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Thread: Fabric Manufacturers Quality

  1. #1
    Member KLauren's Avatar
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    Fabric Manufacturers Quality

    Hi all! I'm new here and new to quilting, too. I've been doing some heavy research on which manufacturers produce the highest quality fabric, and now have a vague idea of who those are. I have also selected my favorite when it comes to print and fabric quality, according to the internet, and that would be Art Gallery Fabrics.

    However, the internet doesn't compare to actual experience of working with a fabric. So, my question to all of you experienced quilters is what manufacturers fabrics are you most likely to work with if you were given the same print for each manufacturer at the same price?

    I'm making a quilt for my mother and would really like the use the highest quality cotton fabric. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    What is the criteria you are using to determine the highest quality of fabric?
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    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    For me I would have to feel the fabric. I don't buy fabric by brand, I buy it by feel. This is called the hand of the fabric. I feel for texture and drape -- different pieces of fabric from the same company can feel vastly different so I don't just focus on a single brand. This is why I am hesitant to buy fabric online unless I am very sure what I am getting (Kona cotton and batiks from name brand companies are a couple I will buy on line).
    QuiltnLady1

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    Super Member Cybrarian's Avatar
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    Another piece of information needed is what style of fabric? For example will you be making a quilt for your Mom out of batiks, solids, '30's prints, or a specific designer? Designers work with a specific fabric company, so if you want to use fabrics designed by say, Tula Pink, you're purchasing from Free Spirit Fabrics.
    Come to Me and I will give you rest--Jesus.

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    Senior Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    Moda, Benartex, Riley Blake, Northcott, Henry Glass and Robert Kauffman are all great fabrics. I've found a lot of flaws in the "Stella" fabrics, so we will discontinue selling that brand. Kona used to be a great solid, but the sales rep told us they lowered their quality so they could sell to JoAnn's. But then, Moda's Bella solids dropped their quality, too. "Cotton Supreme" is a very nice solid. I think it's by RJR.
    Annette in Utah

  6. #6
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    I've noticed a drop in quality in Moda Bella solids just since I started quilting a year ago. The same grey solid I bought about 6 months ago has a completely different look and feel than the one I bought 3 months ago. Definitely thinner.

    One thing to keep in mind is that even within a designer's fabric collection, the fabric can feel different for the different prints. You will notice how drastic this is if you buy a precut like a jelly roll. One fabric in the collection will be really stretchy, thin, and have a lose weave. Another one will be thick and sturdy. So you cannot even go by brand, designer, or collection.

    Michael Miller's solids are supposed to drape really beautifully. I only have a fat 8th pack so I cannot judge it, but it does feel silkier than Kona or Moda.

  7. #7
    Member KLauren's Avatar
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    The main criteria that I’m using to determine fabric quality is weight/thread count, softness, drape and how well a fabric washes time after time. I am heavily taking experienced quilters preferences into consideration. There is a local quilt shop that I’ve visited, but was only able to find Moda, Timeless Treasures and Robert Kaufman. I did like the feel of Moda.

    The style I am aiming for is modern prints with a more traditional quilt layout; hence Art Gallery Fabrics being one of my top choices print wise. The material I am looking to use is typically 44’’ – 45’’ cotton. Not Batiks, though I’m aware that batiks have a higher thread count. I’m looking mostly at manufacturers because, like you said, designers work with companies. My assumption is that because it’s the designers that work with the manufacturers, consistency of quality can be better determined by manufacturer versus designer? Correct me if I’m wrong.

  8. #8
    Member KLauren's Avatar
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    "One thing to keep in mind is that even within a designer's fabric collection, the fabric can feel different for the different prints. You will notice how drastic this is if you buy a precut like a jelly roll. One fabric in the collection will be really stretchy, thin, and have a lose weave. Another one will be thick and sturdy. So you cannot even go by brand, designer, or collection."

    That's really interesting! I wonder what makes the prints so different from each-other within the same designers collection of the same manufacturer. You would think that if a designer or manufacturer used the same type of fabric, at least a collection should be consistent. But you're saying that it's as if a different fabric is used even within a collection?

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    Many of the so-called better lines are only 42-43 inches wide. Some are even narrower.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by KLauren View Post
    "One thing to keep in mind is that even within a designer's fabric collection, the fabric can feel different for the different prints. You will notice how drastic this is if you buy a precut like a jelly roll. One fabric in the collection will be really stretchy, thin, and have a lose weave. Another one will be thick and sturdy. So you cannot even go by brand, designer, or collection."

    That's really interesting! I wonder what makes the prints so different from each-other within the same designers collection of the same manufacturer. You would think that if a designer or manufacturer used the same type of fabric, at least a collection should be consistent. But you're saying that it's as if a different fabric is used even within a collection?
    Yes, I am saying that I have bought jelly rolls where one or more of the fabrics had a different feel than the others. For example, Lotta Jansdotter's Mormor collection which is manufactured by Windham Fabrics. The fabrics that are printed on a white background are thinner and stretchier than the fabrics that have colored background. They felt different in my hand and they behaved different in an assembled quilt block. The extra stretch that the white fabric had in them caused some wonkiness in my blocks. If I had more of the white fabrics in a block, then the block ended up larger. My guess is that it was the difference between using a bleached cotton vs. a nonbleached cotton. It likely has to do with the printing process. Certain designs probably require particular weaves of the fabric.

    The take away is that if you only want to use fabrics that feel top quality, you will have to lay your hands on each piece in a collection to see if it feels the same. You cannot assume that they used the exact same cotton for each print in the collection. To expound on that point even further, you cannot assume that a manufacturer uses the exact same quality of cotton in all of its fabric lines. They also might use a slightly different weave depending on if it is a solid, print, grunge, blender, shade, and so forth. I'm sure that there are some manufacturers that use the same quality and weave for all of their fabrics. But there are definitely some that don't.

    That is just my firsthand experience. Hopefully, there is someone with more expertise that can shed some light on this topic.

    Since this is for your mother, she will love whatever you make her. Art Gallery Fabrics is lovely fabric. If you like it, and you think your mother will like it, then go ahead and use it in her quilt. It will turn out beautiful. Just as important as quality fabric is quality thread and batting. Have you decided on those items?
    Last edited by silliness; 06-10-2015 at 10:38 PM.

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