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Thread: Buying fabric at Walmart, Joann's, etc.....

  1. #1
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    I know there are people who will only buy fabric from a true quilt shop. But, how does the fabric at Joann's, Wlamart, etc compare to the fabric in the quilt shops. I'm a new quilter, getting ready to purchase fabric for a Baltimore Album Hand Applique quilt and I'm wondering... Where the best place would be to purchase my fabric? And, what is the difference between the Batiks, Moda, Kona, Calico's, etc...How do they make fabric and is it all made the same way???? I don't mean to sound like a moron but some of the fabrics I've looked at look like bed sheet fabric and others are thicker and heavier than others and seems to be a better quality than others. What would be the best fabric to make my quilt out of?

  2. #2
    Power Poster cjomomma's Avatar
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    Some folks on here will tell you to buy only LQS but I won't. I shop Walmart fabric and have been extremely happy with the quilts I make. You just want to make sure that the fabric isn't too thin. Honestly I've seen fabric at the LQS that I wouldnt put in a quilt. Every place has their good and bad fabric. For me it's all about the price tag, I can't afford the expensive stuff especially when I can find the same item cheaper else where.

  3. #3
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    You will get many opinions on this one....LOL. I personally speaking, will buy fabric wherever I can get the most bang for my buck. You can get great fabrics at Walmart for a very reasonable price...and you can also get stuff that is very thin and won't last at all. That same theory will hold true for anywhere you shop, whether it's your LQS, JoAnns, or any of the hundreds of online shops. So it's up to you to check your fabrics carefully to determine if they will suit the needs of your quilt. I am in the process of collecting one yard pieces for a bargello - 24 different shades. I have about 6 to get and it's getting harder to find just the right one to fit into the color scheme. So everywhere I go, I look at the fabric to see if there is one that will work. Today, it's a trip to the LQS to check on LA rental....while there I will look at the fabrics (always look :lol: ) to see if there is a dark teal that I haven't been able to find anywhere. Desperation may make me spend more than I want.

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    You will get different answers from everyone! I prefer to touch the fabrics and feel the thickness and hopefully softness - maybe some of you also do the same. I have never touched a Blank Quilting fabric I didn't like. Other brands at LQS - I won't mention names- often feel the same as those at Joann's, WM... So it is up to you- my thought is- it is your quilt and do it your way!

  5. #5
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    Buy where you find what you like and can afford. I love my LQS and spend quite a bit there. I also buy from JoAnn and WalMart. I try very hard to use the same quality fabric throughout a quilt. Where it comes from is not important.

  6. #6
    Junior Member MamaQuilter's Avatar
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    I have bought at both (all). I personally prefer quilt shop brands but my wallet disagrees so I buy both. :)

  7. #7
    Super Member Grama Lehr's Avatar
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    I have found some really great fabric at Joanne's. I have also found some really thin fabric there. You have to hold it up, feel it and see if it's quilt worth. I won't put anything in a quilt that won't wash and wear well. My quilts are the warm and comfy kind that get washed and dried on a regular basis.
    I have also found some really great stuff at Walmart, but again you must be pickey!

  8. #8
    Member galatotesa's Avatar
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    Walmart/Joanne fabric. I like quality fabric (name brands) BUT when I'm looking for just the right color or print I will buy what I need for the project I'm working on OR (going to be working on some day) The batiks are beautiful, but for applique it is more dense and harder to get you needle thru. Good luck with your project..

  9. #9
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Because you are doing hand applique I think it will be important to choose fabric with a close weave. A fabric that has a looser weave is going to ravel more and will make needle turning difficult if not impossible (especially if your new at it). The looser the thread count the more difficult it will be to get good straight lines and make nice smooth curves.

    You should be able to see and feel the difference between a tighter weave and a looser weave. Some extreme examples are a batik (tightly woven) and a homespun (loosely woven). Or to use your bed sheet example of feel and look - the difference between a 200 thread count and a 600 or 800 thread count.

    I CAN feel and see the difference in some of the Joanne's Fat Quarters I recently purchased for a small wall hanging project. I would not ever consider using these for applique.

    Batiks are typically a tighter thread weave, and batiks are dyed. Calico's and other fabrics are screen printed. The main difference in dye vs screen print is that dyed fabrics the fabric is either in a dye bath or liberally painted on and the color goes through the whole cloth.

