How to Buy Fabric for Quilts
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You’ve chosen a quilt pattern, and now it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Time to go shopping for the patterns and colors that will make your quilt unique! You may be a quilting newbie or a seasoned pro—either way your design will be impacted by your fabric choices. So how exactly do you buy fabric for quilts?
Before you choose a color scheme or start looking for coordinating patterns, there are just a few things you need to know about picking out quilting fabric. Don’t worry! We’re here to walk you through everything you need to know, so you can shop confidently knowing that you’ve chosen the best fabric for your quilt.
What’s wrong with just using any old fabric?
Imagine that you’ve spent hours and hours (or weeks, or months!) painstakingly creating a beautiful baby quilt for your young niece. The quilt is a lovely handmade decoration for the nursery and a visual representation of your love for the tiny tot. Every time she cuddles up with her warm blanket, she remembers how wonderful you are to have made this quilt just for her.
Of course, it’s not long until that toddler does what toddlers do, and she spills finger paint all over your gift. No big deal--Mommy will just throw it in the laundry machine. But, when the quilt comes out, it is shrunken and distorted. Some fabric squares have started to unravel. Not only that, but the cherry tomato red fabric from the binding bled in the wash, and now the entire quilt is tinted pink. In short, the quilt is ruined, and all of your hard work was for nothing.
Unraveling fabric, shrinkage, and bleeding colors are all things that can go wrong when you don’t know how to buy fabric for quilts. But that’s never going to happen to you...deep breaths! As long as you keep reading to discover everything you need to know to buy fabric for quilts.
Types of quilting fabric
There are a few different types of fabric that can be used for quilting, and some work better than others. Let’s go through each type of fabric together.
Linen - Linen is a light and airy fabric that is sometimes used for quilting. Linen has an interesting texture that can add a unique look and feel to your quilt. However, because this fabric is woven so loosely, it is prone to unravelling in the wash. If you make a quilt using linen, it will work best as a decorative piece. If you plan to functionally use your linen quilt, you may want to hand wash it to avoid damage in the laundry machine.
Flannel - Flannel is soft, warm, and gives your quilt an instant rustic appeal. Flannel is a great material for quilting, but when you are ready to go buy fabric for quilts, know that your selection of patterns will be more limited.
Quilting cotton - As the name suggests, quilting cotton is the gold standard of quilting fabric, because it is designed specifically for quilting. So how is quilting cotton different from other 100% cotton fabrics?
Quilting cotton is higher quality than other cottons in several ways. It is heavier, and it has a higher thread count. Additionally, it will shrink less and bleed less in the wash (but make sure to pre-wash it anyway!). It has a little less drape than lighter cotton fabrics, so it’s less suitable for making clothing or other projects, but it works perfectly for what it’s made for: quilting!
Quilting cotton is built to last and should always be used for heirloom-quality quilts. You took so much time making your quilt, and quilting cotton ensures that your quilt will stand the test of time.
Where to buy fabric for quilts
Now that you know what kind of fabric to buy, you may still be wondering where to buy fabric for quilts. While you can find quilting cotton and other quilting fabrics in big box stores, we humbly suggest that you will be happier shopping from an online fabric shop instead!
You probably have one or two of these big box stores near you. These nationwide superstores cater to all kinds of sewing and crafting, which means that their specialty quilting cotton selection will be limited.
If you’re a member of a quilting circle and you all shop from the same nearby stores, you may find that your quilts gradually start to look more and more alike! It’s hard to create a truly unique looking quilt when you’re all working from the same small pool of patterns.
Why it’s better to buy fabric for quilts online
Online fabric shops have a much larger variety of high-quality quilting cotton, in a larger variety of styles. Whether you’re looking for traditional patterns, trendy patterns from top designers, or something more niche, online fabric shops carry it all. For quilts that stand out from the crowd, shopping online is the way to go.
If you need more reasons to shop at online fabric shops, remember that by doing so, you are also supporting small businesses! From the small shop owners to the fabric makers, these people are just as passionate about quilting as you are, and they deserve as much love as the big chain fabric stores.
Plus, shopping online is just more convenient! Easily compare patterns to the fabric in your own stash, fill your virtual shopping cart with enough fabric for a California King size quilt, then have it shipped to your doorstep, all from the comfort of your own sewing room. When you want to buy fabric for quilts, online shops are the clear winner.
If you started reading this post not knowing how to buy fabric for quilts, we hope you have had all your questions answered now. Thanks for continuing to support The Little Fabric Shop, where we are always adding unique new styles of quilting cottons! Check our store often to be the first to get the best new quilting fabric styles.