What Is Quilting Fabric? Including Best Quilt Materials

Quilt Fabric, made entirely from 100% cotton, serves as the essential material for creating the top and bottom layers of quilts. Sometimes, when looking at fabrics that appear to be very similar, you might find surprising differences in their prices, which requires closer inspection.

The purpose of this article by SewingWithEase is to explain what makes a good quilting fabric. In addition, you will learn how to select the 7 best quilting materials. As a final step, you’ll discover quilting resources to get you started!

Key Takeaways

  • Quilt Fabric is made from 100% cotton and is specifically designed for making quilt tops and backs.
  • The quality of Quilt Fabric is determined by factors such as thread count, staple length of the cotton fibers, weave, printing, and finishing.
  • High-quality Quilt Fabric is essential for creating durable and long-lasting quilts and can be identified by its softness, minimal shrinkage, and superior colorfastness.

Understanding Quilting Fabric

The Essence of Quilting Fabric

At its core, quilting fabric generally refers to medium-weight, 100% quilting cotton. This fabric is distinguished by its detailed prints, plain weave pattern, and high thread count, contributing to its durability and softness. Designed to minimize stretching during sewing and to endure numerous washes, quilting cotton is the quintessential choice for quilters.

Weave and Quality of Quilting Fabric

The quality of quilting fabric is often gauged by its weave density. A denser weave equates to increased strength and longevity, while a looser weave might offer a different aesthetic but less durability. Premium quilting cotton is noted for its high thread count, balancing softness with a robust nature.

What is quilting fabric?

Selecting the Ideal Quilting Material

Varied Quilting Fabrics

Beyond the dominant quilting cotton, other materials such as flannel, wool, and linen also serve well in quilting, each bringing a distinct texture and quality to the finished piece.

The Merits of Quilter’s Weight Cotton

Known for its thickness and durability, the quilter’s weight cotton is optimal for enduring quilts. Its resilience in maintaining shape and resisting fraying makes it a top pick among quilting enthusiasts.

Understanding Cotton Varieties

Discerning between 100% quilting cotton and other types of cotton is crucial for quilting success. Apparel cotton, for example, maybe more prone to stretching and less suitable for quilting.

Exploring Specialty Fabrics

The apparel industry uses specialty textiles to meet specific performance and aesthetic requirements. Performance fabrics like Gore-Tex and Lycra are engineered for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, whereas technical fabrics like Tencel and Modal cater to eco-conscious consumers. Although specialty fabrics are expensive, their unique benefits and features make them highly valuable in the fashion industry.

Examining the Components of a Quilt

Crucial Elements of a Quilt

A comprehensive understanding of a quilt’s components – including quilt blocks, backing, and binding – is fundamental in choosing the appropriate fabric. The backing typically employs a simple cloth, whereas the binding may match or accentuate the quilt blocks’ design.

Top 7 Best Types of Fabric for Quilting

1. Quilter’s Weight Cotton

cotton twill

Quilter’s weight cotton stands out for its robustness and ease of handling, making it the go-to fabric for quilts designed to last. Its firm structure ensures it holds shape and minimizes fraying, an essential quality for precise quilting. High-quality quilter’s cotton often comes with a thread count between 68-78 threads per square inch, ensuring a soft touch and durability.

2. 100% Quilting Cotton

100% Quilting Cotton

This fabric should not be mistaken for regular cotton. 100% quilting cotton is specifically designed for quilting, boasting a stiffer and more durable weave than its apparel counterparts. It’s essential to verify the quality of quilting cotton, as variations in thread count and weave density impact the fabric’s overall performance in quilting projects.

3. Voile

Voile

Voile presents an exciting choice for quilters seeking a lighter, airier fabric. Known for its silky texture and sheer appearance, voile can be made from cotton, polyester, or a blend. It poses challenges due to its delicate nature and slipperiness, requiring careful handling and appropriate tools like silk pins and finer needles.

Despite these challenges, voile quilts offer a distinct, lightweight quality, making them ideal for artistic display or summer use. Its minimal shrinkage and the option to use spray starch for easier handling make voile a viable, though more advanced, quilting choice.

4. Cotton Flannel

Flannel

Cotton flannel is a heartwarming choice, particularly for baby quilts, due to its plush, cozy texture. Made by brushing metal bristles over woven fabric to lift tiny cotton fibers, flannel offers a velvety feel.

While shopping for cotton flannel, it’s crucial to seek out 100% cotton varieties, especially for baby quilts, and avoid lower-quality, loosely woven versions. Quilting with flannel comes with its own challenges, such as managing fraying and ensuring precise cuts, but the result is a soft, comforting quilt perfect for gentle use.

