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Quilting fabrics. What is best for quilting?

Quilting fabrics seem to confuse many, especially newcomers to the craft. Here I explain the difference in cottons and why it is generally best to stick to quilting cottons for quilting.

Quilting fabrics
Freedom fabrics quilting cottons

COTTON

Cotton is a fibre that is processed into different types of fabrics. Some are more suitable to quilting than others and are known as quilting cotton fabric. This is generally to do with weave and weight. Quilting cotton is a medium weight fabric that tends to hold its shape without undue stretch. This makes it perfect for quilting, usually without the use of starch. It is stable and less likely to fray.

Even within the category of quilting cottons you will find slight differences in weight. Generally speaking quilting fabrics have a thread count of at least 60 – 65 per inch. I love Moda fabrics and many of their fabrics are of a slightly lighter weight, but very easy to use as quilting fabrics, for which they are intended.

Quilting fabrics
Moda quilting cottons Voysey collection

Cotton Lawn is another lightweight fabric that is also useful for quilting. Think Liberty Tana Lawn.

Just remember that not all cottons are equal and not all cottons are suitable for quilting. Cotton fabrics vary greatly in quality and price.

Poplin is more suited to dressmaking. In general you need to avoid high thread count such as Egyptian cotton and most cotton sheeting. Tight weaves make quilting more difficult, especially hand quilting. Quilting cottons generally shrink less than some other cottons. Fabrics are also less likely to bleed, so it is worth seeking out quilter’s cottons and paying a little bit extra for them.

Avoid sateen finish. Sadly most of the digital printers now enabling home designers to print their own fabric seem not to supply quilting cottons. I would also avoid polycottons. Quilting takes a lot of time, buy the best fabric you can afford.

On the home printer you can buy cotton sheets to print from your computer. I have a number of designs that I print in this way and feature in my quilts.

quilting fabrics
Moda William Morris metallic fabric

ALTERNATIVE FABRICS

There are a number of other fabrics which are suitable as quilting fabrics. You might wish to try a linen and cotton blend or a silk and cotton blend. My favourite alternative fabric is to buy quilting calico and hand dye it.

Pure wool is another alternative that is mostly used in folk type quilts and applique.

If you can afford it, silk is a wonderful quilting fabric.

BACKING

It is worth making a special mention for backing fabrics. Not least because there is a common misconception amongst quilters that the back of the quilt does not matter. However, this is the part of the quilt often against your skin, so just because it is not seen, does not mean that it does not matter. I pay equal attention to front and back. I am very fond of double sided quilts.

Generally speaking if your quilt top is pure cotton, then your backing should also be pure cotton and preferably of the same make and manufacture to ensure the same behaviour with regards to washing and shrinkage. Some manufacturers make extra width so that backing can be cut as a whole piece if desired. You can join pieces when needed.

quilting fabrics
quilt back using the same cotton fabrics as the front with a different design

MIXING FABRICS

If you mix fabrics, make sure they behave the same and shrink at the same rate. This also applies to any embellishments such as ribbons that are on the quilt. Mixing fabrics is often better when applied to art quilts as opposed to bed quilts.

You can see the quilt patterns, kits and designs on the website

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2021

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Block of the Week – Register Your Interest

Now’s the time to register your interest in the Block of the Week, Indian Summer, introduced on Monday in the blog which has details of the schedule for release. I call it BOW for Block of the Week. Both the design, arrangement and fabric are unique.

Block of the Week Register
Block design by Karen Platt

This Block of the Week programme allows you to create a block each week to create the quilt. You work at your own pace and I have tweaked it a bit from other programmes.

  1. I prefer you to have everything delivered in one go, as fabrics will be specially hand dyed for you.
  2. This saves money on postage for you and also allows you to work at your own pace to finish the quilt. So if you have lots of spare time, or are a quiltaholic you could do a block a day. Alternatively, you can, of course, take longer.
Block of the Week register
Indian Summer Quilt designed by Karen Platt

What is included?

It’s a great way to quilt – it includes

  1. Fabrics to make the quilt top. Size 60 x 72″ with alternatives.
  2. Sashing and binding if appropriate to the quilt and selected as an optional extra
  3. Backing if you select it as an optional extra
  4. The instructions as a pdf, emailed to you (recommended method for clear pics and instructions that you can zoom into to make the text any size)
  5. Alternatives to make the quilt top unique to you. Many of the pieces are interchangeable.
  6. At the moment I am working on just one colourway.
  7. My unique tips as a quilt teacher
  8. Step by step photographic and written instructions with all the techniques you need.
  9. Me on hand online to help along the way
  10. Facebook secret group

How Long Will It Take To Make?

Your friends in the group will spur you on, as will I. The size above, created one block a week will be 12 weeks plus any sashing, borders, binding, backing, to be decided.

The blocks are aimed at all skill levels, starting with the easy ones and building confidence to something a little more challenging. Some can be cut and stitched in one hour (so if you have the time you can make more than one a day). Others have taken me two hours.

Block of The Week register
Indian Summer Block of the week quilt Karen Platt

How much does it cost?

PRICE: Approximately, to be finalised shortly. I am looking at around 140 to 160 gbp plus shipping. As it is one shipping cost, it should only add 10 pounds. I have seen BOMs at up to 300 gbp with shipping over the year of 60 gbp. It might be extra if there are borders and sashing. Remember you are not asked to commit today, just to register your interest. We do NOT charge a registration fee, and again I have seen costs of up to 20 gbp for that alone.

YOU CAN ADD:

A. Extra fabric

B. Printed instructions (photographic quality might not be good an I recommend the pdf)

C. Request different sizes such as wall quilt, single bed size, king bed size, cushion

D. Options of online lessons

Register Your Interest

Register your interest now by sending an email through the contact page WITH THE SUBJECT August BOW. Watch out for updates on here or on facebook. If you register interest, you will receive an email headed Karen Platt August BOW to pay for your fabrics and BOW quilt kit and pattern. You are under no obligation to purchase. Once you have paid and fabrics have been dyed for you, you have waived your right to a refund because the fabrics will have been specially dyed for you. You can also ask any questions about the BOM. You can also register on the form of the home page of the website.

Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2020