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Thread: Fabric quality....

  1. #1
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    Fabric quality....

    I'm cutting fabrics right now for a stash-busting fence rail quilt. I'm amazed at the difference in fabric qualities in my stash. Many of the newer fabrics have a silky quality. My fabrics from 15 years ago are much rougher and more coarsely woven. Most have been purchased from local quilt shops. I don't really care for this quilt, as it's going to be more of a utility quilt. Still, it's been interesting.

    One more thing--I do NOT like the quality of Kona cotton from the local chain fabric store. Is the quality different when ordering from a quilt shop online? My local quilt shop doesn't carry solids. I actually prefer the "hand" of a 1.99 a yard muslin at the chain store, but I'm afraid it might not wear well. It's so much softer, though, that I've been using it to back baby quilts. Thoughts?????

    The upshot of this? I'm going to pay a lot more attention to fabric "hand" instead of just pattern and color. It's so enjoyable to work with a silky cotton. Maybe I notice it so much because I'm a dressmaker at heart--and have been moving into quilting because the kids are grown and I have no one to sew clothes for.

  2. #2
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    I've noticed the same thing, but over the years rather than just lately. I actually prefer the fabrics I bought in the 1980a and early 1990s. Their hand, to me, held its shape better and didn't pull out of 'square' as easily as today's fabrics seem to. There have been times I have felt new fabrics at the LQS and said to myself, "That's not 100% cotton," only to read the end of the bolt and find that is IS marked cotton. They felt 'sleazy' to me. The weave seems different, or maybe it's the thread count....I just don't know.

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  3. #3
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    I am machine quilting a quilt and a LQS expensive background fabric has a few little flaws. I am pulling the little thread snots into the sandwich as I see them. Disappointing, I didn't see them until they were up close and under my Bernina's halogen lights. I have found some of the 100% are good but others feel weird, almost like rayon dress fabric feel?

  4. #4
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    There is also a great difference in where the fabrics are produced now.
    http://www.oregonquilting.net
    I choose to give my life away for things that last forever

  5. #5
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I sometimes wonder if the fabrics we purchase are treated with a fiber softener prior to be wrapped on a bolt. The reason I wonder is some loose some of the softness of hand when washed. The issue is not the starch that is in some to give body or feel of more substance.
    Going thru my stash I have found some of the premium names were more substantial 15 to 20 years ago. Some of this is a result of screen prints use a higher/finer thread count so the print has a higher clarity, and I have more screen prints now than I ever had in my stash. So when you do some comparisons do note the type of printing used has an impact on what is used for greige goods/base cloth.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Yes the quality of fabric has changed. I stopped buying really well wrapped fat quarters because some were really thin almost like starched cheese cloth. When I pull some fabrics from the early 90s the feel is totally different. They are heavier and denser. Much better quality. Even if you pay premium these days you can still get a dud, as well as really good fabric for a few bucks. I go by feel. That is all I can do but I stay in affordable price range. I cannot and I refuse to pay &12.99 for a piece of cloth.

  7. #7
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    the Kona cotton sold at chain stores is a lesser quality
    I order all my Kona solids from http://www.fabric.com
    Not only is it 1st quality, they have the lowest price I've found on the web.
    And, spend $35 or more and shipping is free.

  8. #8
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    The best feeling fabric I have had lately is a Dr. Seuss panel made of organic cotton. I would love to have yards and yards of it, but I'm sure that would be cost prohibitive.

  9. #9
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    The "kona" at Joann's does NOT say it's by Kaufman. The Kaufman brand you find in the LQS and online is so much nicer. I am spoiled now by the nicer fabrics. I have to buy when on sale though...$12 yd is to much to pay. I am addicted though...so I research before I buy. Have you tried the premium (200 ct) muslin? It is very nice! When on sale, it's pretty reasonable.

  10. #10
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Organic cotton is the best cotton I have used. I love that stuff but it is expensive. It should be less expensive as no chemicals are added and less processing. Right? Anyway a little of the organic cotton fabric is great to have just to compare other fabrics to see how close it matches the organic cotton.
    Got fabric?

