What is quilting fabric?
Quilting fabric is a general term for any fabric which can be used for making decorative or functional quilts. Quilting is an ancient art which has crossed over from a traditional art form to a mainstream one.
A quilt is a sandwich of materials usually made with a top pieced of smaller cuts (patchwork quilting fabrics) with a bottom layer of a solid cloth and a centre layer of batting. These layers are basted and quilted together by hand or machine to bond them and create the final quilt.
Fabric for quilting can vary from cotton and linen to silk and satin. Quilting cottons are medium weight cottons and tend to feel stiffer while holding their shape quite well. When choosing quilting fabric online the qualities of the textiles should be made clear.
Popular choices for patchwork quilting fabrics:
- Quilters Weight Cotton
- Cotton Satin
- Silk Satin
- Cotton Silk Blend
- Cotton Twill
- Polycotton Blends
How is it manufactured?
Each quilting fabric is made with a slightly different manufacturing process. Some quilting fabrics are UK made whereas others are manufactured overseas.
Quilter’s cotton is made from naturally grown cotton which is harvested and manufactured either by hand or machine. Textile mills process raw bales of cotton into yarn using techniques such as carding, combing and spinning to produce the yarn.
Silk, however, is an animal protein fibre which is produced by certain insects to make their cocoons. It is harvested and treated to make silk from the fibres.
Textiles such as satin and velvet are types of weaves which can be made from silk, cotton or other fibres.
Purposes of quilting fabric
Quilting materials have grown in popularity as quilting has become an increasingly favoured hobby. The purpose of quilting fabric is to make a quilt – patchwork or other. They can also be used to make quilted clothing and apparel, such as dressing gowns, bed jackets, coats, skiwear, snowsuits, body warmers, hoods and more.
Different materials provide a range of textures, drapes, weights and weaves. The purposes of these fabrics are to provide your quilt with character, depth, design and flair. Fabric for quilting depends on what you want your final project to look like and what its main purpose is.
The properties of fabric for quilting can vary from material to material. Traditionally, Quilter’s weight cotton has been used in quilt making but increasingly, crafters and designers are choosing more varied textiles to create their quilts. Some of these materials and their properties include:
- Cotton – comfortable, soft, colour retention, prints well, durable
- Satin – glossy, luxe, woven, delicate, a fabric blend
- Silk – low density, resilient, insulating, strong, shimmers, comfortable
- Linen – durable, stronger when wet, natural, creases easily, smooth and cool
- Voile - lightweight, semi-sheer, woven, soft, silky, gentle drape
- Poplin – soft, non-stretch, matt, opaque, tight, plain weave
- Velvet – soft, luxurious, non-stretch, opaque, strong, durable
Advantages of quilting fabric
The advantage of using fabric for quilting is that these specific textiles are created for this specific use. Quality cotton quilting fabric is less prone to shrinkage and bleeding and has less chemicals in the material. A quilt is all about the fabric used to make it, so, realistically, if the cloth is tightly woven enough to cover the batting and be secured by stitching, then any fabric can be used.
Quilt making is a true art form and a major advantage of this is that the material choice can truly fall to the crafter or artist. This is why patchwork quilts are so popular – you can select several kinds of cloth to create one statement quilt. Scraps of cloth become significant once again and meaning is put behind every piece.