What Is Quilting Fabric and How Does It Work? Update 06/2022

Intricately pieced fabric shapes sewn together into one huge design, each handmade quilt is a work of art in itself. If you’re new to quilting, you may find yourself perusing the racks of fabric at your local craft store in search of the perfect material. Are there any stores that sell quilting fabric?

Quilter’s weight cotton, a medium-weight plain weave fabric made entirely of cotton, is the most widely used form of quilting fabric. Since this type of cotton is thick, it shrinks less and lasts longer when washed. Additionally, flannel, wool and linen are commonly used in quilting.

You’ll learn what makes an excellent quilting fabric in this post. Also included are descriptions of the top seven quilting fabrics and their significant features. At long last, you’ll find quilting resources to assist you in beginning your quilting project!

What Is Quilting Fabric

What is Quilting Fabric?

Any fabric used to make a quilt is technically referred to as “quilting fabric,” but the term is most commonly used to indicate 100 percent medium-weight quilting cotton. Intricate prints in any design can be found on this semi-stiff cloth.

Over-under basketweave weave is the most common pattern used in quilting fabrics. A tighter weave distinguishes higher-quality materials. Using a quilt with a loose weave will result in a quilt that is weak and prone to wear and tear!

Quilting of the highest caliber A high thread count makes cotton feel softer to the touch, despite its thicker weave. For quilting, this type of fabric is the most commonly used since it doesn’t stretch as much as a thinner fabric during sewing, and it can withstand numerous washing.

However, if you want to make a baby blanket, you may decide to use flannel-like cotton flannel!

Alternatively, you may use old t-shirts to make a one-of-a-kind keepsake by making a quirky quilt.

Beautiful quilts can be made from a wide variety of fabrics. When you know what to look for in each type, you can pick the material that best meets your requirements!

Weight of Material

The weight of a quilter Quilting cotton is heavier per square yard than clothing cotton, which is medium weight. Because of its dense weave, high thread count, and stiff texture, quilting cotton is heavier.

To give an example, 4 oz square yards of quilting cotton weights at least that much. A square yard of cotton lawn, for example, barely weighs between two and three ounces.

Is it important to use quilters’ weight material? As you’ll see, using a denser, more durable fabric gives you many advantages during quilting.

Parts of the Quilt

If you know what a quilt is made of, like the quilt blocks, backing, and binding, you can make better fabric choices.

Quilt blocks, the basic building elements of a quilt, are used nearly universally in quilt design. When making a quilt, these blocks can be made in a variety of sizes, ranging from 10 inches square to 2.5 inches square.

These quilt blocks are often made of quilting fabric. In addition, you’ll need material for the backing and the binding of the quilt.

The bottom layer of the quilt sandwich is the quilt backing. Plain white or cream fabric is the most common choice here. Quilting cotton is a good choice for this layer if you want a quilt that will endure a long time.

For a more cost-effective backing, you can alternatively use lighter-weight cotton. A helpful hint: instead of the standard 45-inch width of most quilting cotton, consider buying a bigger fabric with a 60-inch or even 108-inch width for the backing.

The outer border of the quilt is neatly wrapped by binding. You can either buy pre-cut fabric strips or cut your own for this. A bias-cut binding that stretches to suit a curved quilt’s outside edge is required.

When it comes to quilt binding, it’s common to use quilting cotton in a complementary color to the quilt blocks themselves. If you prefer a silkier look, try satin edging instead!

Top 7 Best Types of Fabric for Quilting

Best Types of Fabric for Quilting

Take a look at the seven most popular selections for quilting fabric if you’re not sure what to choose for your next quilt. Of course, each person has their own talents and shortcomings. Your quilt’s appearance and feel will be distinctive due to the many materials used in its construction.

A single fabric should be used for the entire quilt, no matter what type of material you choose. The first time you wash the quilt, the different fabrics will stretch and shrink in different ways, making the quilt look attractive at first.

As a bonus, you don’t want to have to switch thread spools repeatedly as you sew from one cloth to the next, so use thread made of the same substance as your fabric.

1. Quilter’s Weight Cotton

50pcs 10 x 10 inch Multicolor Cotton Fabric Bundle Squares for Quilting Sewing, Precut Fabric Squares for Craft Patchwork

When it comes to making a durable and long-lasting blanket, there is no substitute for quilter’s weight cotton, the most widely used fabric kind. Because of this, it doesn’t easily stretch out throughout the sewing process and maintains its shape. Because of its increased weight and thickness, it washes well and lasts a long time.

