We are developing this library to be your resource for
information regarding the world of quilting. We will be
continually adding more resources for your use. Hopefully you
will enjoy perusing the Library and feel compelled to add information
that you think other quilters would find useful. Please send any
submissions to: Library@QuiltHome.com
We currently have the following resources:
- information regarding the quality and availability of
Quilting Tips - simple tips to improve your quilting techniques
Quilting Glossary - definitions of quilting-related terms
Quilting Links - links to other good quilting references
″I try to work with the best 100%
cotton fabrics available from my local quilt store. These fabrics
are the best available on the market. If you are bargain hunting
somewhere other than your quilt store, it is extremely important
to understand that the fabric might not be printed on the first quality
greige goods (the raw fabric the design is printed on). This may
not seem important when you are first trying to establish your stash,
but it can cause serious problem down the road. When the fabric
is not top quality, all your hard work may be in vain. The quilt
might fall apart right before your eyes or stretch and distort, making
piecing difficult. This disaster would be due to a lesser thread
count (fewer threads per inch) and improper processing. In some
classes I′ve taught, students have become quite frustrated because the
bargain fabrics they brought in would not behave or piece together
willingly. A lot of hard work goes into making a quilt, and your
time is worth using the best products available. I would rather
have five pieces of high quality fabric than twenty pieces of lesser
Shopping with Alex Anderson
The Difference Between Chain Store Fabrics
and Quilters′ Grade
I′m often asked, "Is there really any
difference between the printed
cottons found in chain stores for $2.99 to $5.99 per yard and those
found in quilt shops and the best mail order catalogs for $7.99 to
$9.99?" You bet there is!
Premium brands start with high quality
greige (gray) goods. Premium
greige goods have a thread count of at least 60 by 60 threads, and most
have thread counts higher than "60 square." Higher thread counts
produce a silkier hand, less bearding when quilted, longer fabric life
and better printing definition.
Most chain store cotton prints are made
from less expensive greige
goods that have 60 square construction or less. In chain stores, 60
square construction is considered to be the benchmark of high quality.
In addition to thread count, fabric
quality is also determined by the
diameter of the yarns used, the size of the cotton filaments and the
length of the cotton staple. Although premium raw materials are more
expensive and add to the final price you pay, you get a far superior
Premium brands typically make use of a
higher number of screens (the
number of colors used in the print) and more complex and sophisticated
engravings. High screen counts and complex engravings require using
slower and more exacting flat bed presses than the high speed rotary
presses used by domestic printers for most chain store fabrics.
Once the greige goods are printed, they
have to be "finished". The
printed fabric is placed in a chemical bath that sets the dye into the
cotton fibers. Unfinished or poorly finished goods bleed badly and have
a very coarse, "boardy" hand. Premium brands are
finished using more
time-consuming and expensive processes that create the silken hand of
quilters′ grade fabric in addition to superior colorfastness.
It is, of course, an over-simplification
to divide the cotton print
industry into chain store brands and quilt shop/mail order catalog
brands. Indeed, chain stores often carry a limited range of premium
brands. But, generally speaking, chain store offerings are price
driven. They cannot easily sell the higher priced fabrics to their
clientele. As a result, chain stores tend to carry the lower priced
(and therefore lower quality) cotton fabrics.
Consider also the element of design.
Premier designers tend to design
for premium fabric companies. The technical aspects-the use of premium
greige goods, printing many screens with fine definition, creating a
silken hand through more sophisticated finishing processes-all these
elements enhance a designer′s efforts. World-class design brings a
unique dimension to premium quality fabric. It comes with a price, but
it adds immeasurably to the special nature of quilters′ grade fabric.
There is one more point that should be
addressed. That is the issue of
service and expertise. Most quilt shops and mail order quilting
catalogs-the prime sources of premium fabrics-are well staffed with
knowledgeable, friendly quilting experts. Most shops provide classes
and expertise unmatched by the chains. Quilt shops and mail order
catalogs generally do not sell jobber goods. They offer only first
quality, premium brands at fair prices. These firms deserve your
In conclusion, there is most definitely
a difference in fabrics. You
get what you pay for. Premium brands offer a vast quality advantage
over cheaper alternatives for just a modest increase in cost,
especially when you consider the effort, skill and love that will go
into your use of the fabric.
Textile fabrication is a large subject.
If you would like to learn more
about this fascinating subject, I highly recommend Harriet Hargrave′s
From Fiber to Fabric. It′s a
wonderful book, and you can find it in
most quilt shops and catalogs.
By Jim Salinas (used with permission)
Jim Salinas, who has
had 25 years of fabric chain store retailing
experience, is now a sales representative for Moda Fabrics.
How Much Fabric Should I Buy?
"Many quilters buy fabric they like
when they see it, so they will have it on hand for future
projects. This is called building a fabric stash. It isn′t
such a bad idea, since fabric changes quickly on the shelves and what
you see this season probably won′t be there next season. Consider
the following guidelines:
If you like it buy a yard.
If you really like it buy two yards.
If you can′t live without it, buy as much as your budget permits."
Carol Doak, Your First Quilt Book
A coffee table art book, printed
on newsprint, will certainly be
less expensive than one printed on acid-free archival coated
paper. But the cheaper substrate will yellow, become brittle, and
render the book worthless in a few years. If you want your quilts
to be valued heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, you
should select only the highest quality quilting fabrics. At
QuiltHome, we sell only the highest quality, brand-name quilting