Tuesday, September 01, 2009

i have issues

I think a lot about quilting. Shocking, I know. There is one issue that I have been trying to work out in my mind over the past several weeks. I've read several times in books and on the occasional blog that when quilting, "you should only use the highest quality quilting cottons that are available." Am I the only one that gets a little bit irritated when I read that? Isn't that a far cry from where quilting started out in the first place?

fabric from the Eagle Creek quilt shop in Shakopee, MN

In a perfect world, sure, that would be nice. But so would laundry that cleans and folds itself and a self unloading dishwasher. I do love what I call "quilt shop fabric" but I slum it at JoAnn's fairly regularly and even at Wal-Mart occasionally. I also use vintage fabrics in my quilts, which is another thing that "they" say you shouldn't do. I just looked through my stash and I would estimate that about 60% of it is from quilt shops. That's an all time high for me. I do love quilt shop fabric. It's pretty and well designed and soooooo nice. But then again, I have to be realistic, too. I am a stay at home mom to 3 kids who makes many quilts each year. I don't have an endless quilting budget. And the quilts that I made 9 years ago out of what would be considered less than the "highest quality quilting cottons available" are still holding together nicely. I guess I'm just thinking out loud.

fabric from Cia's Palette

I'm curious to know, what are your thoughts on this subject? What do you do?

286 comments:

1 – 200 of 286   Newer›   Newest»
Frieda said...

I use both. I work in a quilt/knit shop one day a week, so I am able to get some nice fabric there. I buy from JoAnns, Hancocks and other places alos(our WalMart does not carry fabric anymore) I say use what you like.

Chris said...

I'm glad you brought this up because I was thinking about it just yesterday while browsing at Joann's. I use both kinds (cheap and fancy but not vintage) but got nervous about some of the Joann fabric when I grabbed a FQ out of the bin and noticed it's twins remaining in the bin were different levels of color-faded. I freaked that if I used this fabric in a quilt it would fade out and leave the strong "quilt shop quality" colors strong next to a faded Joann fabric. I tossed the FQ back into the bin and ran.

I think you need to use your own judgement by touching and assessing the quality of the fabric before you buy it. There are great fabrics at Joann's but some of the cheaper ones might not do as well. I bought a bolt of bleached muslin just to realize upon getting it home, it was too thin, see-thru and warpy. Every time I touch the iron to it the muslin waves and gets out of shape within its block.

Overall, I think you have to use varied sources for budget reasons but the bottom line is be careful and use your judgement.

Maria said...

I use fabrics I love. And only cotton, linen or silk. Hm, and sometimes other kinds of material if the quilt will end up as a picture or a wall quilt.

lera said...

I don't quilt, but I use what I love. If I use vintage fabric for a garment (i.e., skirt) and it's thin, I just wear a slip under it. Problem solved.

(My word verifcation is "burito." I know it needs another "r" but, how funny.)

Mattandme said...

I've not had any problems with my "slumly" Joann or Walmart fabrics- although I am sad that not many of the Walmarts around here even carry fabric anymore.

I have some pieces for specialty quilt shops and honestly, I hoard it and hardly ever use it because I'm scared I'm going to mess up on my project and then waste the material. I cut into some Amy Butler fabric that I bought in February last night for the first time and only because its for a steno pad cover that I know I'm going to use all the time.

connie said...

I use it all. I just love to work with all kinds of new and vintage fabric. I have even cut up cotton clothing for the fabric. I think it makes me more creative.

Mary said...

I have no problem using fabric from wherever, but I do try to use fabric that feels sturdy. If it is like tissue, I don't care where I buy it, it won't work in my quilts, mostly because it is too fragile. I want my quilts to be used, and I don't want something that is going to fall apart, or ravel after a couple of washings.

Brenda said...

I use everything. I'm a scrap quilter and I'm not in love with the latest and greatest quilting fabrics, not can I afford to buy them (in Canada they cost about $15/metre which is expensive!). I think quilt making is about using it up and making do, but only if you love the fabrics. And of course, if the quilt is supposed to be a showpiece, I'd be more careful. But if its supposed to be loved and used, I throw in everything.

