How to Select Fabric for Quilting

Part of the Quilting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A quilt is all about the fabric used to make it. Sure there’s batting and backing, but the design and integrity of a quilt comes from the fabrics you choose to compose it. Use the tips in the following list when choosing fabrics for your latest quilt or for your stash of materials for future quilts:

  • Always purchase 100 percent cotton fabric for your quilts. Avoid anything that has polyester fibers. Cotton handles beautifully, holds a crease well, and isn’t slippery between your fingers. It’s also the traditional choice for quilting.

  • Select fabrics that compliment each other rather than clash. For example, if you choose a large-scale floral as the focal point of your quilt, complement it with two or three smaller print fabrics that don’t compete for visual attention with the large print. Also, choose colors that are similar to the ones used in the larger print.

  • Be adventurous. Sticking to all small-scale prints makes a quilt look like it’s made from solid fabrics when viewed from a distance. Varying the scale of the fabric designs adds interest from both near and far.

  • Try something out of the ordinary now and then. Mix things up by experimenting with woven plaids or warm, fuzzy quilter’s flannels. You can even mix flannels with regular cotton fabrics; in fact, flannel quilt backs are wonderfully cozy!

  • When in doubt, choose fabrics from the same collection. Fabric manufacturers do the work for you so by creating collections of fabric in different colors and print scales meant to be used together so you can rest assured that everything works well together. In addition, sometimes store personnel assemble collections that go well together, just to give you some extra ideas to ponder.

  • Pop your fabric into the washing machine as soon as you get home, then dry and press it before storing. Taking care of this prep work early on guarantees that the fabrics in your stash are always ready to use when inspiration strikes.

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