The Best Fabrics for Quilting
Some quilters always select their quilting fabric from the same group of cottons at the fabric store. Others may have tried every type and weight of fabric there is just to see how it turns out! There are many options when it comes to choosing the best fabrics for quilting. If you haven’t discovered the middle ground where you have a lot of colors and designs to choose from without throwing the entire pattern out of whack, this guideline should help you determine when to try something new and when it’s best to stick with something a little more traditional.
The Standard of Quilting Fabric – 100% Cotton
Quilter’s weight cotton is a high-quality fabric that is considered the best choice for quilting. Even the top choice can present some challenges to beginners since it is prone to some shrinkage although less than you can expect from cheaper types of cotton. There is also less likelihood that the better quality cotton will bleed when it is laundered. All it takes is for a bright or deep color to bleed into the white fabric to completely ruin the hard work that you put into your quilt. One way to avoid these issues is to launder the fabric prior to quilting.
Cotton Decorating Fabric
Cotton decorator fabrics are heavier and they often have a sateen finish. While these fabrics lack the drapability of lighter weight fabrics, they are ideal for making quilted decorations for the home and some accessories. Placemats, tote bags, and throw pillows are some examples where a sturdier, heavier fabric is just right. To get the best results, use a lighter weight batting.
Linen is made from the flax plant to produce a material that is openly woven, absorbent, and associated with coolness. Many people like the textured look of linen but it can be problematic when used in quilts. The open weave makes it easy to unravel leading to flaws in the finished product, particularly when it is laundered.
A better option is quilter’s linen which is an all-cotton fabric that has the same look and texture as the original fabric without the problems. One good choice is Essex Linen from Robert Kaufman where quilters can find high-quality quilter’s linen in a wide variety of colors and designs. The fabric is made from a natural fiber linen and cotton blend.
Flannel is available in a broad range of solids and prints and it makes a great fabric for quilting alone or mixed with other fabrics. Many people use flannel to make baby quilts because it is soft and cuddly, but it is also a good fabric for quilts that will appeal to all ages.
Voile is a lightweight cotton that is soft, silky, and somewhat transparent. The fabric has been popular for making clothes for many years but it has begun to gain popularity as a quilting fabric as well. It may be combined with quilting weight cottons, used as the sole type of fabric for the quilt top, or used as a backing.
The key to choosing the right fabrics for your quilt is to stick with high-quality fabrics that are made specifically for quilting. Use fabrics together that are similar in weight and which will perform evenly when they are washed.
You may find a great deal on discount cottons that will work perfectly to set up your quilt design but may shrink or lose color and destroy all of your hard work. Keep your fabric choices close to the same weight and count on a variety of colors, designs, or finishes to add interest to the overall design.