Quilters cotton does not fray as readily because of its strong edges. This fabric is a breeze to work with, allowing you to assemble your quilt blocks with perfectly matched shapes. If you pin or clip the fabric precisely before sewing, it will not sag or stretch out while you make seams with quilters fabric.

It’s important to note that not all quilter’s weight cottons are the same. Thread count is a measure of the quality of the cotton used in a product. In contrast to the 60 threads per square inch found in most quilting cotton, a high-quality variety should have a thread count of 68-78.

Cotton used in quilting is distinct from cotton used in clothing. Some clothing can be made using this material, but it’s usually too stiff to be worn on the skin. Because of its lighter weave, cotton clothing drapes more freely and is gentler to the touch.

It’s true that quilting cotton is prone to wrinkling, but it’s also a good ironer. It’s a breeze to pull wrinkles out of your quilt blocks using a steam or iron! Even high-quality cotton shrinks in the wash, so pre-washing before quilting is a must.

2. 100% Quilting Cotton

This is a deceptive category because 100 percent quilting cotton should be the same as quilter’s weight cotton, just under a different name. In order to receive the high-quality fabric you desire for a long-lasting quilt, you must exercise caution when dealing with the various names and descriptions associated with quilting cotton.

To begin with, don’t confuse 100 percent cotton with 100 percent cotton quilting fabric! As you learned in the last part, even though clothing cotton is attractive, it is too prone to stretching to be used in quilting.

Most of the quilter’s weight cotton you’ll find at a sewing chain store like Joann Fabric or Hobby Lobby is 45″ wide and under 60 threads per square inch. These bolts are used to make the fat quarter packs you can purchase at these locations.

This isn’t a bad fabric at all! Even if it’s not of the highest caliber, it’s usually the right weight. As a beginner, you may wish to experiment with these less expensive types of cotton for your quilting projects.

You should double-check, though, just in case. The drape of the cloth can be checked by unrolling the bolt a little. It’s possible to tell the difference between soft clothing cotton and stiff, denser wear of quilting cotton by the way they hang off the bolt.

The material should be rubbed between your fingers as well. You’ve found quilting cotton if it’s thicker and stiffer than your cotton bed linens!

3. Voile

16 Feet by 54 Inch Organza Voile Dress Fabric Fancy Costumes Decorations (Rainbow Color)

Voile is a lightweight textile, but can you give it up? This is true, but it’s also untrue. As the name suggests, voile has a satiny feel and a veil-like translucency. If you’re looking for 100% polyester or a polycotton blend, you’ll likely find it now instead of the traditional cotton material.

The issue of quilting with voile, a semi-sheer fabric, is that it produces lighter, cooler quilts than traditional quilter’s weight cotton. This airy fabric is frequently used in quilts intended to be displayed as works of art or for usage during the warmer months.

It’s better to leave sewing on slippery voile to more experienced quilters, of course. On your sewing machine, switch to silk pins and a finer needle. In addition, voile is typically more expensive than quilting cotton.

Voile, on the other hand, offers a few perks! Compared to quilting cotton, it shrinks less in the washing machine. Spray starch can also be used to alleviate the difficulty of sewing together slippery fragments of voile.

4. Cotton Flannel

Quilts made of cotton flannel are an adorable and meaningful present for a new baby! Although flannel quilts can be made for any occasion, a stroll through the flannel department at any sewing store will soon reveal how popular this extra-soft type of cotton is for baby blankets. When cotton flannel is manufactured, metal bristles are rubbed over the woven cloth to give it a nice nap. As a result, a gorgeous, velvety surface is created by removing hundreds of microscopic cotton strands. By reading the end of the bolt or the product description, you may ensure that you are purchasing 100% cotton flannel rather than polyester.

Polyester costs less than cotton, but if you’re making a baby gift, you probably want to use 100% cotton or even organic cotton flannel. Flanked by this, the thread count of flannel can also have an effect on its quality. Flannel that has a loose weave through the fuzz indicates low-quality material!

If you’re preparing a gift for a baby, you’ll probably want to use organic cotton flannel instead of polyester because it’s cheaper. The thread count of flannel is another factor that affects the quality of the fabric. Flannel that has a loose weave through the fuzz indicates that the cloth is of poor quality!

