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Thread: Fabric Quality - How to Tell

  1. #1
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    How does one decide if a piece of fabric is of "good quality" ?

    What should someone look for?

    How can one decide if it will be SUITABLE for the project before buying it and bringing it home?

    I have a lot of brands considered to be "better" - RJR, Michael Miller, Kaufman, Debbie Mumm/SSI - in my stash.

    I have a lot of brands that are considered to be "lesser" - VIP, Marcus Brothers, Cranston Village

    I have some others - Oakhurst, Springs Industries, and "no name on the selvage"

    Within each of these lines - there seem to be different thread counts, different hefts to the fabric - some seem very coarse to me - "thicker", but fewer threads to the inch - some are thinner, but with more threads to the inch - some are crispy, some are soft, some seem to wrinkle if I look at them funny.

    Some of the novelty/I Spy/nature prints are printed on fabric that seems very coarse to me - and I've passed on them, even though I really liked the print. (VIP and some "better" brands)

    I have some - gasp, horrors - fabrics purchased from "the dreaded chain stores" in the $2 to $4 range that I like as well or better than the "better" brands.

    I only have a couple scraps of Kaffe Fasset and no Liberty of London fabric, so I don't have anything to say about them.

    I have paid as little as $0.50 a yard to $16.00 a yard for fabric in a store.

    I do have "some" experience buying fabric, but seriously - for a beginner, what are some helpful clues/tips for them to look for?

    Especially if one has limited access to "in-person" shopping.

    Because, in my opinion, paying a higher price is NO guarantee of getting a better fabric.

  2. #2
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    Great question - I'm often asked that and it helps me to focus on what I really go for...

    I go for feel of the fabic - If I make a quilt that doesn't feel good, it's not going to be used or enjoyed. Is the fabric soft or stiff? does it feel substantial or wimpy? if it's a print, how do the edges of the parts of the design look? (If design looks like it should be precise but colors are not where they are supposed to be it's an immediate reject) If I fold or drape it does it have smooth drapes in the fabric? (If not, there may be a lot of sizing in it to make it look nice but which will wash out and change the texture later.)

    I also look at how transparent the fabric is - can I see shadows thru the fabric? if so, it may be too thin for my taste in quilt fabric...might be fine for other use.

    Is there a difference in the feel between the front and the back? in good quilt fabric there is usually no difference and that means I can use either side I want to!!!

  3. #3
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    I check to see if the design is printed "on-grain" - especially if it's something such as a stripe or a block.

    If it's printed "wrong" - it is there for the duration.

  4. #4
    mrsdralshhadeh's Avatar
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    THANKS!! never knew what I was supposed ot be looking for!! :thumbup:

  5. #5
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    This is a good question. Most of the time I buy the fabric called for by the pattern or book I am using. I think they would know. Then I buy if I like it. I don't like rough fabric no matter how expensive. Names don't mean that much I guess but I love McKenna Ryan , Mark Lipinski, Kaffe, Moda, any batiks (my love), etc. SO , this is how I buy. It would be nice to know to tell the difference. Kind of like sheets, I buy the ones that would look nice on my bed. If there is more thread great, if not oh well, softener can handle that.LOL I also find I do not have to pre-wash the fabric I chose. I have never had colors blend or more shrinkage than I like. I like to get that soft wrinkle look that ages a quilt. Happy quilting

  6. #6
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    I think most batiks are beautiful fabrics.

    I also think they are harder to work with than most of the other "quilting fabrics" because usually the weave is tighter/denser/closer.

    Therefore, it is much harder to "ease" or "stretch" the pieces if one wants/needs to fudge a bit. I think they are "stiffer" than most of the other "usual" fabrics, so less "forgiving" than the others.

    Others may disagree with my opinion on batiks.

  7. #7
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsdralshhadeh
    THANKS!! never knew what I was supposed ot be looking for!! :thumbup:
    Wow! You look different :D:D:D
    Love both your pics :)

  8. #8
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by debbieumphress
    This is a good question. Most of the time I buy the fabric called for by the pattern or book I am using. I think they would know. Then I buy if I like it. I don't like rough fabric no matter how expensive. Names don't mean that much I guess but I love McKenna Ryan , Mark Lipinski, Kaffe, Moda, any batiks (my love), etc. SO , this is how I buy. It would be nice to know to tell the difference. Kind of like sheets, I buy the ones that would look nice on my bed. If there is more thread great, if not oh well, softener can handle that.LOL I also find I do not have to pre-wash the fabric I chose. I have never had colors blend or more shrinkage than I like. I like to get that soft wrinkle look that ages a quilt. Happy quilting
    I agree- it's so much like buying sheets! Unless I already know the line I prefer to shop myself so I can feel the fabrics. Same goes for sheets except I never buy sheets online.
    I also love the "wrinkly look" in quilts :)

  9. #9
    Pam
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    I think most batiks are beautiful fabrics.

    I also think they are harder to work with than most of the other "quilting fabrics" because usually the weave is tighter/denser/closer.

    Therefore, it is much harder to "ease" or "stretch" the pieces if one wants/needs to fudge a bit. I think they are "stiffer" than most of the other "usual" fabrics, so less "forgiving" than the others.

    Others may disagree with my opinion on batiks.
    Bearis, that is funny! That is why I LIKE batiks! LOL I like the firmer feel and stability and the fact that they stay where I put them and do not shift under the presser foot, ect. I often starch regular fabrics when I put them together with batiks so that they are more firm. Oh, and the yummy colors....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam
    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    I think most batiks are beautiful fabrics.

    I also think they are harder to work with than most of the other "quilting fabrics" because usually the weave is tighter/denser/closer.

    Therefore, it is much harder to "ease" or "stretch" the pieces if one wants/needs to fudge a bit. I think they are "stiffer" than most of the other "usual" fabrics, so less "forgiving" than the others.

    Others may disagree with my opinion on batiks.
    Bearis, that is funny! That is why I LIKE batiks! LOL I like the firmer feel and stability and the fact that they stay where I put them and do not shift under the presser foot, ect. I often starch regular fabrics when I put them together with batiks so that they are more firm. Oh, and the yummy colors....
    It is funny!

    Different strokes for different folks - - -

    Your comment/observation/experience does reinforce the idea of different characteristics of the various fabrics available.

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