Crafty Girls Workshop said...

I do tend to be a bit of a fabric snob as well and only lean toward the highest quality quilting fabrics, but that's because I just enjoy the variety in that group. I've recently fallen in love with vintage pillowcases that are so soft from all the washings and have funky designs and I'm collecting them to make into a cool quilt, much like your nine patch with the white sashing. I agree that when quilting was first started for utilitarian uses, the quilters used scraps from clothing but those clothes were probably all made from 100% cotton at the time. This probably doesn't really answer the question, but I am sure that it really depends on what you are going to do with the quilt. I think if I were going to make a quilt to give as a gift, I would want to make sure the fabric was high quality so it would last. If I was just making something for myself, I might not be as picky. Does that help? Anyway, contrary to popular opinion, the fabric police are not going to come by and confiscate your quilt because it's not 100% cotton! Have a great evening.

Anna

Erin O. said...

You know, I've been noticing this topic more and more. I'm on the fence about this for a variety of reasons. One, I've used "less than stellar" fabric before and have had great results, but also the complete opposite. I tend to go with my gut when buy and selecting fabrics and so far have not had any disasters. However, on the occasion where I have had a slight error I don't get bent out of shape, instead I look at it as a part of the quilt. I will admit though that a good portion of my stash is from LQS, but most of my backings are from either JoAnns, Hancocks, Walmart or my mom's stash.

Jackie Russell said...

If I like the fabric it comes home with me. I sometimes slum it at JoAnn's and WalMart (SHHHH don't tell anyone). I made a quilt for my DD over 10 years ago with cheap fabric and is is still holding up just fine.

Amy said...

I agree with you. It intimidates me to think, "oh no!, am I using the wrong fabric?"!!

BTW, I love the idea of backing a quilt with a vintage sheet - I have one that is 50% cotton and 50% polyester...wonder if that would be ok?!!! :)

Moneik said...

I used to buy the cheap fabrics, but now that I've been quilting a while some of my first quilts are fading/fraying away from the quality of the fabric. Now I only buy LQS quality fabric for my quilts. I do buy the cheap stuff if it's for something else... a fabric book, clothes, or has a design I absolutely have to have. I buy less, but don't skimp on fabric or thread because I know in the end I want my quilts to last.

Michele's Quilting Journey said...

In a state hit hard by the recession, with a single income hit even harder, I'm blessed to have learned long ago to use what I have and be grateful for it. As someone who quilts almost exclusively for charitable donations, I used donated, leftover, thrown out, and free fabrics that others don't see any pretty or good quality as quilt shop fabrics. My scrappy quilts are made from my heart and are as great a treasure as any designer quilt could ever be or mean to me. I truly feel like a pioneer woman as I quilt and I know it would make my grandmothers and great-grandmothers proud that I quilt at all, but I can't help but believe that my frugality and use of what I have would make them even prouder.

Jess said...

I'm glad you said this... As a student on a budget who's new to sewing, I've been quite alarmed by the cost of fabric, and what I read made me feel badly about using cheaper stuff in my projects. I won't feel that way any more!

Mary said...

I'm a begginning sewer/quilter and I am curious about this debate as well..... One that has been nagging me lately is the thread debate. Some bloggers swear by metler, others by Gutterman, but occasionally in a picture on a blog I'll catch sight in the background of what appeals to be a "standard" shaped spool (Coates and Clark?)....
Your posts are so inspiring; your quilting is delightful.....

Paloma said...

I'm really glad to hear you say this!!

As a grad student I simply don't have the budget for $8+/yard fabric, but I feel a twinge of guilt and worry when I use "cheaper" stuff from Joanns. I think Chris is right that you can tell whether a fabric is poor quality by feeling it and it is good to hear that people have had the cheaper fabrics stand the test of time!!

cheramy said...

thanks for bringing this up! i'm just starting to look at fabrics for my first foray into sewing and i'm definitely not going to be using really expensive fabrics (i don't even know how to thread the machine at this point). it's nice to know that not everyone out there is only buying amy butler and moda... :)

Andrea R said...

