For quilting first-timers, it can be tempting to buy every single piece of fabric you can get your hands on so you can experiment with your new-found skill. And don’t worry, we’ve all been there. After all, with the near-infinite number of textures, patterns, weights, and colors to play with, who can resist the appeal of putting needle, thread, and fabric together for a quilt?
But here’s the kicker (isn’t there always): not all fabrics were made equal, and only some fabrics are ideal for quilting. Of course, you could always choose as many fabrics as you can and learn which ones work through trial-and-error, and that might be fun for some people. Or, you can focus on ones that work instead.
We asked some expert quilters about their favorite fabrics and focused on ones that can be bought in online quilt fabric stores (for ease of access) and fabrics that were easy to work with (for ease of, well, working with!). Here’s what they found:
Created by Robert Kaufman fabrics, a leading provider of textiles and quilting fabrics, the Essex Linen is a complex blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton (with some blends even incorporating a percentage of quilting weight cotton) to create a fabric that is soft with a beautiful drape that makes it perfect for both quilting and other home sewing projects.
Voile is a type of cotton fabric that is silky, lightweight, and slightly transparent. It’s usually used in skirts, blouses, scarves, and blouses for its airy and breathable quality. Quilters, however, have found that, despite its lightness, voile can be used in quilting projects and can even be combined with quilter’s weight cotton.
Use voile as a backing for quilt tops made with heavier quilting fabrics like weighted cotton to give your piece a softer, smoother, and silkier finish!
Home Decor Weight Cotton
A heavier cotton fabric that has a sateen finish, the home decor weight cotton is perfect for pieces that need a little extra heft to it. Think: bags, pillows, throw cushions, and other home accessories that need more body. It’s perfect for giving certain pieces that simple living room, minimalist-Esque aesthetic vibe.
Of course, it can also be used for straight quilting, although bear in mind that, because of this fabric’s body and weight, you’ll need to use particularly light batting to make it work. It also doesn’t drape well, so it might not be the best material to use for clothing pieces.
Quilter’s Weight cotton
The supreme choice for quilters everywhere, the Quilter’s Weight Cotton is a high-quality fabric that uses 100% cotton that is absolutely perfect for all kinds of quilting projects. Quilter’s Weight Cotton has a lower shrinkage rate than cheap cotton fabrics and is less likely to bleed. Of course, some shrinkage should be expected (because it is still cotton, after all), and you should always test for bleeding and colorfastness before usage, but overall, the chances of both shrinkage and bleeding are a lot less with this fabric.
If you’re using it for clothes, it’s best to pre-wash and dry Quilter’s Weight Cotton before cutting or sewing to further reduce the risk of shrinkage and fitting issues in the long run.