5. Wool

Consider making a wool quilt if you want a genuinely insulated quilt! The crimped texture of wool fibers aids in the retention of warm air bubbles. Mold and mildew are naturally protected by wool, which is also flame retardant! With appropriate care, this beautiful material can survive for a long time.

When cut, wool does not fray at all! Using this method, you can quickly and easily cut out all the shapes needed for your quilt blocks.

On the flipside, the price of 100% natural wool is prohibitively high. A heavier needle and thread, as well as a walking foot on your machine, are all recommended when working with this fabric because of its added bulk. You’ll also need to press the seams open inside the quilt to avoid producing large ridges at each intersection!

If you choose wool, you won’t have access to the wide variety of printed patterns available on quilting cotton. Wool quilts, on the other hand, can survive for decades and are an excellent choice for people who live in chilly climates.

6. Quilter’s Weight Linen

ChuanShui 6pcs Cotton Linen Quilting Fabric Bundles 6 Different Cartoon Animal Pattern Fat Quarters Fabric Bundle 22 x 18 inche(55 x 45cm) Good Design for Sewing and Patchwork and face Masks

Quilters weight linen is a thicker, denser variety of linen available in various weights. Flax fibers are used to make linen, a natural fabric with a nubby loose weave that resembles homespun and is incredibly pleasant to the touch.

Linen quilts are great for keeping you warm because of their hollow strands.

The looser weave of linen might cause pieces to slide around as you sew, thus some expert quilters advise against using linen for quilting.

However, if you make a few tweaks, you can use linen. To begin, it is impermissible to use lineman and cotton together in a quilt. Because the fabrics shrink at different rates, this is a recipe for disaster.

The second disadvantage of cutting linen is that it unravels quickly. Using spray starch will help you cut out all the parts.

And if you want to work with linen, you’ll need to use little stitches, a greater seam allowance, and completed edges.

7. Novelty Materials

Here’s the thing: you can construct a quilt out of pretty about anything, including old t-shirts, scraps from your wedding gown, or even old baby items! These materials may make a beautiful quilt, but they won’t necessarily make a long-lasting one.

Quilting cotton is the greatest option for a simple and functional quilt, so it’s recommended to use it. That being said, sewing a quilt has been a tradition for hundreds, if not thousands of years, so go ahead and make that t-shirt quilt!

Before cutting out a piece of flexible or delicate fabric, try putting fusible interfacing to the reverse of it. As a pro tip, cutting out blocks of each “memory” fabric instead of having to piece together an elaborate design for each quilt block will probably make this type of quilting easier.

What Is Double-Faced Quilted Fabric?

There are two layers of fabric sandwiched between each other, and the diamond-shaped stitching holds them all together. This is a type of “pre-quilted” fabric.

This is not the kind of fabric you want for your quilting projects, but it is perfect for making a warm jacket. This padded material can also be used to construct cushions, simple blankets, and a variety of other crafts.

For example, quilted fabric can be made of plain weave cotton or polyester or broadcloth of cotton or polyester, depending on the design.

What Is Pre Quilted Fabric?

Telio Loft Pre-Quilted Reversible Stretch Knit Grey/Dark Grey, Fabric by the Yard

Using the term “pre-quilted fabric” is just another way of referring to a fabric that is double-faced. Stitching two pieces of cloth on either side of a layer of padding is what this refers to. Pillow stuffing known as batting is a thin sheet of fibers that can be made of cotton or polyester.

If you intend to cut out and piece together quilt blocks, this is not the fabric for you. As a quick and easy blanket option, you may just stitch a binding edge on a large piece of pre-quilted material!

Even though this isn’t quite “quilting,” it nonetheless has a great finished product. You should buy pre-quilted cloth if you need a gift quickly!

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

Because you’ll spend a lot of time cutting, piecing, and stitching this complicated project, choosing the appropriate fabric is critical! After all that hard work, the last thing you want to see is your quilt unraveling in the washing machine.