A long time ago in the history of the internet, I participated in a quilting fabric swap. Some ladies were not pleased with the collected scraps I had sent. One lady mentioned that she NEVER made a a quilt with fabrics that cost less than $15 a yard/metre.

I feel the same way now as I do then - get over it! It is not in the spirit of the wuilts of our fore-motehrs. They had to make do whith whatever they had one hand, even if it was the leftover semi-worn areas of their husband's 15 year old shirt.

A quilt made of fabric like that still lasts, and have more *real* value than any don't-touch coordinated magazine spread.

Use whatever fabric you want.

Amy said...

Ooooo so many great comments! Here's how I see it... While I'm no expert, I can touch a fabric and pretty much tell if it's going to turn into dental floss when I sew and tug on it or not. So I avoid that stuff. If it feels decent, it will be fine. Of course the designer stuff is gorgeous and quality, but so are plenty of other choices out there. Keep our minds open as we look around, and go ahead and be inspired by $1.99 a yard. Woo hoo!!!

RosaMaría said...

i'm agree with you.
i'm a beginner quilter, and all information about quilts almost came from USA, canada, europe or australia, and always says that about fabrics (only high qualiti cotton fabric). I love fabrics and the designer fabrics are amazing, but i don't know why be that way. i think the people must be use what they like. For me, the quilt shops are expensive becose the bad economy in my country ($13.5 mexican pesos for $1 us dolar), and becose i have other things to buy, so i bough in there ONLY when i found a VERY GREAT sale (means 50-40% off). Every season sale i look at the shops like Zara Home and i buy shits on sale for my quilts, and they're fine to me!!
so i thing all it's about the influence of consumerism!

Jewel said...

I admit that I like to use the good stuff... I can't really afford much of it though. I have been thinking about this a lot lately because everyone is using that super expensive stuff for backing... that I think I can do without. When I started quilting muslin was always fine for backing and I can't see why it still wouldn't be.

Sew It Up! said...

Shopping at a quilt shop is a luxury I can't always afford. Joann's, Hancocks, and I'm lucky to say, the Wal-Mart down the street, are the places I get the majority of my fabrics. I'm currently stocking up because Wal-Mart will be closing their fabric dept. to make room for sporting goods. :o( So I can totally understand where you are coming from.

Barbara Brown said...

I actually just bought the last supplies for making my first twin sized pieced quilt. I have made smaller quilts and one that was just three pieces of fabric in a twin size but all hand sewn, which I started nine years ago and still have yet to finish the quilting. Anyway I have just always made sure to use 100% cotton fabric and good warm and natural batting. I think of the prarie quilters from long ago who made those incredible quilts we all admire, didn't they use the fabric from their clothing that was to worn to be used any more for their quilts? Maybe their fabric was higher quality when it started out than our lesser quality cotton is nowadays but by the time it was sent to the rag pile i'm sure it was sadder than the lesser quality cotton of today. ya think it really matters? I'm not so sure.

KQuiltyBee said...

I have some of both, although mostly "quilt shop," partly because there isn't much besides that and Wal-Mart nearby. I was raised to be a fabric snob, way before anyone in the family made quilts, so even my grandmother's scrap quilty (made after she retired)are made from good quality fabric.

My answer: I try not to mix the quality fabric and the less-than/unidentified quality together, particularly for quilts. I sometimes use cheap stuff for purses and little girls' summer dresses because they won't be in fashion that long anyhow. My quilts, on the other hand, should last as long as possible.

I Love Baby Quilts! said...

My personal obsession has gotten so bad that I've actually moved up one level past most quilters in fabric snobbery, now eschewing what I consider "regular" quilt store fabrics for famous designer only! It's very unattracive and snobbish, but I can't help it. I only want to use the most beautiful Amy Butler, Erin McMorris, Heather Ross, etc. anymore. It's terrible. I wouldn't touch Walmart fabric with a thousand foot pole.

badlandsquilts said...