  11. #11
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    ...some manufacturers add a mercherised finish to their fabric to give it a smooth silky finish, mostly it will wash out...its the same process added to make chintz shiny and will wash out...the fabric of 1 or 2 decades ago didnt have all these processes, sewers were too in love with synthetics back then and didnt want cotton feeling smooth and silky...

    ...these days there are many more manufacturers of patchwork fabric so competition means theyre all looking for an edge...having been a sewer for over 30yrs and worked in the industry, i personally wont touch any patchwork fabric which has been through multiple processes and treatments because 99% of the time theyre covering an inferior quality fabric...a good quality fabric should have substance, a firm hand and an even, dense weave - hold it up to the light with your hand held about 6" behind it, you should be able to see a blurry shadow of your hand with smudgy outlines, not a clear outline...you shouldnt ever be able to see between the weave...

  12. #12
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    i guess organic cotton is just like organic fruits and vegetables - more expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo View Post
    Organic cotton is the best cotton I have used. I love that stuff but it is expensive. It should be less expensive as no chemicals are added and less processing. Right? Anyway a little of the organic cotton fabric is great to have just to compare other fabrics to see how close it matches the organic cotton.

  13. #13
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    And even top manufacturers sold in LQS's can have a bad time. I just finished a quilt using fancy Moda fabrics with modern prints and I wonder if it will last thru the long arm quilting. It raveled and frayed so bad even with gentle handling. It was a very soft fabric with a white background and I never thought I would have this problem.

  14. #14
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    I have also noticed all the above that is mentioned.

  15. #15
    Super Member RugosaB's Avatar
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    Not fabric related but it's an example of companies that sell a different 'quality' to different stores -
    John Deere is sold at Home Depot (or Lowe's?) The lawn tractor is still green/yellow, still has 'John Deere' on the side, however those sold by the farm equipment store 30 minutes away, and open for years, is a much better tractor. Sure, it costs a little more, but in this case, the customer gets what she pays for, known when she reads the details
    I wouldn't be surprised if fabric manufacturers do the same.
    Much of my stash is from the 80's, this is a good thread to read!
    You know that feeling when you've finished all your quilting projects and your studio is perfectly clean???? Me neither.

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  16. #16
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    I think it may be more important to concentrate on the fabric itself - and ignore the label/brand (except for care instructions and fiber content)

    I just realized that most of my fabrics are almost ten years or more old. In my opinion, some of the less expensive lines from that era (VIP, Peter Pan, Marcus Brothers, Springs Industries, to name a few) were as nice or nicer than some of the more expensive lines from that era (RJR, Hoffman, Alexander Henry, SSI, Kaufman)

    Notice that I said SOME for both categories.

    In some cases, if someone did a 'blind test' - without knowing who made what - I think the less expensive lines would be considered 'better' quality!!

  17. #17
    Super Member G'ma Kay's Avatar
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    The extra price you pay for "Organic" is so the manufacturer can be "certified". The process really blows my faith in our system, because the process to become certified is not a guarantee of chemical free processing.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Pepita's Avatar
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    LQS's owner told me that the fabric that has the wonderful hand is a rinse that the manufacturer puts on the fabric. I know that fabric manufacturers must know we are all tactile people, and we love to touch the fabric. It sure makes sense that they would make it more attractive to us through touch.
    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

  19. #19
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    personally, if kona etc want to market two different qualities of fabric under the same name at differet prices theyre running a huge risk of consumers deciding their product is rubbish and never buying their brand again...doesnt seem like very smart marketing to me...

  20. #20
    Super Member LyndaOH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pamipatch View Post
    personally, if kona etc want to market two different qualities of fabric under the same name at differet prices theyre running a huge risk of consumers deciding their product is rubbish and never buying their brand again...doesnt seem like very smart marketing to me...
    That in fact is NOT what they are doing and they have stated that here in the forum before. If you find fabric labeled as Kona and it doesn't seem to be the same quality as you are used to seeing from Kona they would like you to send a swatch to them for testing. They have said repeatedly there is only one level of quality; if someone is selling fabric labeled as Kona and it's not up to snuff it's in their interest to go after the seller.

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