Fabrics today are available in a mind-blowing array of varieties. Natural or synthetic, textured, woven, embroidered, knitted, dyed, patterns—you name it, there’s a fabric that has it. Experienced designers, DIYers, and those who sew for fun or their business no doubt have the experience and eye to know by now which fabric is perfect for which project. But as a beginner, when faced with the overwhelming choices, colors, sizes, and styles—knowing which works the most efficiently for the project or craft you want to make can quickly become an overwhelming headache.
Especially as a brand new beginner to quilting and sewing, there are numerous amounts of information and fabric names. Cotton voile? Cotton Lawn? Batiste, Damask, Jacquard? What are these? What do these fabrics do? Are these even the best fabrics for quilting? If you feel like you have no idea where to start, we’re so glad you’re here! We’re going to share with you some of the best fabrics for quilting to help you get started on your quilting journey!
For the absolute beginner, the quilting fabric standard and go-to is quilter’s weight 100% cotton. Cotton specifically made for quilting is a sturdy, medium-weight fabric designed to withstand wear and washes. Quilting cotton is most often used to create a handmade quilt, and handmade quilts get frequently washed. While the weave used in quilter’s cotton is usually simple, the range of colors and patterns is wide open. High-quality quilter’s cotton is unlikely to bleed and has minimal shrinkage.
One of the dangers of using a lower-quality or cheaper cotton option than quilter’s cotton is that this type of cotton fabric bleeds and is very prone to shrinkage, which could lead to vivid colors bleeding into one another and ruining your quilting project.How to spot high-quality quilting cotton:
- Higher thread count. At the bare minimum, the thread count should be at least a minimum of 60 x 60, or 120.
- If you can handle the cotton in person and hold it up to the light and easily see through it, it is a low thread count and a loose weave.
- Higher thread count cotton will have a more silken hand feel or be softer to the touch and will be smoother than low-quality cotton.
Linen is another fabric that is frequently used for quilting. This natural fiber is one of the world’s oldest textiles for many excellent reasons. Quilting linen is breathable and absorbent, and as it ages and is washed becomes softer and softer. Like quilting cotton, the best kind of linen to use when creating a quilt is medium-weight linen. Compared to cotton, linen is generally a heavier and stronger fiber and is a looser weave.
While Linen is a perfectly acceptable fabric to use for quilting as a beginner, there are some things to note if you’re considering using both cotton and linen.
- Combining quilting cotton with quilting linens with a quarter-inch seam allowance causes the linen seam to unravel over time.
- Linen quilt fabrics mixed with voile or double gauze may be too heavy with these fabrics, causing them to rip or develop small stress holes.
- It is possible to combine linen and quilting kinds of cotton for patchwork. However, it might be easier for you to pick a single type of fabric to quilt with first before moving on to advanced quilting fabrics as a beginner.
Voile is another type of cotton or cotton-polyester blend material. This type of cotton offers a more transparent color with a very soft feel combined with a silky texture. Voile’s silken feel is thanks to a very high thread count and tighter weave than regular quilting cotton. Voile, however, is considered a lightweight fabric, which makes this a better option for the top of a quilt, rather than creating a quilt made entirely of voile. It’s also an excellent choice to use as a backing material.What to know about quilting with voile:
- Voile tends to be a bit slippery to handle, so we recommend pinning more often than usual to keep it in place.
- To avoid leaving visible holes in the tighter woven, higher thread count voile, try using a more delicate, sharper needle than you would typically use to avoid this.
- Because voile is so lightweight, you can counteract some of the flimsiness by using spray starch to help it keep form for cutting and working.
Silk is known as one of the most luxurious fabrics in the world. Pure, 100% natural silk is a protein fiber produced by a specific insect’s cocoon. The most famous of these silks is that from the cocoon larvae of the mulberry silkworm. Pure silk might be slightly out of your price range, but luckily, faux silk shares the same buttery soft texture and beautiful sheen with natural silk. Faux silk is often made from polyester, and unlike the delicate nature of natural silk—which is prone to rot—artificial silk fibers are incredibly durable and long-lasting.
While quilting with silk will create a truly stunning piece to touch and look at, some important aspects to know about sewing silk, silk is a highly slippery fabric, so you may want to consider these methods and tools to help you layout your pattern and cut it:
- For the best results, try using silk pins. By using silk pins, you’ll avoid holes left in the fabric that usually happens when using pins that are too thick.
- Try using a rotary cutter with a cutting board.
- Place tracing paper between the layers of fabric to stop it from slipping.
- Pin into the seam allowance to avoid pinholes.
- Ensure that your pattern pieces go the same direction, so the silk shines in the same order.
- Please wash your hands before handling your silk. It will stain easily.
And while cotton, linen, voile, and silk are all considered the best fabrics to quilt with, there are a few fabrics we recommend steering clear from when quilting:
- Burlap is too flimsy to be useful for quilting. The fabric tends to lose shape, and while it can be done, the result becomes less than ideal.
- Knit fabric generally has far too much stretch to allow it to be a good choice for quilting, especially for new quilters.
When you work with high-quality fabrics from a reliable source like us, you can be sure they will keep their shape, have less risk of bleeding or shrinking, and last year after year. While these fabrics are the top choice for quilting, we encourage quilters with some experience under their belt to experiment with an array of quilting fabrics. It’s the best way to learn what makes a material beneficial or less desirable to your craft projects and give you the experiences to continue your sewing journey.