5. Wool

Wool Coating

Wool is an exceptional choice for quilts requiring insulation. Its natural crimped fibers trap warm air, making it an excellent material for colder climates. Wool quilts boast longevity, mold, mildew resistance, and flame retardancy.

Due to its non-fraying nature, the ease of cutting wool is a significant advantage. However, its bulk, cost, and limited range of printed patterns present some considerations. Wool quilts, though requiring specific sewing adjustments, offer unparalleled warmth and durability.

6. Quilter’s Weight Linen

Linen

Quilter’s weight linen, a thicker variant of traditional linen, brings quilts a unique, homespun aesthetic. Made from natural flax fibers, it provides excellent insulation and a distinctively soft feel. Quilters should be cautious with linen due to its tendency to shrink and its looser weave, which can lead to shifting during sewing.

Precautions such as not mixing linen with other fabrics in a quilt, using spray starch for cutting, and employing small stitches and finished edges can mitigate these challenges, resulting in a charmingly rustic quilt.

7. Novelty Materials

Novelty materials

The use of novelty materials in quilting opens a world of creative possibilities. From repurposed t-shirts to fragments of memorable clothing, these materials can transform a quilt into a precious keepsake.

While sewing with these varied materials can be complex, techniques like applying fusible interfacing can aid in managing stretchy or delicate fabrics. Quilts made from novelty materials may not offer the durability of traditional quilting fabrics, but they excel in sentimental value and uniqueness.

What Is Double-Faced Quilted Fabric?

What Is Double-Faced Quilted Fabric?

In double-faced quilts, two pieces of fabric are sandwiched between two thin layers of batting, which are sewn together in diamond shapes. This is what you’d call pre-quilted material.

This material is not recommended for quilting projects but is ideal for sewing warm jackets. In addition to pillows and blankets, you can make many other things with this padded material.

Many types of quilted fabric exist, including plain weave cotton, polyester, and cotton or polyester broadcloth.

What Is Pre-Quilted Fabric?

What Is Pre-Quilted Fabric?
Photo credit: fabric.com

Pre-quilted fabric is commonly called double-faced fabric. An example would be to sew two pieces of fabric to one side of a thin layer of batting. Cotton or polyester fibers can be found in batting, a thin sheet of pillow stuffing.

The material is not suitable for cutting out and piecing together quilting blocks. Alternatively, you can sew on a binding edge to a pre-quilted blanket and make it quick and cute!

It is still a nice end product, even if it does not precisely fit the definition of “quilting.” You should buy pre-quilted fabric if you need a gift immediately!

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

Your quilt will take many hours to cut, piece together, and sew, so choosing the right fabric is crucial. When you’ve put all that work into your quilt, you don’t want it to unravel in the wash.

To help you make your selection, consider these tips:

  • When making quilt blocks, do not mix and match different fabric types. Mixing different prints and colors in your design is fine if you use all quilting cotton or all voile, etc. In addition to straining the seams, mixing fabric types can unravel or stretch the quilt.
  • Do not use knit fabric unless you make a quilt from T-shirts. Precision shapes are impossible due to their natural stretch when sewing with this type of material.
  • It’s also a good idea to use thread made from the same material as your fabric as much as possible. Quilters who use wool may want to use strong silk thread as an exception to this rule.
  • It is a good idea to pre-wash your material. Washing the quilt after it is finished should prevent it from shrinking or tearing.
  • Even though polyester is a cheap synthetic material, it doesn’t handle high temperatures well, and quilting often requires a lot of ironing. Furthermore, some people may not want a quilt made of synthetic materials if they have sensitive skin. If you plan on spending at least twenty hours crafting a quality quilt, you should probably invest in good all-natural fabric!
  • You should spend more on premium-quality quilting cotton if you can afford it. Cheaper materials will not last as long as fabric with a denser weave and a higher thread count.
What Is the Difference Between Cotton and Quilting Cotton?

Quilting Fabric FAQs

What distinguishes quilting cotton from regular cotton?

Quilting cotton is denser and heavier with a higher thread count, designed specifically for quilting. In contrast, regular cotton is lighter and more suitable for apparel due to its drape and softness.

Is it advisable to mix different fabric types in a quilt?

Mixing different fabrics in a quilt is generally not recommended as they may have varying degrees of shrinkage and stretch, potentially compromising its structure and appearance.

What fabric is ideal for quilt backing?

Quilting cotton is a popular choice for quilt backing because of its durability and compatibility with the quilt top. However, fabrics like wideback material can also offer a seamless look for larger quilts.

Conclusion

In conclusion, selecting quilting fabric is a critical aspect of quilt-making. From the classic quilter’s weight cotton to innovative novelty materials, each fabric type brings its characteristics and challenges to the quilting table. Understanding these properties is critical to crafting quilts that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also durable and functional. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced quilter, your fabric choice will significantly influence the outcome of your project. Happy quilting!

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