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Thread: How terrible would it be to use fabric that is not all cotton?

  1. #1
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    As I've posted elsewhere, I'm a new quilter making a sampler quilt to build my skills. I've stalled on my very first block because I can't find the right solid color of yellow-orange (think school buses, #2 pencils or Crayola crayon boxes) in 100% cotton. I had found the exact color, thought it was cotton but it began melting when I tried to iron it.

    I have a more yellowy shade that's all cotton, but it just doesn't look right, I don't want a print, and I cannot find this shade in cotton. I'm tired of searching and want to get back to quilting.

    So...

    I can always set the iron to a lower temperature, but what other problems would there be if I used this synthetic blend fabric in an otherwise all cotton quilt top? Will there be a problem with laundering? What are the reasons people avoid synthetics in quilting?

    This fabric would only be used in small quantities in 2-3 of my sampler blocks. (One example is the drawing I'm using as my avater for the moment.) The weave is indistinguishable from the cotton fabrics that would be in the blocks with it.

  2. #2
    Moderator tlrnhi's Avatar
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    I think one problem you might have is it stretching, but if you are only using such a small piece, I'm not sure it would make a difference. If you are using the finished quilt for yourself, then I say go for it. It'll be a learning experience if nothing else.

  3. #3
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Another thing to consider is wear. Cotton generally weathers at the same rate - after a hundred washings, it will mellow evenly. Adding a poly that will not fade through time is going to give you a different effect. With a bright color, it will be more noticeable.

    Another thing some poly blends do is pill up. Anyone who has ever bought cheap sheets has learned to regret this. Cotton is great, and if you have a huge stash or access to what you need, is generally preferred.

    That being said, I'm all for blending fabrics for wall hangings and things that will not get heavy use. Sometimes you need a bit of glitz that cotton can't provide. Sometimes the perfect color/pattern/price just isn't available in cotton. Some of the stretching problems can be minimized by using a fusible interfacing to stabilize the stretchy fabric.

    Like most things in quilting, it's all up to you.

  4. #4
    Super Member Baren*eh*ked_canadian's Avatar
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    I don't think there would be a problem with it, you know what's in it, just don't iron that piece on high heat after.

    When i made my first quilt last year, before I joined this board I knew nothing about fabric selection or anything, so I have poly cotton poplin, 100% cotton quilting fabric, crafter's quality, batik, textured coton (almost like a weave or small waffle) and satin in there, plus a flanelette backing. The woven one shrank more than the others, because I didn't pre-wash, and the satin is more puffy because there was no shrinkage, but my quilt has character. I've also used it a lot and washed it over and over and had no problems.

    On another note, my mother and I bought fabric to make a specific quilt, I found my colours in the cottons, and she could only find the right shade of green to go with hers in the broadcloth, 60/40. All she did was make sure to pre-wash everything, and it turned out fine.

    All that to say, I don't have a problem using blends in my quilts. :)

  5. #5
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    You could try somewhere like Hancocks of Paducah, they carry the whole range of Kona cotton solids, as far as I am aware. That's over 150 shades, if not more.
    http://www.hancocks-paducah.com

  6. #6
    MsSage's Avatar
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    I will tell you what my LQS told me. If your going to enter it in a show then use 100% cotton if it is for you and family and you LIKE it use it. Poly wears out in 70 years and cotton in 80 ....I can only hope a family quilt will still be around that long. I want it to be loved to peices :wink:

    this is suppose to be something we do out of love and to have FUN I included, stress too much on the little things and miss out on the big things.

  7. #7
    Super Member amazon's Avatar
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    I had that experience,I thought it was cotton and it was in every block. It had washed fine but when i pressed it on one block it melted ,so i replac ed it with the same, and used a cloth diaper over it to press it. Any white ,thin cloth will do, this was a tip from my grandmother who's 92.

  8. #8
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Thanks to all who answered!

    Those of you who mentioned stretchiness made me race to check. I hadn't noticed any stretchiness, but sure enough, it stretches when I pull, more so than the cotton. I am more concerned with how that might affect my learning to use HSTs than anything, but now I know not to even try using them as larger pieces.

    Wear is something I hadn't even considered. I'm making it to fit a bed, but lol, I'm not sure I'd want to sleep under my learning sampler. Hmmm, maybe it'll be a wall hanging for my computer/quilting area. Well the goal is just to do it for now. I won't worry about a couple of pieces outlasting the rest.

    Pilling is something I'd want to avoid, though. It didn't pill in the pre-wash, but I know that's no guarantee that it won't in other washes.

    LOL, no I can't see ever entering my first real quilt in a contest. No issue there!

    Thanks for the tip on covering it with cotton for ironing. It occurred to me that that must be safe, since you can use polyester batting, which I did for my quilting class project. No problems ironing over that, and of course it was covered by the top and backing layers, which were cotton.

    So I guess I'll go ahead and use it. If I find the color in cotton before basting the quilt sandwich, I can always remake the blocks, which won't be such a big deal as there will only be two of them to redo.

    Thanks for the link to Hancock's. I don't buy online or mail order, because the colors so often aren't as they appear on my monitor or in a catalog. I did go and look, and unfortunately, they don't display them in spectrum order, so you have to hunt through the whole thing to see your colors, and then it's hard to compare similar ones. In any case, I didn't see the color I want.

    Maybe it's just because I'm new to quilting myself, but it seems to me quilting is growing in popularity. It may be the next needlework trend. There's a good business opportunity for someone who wants to manufacture quality cottons in all colors along with prints at affordable prices.


  9. #9
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I will use whatever types of fabrics in a quilt that I like, but especially when mixing fabrics, prewash. The polyblends will not shrink as much usually and it is a good reason to prewash them all. Most of all have fun and be creative!!!

  10. #10
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    Well, I do pre-wash.

    Happily, though, one of the other threads had a link to a website that had a link to a store about an hour away that looks like it might have my fabric in 100% cotton. I'll call in the morning and trek out there if they have it in stock. Really, I'd much rather do this right.

    Oh, and to those of you who recommended Kona, this is a Kona fabric. It's actually called Schoolbus, so I expect it will be exactly the schoolbus color I need.

    Thanks again to May in Jersey for posting the thread about the quilt show that is closing - and not just for this reason!

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