    Screen prints use a series of die plates (large rubber or silicon material - like a rubber stamp), there is one for each color used. The fabric moves through a series of these die plates and is imprinted with ink on the die plate. The color "sits" on the top of the fabric, it doesn't go through.

    And then there are homespuns, mostly plaids, and these are made by weaving different color threads - so like a batik the color is all the way through. These may still be quality fabrics, using quality cotton - but the nature of the weave lends them to a limited number of uses - typically not applique, but they are used quite often in pieced quilts. Although come to think of it, I have felt some homespuns that are a nice tight weave that I would use in applique.

    The quality of the fabric has more to do with the type of greige (raw material) used, and the process used to weave it.

    Some fabric, a lot of the Asian prints come to mind, are a thicker greige/weave, a bit stiffer to the hand. I personally wouldn't want to needle turn one of these.

    If I were going to take the time to hand applique a Baltimore Album I would use the best quality I could find.

    I'd start by visiting a LQS - finger all the different type of fabric. Purchase what you think feels like good quality, nicely woven, soft fabric. Buy a fat quarter of one batik and one screen print. Then go to Joanne's and do the same thing. Take them home and make small tests blocks of each of them - just cut a simple applique of a heart (has curves, straight lines, and points) and hand applique it to muslin (or the other half of one of the fat quarters) and see how each of the fabrics behave. You'll know more by working with each of them than you will from any of us talking about it.

    And I have to add ... new to quilting and wanting to do Balitmore Album. You go girl!!!

  10. #10
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    I buy what i like and can afford at the time of purchase.I make an effort to support LQS, because they offer classes that mass merchandisers do not. I believe in supporting every one

  11. #11

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    I think there really is a difference in quilt shop fabric vs. chain store fabric. Technically speaking, quilt shop quality fabric has a higher thread count which produces a silkier finish, less bearding when quilted, and a longer fabric life. In my longarm quilting business, I can usually feel the difference in fabrics.

    That being said, I don't think it's wrong to use chain store fabric. You need to take into account your personal fabric budget and the purpose for the quilt (is it a play quilt or a wedding gift family heirloom?) With the price of fabric these days, many of us have to consider these questions. I like to take advantage of local quilt shop sales and build my stash at those times, especially backing fabric.

    Ultimately, most of us make quilts out of love, with the fabric coming in second place. :)

  12. #12
    Super Member Crqltr's Avatar
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    If I were going to hand sew something I would get the best quality fabric I could afford.. You will want it to last for ever!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MamaQuilter
    I have bought at both (all). I personally prefer quilt shop brands but my wallet disagrees so I buy both. :)
    Agree!

    If you buy at Wal Mart, like others have said, check the weight of the fabric. I have found that the really thin stuff doesn't work well at all especially if you have to rip out -- it just frays away.

  14. #14
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    WOW! This is more information than I've ever gotten anywhere, or from anyone, and it's so greatly helpful. Thanks so much. I live in Baltimore city in Maryland. I've only found two quilt shops so far, there may be others but I haven't had time to check them out. We have a Hancock fabric store but it's a little distance away. I don't usually like to travel very far just to go feel the fabric, lol...But I think that's what I'm going to do before I start buying fabric. And you are right, if I'm going to take the time to make a Baltimore Album, hand stitched all the way, I might as well use good fabric. I just don't know how to compare one to the other or which fabrics are the best. I don't mind paying the price if the fabric will hold up for many years. I don't play on using it except for show/decoration. Hopefully, if I'm lucky enough to have a grand child one day, I hope it can be passed on to them. I did try the applique with a piece of Batik and is hard to turn, I washed all of my fabric and that didn't seen to help either. I need 12 yards of something just to get started on my blocks, 15" each. From what I' ve seen on the older BAQ's from the 1800's, the blocks were large. I want to do a medallion for the center block that will be 30-inches. That will be an applique of the Constillation that's at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. I'm going to take plenty of pictures and have my nephew, who draws really well, make me a simple drawing that I can then turn into a pattern. It sounds like plenty of work but I've got plenty of time, providing the good Lord doesn't need me sooner.

    I recently took a Baltimore Album applique class with Mimi Dietrich, she is the best. I think I can handle this project. It may not tirn out like the pros but I'm giving it my best shot. I think I did pretty well on the wall hanging we made in class. I have to practice getting my stitches even but I'm practicing and can get about 8-9 stitches per inch and that's using warm and white for my batting.

