I have been quilting for over 50 years. The fabric that I used for my first quilt wasn\u2019t something that I went out and bought. In fact, my first quilt was made much like those made by the early settlers of this country, who made their quilts by cutting up old clothing into squares which were then sewn together to make quilts. To be honest, I made many quilts over quite a few years without actually knowing what quilting fabric really is.\n\n\n\nQuilting fabric is 100% cotton fabric that is of medium weight, has a thread count that ranges from 60 to 75 threads per square inch for good quality and up to 200 threads per square inch for higher quality fabric, is made of long-staple cotton, and has a plain or even weave.\n\n\n\nIn the following paragraphs, we will discuss in more detail the various components or characteristics of quilting fabric and why those characteristics are important.\n\n\n\nWhat is Meant By the Term 100% Cotton Fabric?\n\n\n\nMany of the fabrics made today are blends of two or more different types of fibers like polyester and cotton, polyester and rayon, or a wool blend. But, the term 100% cotton fabric means just that, there is no other type of fiber contained within the fabric except pure cotton.\n\n\n\nThere are many advantages to using cotton fabric, some of which are that these fabrics are durable, breathable, a comfortable weight, hypoallergenic, and pleasant to the touch.\n\n\n\nUsing 100% cotton fabric for quilting is beneficial to the quilter in the following ways:\n\n\n\n\nIt is easier to work with and handle for quilting, \n\n\n\nIt does not stretch easily, \n\n\n\nIt will have less shrinkage than other fabrics,\n\n\n\nIt does not fray easily, and \n\n\n\nIt is finished to the extent that it is much more colorfast than most other fabrics.\n\n\n\n\nHere is a 100% cotton fabric quilt I made:\n\n\n\nI donated this to a fundraiser\n\n\n\nWhat is the Weight of Fabric?\n\n\n\nThe weight of quilting fabric is generally heavier than fabric primarily made to be used for clothing because the weave is denser and the thread count is higher. It is lighter, however, than the fabric used for upholstery which would be too heavy to quilt when added to the other two parts of the quilt sandwich.\n\n\n\nQuilting fabric generally weighs 3-5 ounces per square yard, while clothing fabric can weigh from 2 to 3 ounces per square yard.\n\n\n\nWhat is the Thread Count of Quilting Fabric?\n\n\n\nThe thread count of quilting fabric will range from 60-75 threads per square inch for a good quality fabric to 200 threads per square inch for high-quality quilting fabric. Batik fabric which is often used in quilting, has 200-220 threads per square inch. However, please note that Batiks are not as colorfast as quilting fabrics.\n\n\n\nThe thread count is not normally listed on fabric bolts. But, by lifting the fabric to the light, if you can see the light through the fabric, it is more than likely a lower thread count. The higher thread count fabrics are much more tightly woven and do not allow light to filter through.\n\n\n\nA Bargello Quilt I Made With Batiks\n\n\n\nWhat is Long Staple Cotton?\n\n\n\nQuilting fabric is made of long-staple cotton, which means that the cotton fibers used in manufacturing those fabrics are 1\u00be\u201d long. Long-staple cotton is often labeled as Pima or Egyptian cotton and is much stronger than other fabrics. Other fabrics have cotton fibers that are 1\u00bc\u201d long.\n\n\n\nWhat is Meant by the Fabric Weave?\n\n\n\nThe fabric weave is determined by the number of threads in the length, which is called the warp of the fabric, and the width, which is known as the weft. Quilt Fabric weave is generally a plain or even weave, which means that the number of threads for the length (warp) and width (weft) are the same. This ensures the fabric will handle well and will not fray during cutting, sewing, and quilting. It is also stronger and more durable and will feel soft to the touch despite being a heavier fabric.\n\n\n\nQuilt Fabrics are also made with different color threads on the warp and weft, so the color will appear different and will shimmer and move based on how the light falls on the fabric. Different weaving patterns will also add interest to fabrics for quilting.\n\n\n\nWhat Are the Best Fabrics to Use For Quilting?\n\n\n\nI personally have made quilts from discarded clothing, from the cheapest cotton fabric that I can find, from the most beautiful Batiks available, and from the best quilting fabric on the market. I have used a lot of cotton broadcloth and many different flannels, and based on my experience with quilting, this is my list of the 3 best fabrics to use for quilting.