While quilting fabrics make up a large portion of our inventory, we know not everyone is that familiar with them! We sat down with Shilo, our Quilting specialist to answer some questions about quilting fabrics, quilting and more…
WHAT IS QUILTING COTTON?
Quilting cotton has a weaving standard. It must be an even weave with a minimum of 60 threads both directions (per square inch). Not all cottons comply with this standard. There are different grades of quilting cotton. Some of the cottons that are produced for discount stores are thinner and rougher than cottons produced for quilt shops. Many of the quality quilting cottons are 68 to 78 threads per square inch.
CAN I USE QUILTING COTTON FOR STUFF LIKE CLOTHES?
Yes! However you should wash it before cutting it out and will probably need to iron it. You can also use it for throw pillows, curtains, napkins, place mats, table runners, pillow cases, tote bags and purses.
CAN I USE CLOTHING FABRIC TO MAKE A QUILT?
You can, however it may not be an even weave like quilting cotton. It will quite possibly be thicker or thinner than typical quilting cotton, so it might be more difficult to work with or may wear out sooner. When quilts were a necessity rather than a style choice, quilters used old clothing and scraps from clothing they made.
WHY ARE SOME QUILTS REALLY THICK AND OTHERS REALLY THIN?
Thickness is determined by the batting used in the quilt. This is called loft. High loft batting is puffier than low loft batting.
I’M SEWING PIECES OF FABRIC TOGETHER. ISN’T THAT QUILTING?
You’re piecing! Piecing is sewing together pieces of fabric to form a quilt top. Quilting is sewing through the quilt top, batting and backing together. The quilting stitch is either done in an allover ramble called stippling, or in a pattern that compliments the design of the top.
HOW DO I GET STARTED QUILTING?
Jump right in! Find a book, a Youtube video, or ideally take a class. Ask if the class is suitable for someone new to quilting before signing up.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO A QUILTING CLASS?
Everything on the supply list you receive after you sign up. Basics are: Fabric, pins, thread and scissors. If the classroom doesn’t supply these: ruler and rotary cutter. Don’t forget your sewing machine with bobbins, power cord and foot pedal. If you take a class here at Fabric Hut, we will gladly rent a machine to you while you’re taking the class.
Okay, let’s talk about quilting terms:
WHAT IS A BLENDER?
A blender is a cotton with a small print that has the appearance of a solid from a distance. Blenders are usually chosen in colors from the feature fabric.
WHAT IS A FEATURE FABRIC?
The fabric in the quilt that influences other fabric choices. It’s usually a medium to large scale print.
HOW BIG IS A FAT QUARTER, AND WHY DO I WANT ONE INSTEAD OF A REGULAR ¼ YARD CUT OF FABRIC?
A fat quarter is 18″x22″. It is a good choice when a 9″x44″ piece is too narrow, but the piece doesn’t need to be wider than 22″. Many quilt patterns are written exclusively for fat quarters and they are frequently used for applique.
WHAT IS A JELLY ROLL?
A set of 2-1/2″ strips cut the width of the fabric. A jelly roll usually has one or two strips from each print in a collection/group. It is one of many kinds of precut packs.
WHAT IS BATTING AND WHAT KINDS OF BATTING ARE THERE?
Batting is the layer inside the quilt that makes it warmer. Cotton, polyester, silk, tencel and bamboo are used for batting. Frequently two or more are combined for a blend.
WHAT IS A “QUILT SANDWICH?”
The quilt top and batting layered on top of the backing is called a quilt sandwich.
WHAT IS AN APPLIQUE?
Applique is when cut shapes are attached on the top of a block
WHAT IS A FUSIBLE?
A fusible is a substance that you iron onto your fabric. There is fusible stabilizer and interfacing, which strengthen your fabrics and keep it from distorting. There are also fusibles like Heat N Bond, which let you apply one fabric to another for things like applique.
Ok, let’s move on to quilting itself!
WHY DO I NEED A QUILTING PATTERN? AREN’T THEY ALL JUST SQUARES?
There are quilts that use squares, rectangles, triangles and curves. There are also quilts with shapes cut from fabric and placed on top of a background. Quilt designers make all kinds of quilts with different shapes.
CAN I COMBINE DIFFERENT FABRICS IN MY QUILT?
Yes, crazy quilts traditionally have a variety of fabrics – cotton, silk, velvet. For the best look later or to add stability for thin or stretch pieces of fabric:
– Pre-wash if possible to eliminate or minimize shrinkage.
– Use a light-weight fusible interfacing on the back of the piece.
WHAT SEAM ALLOWANCE SHOULD I USE FOR A QUILT?
Quilt patterns are written for a quarter of an inch. If you use a smaller seam allowance the fabric may pull from the seam and make a hole. If the block uses more than a piece or two of fabric and you use a larger seam allowance, the pieces may not fit together correctly, or the block may end up smaller than intended.
CAN I USE A SHEET FOR THE BACKING?
Please don’t. Most sheets have a much higher thread count than quilting cottons do, which makes them more difficult for your machine to stitch through.
SO THEN WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR BACKING MY QUILT?
Quilting cotton and flannel (44″ wide and 108″ or wider) are what are typically used. You could also use Minkee/Cuddle for a soft plush backing. This is great for a snuggly baby quilt!
HOW DO I WORK WITH MINKEE/CUDDLE FOR MY BACKING?
Temporary spray baste and/or pins. Because of the nap of the fabric, it likes to shift while you’re working with it.
HOW DO I PREPARE A QUILT TOP FOR QUILTING?
Make sure that your top is straight and aligned. Some people spray baste their quilt layers together, others use safety pins to anchor the layers together.
WHY ARE SOME QUILTING THREADS VARIEGATED/MULTICOLORED? WHY WOULD I USE THAT?
Stippling with variegated quilting thread can add interest to a simple quilt. If you can’t find a solid color that works well with a quilt, quilting with a thread that has subtle variation in color will sometimes help thread blend into various prints or keep the eye from continuously traveling along the quilting and let it focus on the piecing.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW BEFORE THEY COME IN?
An idea of what they need – how many pieces of fabric, yardage, size if applicable. Bring your pattern with you if you have it!
WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
Your pattern, any fabric you want to coordinate with, measurements for your window, table, person, a mind open to choosing a different color or pattern. Don’t be afraid to ask one of us if you’re stuck and need another opinion or expertise – we’re happy to help!