    I used to do alot of cross stitch, so quilting, I find, isn't all that difficult. Plus, I've been hand stitching a 1-inch hexagon King size top for almost two years, it's almost finished, so I've gotten alot of practice with hand stitching just by working on stitching the hexs together. I like to stitch by hand. I like projects I can carry along with me when I go places.

    Thanks again for all the information. Weeeee! ! ! Off to the store and shops I go.........You've been most helpful.
    Patti



    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom
    Because you are doing hand applique I think it will be important to choose fabric with a close weave. A fabric that has a looser weave is going to ravel more and will make needle turning difficult if not impossible (especially if your new at it). The looser the thread count the more difficult it will be to get good straight lines and make nice smooth curves.

    You should be able to see and feel the difference between a tighter weave and a looser weave. Some extreme examples are a batik (tightly woven) and a homespun (loosely woven). Or to use your bed sheet example of feel and look - the difference between a 200 thread count and a 600 or 800 thread count.

    I CAN feel and see the difference in some of the Joanne's Fat Quarters I recently purchased for a small wall hanging project. I would not ever consider using these for applique.

    Batiks are typically a tighter thread weave, and batiks are dyed. Calico's and other fabrics are screen printed. The main difference in dye vs screen print is that dyed fabrics the fabric is either in a dye bath or liberally painted on and the color goes through the whole cloth.

    Screen prints use a series of die plates (large rubber or silicon material - like a rubber stamp), there is one for each color used. The fabric moves through a series of these die plates and is imprinted with ink on the die plate. The color "sits" on the top of the fabric, it doesn't go through.

    And then there are homespuns, mostly plaids, and these are made by weaving different color threads - so like a batik the color is all the way through. These may still be quality fabrics, using quality cotton - but the nature of the weave lends them to a limited number of uses - typically not applique, but they are used quite often in pieced quilts. Although come to think of it, I have felt some homespuns that are a nice tight weave that I would use in applique.

    The quality of the fabric has more to do with the type of greige (raw material) used, and the process used to weave it.

    Some fabric, a lot of the Asian prints come to mind, are a thicker greige/weave, a bit stiffer to the hand. I personally wouldn't want to needle turn one of these.

    If I were going to take the time to hand applique a Baltimore Album I would use the best quality I could find.

    I'd start by visiting a LQS - finger all the different type of fabric. Purchase what you think feels like good quality, nicely woven, soft fabric. Buy a fat quarter of one batik and one screen print. Then go to Joanne's and do the same thing. Take them home and make small tests blocks of each of them - just cut a simple applique of a heart (has curves, straight lines, and points) and hand applique it to muslin (or the other half of one of the fat quarters) and see how each of the fabrics behave. You'll know more by working with each of them than you will from any of us talking about it.

    And I have to add ... new to quilting and wanting to do Balitmore Album. You go girl!!!

  15. #15
    Super Member grammy Dwynn's Avatar
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    You will get many opinions as to where to shop.

    When I started I also did not understand 'the difference', but with years of 'feeling' and studying, yes, I have become a fabric 'snob'.

    Here is a article about making fabrics, to help you understand (a little).
    http://quiltbug.com/articles/choosing-fabric.htm

    Now, I am not saying that everyone should shop 'only' at LQS. Funds play a big part in what one can afford, and even convenience/location play into that decision.

    IMHO if you are thinking of doing hand applique, I would go with the batiks. They fray the least when doing applique (my avatar is batik and reversed appliqued).

    good luck on your project(s)

  16. #16
    Super Member EagarBeez's Avatar
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    I'm with most of the others here. I buy where I can afford. I have been in a quilt shop or 2. The fabric is just out of my price range. I buy fabric online from two places I love and have wonderful customer service. I have made my quilts with, walmart, joann's, hancocks. No complaints from anyone who has received a quilt from me. I don't have any quilting shops near me, have to wait to travel

  17. #17
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    I forgot to say......I didn't know that some fabrics are dyed and some have painted or printed on designs. Is this why some fabrics have a whitish backing and others seem to be almost the same color as the front??? I'm think it is.

