While quilting, have you ever wondered why you think you are doing a perfect job only to discover that the quilt does not come out the way you expected it to? You sit and ponder about what went wrong, but you just can't seem to figure it out. Here are some things to consider. To begin with, what do you know about your own fabrics? Do you know how they will react when put under pressure or when heated? Do you know how your fabrics will change while you're quilting? If you don't, then it might be helpful to have a basic introduction to fabrics. A fabric grain is the representation of the threads in a piece of fabric. To create an accurate quilt, you will need to know certain grain components of the fabric; some of them are:
- Warp Threads
- Weft Threads
- Straight Grain
- Fabric Bias
When a textile is weaved, it first starts with the warp threads. These threads are strong and are designed to withstand tight stretching. The warp threads provide the support for a finished textile. They form the lengthwise part (or grain) of the fabric.
These are the threads that form the crosswise part (or width) of the fabric. They are responsible for making the body of the fabric and form the pattern and colors. You could use different types of materials when it comes to the weft threads.
The lengthwise grain and the crosswise grain together are referred to as the straight grain, or straight-of-grain.
How to Find the Straight Grain
Before you can attempt to find the straight grain, there are certain terms that you should know. The selvage is the strip at the top of the cloth; this strip will normally have the manufacturer's name and details printed on it. You should keep in mind that you never use the selvage of the fabric, as it does not give when pulled. You should also remember not to use the selvage in your patchwork.
Since fabric is made of the lengthwise grain and the crosswise grain, there should be some give when you tug the corner of the cloth. This give is called the bias, which is at a 45 degree angle to the straight grain. You should not stretch the bias too much, otherwise the fabric will become overly stretched and your patchwork might become inaccurate.
These are the bound edges that are on the outermost part of the lengthwise grain. These edges are formed when the weft thread's direction is changed during the weaving process. Fabrics are generally woven tightly.
A real bias will be at a 45 degree angle, but when we refer to quilting, it comes to any cut that doesn't run along the straight grain.
Some Finishing Tips
Now that you know about the different components of fabric, you are well on your way to becoming successful in quilting. You also know what you should do when it comes to where to cut the fabric. With this knowledge, you can make your quilts that much more accurate.
Choosing the Fabric for Your Quilt
Whenever we think of making a quilt, the first thing that strikes us is "What fabric should I use?" Here are some guidelines that will help you choose the material that you think is best for your project.
What Material Is Best?
Most people who quilt prefer to use cotton. The reason? Because cotton can maintain a fold. By this I mean that when cotton fabric is folded, it can hold a crease. The main reason why many people prefer cotton for quilting compared to other fabrics is that as time passes cotton fades and shrinks evenly. No matter what the precautions taken, these are issues that every quilter faces. Today, most quilts are made of 100% cotton.
A Little Help on Color
Once your material is selected, you will want to decide on what colors will go into your quilt. I have listed some guidelines that will help you with this.
The colors of quilts can be subdivided into certain types. They are:
- Solid Colors
- Tone Colors
What do these mean exactly? Read on to find out.
Solid Colors -- When we say solid colors, we refer to plain colors that do not have any patterns in them. Normally, this type of color is used for the background of quilts on which the patterns are then sewn.
Tone Colors -- Tone colors are also known as tone-on-tone colors. These add a very natural effect to the quilts when a design is laid over them. An example of a tone-on-tone color is a cream-on-cream color, giving the fabric a totally different texture. These colors also give us a very good contrast to the quilt's colors and are also used in prints.
Prints -- Prints are divided into three main categories: large prints, medium prints, and small prints. Medium and large prints are usually used the most. Large prints can also be used for the backing and the borders, or in large blocks, which act as a design.
There is yet another fabric called novelty fabric. It is so-called for the different color themes it has. These color themes can be used directly as a large block of print on the quilt.
How to Make a Striking Contrast
When making a quilt, the next consideration, after material type and colors, is the amount of fabric that is required to make that quilt. You should also remember that the background and the design should look distinct, with plenty of contrast, rather than a design that is made up of only similar colors. This means you have to be careful about what colors you choose. For example, when you have a blank background with a colorful floral design on it, whenever a person sees it, they are automatically drawn to the design. To make such a visual statement, you must spend hours deciding which colors work best.
One Last Tip
To have a truly enjoyable quilting experience, try changing the colors and using them in different combinations, as well as in different patterns. With the right material, you are assured of creating a fine quilt.