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Quilting Fabrics and Quilting Thread

Updated on July 5, 2017
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed is a freelance writer of arts and crafts. She enjoys bringing an array of different projects to your attention.

Quilting Fabrics

A luxury and glamorous quilt for the bedroom.
A luxury and glamorous quilt for the bedroom. | Source

Quilting Fabrics and Notions

Regardless of whether we are beginners or advanced quilters we all love fabrics. We are attracted to the sensuality of colors and texture.

Quilters work with bolts of cotton fabrics, clothing scraps, and other scraps of assorted fabrics left over from various sewing projects. However, with the movement of artists entering the world of textiles they are expressing themselves with many different types of fabric textures and notions.

The traditional quilts are still in existence and many people keep this art active. The newer artists are bringing 'out of the box' thinking and creations to this fabric art. They enjoy working with sheers, fancy fabrics, suede, leather, velvet, and accessories of buttons, feathers, fancy trims, and many other accessories which are not included in traditional quilting.

Cotton Fabric

Cotton broadcloth is the most durable and popular fabric choice for quilting.
Cotton broadcloth is the most durable and popular fabric choice for quilting. | Source

Quilting Fabrics Selections

When selecting fabrics it is best to have created or selected a quilt pattern before purchasing fabrics.

Patterns by designers will include exactly how much fabric you will need and the colors of choice.

You may choose to purchase quilting kits which you assemble following their instructions or you may choose to purchase fabric squares which have been cut to size as well as color coordinated and ready for stitching.

Precut Fabric Square

Precut fabrics for quilts are usually cut from printed fabrics.
Precut fabrics for quilts are usually cut from printed fabrics. | Source

Precut Fabrics

Have you seen the precut fabrics which are designed to save time, provide convenience, and are color coordinated? These bundles of fabrics are called fat quarters, charm packs, and other creative names depending on the manufacturer or fabric originating company.

  1. Border strips are also precut and may be called a jelly roll or a dessert roll depending on their width size. The sizes will vary. These strips are also used within the quilt separating the individual blocks.
  2. The fat quarter refers to fabrics that are cut in quarter yard units and measure approximately 18” x 22”. These large square cuts are for larger faster projects, such as a bedspread cover.
  3. The charm pack which measures 5” x 5” refers to each square of fabric being different from each other. Why is each square a different print? That is a good question. These fabric squares are arranged by color in the design process and even though there are no duplicates the quilt completes a “charming” and beautiful work of art.

Both textile designers and manufacturers select fabrics and color for precut fabrics. Some people have difficulties color coordinating their fabrics and appreciate their efforts. There are quiltings stores which will cut squares and color coordinate for their customers.

A Rainbow of Colors

The color spectrum starts with a rainbow of colors. Other hues are created by mixing various colors.
The color spectrum starts with a rainbow of colors. Other hues are created by mixing various colors. | Source

Four Types of Color Coordination

  1. Neutral background color of the quilt is white, beige, gray, black, or any other color that will hide and not get any attention. I have seen dark green or dark brown make excellent backgrounds.
  2. Monochromatic is sewing a quilt with one color. For more interest or variety you can add different textures, shades, tones, or tints of your chosen color.
  3. Analogous are placing fabrics of similar colors that blend together. Example; you may use different prints of green or brown. The prints may be different bu the colors blend naturally together.
  4. Complimentary colors are used sparingly, but strategically in small amounts. Your quilt may be a sea of sailboats and at the top of the the sail is a colored pendant. Every fourth sailboat has a yellow pendant, every third sailboat has a red pendant, and so on The pendants are small but the colors used in the pendants are complimentary to the other colors in the quilt.

Sewing Threads

Sewing Threads in Display Case
Sewing Threads in Display Case | Source

Quilting Threads

There are many different types of threads in the market place and it is confusing selecting the correct thread for the type of fabric. It is critical in quilting to use the right threads for quality and longevity.

Types of threads:

1. Cotton thread is made from the cotton plant. Use cotton thread when sewing cotton fabric.

2. Polyester is a synthetic fiber which has been processed for thread use. The thread is very strong; however, it is too strong for cotton fabric. With continued washings the seams will weaken and the quilt will be in need of repair.

The majority of quilters prefer cotton thread with cotton fabric for longevity, especially if the quilt will be laundered many times.

If you are sewing a wall hanging quilt or a show quilt, the choice of thread is up to you.

3. I have used rayon, nylon, and metallic threads for my mini-quilts. I use these threads for topical decorating in the seams, around the appliqués, and in the overall quilting pattern for the finished product. These are articles which will not be cleaned for a very long time.

4. Wool thread is thicker and is used to embellish Folk Art quilts or projects.

5. Are you working with beads? Silk thread is preferred because the stitches seem to disappear giving the quilt a professional finish.

6. Are you a hand quilter? It is recommended that hand quilting threads be used rather than machine threads. The hand quilting threads are glazed for easier stitching. These threads are not used for machine stitching.

When shopping at a quilt shop I have found that most of the supplies are made for quilting, however, quilt shop or not, if not sure ask the clerk for assistance.

It has been my experience that clerks at standard fabric stores may not have quilting knowledge so I also suggest that you check with thread manufactures on the Internet and learn about different threads.

If you are anything like me…experiment! There is much learning and fun in this creative process. And if you make a mistake, rip the stitching out and try again with another choice.

Thread Choices for Your Quilting Project (Ep. 206)

Hello Quilters

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    • profile image

      Tricia Deed 3 years ago

      If you are mixing different types of fabrics this would make you a modern quilter and possibly making crazy quilts.

      Quilting is a lot like doing a puzzle.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love quilting. I like mixing and matching colors and types of fabrics. Wonderful article.