    I saw some designer fabrics that were almost $13.00 a yard. Am I paying for the name of the desinger?? They didn't feel much softer or more dense than most of the other fabrics I looked at then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Patti Mahoney
    WOW! This is more information than I've ever gotten anywhere, or from anyone, and it's so greatly helpful. Thanks so much. I live in Baltimore city in Maryland. I've only found two quilt shops so far, there may be others but I haven't had time to check them out. We have a Hancock fabric store but it's a little distance away. I don't usually like to travel very far just to go feel the fabric, lol...But I think that's what I'm going to do before I start buying fabric. And you are right, if I'm going to take the time to make a Baltimore Album, hand stitched all the way, I might as well use good fabric. I just don't know how to compare one to the other or which fabrics are the best. I don't mind paying the price if the fabric will hold up for many years. I don't play on using it except for show/decoration. Hopefully, if I'm lucky enough to have a grand child one day, I hope it can be passed on to them. I did try the applique with a piece of Batik and is hard to turn, I washed all of my fabric and that didn't seen to help either. I need 12 yards of something just to get started on my blocks, 15" each. From what I' ve seen on the older BAQ's from the 1800's, the blocks were large. I want to do a medallion for the center block that will be 30-inches. That will be an applique of the Constillation that's at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. I'm going to take plenty of pictures and have my nephew, who draws really well, make me a simple drawing that I can then turn into a pattern. It sounds like plenty of work but I've got plenty of time, providing the good Lord doesn't need me sooner.

    I recently took a Baltimore Album applique class with Mimi Dietrich, she is the best. I think I can handle this project. It may not tirn out like the pros but I'm giving it my best shot. I think I did pretty well on the wall hanging we made in class. I have to practice getting my stitches even but I'm practicing and can get about 8-9 stitches per inch and that's using warm and white for my batting.

    I used to do alot of cross stitch, so quilting, I find, isn't all that difficult. Plus, I've been hand stitching a 1-inch hexagon King size top for almost two years, it's almost finished, so I've gotten alot of practice with hand stitching just by working on stitching the hexs together. I like to stitch by hand. I like projects I can carry along with me when I go places.

    Thanks again for all the information. Weeeee! ! ! Off to the store and shops I go.........You've been most helpful.
    Patti



    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom
    Because you are doing hand applique I think it will be important to choose fabric with a close weave. A fabric that has a looser weave is going to ravel more and will make needle turning difficult if not impossible (especially if your new at it). The looser the thread count the more difficult it will be to get good straight lines and make nice smooth curves.

    You should be able to see and feel the difference between a tighter weave and a looser weave. Some extreme examples are a batik (tightly woven) and a homespun (loosely woven). Or to use your bed sheet example of feel and look - the difference between a 200 thread count and a 600 or 800 thread count.

    I CAN feel and see the difference in some of the Joanne's Fat Quarters I recently purchased for a small wall hanging project. I would not ever consider using these for applique.

    Batiks are typically a tighter thread weave, and batiks are dyed. Calico's and other fabrics are screen printed. The main difference in dye vs screen print is that dyed fabrics the fabric is either in a dye bath or liberally painted on and the color goes through the whole cloth.

    Screen prints use a series of die plates (large rubber or silicon material - like a rubber stamp), there is one for each color used. The fabric moves through a series of these die plates and is imprinted with ink on the die plate. The color "sits" on the top of the fabric, it doesn't go through.

    And then there are homespuns, mostly plaids, and these are made by weaving different color threads - so like a batik the color is all the way through. These may still be quality fabrics, using quality cotton - but the nature of the weave lends them to a limited number of uses - typically not applique, but they are used quite often in pieced quilts. Although come to think of it, I have felt some homespuns that are a nice tight weave that I would use in applique.

    The quality of the fabric has more to do with the type of greige (raw material) used, and the process used to weave it.

    Some fabric, a lot of the Asian prints come to mind, are a thicker greige/weave, a bit stiffer to the hand. I personally wouldn't want to needle turn one of these.

    If I were going to take the time to hand applique a Baltimore Album I would use the best quality I could find.

    I'd start by visiting a LQS - finger all the different type of fabric. Purchase what you think feels like good quality, nicely woven, soft fabric. Buy a fat quarter of one batik and one screen print. Then go to Joanne's and do the same thing. Take them home and make small tests blocks of each of them - just cut a simple applique of a heart (has curves, straight lines, and points) and hand applique it to muslin (or the other half of one of the fat quarters) and see how each of the fabrics behave. You'll know more by working with each of them than you will from any of us talking about it.

