Being a textile designer, and having specialized in the development of quilting fabric collections, I have been asked often “What is the best and worse fabrics to use when making a patchwork quilt project”. I have list them below, but first let me just say that quality and construction is paramount to the development of all quilting projects. High-quality, Weight, 100% Cotton, Shrinkage, Color Fastness, Tightly Woven and Cheaper Fabrics are some of the words and phrases, buzzing around Quilting Bee Circles across America and abroad.
Quilting is all the “CRAZE”, but the sewing process have been around since the 12th century. And it seems that the earliest existing decorative works involve the “Tristan quilt” sometimes called the “Guicciadini Quilt” made around 1360-1400 in Sicily. I like to think of this “first quilt and ancient process” as the very first D.I.Y. project EVER! I am sure the Sicilians weren’t discussing “Best vs Worse.” They used what they had clearly “making it work”.
The Tristan / Guicciadini Quilt
The Sicilians used white Linen fabric stitched with Linen thread. So it seems using “Linen” is a possible consideration, if you want your quilt to last as long as “The Tristan” that is. Today’s quilters refer to using Linen as “thinking outside the box”.
What this tells me is the enchant crafters of the oldest lasting artifacts were also thinking outside the box even back then,
So I asked myself why Linen? Was Cotton not around? That must be it! But no, although linen dates back thousands of years, Cotton actually trumps Linen being that it has been around since prehistoric times. After a lot of googling, I couldn’t come up with why Linen and not Cotton, but being that quilts were two layers of Linen with wadding cotton as the fill, this makes be think that the linen was more flexible and offers an easier ability to quilt around the wadded cotton fill.
When planning out your 1st quilt, you may or may not have asked yourself the question at hand. And if you didn’t and just forged ahead thinking creatively and not technically, you just might have ended up with a pretty, but wonky, problematic quilt project.
So moving onto your 2nd quilting project, try using what is famously known as “Quilt Shop” Quality Cotton fabric. This fabulously known textile has a Chintz like feel as the closely woven plain weave comprised of 100% cotton has a shiny and lustrous finish thanks to a glazed process which ultimately producing a polish look. Keep in mind that whatever fabric you are in the “MOOD” to use to FASHION into a quilt, it should have no less than a thread count of 68 threads per inch. This is the paramount quality and construction that I mention at the start of this Post.
The Best Fabrics to Use for a Patchwork Quilt Project Would Be,
Great to use when working with brightly color prints. Just make sure to pre-wash your fabrics, dry and press. Make it a point to visually look for color bleeding to insure the print is colorfast. Pre-washing will insure that your finished quilt won’t shrink after you first wash your finish project.
This well know named fabric has been very popular for many reasons, one being that it is wider (54”-60”) than standard over the counter quilt fabrics. The extra width gives the quilter an abilitie to use one full piece for the back of their quit top, as long as the width of their quilt top falls under 60″. Quilters are know to be frugal sewing bits of random cuts of their fabric stash for most quilt backs.
A favorite of modern quilters; they like linen for their quilting projects being this woven fabric has more texture than quilting cotton and feels good to the touch as it softens with use and washing. Great for patchwork piecing; can stretch and ravel more than quilting cotton. Cut linen with the grain along with using spray starch to stabilize the material; this will make it easier to handle. And remember linen will last a really long time.
This lovely fabric will give your quilts a luxurious feel, are very durable, and are warm although light as a feather. Silk’s bright colors and beautiful prints will add visual and textural interest to your quilts. Woven dupioni silk, Habotai (China) silk and raw silk (silk noil) all will work nicely in patchwork quilts.
This uniquely made textile has a higher thread count because of the way the batik is developed; the dyes need a higher thread count to handle the resist & batik creation process. The batik process has repeated washings during which time the fabric is shrinking, so a higher thread count will have less shrinkage. Next to ‘Quilt Shop’ quilting cottons, Batiks are a popular 2nd choice for the serious quilter.
As for the WORSE fabric “NOT” to use to make a patchwork quilt
The list could be on the long side so just keep this in mind, natural fiber fabrics work best.
Synthetics – can melt and there is a lot of steam pressing when making a patchwork quilt top.
Knits – have too much stretch, but many have successfully made tee-shirt memory quilts with a lot of help from fusible backing.
Any loosely woven fabric (example Barkcloth and Burlap) will be too flimsy; can lose its shape after cutting into small squares and will definitely give you a wonky looking quilt!
Until next time…have a Sew, sew creative day!