I am new to actually getting something done, but have been accumulating fabric for YEARS. For a while a few years back, when I was taking a hand quilting class, I bought quite a bit on EBAY. But I was fierce with my BUY point being $1 per moda FQ plus shipping. (I am using a set of 20 moda FQ for the WOnky Log Cabin QA that I paid $20 plus shipping for) Then I had a stage where I watched liked that for charms & layer cakes. (never more than $20 for a layer/jelly) I just bought a bunch of Kaufmann scrap bags from Hancocks for $4 each. I usually then have to go to the LQS for coordinating borders, etc. Also, I buy a lot at 50% off from Itsastitchonline... AND who can pass up the 60% off coupons at Mill End ($2/yd Kaufmanns,etc.) Sorry such a LONG answer but while I do have a LOT of fabric, I take pride in keeping a low cost to my inventory!

Maria Stahl said...

LOL RosaMaria... I think you mean sheets?

Back to the question: I'm no quilt snob. I buy fabric that's purdy or use vintage or even old clothes, like someone said above.

ConnectingThreads has pretty fabric for $5.96 a yard regular price.

WV: ingswe. How appropriate! It unscrambles to "sewing."

Kristine said...

I've had some disappointments with the cheap stuff as well, so I try to be careful. Since I don't get to quilt all that much right now, I want my "masterpieces" to stand the test of time.

The thread? But it on sale. I can usually find it at 1/2 price if I'm watching. I'd rather have cheap fabric than cheap thread. My own opinion!

Jamie said...

I have a mix of LQS and Walmart Fabric. I'd love to go to Joann's, but there isn't one in my area. I prefer LQS fabric because most of what I make is for others and I just can't find things that they/I like at Walmart. However, I buy muslin, batting, interfacing, and thread at Walmart.

RosaMaría said...

thanks Maria Stahl!! it means sheets!!! (please ignore the other word!!)

Roxanne said...

Great topic! If it feels good and looks good, use it. Designer fabrics are beautiful and amazing...but do we loose a bit of creativity when the "line" of fabrics is already coordinated and matched for you? It doesn't get more slummy than Mill End does it? :)

Blue Is Bleu said...

I'd say I'm the same way... I mix it up but I make sure that the 'lesser' fabrics aren't too low quality.

I Love Baby Quilts! said...

Oh, and to the quilters on a budget, here's a tip: go to etsy.com and select "supplies" on the drop down search menu, then put in "designer fabric scraps" in the search box. There are some amazing deals to be had on scraps, and it will give you a variety for cheap! I recently paid $10 for a priority box bursting at the seams with what turned out to be about 4 yards total of the best possible designer fabric. Try it!

PS - Another tip, you get more scraps from a baby item maker than a fabric merchant. The baby item maker doesn't value the scraps as highly!

Amy C. said...

I am a relative beginner at quilting, but I've sewed for a while. I use whatever I have around. I tend to economize by buying my muslin by the bolt.

If I like it and can afford it, I buy it. That goes across the board. I buy fabric from my local store as well as online. I just have a hard time occasionally with that because I want to support my local shop, but when it's a lot less, I waffle and can't help it. My WalMart hasn't renovated yet, so still has a fabric section. I go in and pick up FQ'a and jelly rolls and some yardage. *shrug* In the end, I cut it and it ends up right next to a piece cut from a piece of fabric that cost two, three, or ten times more. In the end, I find it difficult to see the difference.

