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:
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.