There are many options in fabrics for Quilting/Patchwork and it can be hard to make a choice with without buying unnecessarily. When I first started it was difficult to know what fabrics to go for but once I decided on the project and given advice on the fabric of choice I was away quilting. I have to say that cotton is my favorite and you can get many colors and patterns to choose from. I will explain how to identify what fabric is appropriate for each article that you will to wish to produce, and what different fabrics can go together for different textures and designs. As I have got into Quilting I find that I can not pass a fabric shop without buying fabric. I love having a variety of fabric on hand so I can just go and make anything at any time. Information will be given on how to care for fabrics and tips on how to handle your fabric which includes washing and more ideas. There are many sorts of fabric to choose from and I find myself using mainly cotton as they wash best.
CHOOSING a FABRIC
Color wheels are great for aiding in selecting colors that go together. The color wheel starts with pure colors Red Blue and Yellow. For tinted colors white is added to pure colors and as more white is added to colors the wheel shows how the colors become more paler. This is a great tool for learners to learn how to coordinate colors. These wheels helped me when I firs started. There are colorists who specialize in colors who are able to help learners and more experienced quilters decide on colors. You will hear the term value of color. This means going from dark to light be it plain or patterned fabric of the same color and can look very effective with a plain darker background color. Most of us were taught to use high-quality cotton fabric but as we listened to professional quilters they have taught us to be bold and use a variety of fabric.
Fabric selection and their uses
100% cotton fabric is made from natural fibers. The cotton thread for cotton fabric is 68x68 threads per square inch. Many quilting shops have started to store a variety of cotton fabric of different weights. The more threads the stronger the fabric will be. Using lesser quality fabric for quilts it can come apart at the seams when washed. Cotton is one fabric that will breathe. Cotton fabric will go with any other fabric that you choose. Cold water is best for washing fabric with soft soap. You need to separate dark colors that run from pale colors. Hang dry. This is the number one fabric to use and it is recommended that you use 100% cotton. Can be used for all projects for quilting eg bags, quilts, placemats, table runners, there is no project that you can't use cotton on. A strong cotton thread should be used when sewing cotton fabrics and try to avoid polyester cotton as it can cause puckering. Rayon cotton is not recommended for any quilting.
Cotton blended silk
Cotton blended silk is 45% cotton and 55% silk fabrics are great to use and I have used this to make an evening bag and baby's quilt. Had a great finish on it but needs to be washed in warm/cold water to keep the creases in it down. Use a silk cotton with this fabric as it will glide easily over the fabric.
Dobby fabric is a woven fabric with small structural patterns and gives extra texture in the fabric. The warp and weft threads may be the same color or different colors. Satin threads are powerful in this weave as they will enhance the pattern. This fabric gives great designs for wall hangings and table runners as it can be mixed with other fabric and gives different textures. Best to be washed by hand in warm/cold water in soft detergent. Iron with a steam iron.
Can have a heavy weave and is a natural fiber. It has a large selection of solid colors and mixes well with patterned cotton for quilts and wall hangings bags runners. Linen creates more depth and dimension to quilting. This is one fabric that I was advised to pre-wash, and you can add a stiffener to the fabric as it makes it easier to cut. Linen goes very well with cotton when making projects. I have seen a lot of quilts made from a combination of both fabrics. There is also available what is known as Quilter's linen it is made from 45% cotton and 65% linen and looks like a quilters cotton fabric. Wash by hand or in a wash bag. Iron with a steam iron. Use a strong cotton thread or an artificial thread such as polyester.
It has a soft silky shine.This fabric can be mixed and matched with cotton fabrics to give different textures in quilts or wall hangings. I am just starting to use Voile. Voile has a soft fine weave to it. It is recommended that you use a smaller needle eg 70/10. Use a cotton embroidery thread as it is thinner and finer and takes up less room on your foot feed. Spray the edges on pieces of voile as it gives it more stability or uses a specialty foot known as a roller foot. It has little rollers on it to grab fine fabrics. If used as a backing on quilts gives a soft feel to it. Use a soft detergent with a warm/cold wash. Use a cotton thread or a cotton covered polyester thread. All these fabrics can be used together for quilting and have great results. The choice is yours and the options are endless. Be creative and have fun. I have learned so much from going to quilting classes and listening to more experienced quilters. Pre cut can be a great way to get a large selection of different patterns and colors. Fabrics come in many different sizes and pre-cut ready for use. But you have to be careful as some may not have exactly straight edges.
