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Articles in our Quilting 101 Series
Ideally, we use 100% cotton to make quilts; however, you do not have to be confined to commercial fabric outlets when looking for quilting material. Cotton is also attainable from clothing and bedding that you find in your travels. Wherever you might locate any of these items, read the tags to confirm their cotton content and scoop them up for your collection. You will be surprised with the array of colors and patterns available in items that are picked up from places other than a fabric shop.
Cotton fabric presses crisply and produces seams with minimal distortion. Using 100% cotton to quilt with will give you a superior product and this isn't an old wives tale!
Cotton/polyester blends, as a rule, do not hold a pressed crease as well as 100% cotton and they may pucker when sewn because of the extra give in the material. This type of fabric may stretch along the grain lines causing difficulties in accurate fabric piecing. However, these types of material are an excellent choice when making a quilt that needs to withstand wear and frequent washing; such as one made for a child.
Patterns customarily call for yardage using fabric that is 44/45" wide and of course, the color choices can be mind boggling. Any quilter will tell you the best as well as the hardest thing to do is shop for material for a particular project. It is easy to have the thought process waiver when that certain bolt of fabric catches your eye from the other side of the room!
Fabric is usually chosen after you have picked a pattern and a color theme. When you purchase yard goods, ask the clerk if any of the fabric you want is discontinued or will be in the near future. This may be the case if you are purchasing fabric that is on sale for a hard to believe price.
Every quilter makes their own rules as to how much material should be purchased. If you are buying for a particular project, always purchase a little extra to compensate for shrinkage, an error in calculation or making a wrong cut. If you are in search of nothing in particular and happen onto a bolt of fabric that must go home with you, buy at least one yard/meter. If the material is being discontinued, you may want to consider purchasing as much as is available, especially if you have a vision as to what project it would be included in.
Fabric is usually sold in bolts that are 44/45" wide. There are other sizes with names such as Fat Quarters and Eighths. Fat Quarters are as their name depicts, a quarter of a yard of material; however, they typically measures 22" x 18". Eighths, again, are what their name says. An eighth of a yard of material is one that measures 11" x 18" or 9" x 22", depending on how the fabric store makes their cuts. The sizes for Quarters may also vary slightly depending on the actual width of the original bolt of material.
It should be noted that quarters are cut from a half yard of material and then cut in half to make a fat quarter. Fat quarters of fabric may not be enough length if your pattern calls for a quarter yard. This measurement usually means a quarter of a yard by 45" wide. Quarters are ideal for small quantities of the just the right color or pattern needed for your project, and there are books available about making quilts out of nothing but Fat Quarters.
Ann Edall Robson is a quilter and freelance writer who
is the owner of Comfy Country Creations.
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