Are you trying quilting for the first time and don’t know where to start? Here’s a little secret. Successful quilting depends mainly on the fabric you use.
Keep reading to know the best fabrics for quilting. I also created a list of the worst quilting fabrics and some tips to follow on your first project.
What Is Quilting?
Quilting is a sewing technique that includes piecing together two or more fabric layers. This technique creates a thicker padded material for a rug, apparel, or blanket.
The most common quilting process involves three layers. The first one is the top fabric, also known as the quilt top. Beneath it is the batting or insulating fabric and the backing material. However, quilters have developed new techniques for quilting that might have fewer or more layers.
You can use your hands or a sewing machine to join two or more quilt pieces. The thread should pass through all parts across the whole area using a straight, running, or rocking stitch.
Quilting is a typical process worldwide. In some places like Sweden, quilted clothing is a sign of luxury. However, in India, quilting includes the use of leftover fabric scraps.
Tips for Quilting
Before knowing which fabric to use, take a look at these tips and tricks for quilting.
Switch Your Scissors for Rotary Cutter
Quilters agree that you don’t need to buy all quilting gadgets for your first project. But it would help if you had a rotary cutter instead of a pair of scissors.
Take it slow with this material. Slicing too fast can cut your fingertip off, primarily if you’re not yet used to the rotary cutter. If you’re using it with a ruler, keep the cutter against the edge of the ruler.
Pre-Wash Your Fabric
One reason to pre-wash your fabric is to prepare it for shrinking. But some quilters wash the material after quilting to produce a crinkled look.
Start With Beginner-Friendly Projects
If you’re a first-timer, go for simple quilting projects that will familiarize you with the technique. A mini quilt or rug is an excellent way to begin this new hobby. Trust me when I say that it will take time before you perfect the king-sized quilt.
Use a Seam Allowance
Some sewing projects, including quilting, use a ¼” seam allowance. Use this size on all pieced blocks. But if you’re experiencing difficulty with this size, try ½”. Anything less than these measurements can cause fraying.
Best Fabrics for Quilting
Take a look at the best types of fabric to try when quilting. Whatever material you pick, make sure only to select one for the whole product.
Quilter’s Weight Cotton
Quilter’s weight cotton is the favorite type of quilting fabric because of its thickness. The components that make up this rich material allow it to hold its form for a long time. It also stays durable no matter how many ties you wash it.
Although its edges feel too stiff to be a blanket, the quilter’s weight cotton is soft and comfortable. It’s easy to piece the blocks together because the threads don’t fray quickly.
Choose quilter’s weight cotton with around 68-78 threads per square inch.
100% Quilting Cotton
100% quilting cotton is not identical to the quilter’s weight cotton. It’s a soft fabric that wrinkles easily but irons perfectly. This fabric usually has a lower thread count of 60 per square inch. But that doesn’t mean it’s low-quality!
The quilting material is a little less stiff than the quilter’s weight cotton. You can iron or steam it in just a few minutes to ensure it’s free from creases. Pre-washing this type of cotton is also important because it tends to shrink.
The third best quilting fabric you can try is wool, ideal for those who want to create comforters in cold locations. The insulating material has a crimped characteristic that naturally traps warm air.
Its fibers do not immediately fray when you cut wool. So whatever shape you want to try for your quilt blocks, it will turn out neat.
Wool is an all-natural fabric that prevents mildew and mold. With proper care, this quilting fabric can last a lifetime.
Essex Linen is a natural fabric from 45% cotton and 55% linen. This fantastic invention by Robert Kaufmann is a go-to choice among many quilters because of its unique texture.
This particular linen type features a beautiful drape which you’ll also find in upholstery and apparel. Use this material if you think 100% quilting cotton and quilter’s weight cotton are too stiff.
Worst Fabrics for Quilting
The beauty of a quilt heavily relies on the fabric you use. Avoid these materials if you don’t want a failed project.
Synthetic fabrics like polyester are not a traditional choice for quilting. Even though they’re less expensive than cotton, wool, and linen, synthetic materials are of poor quality. Some even melt when you steam-press them during the patchwork process.
Don’t be lured by the strength of polyester. You’ll have a hard time using a fine thread for the quilt, and the fabric might slip between your fingers. Many quilters also experience having their fabrics ripped when binding.
But you can use polyester thread when you’re quilting on cotton fabric. It’s an on-the-go thread that doesn’t produce lint and is easy to find in the market.
Knit fabrics are also problematic quilting fabrics because they are too stretchable. Some quilters managed to create t-shirt memory quilts. However, they needed to use fusible backing.
It’s also challenging to run knits under the sewing machine foot. You need to set it to a “lightning bolt” stitch. If you don’t have one, check your sewing machine’s manual to see if it can handle stretch stitches. If you still have none, try a narrow zigzag.
Which Quilting Fabric Are You Trying?
Not all fabrics are made for quilting. Strategically deciding on your quilting fabric will save plenty of time piecing the fabric layers together later.
So, choose the best fabrics for quilting for your next project. Avoid synthetic fabrics and knits, and go for cotton or wool instead.