Fabric comes in many sizes and below is a guide for buying
Precut sizing is 2".1/2" squares know as charm packs and are ideal for small projects eg, book covers, purses, bags etc. There are also good for checking what patterns go with what and what suits your project before spending money on purchasing fabrics. Not suitable for washing iron with a steam iron to remove wrinkles.
5" square charm packs. There are patterns specifically designed for these size charm packs and are less expensive. These squares cannot be washed as they will fray at the edges. Unsuitable for washing use a steam iron to remove wrinkles. These squares are great for doing small square quilts or placemats etc. Mix with patterns and plain fabrics to create a design.
Jelly Rolls Strips
Jelly Rolls Strips are 2.1/2 " wide by the width of the fabric usually about 40" to 45". They also come with a fat quarter to match jelly rolls. There are specific quilts to use these jelly rolls. Easy to use as all color coordinated to make it quick and take the guess work out of choosing colors and designs. It is a good idea to use a lint cleaner be for using to remove lint before starting on your project. Some come with edges that have been cut with pinking shears to prevent fraying. If making a quilt ensure that you have enough jelly rolls for the whole project. Jelly Rolls are great for making bags, table runners, placemats, chair pillow cases and toys to name a few but the choices are endless. Also good for a fast way of cutting binding strips. These also are not to be washed as they will fray at the edges and get wrinkles that are hard to remove. Use a lint cleaner to remove any lint that has built up.
Layer Cakes 10" wide square. They consist of bigger patterns and have a more variety of use from rag quilts to regular quilts. Great for doing big squares in quilts lined with smaller borders.Not suitable to be washed, it is best to iron these squares with a steam iron to remove wrinkles. Fat Eight Bundle is the size of a half fat quarter 9" by 22". Another option to do a quilt in a less expensive way and to get more fabric. Iron to get wrinkles out as washing will fray the edges. I have used these to make smaller bags etc makeup bags pencil cases jewelry bags etc.
Fat Quarter Packs
Fat Quarter Bundle Approximately 18" wide by 22" long or 1/4 yard. Can come in packs that have enough to get o
ne or two quilt tops out of them. I have used these for placemats and plain borders and they look great. Fat quarters are great also if they have a solid design on so you can cut them out or use the fat quarter for making a bag. They usually come from a collection line of fabric. Not suitable for washing as they will fray. Iron with a steam iron to remove wrinkles. If making a lot of quilts and using one color/pattern it is cheaper to buy your fabric by the bulk. Buying bulk in plain colors is great for always having samples on hand for borders and bottom layer of quilts
Pre washing fabric
This is just a brief outline on preparing your fabric. The fabric was once washed for pre-shrinking before you start on your quilting project. The rule once was that all fabric should be washed before quilting but since I have attended classes and read up on fabric care things are changing. While the fabric is still washed by most quilters I have met some who don't do it for some fabrics. I will give an outline on fabric care that I have been taught and read about. While hard wash detergents are used to remove dirt, oil, and other stains from fabric is unlikely that this will happen to your quilt. It is recommended that you don't use hard wash detergent on fabric but use a softer detergent one. I was advised to use is dishwashing liquid as it is soft. Sometimes before washing it is a good idea to overlock/serge the edges to prevent fraying.
Batting/Webbing/Wadding this is used for putting in the center of all quilting projects. The type to use depends on the project you are making. It is best to seek professional assistance from Quilting shops or experienced quilters. They come in many forms so I have put a list of what is available and what it is made from. They range from man made fibers to natural fibers. It is an individual choice as to what Batting/Webbing/Wadding that you use. I seem to go for the more natural products.
Low loft thin, high loft means thick. Choose low loft if you want your finished project to have a smoother appearance for wall hangings and place mats or table runners. For a fluffier quilt or comforter, choose a high loft batting. Wool batting is usually the thickest batting. Bamboo is the lightest loft of batting.
Batting is used for filling in most quilting projects and you have to find out which batting/webbing/wadding is appropriate for your project. Listed below is a guide to help you decide what to purchase.