Also, if fading is a concern, you can always spray your quilt with color-locking stuff. I used it once for a quilt I knew was going to live in our car and it worked beautifully. The color didn't fade and the quilt was soft and a favorite for some time.

silversmith said...

thank you. for as many people read your blog, this is definitely something to bring up.

i've shopped at wal-mart for quilts and have made entire quilts out of their fabrics. and guess what... i found one of the exact fabrics (manufacturer and all) at a high priced LQS for $5/yd more. that quilt has endured 6 years of washing and kids.

i used to shop at joann's almost exclusively, who does carry robert kaufman fabrics too, and hancock's every now and then. then i discovered fabrics.com and got good stuff there. now i shop at local ones when i cannot get anything else or online with sales. i use a mix of "inferior" with the high dollar stuff. i always try not to use something too thin for quilting after a fabric my mom picked out for her bed quilt pulls at the seam and i'm constantly fixing it.

soyee said...

I buy what I like, sometimes proper quiltingfabric but I have also used sheet, teatowels and fabric bought at the market; whatever takes my fancy. I want to use the quilt without having to be careful because of expensive fabric.it must be cotton though.

Susan said...

Amandajean, I am so glad that you put your thoughts down on "paper" about this. It takes a lot of courage to say these things, and I really admire you for doing it. While it's important for us to support the quilting industry (and a huge industry it has become, too) we also have to face the realities of our lives and do the best we can with what we have. I think that is part of why scrap quilting has come back in popularity-anything works! I'm still using my fabrics from 30 years ago in my scrap quilts-and who knows the difference? Keep on making your beautiful quilts, keep on inspiring us with your creativity and wisdom. You are appreciated by us all.

Anita said...

High quality fabric is nice but I don't always think necessary. I did buy some gingham fabric a while back at Walmart - which by the way I was told by an employee will not be selling fabric in the future. The fabric that I purchased from Walmart was very thin, low thread count, and didn't press or look as nice some of the higher thread count fabrics in the quilt. I haven't had any such issues with fabric JoAnn. Great question!

Jen said...

I've had several issues when it comes to the machine quilting and using cheaper fabric AND thread, so I'd say my collection has be come about 95% fabric and thread from my LQS. If I'm going to spend as much time as I do working on a quilt, i want it to last and look it's best, and I just haven't seen that with the quilts I made using the cheaper fabric from Joanns. I've really been able to see a difference lately, and for that I'm sticking with LQS fabrics. It's not snobish in my opinion, it's having pride in my work and wanting it to last for a very long time and I want it to come out as best as I possibly can make. Between my needle gumming up from some of the screen printing, to weird shrinkage, and just plain poor quality, I tend to stick to the Moda, Hoffman, etc. brands because I've had good experiences with them and trust them. Who knows, maybe I'll give Joann's another shot sometime, but for now I'm sticking with my LQS. Believe it or not, I've found some great deals at the stores lately (and online). Plus, I like to support my local businesses. Our Joann's around here don't offer classes or anything, so if I wanted to take a quilting class, I'd need to go to a LQS.

QuiltyGoodness said...

Mostly what everyone else said--I look at the feel of the fabric to tell if it is high quality or not. I also buy 95% of my fabric on sale. So I get the high quality stuff, but usually around $5 or $6/yd. If you don't have to have the most up to date designer stuff, then you're fine and can wait for it to go on sale. Google alerts sends you email when the fabric collection you want is on sale, if you set it up right. That's how I can find out when that collection I'm eyeing goes on sale. :)

nicolette said...

Considering that we pay more than twice the price overhere, it’s almost not achievable to only use well designed quilt-fabrics. I love to use them (you can often feel the difference) and to support our quiltshops, but I will go bankrupt if I don’t also use other cheaper fabrics from fabric markets or shops every once and awhile.
My quilts are not meant to survive for ages, so I guess everything is allowed, as long as you love the material you work with and as long as it’s cotton!

Jessie Lathroum said...

I just finished my first real quilt out of "cheap" fabric and I think it is adorable! its got a certian vintage/picnic-y/old fashioned look to it and I LOVE it! I have gotten pretty caught up in quilting lately and have discovered that it can be a very expensive hobby if it continues for me and if I were to purchase ONLY the BEST quality quilt shop fabric. I like these cutesy, cheap and vintage quilts just as much.

carolyn said...

