Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Picking fabrics is one of the most fun and complex aspects of any quilt. Let's simplify.
As a quilt shop owner I have remarked how often beginners struggle with selecting fabrics for their projects. Be at ease, even veterans can have a hard time finding just the right cloth. Start with easy projects that are "pre-cut' friendly and work your way up from there.
Design with Ease
Pre-cuts are a great answer to the fabric dilemma. These fabric groupings come in rolls, fat-quarters, 5 inch squares and 10 inch squares.
When you are ready to make those first few quilts, visit your local quilt shop for help. While it may be tempting to go to a Big Box to try to save a little money, there is no way to substitute the years of experience that the shop owners and team members have. Before you go, look online at pictures of the styles of quilts that you like, understanding that there will always be some quilts that are best left in the hands of full-time professionals. Start with a basic 9 patch or a simple Rail Fence Quilt such as this one which we had in store from EE Schenck. During the Sutura Kids Summer Camp, the 9-12 year olds made these quilts and were happy with the results. All the pieces are pre-cut and it is easy to assemble.
Once you have a few simple quilts that use pre-cut fabrics or kits in your repertoire then it will be easier to move up to more complex things.
Another idea is to simply look at the pre-cut packages and draw inspiration from them. See how professionals use tone, value and hue to complement each other. Most quilts use a balanced grouping of light, medium and dark color values. Make sure to use solids or tonal fabrics to give the eye a place to rest. Above all else, just ask those who have been quilting for a while, quilters are generally a friendly group and help is often just a question away.
Ultimately, if you decide to go it alone ( I made this mistake much to my chagrin) make sure you buy high thread-count fabric! Cheaper fabric is priced that way for a reason. Always use good quality fabric and thread if you want good results. This may seem like common sense but after 30 years of working in fabric stores, the fashion industry and being in the sewing world in general, I can't begin to count the number of times I have seen customers or fellow sewists frustrated by poor results that invariably come with poor goods.
I hope that you enjoy the journey of sewing, quilting and embroidery as much as I have these many years. Learn to take baby steps and enjoy the pleasure of touching, matching and trying new fabrics. Even now, when I feel daunted, I go back to the basics of light, medium and dark. Good Luck!