Although the origins of quilting can be traced back to a practical way of stitching together old pieces of fabric to create a practical warm blanket, today quilting has been elevated to a much beloved art form that is been passed down from generation to generation. If there is any doubt that quilting is an art you need look no further then at some of the delicate stitch work that goes into the making of each and every quilt. Quilting definitely takes American folk art to a whole new level. But each intricate and colorful quilt has to begin with the proper quilting fabric.
Buying fabric by the yard is a common way most experienced quilters put together their collection of sewing options. The issue then comes down to a matter of quality. Is the kind of printed cotton fabrics found in chain stores of the highest quality as opposed to quilting fabric you might order through premium mail order catalogs? The short answer is yes.
Just as you would look at a thread count when buying sheets you should also consider the thread count when it comes to shopping for your quilting fabric. A premium brand of fabric is determined by the quality of its greige or gray goods. This is the fabric in its raw form. Top-of-the-line greige fabric has a thread count hovering around 60 x 60. For really exceptional quality you’ll want to look at a thread count that is even higher than 60 square. The greater the thread count the more the fabric will yield a silkier touch and provide less bearding when you quilted. These high-quality quilting fabrics also will maintain their vibrant colors and patterns longer as well.
If you shop for fabric by the yard at a chain store you’ll find that many of the inexpensive bolts of fabric are greige goods with less than a 60 square thread count. In the world of quilting 60 square construction is the hallmark of premium fabric.
There are other factors beyond the thread count that go into making up the quality of quilting fabric. You should also consider the diameter of the yarns incorporated into the fabric along with the size of individual cotton filaments. Additionally, you can look at the length of the cotton staple. Utilizing high quality raw materials can add to the cost of fabric by the yard but you might find that those materials are the best you can purchase. Of course, when you get into these levels of scrutiny practically need a microscope to make a thorough examination!
Another way to judge the quality of quilting fabric is the amount of colors used within the pattern. A more intricate use of printing screens requires a much more high-end type of fabric. These patterns also take time to meld together as opposed to the kind of high speed rotary presses method used on the cheaper fabrics.
henever a fabric is printed it needs to go through a kind of chemical bath that allows the dyes set into the cotton fiber. Fabric that’s in a rush to get made will have this process completed in as little time as possible. That can yield a very coarse type of product. If you’re going through all the time and effort to make a quilt don’t you deserve the very best quilting fabric? After all, your quilt could last for generations!
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