One of the biggest charms of quilting is that you can take several scraps of fabric and turn them into one large functional piece. These scraps contribute to the design and motif of the quilt, giving it the unique character that makes all quilts charming. A mistake many beginners make, however, is use a variety of fabric types for their first project, when ideally one should try to stick to cotton quilting fabric.
While it is okay to use a variety of fabric types, especially for quilts that will be displayed and barely washed, the first few projects of any beginner should be made with cotton quilting fabric. Cotton has a several benefits that make it ideal for beginners, and many experts continue to use this type of fabric for these same reasons.
1) Easy to Control
Unlike synthetic fabrics, cotton fabrics can be held down easily and they will stay down flat, without bunching up. They also do not pucker along the seams, which is very important because you are sure that your stitches are straight.
2) Widely Available
Cotton can be found everywhere! A majority of clothes and other fabrics are made of cotton and or cotton blends. Because it is easy to find, it is also very affordable, which is also ideal for beginners. (Note: When using cotton blends try to make sure the composition of the fabric is the same. Read the article “Choosing Quilting Fabrics Online” to understand why.)
Cotton knows how to “breathe” or adjust to the weather. It is warm when you need it to be, and it can be cool when you need it to be. This is a great quality both while when you’re working on the quilt and when you’re finally using the quilt.
Cotton quilting fabrics are sounding to start pretty perfect, right? Well, almost. There are two drawbacks to this fabric.
1) They tend to bleed
Yup! It’s a bleeder, and this can be a problem when you first wash your quilt. Your white patches may get a hint of pink or blue or the other colors you’ve chosen to use for your project. That is why it is recommended that you pre-wash the fabric and let it air dry before using it. This also helps remove any chemicals that may have been used during the manufacturing process.
2) They tend to shrink
This can be annoying for anyone who sews. It is quite frustrating to create something only to have it shrink and look terrible. Luckily, however, cotton tends to shrink at the same rate, so the shrinking isn’t really noticeable. Also, washing in tepid to cold water and hanging the quilt out to dry instead of using a dryer will help prevent this problem from happening.
With a little bit of planning, you pretty much have the perfect fabric to work with. Try using 100% cotton quilting fabrics and make sure you use cotton thread when working with this fabric. This will assure you will lessen the chances of your encountering problems with the cotton.