration!!

  48. Betty September 5, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    I appreciate so much your suggestions and comments on using solids! I love Kona solids, but will check out the Bella cottons. Are they comparable? I, too, choose my print fabric and then incorporate the solids. Found it to be a great way of including solids!

    Thanks again.

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