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Thread: How do you decide if fabric is "quality" (good enough for your quilt)??

  1. #1
    NCfleur's Avatar
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    Hello Quilting Friends:

    Newbie here with lots of questions.

    I never sewed before I picked up an inexpensive machine to take my first class last summer so I don't have any sewing experience to fall back on. Sorry if my questions are really basic! :shock:

    So I'm learning the names of some high end fabric manufactures like Jinny Beyers, La Moda, etc from looking at fabric at my LQS. I hear people say you should buy the best you can. But I also want to stay within a budget and I don't know how to judge "quality" of fabric.

    Of course I know to stay with 100% cotton. I've seen cloth at Walmart that felt like cheese cloth and I know that's not good! LOL!! But honestly, if someone put samples of fabric in front of me without the labels, I don't know if I could tell which came from the quilt shop and which came from JoAnne's/Hancock's.

    Then I think about the old quilts from the 1800's-1900's and how everyone raves over them. Some of them were made with flour sacks and old pieces of who-knows-what! What's a girl to do?? LOL!

    Any help in developing some judgment would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    Buy fabric that feels good to you and falls within your budget. The cheese cloth feeling fabric you already know you don't want to work with. Start from there. If it feels good to your hands, you will probably be happy working with it. There will be lessons learned along the way. You will develop your own preferences.

  3. #3
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    I know there are those who will not use anything but quilt shop fabric but I have used fabric from other sources that I have just loved and the quilt has turned out beautiful. If I find a fabric that I "just can't live without", as long as it feels and looks good; i.e., not thin, 'drapy', can't see my fingers through it, I will buy it from wherever I can get it. I suppose if I were entering a big quilt contest I would be more concerned that I use "correct" fabric, but if it is just for me or for my family, I get what I like and what I think they will like. I know that the person that receives the quilt won't care if the fabric came from Wal-Mart or the most expensive shop, I made it with love. I do make sure the fabrics won't run if using dark colors but I do that with LQS fabric too. Please don't get me wrong, I buy LOTS of fabric from LQS (I LOVE my LQS) but I don't limit purchases just to them if I like something from somewhere else. I can only think of one time that I regretted using a particular fabric, and it was when I 'second-guessed' myself and used something that I had previously decided not to use. Learned a lesson. Even though you are new, use what you like and trust your judgement. You will be fine and I'm sure we will see pictures on the site of your beautiful creations. Best of luck and happy quilting.
    Wendy B

  4. #4

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    Price is usually a good indicator. Priced at $2.99 you can be sure it will be a thin fabric that will not keep its shape, have a lot of shrinkage, ravels and will not wear well in a quilt. Medium priced fabric, $7.00/$8.00 will be a better product with none of the above mentioned problems. Will work well in a quilt. Higher priced fabric $10.00 a yard. Will be a good tight weave, fabric will be a nice thickness. Pieces will hold their shape well and will not distort when pressed. And will last a long time in a quilt. A lot of work goes into making a quilt. So you want it to last. A quilt made with $2.99 fabric will not last. Seams will ravel open and the thin fabrics will wear quickly. Buy good quality fabric and you will make a better quality quilt. Overall it will look better, wash up better, and wear better.

  5. #5
    Super Member
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    There is nothing wrong with fabric from Joanns or Hancocks or even Hobby Lobby. Buy what feels good,hold it up to the light,if your not sure..and what is within your budget. and Have fun!

  6. #6
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    A good budget stretcher is to go to a thrift shop and buy men's cotton shirts to cut up. The shirts have the best plaids and small prints that's hard to find. If you buy shirting fabric in a quilt shop, if you can find it, it's very expensive.

  7. #7
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Work with what you like! There are many beautiful quilts out there that are made out of old clothes including denim!! Some from family members for memory quilts, T-shirts, etc. My grandmother worked at a mattress shop (her husband died and she had to raise 7 children on her own) and made my dad a quilt out of mattress ticking and stuffed it with blankets and tied it. I would absolutely never part with it. Crazy quilts have everything in them from the 1800's, girls dresses, lace etc (they're some of the most beautiful). I sincerely believe that we're the generation that has become fixated. Remember one who sleeps under a quilt is comforted with love!!! That's what matters most.

  8. #8
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I have a variety of fabrics in my stash. You will be able to tell bad quality. Just because something comes from a box store does not automatically make it bad. If it feels flimsy - it won't handle properly or hold up, but even a flimsy piece among mostly strong blocks will be absorbed - particularly if it is the perfect pattern/color.

    Don't buy $2 fabric if it is poor quality but don't think you need to buy only $10 yardage only. There are a lot of choices in-between.

    Happy shopping!

  9. #9
    Super Member belmer's Avatar
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    You just got to go with what YOU think will be the best for YOU.

  10. #10
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    I would suggest that you go to a quilt store, where you are pretty sure they will have good quality fabric, and just look and feel the fabric, try not to get involved in the print, just the weave, weight and feel. Then go to Joanns or walmart and do the same, it will become more obvious to you. That is not to say that all the fabric at either of the stores will be all good quality or all bad, but it will probably expose you to both that way. Depending on what the use of the quilt will be, you may choose to use the good stuff (for a quilt that you put hours and hours into that you want your great-grands to enjoy), or for a baby quilt, or picnic quilt that won't survive more than a decade, you may choose the lesser quality fabric. I would add that sometimes the cheaper stuff is very hard to work with, it may stretch, it may ravel, bleed etc.. so it can make the process stressful for you.

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