Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quilting Cotton

For some reason, quilting cotton is a hugely controversial topic in the land of sewing.

Most of us made our first clothing with quilting cotton.  It comes in a billion different patterns, most of them adorable, and quite a few of them hilarious. 

The thing about quilting cotton is that it *screams* homemade.  You know and I know that you're not going to find a dress that looks like this:

 
in the store.  You just aren't.  (Photo credit shiboridragon - home of some seriously cute quilting fabric).

Quilting cotton is awesome for a beginning seamstress.  Even though it screams homemade - it's really easy to deal with.  It doesn't slip, it doesn't slide, it stays where you put it, and it irons up like a dream.  And it's cheap!   I would recommend a beginning seamstress learn on quilting cotton.  (Well.  Start-start with old sheets from the thrift store.  But after you're up and running).

I did a lot of my first sewing with quilting cottons.  Sundresses still suit them... in fact I might make a few more, now that I know what I'm *doing*.  But you have to do some quality control....
 
This was my first set of darts!  I got the cloth in a discount fabric shop... didn't have a clue what I was doing or I'd never have bought it.  It was stiff with starch when I brought it home, it took about five washings to finally show its character.  But it *was* good fabric.  It held up a long time, and it was actually great for a skirt like this - it had plenty of body on its own.

 
I bought this fabric at a huge chain store.  You can see I've done a much better job of fitting the dress (I do learn!).  Unfortunately I didn't do a great job picking the fabric - except for the color, which *is* smashing.  Why?  Well, that glorious pattern was painted on top of the fabric (not woven in, hardly even dyed in - the back side of this fabric was almost white!) and it was put on *off grain* - with huge and weird selveges to the fabric.  Guess which dress ripped first??
 
If I remade this dress, would I use quilting cotton again?  Very possibly.  It's a kitchy, silly dress, and the skirt wants some body to hold properly (and there's an underskirt, so you can't really wear a petticoat).  But I'd do quality control.   I'd check that the fabric was well made and that the print was on-grain. 
 
Another thing that quilting cotton is great for?  Little kids' clothes.  At that point, handmade and slightly kitchy = win. 
 
Let your purpose determine your fabric.  Learning *about* fabric?  Well.. books and books and books to the contrary, I think that's mostly about experience.  I'm still learning and falling flat on my face. 
 
But this is my final word on quilting cotton:  If it suits your purpose, use it.  But use it knowing that it has a certain look and feel, and don't try to make it what it is not.

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