Quilting is a popular craft that has been enjoyed for generations. It involves sewing together multiple layers of fabric to create a warm and cozy blanket that can be used for bedding, decoration, or even as a family heirloom. One of the key elements in creating a beautiful and durable quilt is the choice of fabric. While most fabrics can technically be used for quilting, there are certain types of fabric that are better suited for this purpose. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at quilting fabric – what it is, how it differs from regular cotton fabric, and the advantages of using it for your quilting projects.
What is Quilting Fabric?
Quilting fabric is a type of fabric that is specifically designed for use in making quilts. It is typically made from high-quality, tightly-woven cotton fibers that are dyed in a wide range of colors and printed with a variety of patterns and designs. Quilting fabric is typically made from 100% cotton, (although you aren’t limited to using quilting cotton to make quilts – fibers such as silk, wool, or polyester blends can also be used). The high-quality cotton fibers used in quilting fabric make it durable and easy to work with, while the range of colors, patterns, and designs available make it a popular choice among quilters.
Quilting fabric can come in a variety of weights and densities, depending on the intended use. For example, lighter-weight quilting fabric may be used for making a summer quilt, while heavier-weight quilting fabric may be used for making a cozy winter quilt.
What is the difference between quilting fabric and regular 100% cotton?
One of the main differences between quilting fabric and regular cotton fabric is the way they are woven. Quilting fabric is typically woven more tightly than regular cotton fabric, which makes it more durable and less likely to fray or stretch over time. The tighter weave also makes it easier to cut and sew, which is important when creating precise shapes and patterns for quilting projects.
Another difference between quilting fabric and regular cotton fabric is the way they are printed. Quilting fabric is often printed with small, repeating patterns that are designed to help fit together seamlessly when pieced together for a quilt top. These prints may also be created with quilting in mind, with some fabrics featuring small-scale designs that are perfect for use in intricate quilting patterns.
In contrast, regular cotton fabric may be printed with larger, bolder designs that are not always suitable for use in quilting projects. Additionally, regular cotton fabric may not have the same durability and ease of use as quilting fabric, which can make it more challenging to work with when creating a quilt.
Quilting fabric may also come in a wider variety of colors and patterns than regular cotton fabric, making it easier to find the perfect fabric for a specific quilting project. Many quilting fabrics are also designed to coordinate with one another, making it easy to create a cohesive look across a quilt top.
Overall, while regular cotton fabric can be used for quilting, quilting fabric is often a better choice for creating durable, precise, and visually stunning quilts. The tight weave, small-scale prints, and wide variety of colors and patterns make quilting fabric a popular choice among quilters of all levels.
Advantages of Using Quilting Fabric to Make a Quilt
There are several advantages to using quilting fabric to make a quilt, including:
- Durability: Quilting fabric is woven more tightly than regular cotton fabric, which makes it more durable and less likely to fray or stretch over time. This is important for quilts that will be used and washed regularly, as the fabric will need to hold up to regular wear and tear.
- Ease of use: Quilting fabric is designed to be easy to cut and sew, which is important when creating precise shapes and patterns for quilting projects. The tight weave and high thread count make it less likely that the fabric will shift or bunch up during sewing, resulting in a more polished and professional-looking finished product.
- Variety of prints: Quilting fabric comes in a wide variety of colors and prints, making it easy to find the perfect fabric for a specific quilting project. Many quilting fabrics are also designed to coordinate with one another, with matching fabrics like for example the Moda brand of quilting fabrics, making it easy to create a cohesive look across a quilt top.
- Small-scale prints: Many quilting fabrics feature small-scale prints that are perfect for use in intricate quilting patterns. These prints are often designed to fit together seamlessly when pieced together for a quilt top, which can make the quilting process easier and more enjoyable.
- Quilt-specific prints: Quilting fabric is often printed with designs that are specifically designed for use in quilting projects. For example, some fabrics feature small repeating patterns that are perfect for creating a repeating pattern across a quilt top, while others feature larger prints that can be used as a focal point for the quilt.
Types of Quilting Fabrics
Remember that you aren’t limited to using quilting fabric to make a quilt. People have been using all sorts of fabrics to create quilts including denim, wool, flannel and more. Here are some of the most common types of quilting fabrics:
Solid Quilting Fabric
Solid quilting fabric is a plain, single-color fabric that is free from patterns or designs. Solid quilting fabric is a versatile option that can be used in a variety of quilt patterns and designs.
Printed Quilting Fabric
Printed quilting fabric is a type of fabric that is printed with patterns and designs. Printed quilting fabric can come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and designs, making it an ideal choice for creating unique and eye-catching quilts.
Batik quilting fabric is a type of fabric that is made using a wax-resist dyeing technique. The wax is applied to the fabric in specific areas, preventing the dye from reaching those areas and creating a unique, multi-colored pattern. Batik quilting fabric is a popular choice for creating quilts with intricate designs and patterns.
Flannel quilting fabric is a soft, warm fabric that is perfect for making cozy winter quilts. Flannel quilting fabric is typically made from cotton and has a brushed surface that gives it a soft, fuzzy texture.
Muslin quilting fabric is a plain, lightweight fabric that is often used as a backing fabric for quilts. Muslin quilting fabric is also a popular choice for making test blocks and practicing quilting techniques.
Linen quilting fabric is a durable and breathable fabric that is made from flax fibers. Linen quilting fabric is a popular choice for making lightweight, summer quilts.
Silk quilting fabric is a luxurious and lightweight fabric that is perfect for creating elegant and delicate quilts. Silk quilting fabric is often used in combination with other fabrics to create unique and eye-catching designs.
