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How to Choose Fabrics for Your Next Quilting Project

A comprehensive guide to choose fabrics for your next quilting project on feelgood fibers

Starting a new quilting project is always a thrill! It allows you to showcase your creativity and create a beautiful, functional piece of art! One of the most crucial decisions in quilting is how to choose fabrics for your project. With countless options available, selecting the perfect fabrics can be a daunting task. Fear not! In this blog post, we’ll provide you with a detailed guide on how to choose fabrics for your next quilting project. From considering fabric types and qualities to exploring color palettes and patterns, we’ll cover it all. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Fabric Types

Before diving into the selection process, let’s get familiar with the different fabric types commonly used in quilting. The three primary types are:

Quilting Cotton

Quilting cotton is the most popular choice for quilting projects. It is lightweight, easy to work with, and available in an extensive range of colors and prints. Look for high-quality, tightly woven cotton fabric that is durable and doesn’t stretch excessively. Bonus points for using quilting fabrics purchased secondhand!

Batik

Batik fabrics are hand-dyed and feature unique patterns and vibrant colors. They are made using a wax-resistant dyeing technique, resulting in intricate designs. Batiks add a rich, textured element to quilts and work well in both traditional and contemporary projects.

Specialty Fabrics

Depending on your project, you may also consider specialty fabrics such as flannel, silk, linen, or wovens, or even denim. These fabrics can add texture, interest, and uniqueness to your quilt, but keep in mind that they may require additional care during the quilting process.

Considering Fabric Quality

The quality of your chosen fabric can significantly impact the final result and longevity of your quilt. Here are a few tips to help you assess quality when you choose fabrics:

Thread Count

When you hear thread count you probably are thinking about bed sheets. The higher the thread count the more luxurious the sheets. The same principal applies to quilting cotton. Look for fabrics with a high thread count, indicating a denser weave and smoother texture. Fabrics with a thread count of 60 or higher are generally of good quality. For reference, Kona cotton has a 60 thread count and Art Gallery Fabrics have a 205 thread count.

Weight and Drape

Consider the weight and drape of the fabric based on the desired outcome of your quilt. Lighter fabrics are suitable for delicate projects, while heavier fabrics provide warmth and durability for quilts intended for everyday use.

Test for Colorfastness

To ensure your fabric’s colors won’t bleed or fade over time, perform a simple colorfastness test. Dampen a small corner of the fabric and press it against a white cloth. If there is any transfer of color, it’s best to avoid using that fabric in your quilt, or be sure to pre-wash the fabric and always use a dye-trapping color catcher (like this one from Shout) when washing your quilt.

Exploring Color Palettes and Patterns

Choosing the right color palette and patterns for your quilt is a highly personal decision. Here are some considerations to help you in the process:

Purpose

Determine the theme or purpose of your quilt. Is it a gift for a newborn baby? A festive holiday quilt? A modern art-inspired piece? Understanding the purpose will help guide your color and pattern choices.

Color

Familiarize yourself with color theory concepts, such as complementary, analogous, and monochromatic color schemes. The color wheel can serve as a valuable tool in creating harmonious and visually appealing combinations. Need inspiration? Check out this color wheel from Canva that makes combinations for you based on the color theory concept you want to explore!

Print Scale and Density

When selecting patterned fabrics, consider the scale and density of the prints. Mixing various scales adds visual interest to the quilt, while balancing dense prints with more subtle ones helps create a cohesive design.

Building a Fabric Palette

Creating a fabric palette is a crucial step in ensuring your quilt is visually cohesive. Of course keep in mind these are merely suggestions, and any and all rules are made to be broken in the name of creative expression. But, with that disclaimer in place, these tips will help you to create a fabric palette if you’re new to the process:

Focus Fabric

Start by selecting a focus fabric—a key fabric that reflects the theme or mood of your quilt. This fabric will act as an anchor and guide your color and pattern choices.

Coordinating Fabrics

Choose fabrics that complement the colors and patterns in your focus fabric. Consider selecting fabrics in different shades, tones, or values to create depth and contrast within your quilt.

Balance and Variety

Strive for a balanced mix of colors and patterns. Incorporate solids, tone-on-tone prints, and small-, medium-, and large-scale patterns to achieve a dynamic and visually pleasing composition.

Choosing fabrics for your quilting project can be an enjoyable process with a little knowledge and thoughtful consideration. By understanding fabric types, assessing quality, exploring color palettes and patterns, and building a cohesive fabric palette, you’ll be well on your way to creating a stunning quilt that reflects your personal style and vision.

So, gather your fabrics, unleash your creativity, and embark on a quilting journey filled with color, texture, and warmth! Happy quilting!

Oh, and if you need something to build your fabric palette, why not shop secondhand first?