    And I have to add ... new to quilting and wanting to do Balitmore Album. You go girl!!!

  18. #18
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    Yeah, I did notice that the thin fabric, to me, looked like bed sheet fabric. I didn't consider that at all. Is this what they call calico? Is this printed fabric? I would think it is. If it's dyed fabric, wouldn't the right side and the wrong side be almost the same color???

    Quote Originally Posted by Xstitshmom
    Quote Originally Posted by MamaQuilter
    I have bought at both (all). I personally prefer quilt shop brands but my wallet disagrees so I buy both. :)
    Agree!

    If you buy at Wal Mart, like others have said, check the weight of the fabric. I have found that the really thin stuff doesn't work well at all especially if you have to rip out -- it just frays away.

  19. #19
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    Ahhhhaaaa now I know why my husband says to buy sheets with a high thread count. He used to work in a textile mill many years ago. I just said OK and off shopping I'd go. Silly me! ! ! The link was really helpful. Thanks so much. I always but "American" when I can. It's hard to believe that American made fabirc is sooo hard to find. Thanks again......Babs

    Quote Originally Posted by grammy Dwynn
    You will get many opinions as to where to shop.

    When I started I also did not understand 'the difference', but with years of 'feeling' and studying, yes, I have become a fabric 'snob'.

    Here is a article about making fabrics, to help you understand (a little).
    http://quiltbug.com/articles/choosing-fabric.htm

    Now, I am not saying that everyone should shop 'only' at LQS. Funds play a big part in what one can afford, and even convenience/location play into that decision.

    IMHO if you are thinking of doing hand applique, I would go with the batiks. They fray the least when doing applique (my avatar is batik and reversed appliqued).

    good luck on your project(s)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crqltr
    If I were going to hand sew something I would get the best quality fabric I could afford.. You will want it to last for ever!!
    True!

  21. #21
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patti Mahoney
    I forgot to say......I didn't know that some fabrics are dyed and some have painted or printed on designs. Is this why some fabrics have a whitish backing and others seem to be almost the same color as the front??? I'm think it is.

    I was some designer fabrics that were almost $13.00 a yard. Am I paying for the name of the desinger?? They didn't feel much softer or more dense than most of the other fabrics I looked at then.
    Yes, if you look at a batik or a homespun it's next to impossible to tell right side from wrong - and most of the time there is "no" right side. I've found only a few batiks that made a difference.

    the price of cotton has indeed gone up, but at $13.00/yard it could be a specific line from a designer that costs more, or perhaps an imported fabric. Some of the designers will charge more for one line than they will another (for example if there is a lot of gold on the print, or if the print required exacting registration (registration = the correlation between each of the die boards laying down different colors - the more intricate the print the harder it is to register one die board/color to another). Some of the imported African, Australian, and Japanese fabrics cost more as well. Here it's more of a cost of import issue than it is a quality issue.

  22. #22
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patti Mahoney
    Ahhhhaaaa now I know why my husband says to buy sheets with a high thread count. He used to work in a textile mill many years ago. I just said OK and off shopping I'd go. Silly me! ! ! The link was really helpful. Thanks so much. I always but "American" when I can. It's hard to believe that American made fabirc is sooo hard to find. Thanks again......Babs
    Oh yes!! On a few of your posts you mentioned that some of the lesser quality fabrics felt like bed sheets. I thought that odd ... but then my bed sheets are 800 count and they feel like silk. You can't even see the weave let alone feel it. I've also fingered 2000 thread count imported Italian sheets ... oh my oh my!!

  23. #23
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I use fabrics from Wal Mart, Joanns and Hobby Lobby. I pick out what I like and quality I like. I don't care how long the quilts last, I don't make heirloom quilts. They all will out last me.

  24. #24
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    Please feel free to PM me. Lived in Baltimore, Howard, and Carroll for over 40 years and learned so much from classes with Mimi. Still working on the actual quilting of my Baltimore Album.

  25. #25
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    My avatar is a quilt I made for the daughter of a friend as a graduation present. the navy and cream homespun in the sashing came from Joann's and I paid $15.00/yd for it. Over the weekend I saw the same fabric at Walmart for $3.99/yd. I have no explanation for this but I really felt robbed by Joann's after I saw the same thing at WM for so much less. I guess you just have to shop at lots of places and handle everything. You can't go by price.

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