Using Quilting Fabric for Clothing - Debunked

Quilting is the term for the process of joining multiple fabrics via manual sewing, using a needle and thread, or with a sewing machine. Whether as a hobby or art, quilting is a great pastime and provides a creative outlet to many. Quilts can also be made for use at home, as a product to be sold, and always makes a great gift for special occasions. 

And yes, quilting fabric can be used for clothing! 

Unlike normal clothing, Quilting requires a special fabric known as quilting fabric. A piece of quilting fabric is essentially any material used to sew a quilt. Nowadays fabric manufacturers make a vast range of fabric types in various textiles and weights. All of this can make quilting and dealing with quilting fabrics seem like a daunting task to beginners, but it really doesn’t have to be.

What are the popular types of quilting fabrics?

  •  Quilting cotton: This non-shrinkable fabric is probably the best choice for quilting. The range of printed patterns, including animal themes, makes this fabric a popular choice for quilters.

  • Woolen Quilts: Heavier, long-lasting, resistant to fraying - woolen quilts are great to keep the warmth in and are also flame-resistant. Quilters should take into consideration that woolen is harder to handle.

  • Quilter’s Linen: Thicker, denser, and softer than quilting cotton, linen does have similarities such as a big array of printed designs and patterns.

  • Cotton Flannel: Usually made from a polyester mix, this velvety material is a quilter favorite, although starch sprinkling or ironing, might be needed to square up.

Other types of quilting fabric may include Essex linen, cotton decorating fabric, etc. The point is that the fabric is a choice a quilter would have to make when deciding on what the final product would be and its purpose.

Cotton - A Popular Quilting Fabric Option for Clothing

Within cotton, there is quilting cotton and apparel cotton. While quilting cotton is usually used for home and accessory sewing, it is also used for making clothes of a particular type. 

While available in an array of designs and stylish prints, quilting cotton is characteristically ‘stiffer’ and holds its shape well. Therefore, unlike apparel cotton, if you are sewing a dress with more shape and volume, this could be the perfect material for your project

While using quilting cotton as a fabric for clothes, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. How much drape does your project need?

  2. Avoid sleeves, as a thumb rule

  3. Have a clear mental picture of the type of print you want. Remember, just because it looks good on the fabric, doesn’t mean it’s nice to wear.

  4. Think about adding linings for comfort.

Unlike the ‘medium weight’ quilting cotton, apparel cotton is much lighter, stretches, and is likely more expensive per yard. Apparel cotton is also suitable for beginners and more suitable for clothes than quilting cotton, as it’s lightweight and comfortable.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while using quilting cotton:

·      We suggest pre-washing your fabric, if quilting cotton, to make sure shrinkage is done before sewing begins

·      If sewing manually, choose a needle size based on the type of thread and weight of threat being used.

·      Quilting cotton is difficult to ease into tight quarters, so consider sleeveless or opt for 3 basting stitch lines.

·      Great fabric for loose-fitting dresses, full skirts, loungewear, and pajamas.

Should I prewash the Quilting fabric?

Yes, you should prewash the fabric if you are gonna use it for clothing. However, if the final result is meant to be a comfortable quilt, then avoid washing till after the sewing is finished. One of the benefits of quilting cotton is that it can be softened using a fabric softener. Finally, when sewing with quilting cotton, an 80/12 needle is recommended.

How to Identify the best quilting fabric for clothing?

So, which quilting fabric is best for clothes? Well, that would depend on the style, purpose, look and feel that you are going for.

Choosing the type of fabric is easier to figure out once you have all the other factors of design down on paper. Quilter’s Linen, for example, has a texture that makes it suitable for clothing but not great for quilts. This also doesn’t shrink as easily as classic linen, while it is easy to work with and similar to cotton.

Cotton flannel is a fabric often used to sew clothes for children as it is soft and warm. In addition, the large variety of solids and prints make them an attractive option for all. Other fabrics like Essex linen and cotton decorating fabric, as the latter’s name suggests, are probably not the first options as fabric for clothes.

Our recommendation? Start experimenting! That’s half the fun and lets you enjoy the process of learning what your preferences are. The safe bet would be to work with fabrics such as quilter’s weight cotton which is thicker and has a durable weave which facilitates cutting and sewing.

If the end result requires a soft and silky feel, a quilter might consider cotton flannel or voile as alternatives. Wool has clear benefits when looking to sew clothes for colder winters and that can last a long time! 

To Sum Up

A combination of quilt kits, experimentation, patience, and the need to learn can get you quilting with a whole variety of fabrics. When you have found your preference, please be sure to let us know!

The Hingeley Road Quilt Shop has an eclectic collection of quilt kits. Their website here showcases the variety of colors, patterns, and prints that make it easy for anyone to begin their quilting journey.

Here's to many days of awesome quilting!

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