Wool quilting fabric is a warm and cozy fabric that is perfect for making winter quilts. Wool quilting fabric is often used in combination with other fabrics to create unique and textured designs.
Denim is a popular fabric for many sewing projects, and it can also be used for quilting. Denim quilting fabric is often made from a blend of cotton and polyester, which gives it the durability and strength of denim, but also allows it to be more flexible and easier to work with for quilting purposes.
Choosing the Best Quilting Fabric
Choosing the best quilting fabric for your project depends on several factors, including the desired quilt design, the intended use of the quilt, and personal preference.
When it comes to selecting fabric for your quilt, the possibilities are endless. You can mix and match colors, patterns, and textures to create a truly unique piece. One fun way to get creative with your fabric selection is to choose a theme. For example, you could create a quilt inspired by nature and include fabrics with floral prints, leaf motifs, and earthy tones.
Another way to add interest to your quilt is to mix different types of fabric, such as cotton, flannel, and wool. This not only adds to the visual appeal but also creates a tactile experience when holding and using the quilt.
To further personalize your quilt, consider incorporating meaningful fabrics into your design. This could be a favorite shirt or dress that no longer fits, a piece of fabric from a loved one’s clothing, or a fabric that represents a special memory or place.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different patterns and prints. While it’s important to keep in mind the quality of the fabric, having fun with your fabric selection can lead to some unexpected and beautiful combinations.
Here are some tips to help you choose the best quilting fabric for your project:
Consider the Quilt Design
The quilt design you have in mind will play a significant role in choosing the best quilting fabric. For example, if you are creating a quilt with a lot of geometric shapes and angles, you may want to choose a solid fabric to accentuate the shapes. Alternatively, if you are making a quilt with floral patterns, you may want to choose a printed fabric with a floral design.
Consider the Intended Use
The intended use of the quilt should also be taken into consideration when choosing the best quilting fabric. For example, if you are making a summer quilt, you may want to choose a lightweight fabric like cotton or linen. On the other hand, if you are making a winter quilt, you may want to choose a heavier fabric like flannel or wool.
Consider the Fabric Quality
The quality of the fabric is also an important factor to consider when choosing the best quilting fabric. High-quality quilting fabric will be durable, easy to work with, and will hold its shape and color over time. Look for fabric with a high thread count, tightly-woven fibers, and a smooth finish.
Consider Personal Preference
Finally, personal preference should also be taken into account when choosing the best quilting fabric. Choose fabrics that you are drawn to and that will make you happy to work with. Whether you prefer bold, bright colors or soft pastels, there is a quilting fabric out there that will fit your personal style.
Tips for Working with Quilting Fabric
Working with quilting fabric can be a lot of fun, but it can also be challenging at times. Here are some tips to help you work with quilting fabric more easily:
Wash and Press the Fabric (Optional)
Before you begin working with quilting fabric, you may want to wash and press it. This is not always necessary and in fact, we rarely do this ourselves but if you think that the fabric is likely to shrink or run when washing then prewashing is the way to go.
Use a Rotary Cutter and Mat
A rotary cutter and mat are essential tools for working with quilting fabric. The rotary cutter will allow you to make precise cuts, while the mat will protect your work surface and make cutting easier.
Use Pins and Clips
Pins and clips can help keep your fabric pieces in place while you are sewing. Be sure to use the right type of pins or clips for your fabric to avoid leaving holes or marks.
Use the Right Needle and Thread
Using the right needle and thread for your quilting fabric is important for achieving good results. Choose a needle size and thread weight that are appropriate for your fabric and sewing machine.
Companies that Specialize in Quilting Fabrics
There are many companies that specialize in selling high-quality quilting fabric, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Here are a few popular companies that quilters often turn to for their fabric needs:
- Moda Fabrics: Moda is a well-known name in the quilting world, and their fabrics are beloved for their quality and range of designs. They offer a wide variety of quilting fabric collections, including both traditional and modern prints. They are particularly well known for their pre-cut fabrics which is fabric that has already been cut into specific sizes and shapes, such as squares, rectangles, or strips. This allows quilters to quickly and easily assemble their quilts without spending time measuring and cutting fabric. Pre-cut fabrics are available in a variety of sizes, from small charm packs to larger layer cakes or jelly rolls, and they often feature coordinating fabrics that can be used together in a quilt.
- Robert Kaufman Fabrics: Robert Kaufman is another well-respected name in the quilting world, and their fabrics are known for their vibrant colors and unique designs. They offer a wide range of fabrics, including quilting cottons, flannels, and denims.
- FreeSpirit Fabrics: FreeSpirit is a company that is known for its innovative designs and collaborations with popular designers. They offer a range of fabrics, including both quilting cottons and specialty fabrics like voile and rayon.
- Riley Blake Designs: Riley Blake is a popular company that offers a wide range of fabrics, including both traditional and modern prints. Their fabrics are known for their bright colors and playful designs.
- Hoffman Fabrics: Hoffman Fabrics is a company that specializes in batik fabrics, which are known for their intricate designs and vibrant colors. They offer a wide range of batiks, as well as other fabrics like cotton prints and screen prints.
- Andover Fabrics: Andover is a company that is known for its high-quality fabrics and collaborations with popular designers. They offer a range of fabrics, including both traditional and modern prints.
These are just a few examples of the many companies that specialize in quilting fabric. When choosing a fabric company, it’s important to consider factors like quality, variety of designs, and price. It’s also a good idea to read reviews and check out the company’s reputation within the quilting community to ensure that you’re getting high-quality fabric that will meet your needs.