Three Things You Should Know Before Visiting The Fabric Store

Posted on: 15 October 2015

A visit to the fabric store can be overwhelming with row upon row of fabric in every color and texture. While there are times when browsing can spur new ideas and spark your imagination, if you are ready to start a project, like that applique wall-hanging or quilt, it is important to know what you are looking for before you make the trip to the store. Follow these tips for determining your needs ahead of time to make shopping more efficient and to ensure you get the fabric you really need.

What Type of Fabric Do You Need?

Your first consideration should be the type of fabric you need. For quilts and applique that will be used and washed frequently, 100% cotton is recommended. In fact, cotton may even be labeled as quilter's cotton in your fabric store. There is a good reason for that. Cotton doesn't shrink or warp out of shape (as long as you pre-wash it) as much as other fabrics and is durable enough for everyday use. It is easy-to-sew and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Other quilting fabric choices include voile and linen.

For purely decorative items, such as a wall-hanging, other fabrics can be used to add texture and dimension to the piece. Although you will want to keep in mind how easy the material is to work with, you are limited only by your imagination. Wool, satin, silk and cotton can all be combined and used in different parts of a wall-hanging. This is especially true of appliqued pieces. A piece of furry material may work for an animal, while flowers may be made from a softer fabric. Think about the effect you want to create and choose a fabric that enhances that image.

How Much Fabric Do You Need?

Quilt and applique patterns typically tell you how much fabric you need in each color or style. This is often denoted in yards. If you are new to quilting or applique, you may find this confusing. A yard of fabric refers to the length of the fabric, but not all fabrics are the same width. Standard fabric widths range from 44-45 inches to 60 inches. I yard of 45 inch wide fabric is not the same as a yard of 60 inch wide fabric. Read the instructions carefully to determine the correct amount of fabric for the project.

What Cut of Fabric Do You Need?

If you are new to quilting, you may be surprised (and a little confused) by quirky terms like "fat quarters" and "jelly rolls". Both refer to the amount and cut of fabric.

  • Fat Quarters: Fat quarters are a the equivalent of ¼ yard of fabric, but they are cut differently. If you order ¼ yard of fabric, the attendant will measure and cut a 9-inch strip of fabric that runs the entire width of the fabric. It may be 9 inches by 44 inches or 9 inches by 60 inches, depending on the width of the fabric. A fat quarter contains the same amount of fabric with different dimensions. Fat quarters are cut by dividing a yard of material into 4 equal sections. Fat quarters cut from material with a 44-inch width measure 18 inches by 22 inches. Fat quarters may be sold singly or in bundles of four to eight color coordinated fabrics.

  • Jelly Rolls: Jelly rolls are rolls of pre-cut fabric strips that have been rolled and tied up with a ribbon. The fabric in the jelly roll has been color coordinated so that they can all be used in the same project and create a pleasing pattern. You may wish to buy a jelly roll if your pattern uses long strips of material, such a strip quilt pattern. Typically buying a jelly roll saves you time and money as you don't need to search for fabrics that go together well and don't need to buy more fabric than you need just to get the colors you want. Jelly roll strips vary in width and can also be used to cut small squares for quilting.

Don't forget to wash and dry your fabric before you begin a new sewing project. Washing removes the sizing in the fabric that keeps it looking crisp and bright in the store. If you do not wash and dry the fabric before sewing with it, it may shrink or warp out of shape ruining your masterpiece when it is washed. Some fabrics, such as those in jelly rollls may be pre-washed and are ready to use.

For more information, contact a company like Brandt's Interiors & Workroom.