\n\n\n\n\n100% Cotton Quilting Fabric- Quilting fabric made of 100% cotton is the best fabric for quilting. This fabric will be much easier to work with for the quilter and will hold its shape and make the most durable quilt that will last for many years.\n\n\n\n100% Cotton Broadcloth- Broadcloth was originally made from either cotton or wool but is now available in many blends. This popular fabric is primarily used in making clothing, especially shirts, dresses, sleepwear, and playwear. It can also be used in quiltmaking, but it is best to use the 100% cotton broadcloth for quilts. The price for 100% cotton broadcloth makes it popular in quiltmaking because it is much more affordable than the quilting fabrics.\n\n\n\n100% Cotton Flannel- The 100% cotton flannel is very popular in quiltmaking, especially for baby quilts and quilts to be used in areas where the winters are very cold. One of the drawbacks to using flannel is that it frays, but this can be remedied by cutting it with pinking shears.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nCotton Quilting Fabric\n\n\n\n\n\nCotton Broadcloth\n\n\n\n\n\nCotton Flannel\n\n\n\n\n\nJust keep in mind that any fabric can be used in quiltmaking, but certain things are important to remember:\n\n\n\n\nUse the same type and weight of fabric for the entire quilt. Quilts with fabrics of different weights will shrink or stretch at different rates when washed.\n\n\n\nUse fabrics that are colorfast and will not bleed into other fabrics in the quilt after washing.\n\n\n\nFabrics that are light and thin, like voile, will not be as durable in a quilt as the sturdier cotton fabrics.\n\n\n\nAvoid using knit fabrics in quilting because they stretch so easily. If, however, you are making a t-shirt quilt, be sure to use a good fabric stabilizer.\n\n\n\nIt is better to use the same kind of thread as the fabrics you are using.\n\n\n\nAny fabric can be used in making quilts, but the natural fiber fabrics like 100% cotton will handle much better and will be much more durable.\n\n\n\n\nWhat Are the Parts of a Quilt?\n\n\n\nThe parts of a quilt include the quilt top, the batting, the lining (back), these first three parts forming the quilt \u201csandwich,\u201d and the binding.\n\n\n\n\nQuilt Top: The quilt top is normally the most \u201cshowy\u201d part of the quilt and requires the most time for preparation. Kinds of fabric, colors, and a pattern must all be selected.\n\n\n\nBatting: The size of the quilt and your preference for the kind of batting (cotton or polyester) and the thickness of the batting will determine your batting selection.\n\n\n\nLining (Back): The lining or backing of the quilt can be either a fabric that matches the quilt top, a coordinating fabric, or a contrasting fabric, or it can be made from a fabric of neutral color. The width of the fabric to be used for the lining will determine whether the lining will have a seam. The lining can be pieced out of any type of fabric or there are quilting fabrics available that are 108\u201d wide, which will allow you to make a quilt lining without a seam. In addition, I have, on many occasions, used a flat bed sheet for a quilt lining without a seam.\n\n\n\nBinding: The binding joins the three parts of the quilt sandwich together and gives the quilt a finished look. There are many different ways to bind a quilt. If you are using fabric from the quilt top, the extra yard to a yard and a half of fabric must be added to the amount of fabric needed for the quilt. Pre-cut binding strips, and satin for binding are also available if you do not want to make your own binding.\n\n\n\n\nQuilting Frame with Quilt Sandwich\n\n\n\nSteps to Planning a Quilt Project:\n\n\n\nWhen planning a quilt project, quite often, the first thing that comes to mind is the question of what kind of fabric I should use for the quilt top. But, this is not the only part of the quilt that has to be planned, nor the first step in the planning process. Let\u2019s take a look at the various parts of the quilt that require planning and the logical order of the planning process.\n\n\n\n\nWhat is the purpose of the quilt? Why is this quilt being made? Is it for a gift, is it just because I want to make another quilt, or is it merely a way to use up certain fabrics that are on hand?\n\n\n\nWhat size quilt will I make? Will this be a baby quilt, a twin, a full, a queen, or a king? Or, will this be a special size?\n\n\n\nWhat pattern will I use?\n\n\n\nWhat colors will the quilt be?\n\n\n\nWhat fabric or fabrics will I need for the quilt top?\n\n\n\nWhat fabric will I use for the lining or back of the quilt?\n\n\n\nWhat kind of batting will you choose? Are you going to use a cotton batting or the more readily available and less expensive polyester?