Quilt batting is used in various sewing and quilting projects is also known as wadding/webbing. It is used as a layer of insulation between fabrics, most often used in quilt making. Batting/Webbing/Wadding is the filling of quilts and makes them warm and heavy or use a thinner batting/webbing/wadding if you want it lighter. If making Pot mats or place mats where hot containers will be put on them you have to use a Batting/Wadding/Webbing with insulation in it to prevent marking on bench tops.
Batting/Webbing/Wadding comes prepacked or on a bulk roll
Cotton batting - in light of the fact that it's produced using common strands is favored for its delicate surface and solace. 100% cotton batting is typically 1/8" thick. I have used this in making placemats.
Polyester batting retains its shape and thickness contrasted with different strands. Polyester strands are preferred for bunks and bedding. Polyester is thicker yet lighter, keeps you warm without the weight. It's non-breathable however opposes form and build up. Polyester batting thicknesses are 10 oz is 1" thick, 6 oz is 1/2", 8 oz is 3/4", and 4 oz is 3/8".
Fleece batting is very lightweight and is used for its glow. Fleece batting is a characteristic and grand choice. Fleece batting is ½" thick and impervious to wrinkles. It holds its shape and it springs back. It's great for hand and machine sewing, and can likewise be tied.
Cotton/Poly mixes are normally 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It has the advantages of cotton but has more loft.
Bamboo batting is produced using half bamboo and half natural cotton mix batting. Bamboo batting is extremely breathable and perfect for machine stitching. It's machine launderable with 2-3% shrinkage. Bamboo is arranged into rich fiber utilizing contamination free strategies with minimal waste.
Fortified batting has a light cement on the two sides to hold strands together. This helps so the batting won't move or facial hair. Bearding is when batting strands push through the texture.
Fusible batting contains a fusible web so you can season layers together. When utilizing fusible batting layer sew sponsorship, batting and stitch top together. Utilize the fleece setting on your iron, press from the middle out squeezing every territory 3-4 seconds. Once completed, enable stitch to cool, and rehash on opposite side.
Needle punch batting is mechanically felted together by punching them with heaps of needles. As a result of this current, it's firmer and denser. Needle punch batting is utilized for solid knit sponsorship, attire and covers.
Cotton batting - in light of the way that it's created using basic strands is preferred for its delicate surface and ease. 100% cotton batting is commonly 1/8" thick.
Polyester batting holds its shape and thickness diverged from various strands. Polyester strands are favored for bunks and bedding. Polyester is thicker yet lighter, keeps you warm without the weight. It's non-breathable however restricts shape and development. Polyester batting thicknesses are 10 oz is 1" thick, 6 oz is 1/2", 8 oz is 3/4", and 4 oz is 3/8".
Wool batting is astoundingly lightweight and is used for its gleam. Downy batting is a trademark and terrific decision. Downy batting is ½" thick and impenetrable to wrinkles. It holds its shape and it springs back. It's awesome for hand and machine sewing, and can in like manner be tied.
Cotton/Poly blends are regularly 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It has the upsides of cotton, however with more loft.
Bamboo batting is delivered utilizing half bamboo and half regular cotton blend batting. Bamboo batting is to a great degree breathable and ideal for machine sewing. It's machine washable with 2-3% shrinkage. Bamboo is set up into rich fiber using defilement free design with negligible waste.
Strengthened batting has a light concrete on the two sides to hold strands together. This helps so the batting won't move or facial hair. Bearding is when batting strands push through the surface.
Fusible batting contains a fusible web so you can season layers together. While using fusible batting layer sew support, batting and fasten top together. Use the wool setting on your iron, press from the center out crushing each region 3-4 seconds. Once finished, allow to cool, and repeat on the opposite side.
Needle punch batting is mechanically felted together by punching them with stores of needles. Because of this present, it's firmer and denser. Needle punch batting is used for strong sew sponsorship, clothing, and covers.
Batting/Webbing/Wadding comes prepacked or buying of the bulk which is more economical if using large amounts
I have inserted a chart for the batting sizes needed for the below projects. If in doubt ask at the craft store or use the internet/youtube. There is a lot of information out there from experienced quilters.
Standard Batting Sizes
Craft 36" x 45" Full 81" x 96"
Crib 45" x 60" Queen 90" x 108"
Twin 72" x 90" King 120" x 120"