Today's topic is
Cut them up!!! And today's guest is a lady who I have been looking up to ever since I started quilting.... A lot of you must be "hearing" her or watching her... She's here to share her wisdom about fabric and its preparation for sewing!
I'm so pleased Shruti asked me to join her in this month of quilt learning! I learned to quilt about 20 yrs ago. You can see my "first first" quilt HERE.. but that didn't inspire me to quilt (wonder why?). Back in 1979 when I made my "first first" quilt there were not many fabric options and not much to learn. You just went to the only store with fabric and bought what they had!
So lets talk fabric. I broke this into four topics. This will give you the basics.
You can make quilts from any kind of fabric you like. And people do. can you say bottle tops and tulle?
When you start, most people will recommend using 100% cotton fabric designed for quilting. The reason you want to stick with 100% cotton quilt fabric is that it gives you an even playing field. All the fabric will behave the same and the weaves will be consistent. Then you can focus on learning techniques and not worry what the fabric is doing.
Once you are confident of the techniques, then branch out into other fabrics and have some fun!
Fabric is sold in many units. The most common is off the bolt. The bolt will have between 10 to 15 continuous yards on it. The width of usable fabric is between 38" and 41". When you go into a store, or order online, you will order by yards. (some countries may do metrics, Shruti maybe able to expand on metrics for non American stores).
The fabric is sold in either increments of 1/4yard or increments of 1/3yard. You may order 1 and 2/3yard of fabric. Or 3/4yard of fabric.
Many stores sell cut yardage called "Fat Quarters". This is a 18" x 20" piece. The "Fat Quarter" is the same amount of fabric as if you ordered 1/4yard, but it is wider, which many quilters find more useful.
Another interesting way to buy fabric is 'precuts'. Moda first came out with these precut fabric bundles. Then many other companies did. There are "Charm Packs" of 5" squares, Jelly rolls of precut 2.5" strips, and Layer cakes of 10" squares. Lots of books and patterns out with wonderful ways to use these. I did a book called "Fast Forward Quilts" with precuts + some fabric.
You can find a full list of the common Pre cut sizes at this Moda Links.
So how do you prepare this great fabric you now have? Conventional wisdom is to prewash in cool water and dry. The reality? Many of us do not prewash fabric for several reasons...one being time! I could bring in a lot of fabric over a few days and it's time consuming to wash, dry (maybe iron) before putting it way. Some people like the slightly firmer feel of unwashed fabric, it gives the fabric more body to still have the sizings in it.
Biggest reason to prewash is to be sure the fabric does not bleed or run. If it does, then you'll need to treat it with chemicals or try a die catcher in the wash.
The other step some people like for piecing is to use a Best Press or Starch on the fabric. It makes the fabric firmer and then it won't stretch as you cut and sew!
I hope you enjoyed my lesson on fabric.
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