\n\n\n\nWhat kind of binding will you use? Are you going to bind the quilt with fabric from the quilt top, a coordinating fabric, a contrasting fabric, or are you going to use a ribbon binding?\n\n\n\nHow will the quilt be quilted? Are you going to hand quilt or machine quilt your new project? Or are you having the quilt professionally quilted?\n\n\n\nHow much and what kind of thread will you use? What color, size, and type of thread will you use? Will you use regular thread, dual-duty, hand quilting, or machine quilting thread?\n\n\n\nHow much of each type of fabric will you need?\n\n\n\n\nWhere Can You Buy Quilting Fabric?\n\n\n\nQuilting fabric can be purchased from your local fabric stores, from chain fabric and craft stores such as Joann Fabrics, and online from many Internet fabric stores such as Etsy. And prices of quilting fabrics vary widely, depending on the source, the type of fabric, and the fabric manufacturer.\n\n\n\nFor those new to quilting, going into a local fabric store or a chain store and actually seeing the wide variety of fabrics available and being able to touch those fabrics would be the logical first step in buying quilting fabric. It is quite difficult to choose fabric online and be sure it is the quality fabric that you believe to be purchasing until you become more familiar with choosing fabrics. \n\n\n\nProper Care and Storage of Handmade Quilts\n\n\n\nCare\n\n\n\nHere are three tips for caring for quilts:\n\n\n\n\nHandmade quilts should never be dry cleaned as the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process can damage them.\n\n\n\nWash quilts only when necessary, only in cold water, and on a gentle cycle. \n\n\n\nAlways line dry handmade quilts. Never machine dry.\n\n\n\n\nStorage\n\n\n\nProper storage for antique and more delicate quilts includes textile storage boxes and tissue paper to place between the folds of the quilt. \n\n\n\nI like to store my quilts in a pillowcase that allows the fabric of the quilts to breathe while protecting them from dust and other foreign matter.\n\n\n\nStore quilts in a cool, dry area away from extremely high or low temperatures and away from direct sunlight.\n\n\n\nFor more on storage, I wrote an article called 4 Best Storage Containers for Quilts (And How to Store Them) that you might be interested in.\n\n\n\nMy trusty quilting frame lined with broadcloth\n\n\n\nShould Quilting Fabrics Be Prewashed?\n\n\n\nWhether fabrics should be prewashed before starting a quilting project is one of those highly debated topics in quilting circles. I never prewash because I like the look of the finished quilt after using new fabrics that have never been laundered. Once the fabrics or the quilt itself is washed, it doesn\u2019t look like a new quilt anymore.\n\n\n\nThe other side of this prewashing debate calls attention to the fact that if the fabric is going to do any shrinking, stretching, or if the colors are going to run, it is better that all those things happen before the quilt is made. And, this theory certainly has merit.\n\n\n\nMy answer to the quilters who insist that fabrics be prewashed is that if the same type and weight of fabrics are used together in a quilt, then those fabrics are going to shrink, stretch, or run in the same manner and will not affect the integrity of the quilt. \n\n\n\nIn my opinion, all quilters have to make the decision for themselves as to whether quilting fabrics should be prewashed.\n\n\n\nRelated Articles\n\n\n\n\n\nFinal Thoughts\n\n\n\nQuilting, which has been traced back to Medieval Times, has been practiced in every culture throughout the world and is still flourishing today. Art quilts that are being made from many different types of fabrics and materials are spectacular and are indeed works of art.\n\n\n\nMy mother was a quilter, so I have been around quilters and quilting all my life. As a child, I played under the quilts my mother quilted by tacking them to four boards which were nailed together to form a square frame that she hung from the ceiling for quilting. As I got older, I helped my mother on occasion with the quilts she was making, but I did not actually start making quilts on my own until I was in my early 30s. \n\n\n\nEven though it is possible to make quilts from any fabric, the quilts that will be the most durable and maintain their shape and color for the longest period of time will be the quilts that are cared for properly and that are made from the best quilting fabrics available.\n\n\n\nQuilt Gallery\n\n\n\nHere are a few quilts that I made recently:\n\n\n\n\n\nCotton Quilting Fabric\n\n\n\n\n\nBatiks\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBatiks\n\n\n\n\n\nBatiks\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n Cotton Broadcloth \n\n\n\n\n\nCotton Broadcloth\n\n\n\n\n\nFor more, don't miss The 4 Best Places To Buy Quilting Fabric.