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Fish Quilt Step 2 – Choosing Fabric

Fish Quilt - Dan - from Shiny Happy World

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The Fish Quilt pattern is finished!

In this post I showed how I quilted my background blocks.

Today I’m talking about fabrics. What color will your fish be?

I opted for the brilliant colors you see in a coral reef. Think bright, bright, BRIGHT!

Fish Quilt - Gerald - from Shiny Happy World

I used two different fat quarter bundles for my fish. Most of the colors come from the Rainbow Brights fat quarter bundles.

That bundle has a darker and lighter shade of each color in the rainbow. That allows me to combine the light and dark for contrast in one fish, like this. . .

Isabella is made with the two shades of green in that bundle.

For a little extra contrast, I also added the Little Stripes fat quarter bundle. I love stripes so much!

Even though the fabrics in the two bundles come from different companies, I picked them so that the colors would still work really well together. 🙂

If I was making this for myself – and not as the sample quilt for a pattern – I probably would have also included fabrics from the Dots fat quarter bundle.

Dots Fat Quarter Bundle from Shiny Happy World

Those irregular dots and the crosshatch background would have added another nice texture to the fish – and the colors coordinate well with the other two bundles.

But I try to keep the numbers of fabrics I use in my samples to a minimum because I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to buy a TON of different fabrics to make the quilt work. Fabric is expensive! But if you have some Dots left over from making a Dinosaurs quilt – add them into the mix!

But what if you don’t want to make brightly colored tropical fish? What if you want to make fish that look like what you can pull out of any freshwater lake or stream?

For you I recommend the Warm Neutrals fat quarter bundle.

Warm Neutrals fat quarter bundle - from Shiny Happy World

That will give you fish that look trout-tish and bass-ish and perch-ish.

(All of my fish are Ish Fish. The only fish in the quilt that really looks like a very specific type is the angler fish – and even on him I eliminated the exceedingly-scary-looking-very-sharp teeth.)

Which brings me to my final topic while we’re talking about color.


I designed most of the blocks so there would be a very high contrast between the fish and the background water. I really wanted those fish to pop!

But I made a few be lower contrast. Angler fish (mine is named Kevin) have a very dull, practically invisible body so that all you really see is that glowing lure. I tried to sort of duplicate that (without making him too invisible) by making his body and the background the same darkness of fabric. You can see that really clearly when I switch his photo to black and white.

I added the lighter purple fin to help you spot him a bit, but you could go all dark for a more hidden fish lurking down there.

I chose purple on the blue because they’re in the same color family – both cool – so there’s even less contrast.

(If you want to read more about my normal “rules” for choosing applique fabrics (which I break here for Kevin) check out this post.

So Kevin is the lowest contrast, and most of the blocks are very high contrast, but I added in just a couple of low-ish contrast blocks to help make the overall quilt mimic a bit the look of a school of tropical fish – where some really stand out and some are less noticeable. Like this block where the lighter purple fish blend a bit with the lighter dapples in the background.

These guys appear in another block where they have higher contrast, so it’s only this pair who tend to recede into the background just a bit.

So there you go! That’s how I chose the colors for my fish. I can’t wait to see what you all do! I hope you’ll post photos as you go in the Shiny Happy People Facebook group. It’s awesome to see samples with different fabric choices!

You can order the Fish Quilt pattern here.

You can read about how I quilted my background blocks here.

You can read about how I worked with the print of the fabric here.

You can read about how I did my final quilting (bubbles!) here.

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World


  1. I love your patterns, your videos and your bright coloured fabric. It’s a pity that the shipping to Spain is so expensive because I would buy all your bright faabric.
    I purchased your appliqué monsters quilt class in Craftsy and I love it, you are a great teacher! It’s not easy to find such bright colours in fabric for the backgrounds here in Spain. I go on looking for it

    • I know! International shipping is so expensive! And fabric is heavy which makes it even worse! I hope you’re able to find some colors you like!

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