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Thread: Spinoff of "Bad Rap..." So how DO you tell good quality fab from poor?

  1. #1
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    Spinoff of "Bad Rap..." So how DO you tell good quality fab from poor?

    I don't know the difference. How do you judge fabric quality?

  2. #2
    Senior Member MissSongbird's Avatar
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    The thing I notice first which usually seperates it from the good or the bad is the feel of the fabric. Cheaper, lower quality fabrics (cotton) tend to come from the manufacturer stiffer than others (you should be able to tell). It's not a death sentence if you end up with this type of fabric in your stash, but I try to steer clear of it if I can.

  3. #3
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    Nice weight and thickly woven is the best. Loosely woven and flimsy is not so good. The colors on better fabric goes all the way through and does not just set on top.

  4. #4
    Super Member donnajean's Avatar
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    You can tell by the "feel" of the fabric. Just like bed sheets, the better quality is less stiff, wrinkles less, etc. Like everything else, you get what you pay for, but the better quality does go on sale.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Retiree's Avatar
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    I try and stay away from very sheer fabric, the kind you can see light through. Also, looser weaves.

  6. #6
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    If you can pick it up and see through it - it's cheap!

    Also, when you wash it, color fades a lot.

    And like the others said - good fabric feels better.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    In addition to what others have mentioned, I look at the quality of the print. Often cheaper fabrics have "muddier" prints and/or colors. If you take some time to closely observe fabrics at Walmart and then fabrics at a LQS, you may start to notice the difference. I think this is easiest to see in floral fabrics (especially small florals).

  8. #8
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Where do you live? Can you visit a quilt store near you and 'fondle' fabric for a while? Then go to a Walmart or Joannes and feel some of their 'home brand' of fabric; you'll catch on quickly enough!

    Jan in VA

    Edited: Let it be noted that I DO buy fabric at Joannes, too. BUT, I have been doing this long enough to tell quickly by feel whether I want a particular fabric in my collection. I find many more of those I do not want at Joanne's, Walmart, Hancocks (chain-not Paducah), Ben Franklin, etc., than I do at quilt shops.
    Last edited by Jan in VA; 01-15-2013 at 09:48 AM.
    Jan in VA
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    peacefully colors my world.
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  9. #9
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Everyone is right, you will get to where you can just tell.

  10. #10
    Super Member sewingsuz's Avatar
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    Everyone has all the ideas and they are good. I can tell now by feel.
    Suzanne
    Asking a seamstress to mend is like asking Picasso to paint your garage.

  11. #11
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    You can tell by the feel of the fabric. I just picked up some really cheap fabric to make a wall hanging. It won't be washed or put in direct sun. Thought it would be fine to use for a wall hanging. For my favorite quilts, I am much more selective

  12. #12
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    Definitely hold it up to the light - if you can see through it, you'll know that it's not very tightly woven and will shrink a lot. I've noticed differences even in the same fabric line, because I think they may use different mills for production. Also, some dyes are more expensive so in order to keep the entire line at the same price per yard, they may cut corners on the quality of the yarns and the denseness of the weave. I have all sorts of fabrics in my stash - good stuff, mediocre stuff and bad stuff. All of it gets used.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  13. #13
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Fabric with a denser weave feels smoother. Rub the fabric between your thumb and forefinger .. can you feel the weave of the fabric with your thumb, or does it feel smooth?? As an example of two opposite ends of the spectrum but the same principle ... silk charmeuse compared to burlap. You can obviously feel the weave of burlap, you can't feel the weave in the silk. Sometimes washing/drying will shrink the weave and pull it together more and the feel will become softer - but I would rather not take the chance that it won't improve enough.

    Also ... look for obvious "slubs" which are thickness variances in the fibers. You see it in a lot of organic fabrics to some degree, even in blue jeans ... ever see a small single piece of thread that is clearly thicker than the others around it? That's a 'slub'. An occasional small slub is forgivable, but they shouldn't be frequent or large.

    Lastly as others have mentioned, hold it up to the light. How much light shows through? Sometimes with cheaper fabrics you will even see dots of light penetrating through where the weave intersects!!

    You'll hear quilters and garment makers refer to a fabric having a "nice hand". This is (part of) what we're talking about.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  14. #14
    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    Walmart on long island is carring lqs type of fabs at lqs prices.
    Not all of it but a few bolts at a time

  15. #15
    Super Member seamstome's Avatar
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    Everybody is right...it is by the "hand" or feel of the fabric. Like sheets, it is thread count and weave. My big deciding factor is color. I can work with a "thinner" fabric ( heck I will throw a fusible interfacing behind it) if the color and pattern is right. Muddy or off tone colors drive me batty.

    Also shrinkage, LQS will be able to tell me that X fabric will shrink about X% which is important if you pre-wash and need a true fat quarter or are doing things like mixing flannels and cottons or cottons and Minkee. I hate it when you buy a FQ, you pre-wash it and it comes out a 16 1/2 by 19 trapezoid instead of a 18 by 22 rectangle.

    That being said, I have also paid a king's ransom for a piece of fabric from a well known line and had it ravel and just be awful.

    Once you are quilting awhile, you will have manufacturers that you like and you will be able to get them on sale or will be willing to bite the bullet for a special project. Like I said on the other thread, I make crafting type projects and I make quilts. Wallhangings, table runners, aprons, lap quilts...I am selective but not picky. I will buy a crappy fabric if the pattern is cute. A king size quilt I am putting 200 hours into, each fabric better be right and last.

  16. #16
    Super Member mscupid804's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissSongbird View Post
    The thing I notice first which usually seperates it from the good or the bad is the feel of the fabric. Cheaper, lower quality fabrics (cotton) tend to come from the manufacturer stiffer than others (you should be able to tell). It's not a death sentence if you end up with this type of fabric in your stash, but I try to steer clear of it if I can.
    I can tell the quality is much better by the softer feel as well.
    Last edited by mscupid804; 01-17-2013 at 05:00 PM.
    Teresa
    "I collect wind chimes."

  17. #17
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    I go mostly by feel, but nowadays with all the finishings they put on the fabrics in manufacturing, it is more difficult for me. Secondly, I hold it up to the light. If I can see through it, I know it's not a good quality. It took me a little time to be able to judge a fabric. I also look at who manufactured the fabric as some manufacturers are known for better quality fabrics, but they are more expensive as you would expect. But in the end, whether or not a fabric is "a good fabric" depends on what I am going to use it for. If I need a novelty fabric and it is only printed on a poorer quality fabric, I use it. It's good for what I need. If I'm doing a quilt that I want to last for many years, I search for and buy the best quality quilting fabric I can find no matter how expensive. If I'm making a quilt for my dog, I use the cheapest decorating fabric as he doesn't care what he gets.

    Good quality quilting fabrics have gotten pretty expensive in my opinion. It is not uncommon for me to see fabric for sale at $13 a yard where I live. But an expensive fabric may not be any better than a less expensive one. Sometimes I think the expense reflects who the designer is.
    Penny

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