So, here are a few pointers to help you narrow down your options:

  • You shouldn’t mix and match different kinds of fabric in your quilt blocks. All quilting cotton or all voile should be used in your design, no matter how many various prints and colors you choose. Mixing different types of fabric can put tension on the seams and cause the quilt to unravel or stretch.
  • Avoid using knit fabric unless you’re building a t-shirt quilt. Sewing with this type of material is impossible because of its inherent stretch.
  • Similarly, whenever possible, use thread produced from the same material as your fabric. The only exception to this guideline is if you plan to quilt with wool, in which case you should use a strong silk thread.
  • Pre-washing your fabric is a must. When you wash the finished quilt, it shouldn’t shrink or even tear because of this.
  • While polyester and other plastic-based textiles are less expensive, they do not withstand high heat well, and quilting generally necessitates a significant amount of ironing. Additionally, a synthetic-based quilt may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin. Make the most of your time and money by purchasing high-quality all-natural fabric if you plan to spend twenty hours or more making a quilt!
  • As a result, if you can afford it, invest in high-quality quilting cotton. Higher thread count and denser weave cloth will last longer, and hence look better, than lower quality fabric.

What Is the Difference Between Cotton and Quilting Cotton?

Tosnail 90-Inch x 108-Inch Soft Natural Cotton Batting for Quilts, Craft and Wearable Arts

Cotton used for quilting has a denser weave and a heavier weight than cotton used for clothing. Additionally, a high thread count is required for quilter’s weight cotton. Cutting and sewing are a breeze with this sturdy, long-lasting fabric.

Regular and quilting cotton both include 100% cotton thread, so don’t rely on it when selecting your fabric for quilting! Opt for a stronger, heavier fabric that doesn’t fall loosely.

Good news! Because it is sold in a 45″ width rather than a 55″ width like most apparel fabrics, quilting cotton frequently costs less than apparel cotton. It’s also available in a wide variety of patterns, colors, and designs.

What Qualities Make a Fabric Premium?

High-thread-count 100% cotton fabric with a more complicated dyeing process is considered premium quilting fabric. This type of quilting material is more expensive and usually comes from smaller, more specialized brands rather than chain stores.

Cotton threads with a finer diameter are used in the production of premium fabrics. As a result of this and the higher thread count, the finished product is silkier and stronger.

As a result of this, several luxury quilting materials employ flat-bed presses, rather than high-speed rotary presses, to print their designs. As a result, the design can have a more complex and multi-layered appearance.

For those who can afford it, high-quality quilting fabric may produce beautiful, long-lasting quilts.

What Fabric is Best for Quilt Backing?

The front and back of your quilt should, in most cases, be made of the same fabric. As a result, quilting cotton is the most preferred choice for quilt backing since it is sturdy and long-lasting.

Underneath the quilt face and the batting is a quilt backing, which you are undoubtedly already familiar with.

It is possible to purchase extra-large pieces of fabric designed specifically for the backing of a quilt. If you’ve ever seen this cloth referred to as “wideback,” you know what I’m talking about. It’s available in a 108-inch width!

To make your own backing, you can simply stitch together huge pieces of quilting cotton.

Cutting your backing three to four inches larger than the intended size of the quilt’s face is always a good idea. As you stitch together the quilt blocks, this allows for shrinking or moving.

Where Can You Buy Quilting Fabric?

Sewing establishments, online craft vendors like Etsy, and specialized manufacturers such as Robert Kaufman sell quilting fabric. The fat quarter shop and fabric.com, for example, are great places to buy quilting fabric online.

Quality quilting fabric may be guaranteed when you buy from an established brand like Robert Kaufman. Obviously, this alternative is more expensive!

When you buy from a big-box retailer, you get to enjoy the experience of browsing the racks and comparing the many patterns and colors. Large sewing stores are more likely to stock basic quilting cotton rather than high-end fabric.

If you want a truly personalized quilt, buying unique designs or even hand-dyed material off Etsy might appeal to you. If you buy from an internet seller, you’ll have to do some homework to ensure that the fabric has a high thread count and the appropriate weight.

If you want a truly personalized quilt, buying unique designs or even hand-dyed material off Etsy might appeal to you. If you buy from an internet seller, you’ll have to do some homework to ensure that the fabric has a high thread count and the appropriate weight.


For a truly unique quilt, you may wish to look into purchasing unique designs or even hand-dyed material from Etsy. It’s important to check the thread count and weight of the fabric before making a purchase from an internet merchant.

Memory quilts are another popular style of quilting that employs t-shirt fragments to make a keepsake. Sewing with this cloth has certain obstacles, but it’s a thoughtful approach to commemorate someone or something from your family’s past.

Quilting may be something you’ve attempted in the past. What kind of material did you work with to make this? The best way to let us know is to leave a comment below.

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