I think you've said it all. I'm too cheap to be a fabric snob. I know a thin fabric when I see it and avoid those but all else goes! My quilts are lasting just fine! 15+ years

Lori said...

I couldn't agree more. Most of mine is quilt shop fabric as well but sometimes I can't find what I want there or want to spend that much and "lsum" it at JoAnns as well. A friend of mine suggested to me once too to use a sheet to back a really large quilt instead of "shop fabric" which I did as it was so much cheaper. When I took it to the quilter, you would have thought I had just made a deathly mistake. SO, AMEN to you girl!

**MIGNONNE** said...

I don't think that I have ever left you a comment before. I find that weird since I stalk your blog religiously and think your work is a stunning inspiration to quilters everywhere.

Anyhoo onto the topic at hand. My very first quilt was a combination of fabrics from Joann's and quilt stores. I still haven't washed it because I received a warning from a quilter friend that the stuff from J's would fade. EEK!

She showed me one that had mixed fabrics and you could see a difference. Since then I have shopped exclusively as quilt shops. Does that make me a snob?

I just can't imagine spending all the time and effort to make something and then have it not last. It would absolutely break my heart.

Ann said...

Remember, there's no such thing as the Quilt Police! There's a world of difference between a quilt meant to be used and hugged and loved and dragged around and washed and slept on by pets, vs. an "heirloom" quilt, or something you want to enter into a show.

I think the vast majority of us fall into the first category. We love making quilts, and don't anticipate they will outlast us. So use what you love, and love what you use!

stitchinpenny said...

I think it depends on what the quilt is for. I almost exclusively make quilts for children. I don't make them to be heirlooms, I make them to be used for belly time, to make forts, to drag in a pasture because your cold and it is a comforting quilt. I don't care if they fade with use or even tear up after a while. If your quilt is for an adult or as a wall hanging use the good stuff, but for kids I don't care. If I were making a quilt to hang on a nursery wall or to be packed in a box I wouldn't bother. Quilts are to be used and they will get spots and they will fade some, but they are showing love.

Two Dogs and a Quilt said...

So interested to read your post and the comments. I've had some trouble with lesser-quality fabrics that has made me shy away. A quilt I made for my mother faded unevenly from window sunlight and I've experienced color bleeding even after pre-washing. I do, however, recycle fabrics for projects. And I keep costs down because I don't stash fabrics - I buy the yardage I need for any given project, and use all the scraps if possible. It works for me, but I'm no where as prolific a quilter as you. Whatever works and gives you good results - go for it!

Emily said...

Amen! I am a pioneer girl at heart. "Fix it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without!" So I tend to recycle ALOT! Things like cutting up sheets (not vintage, but just ones that need to be retired) or button up shirts (This is my favorite way to get fabric on the cheap!) I can't be one of those ladies that spends a small fortune on fabric. I wish I could spend with reckless abandonment but I'm too cheap I guess! And I don't find "quality" issues coming into play either. Besides, my depression era gma thinks I'm cool!

quilting gran said...

I try to consider the end user to decide where to buy fabric. I make a lot of kid quilts that will probably be dragged in the dirt. Less expensive works fine for those. An heirloom quilt for a family member gets the good stuff.

Julia said...

I agree with you 100% While it would be nice to be able to use the best of the best let's be realistic, I'm a mother of two kids with one more on the way. Money is tight for sure, I love to quilt but to be honest I can't really even afford the fabric at Johanne's I have to get most of my stuff at Walmart, and even then I look for the cheaper priced stuff. But my quilts are still well loved by my kids and hold together well. I think you have to do the most you can with the best you personally can afford. Maybe one day I will be able to buy the really nice stuff but for now I'm happy with what I can do. Perhaps that makes other gasp in horror. but I'm happy just to be able to learn how to quilt. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I'm always amazed at the wonderful quilts you pull out of your head!

Natalia said...

I totally understand your concern about the cost. Fabric does become very expensive, however after I've spent so much time on a quilt I don't want it to wear out after a few washes.

This is my biggest problem with the lower quality materials. After just one wash I've had problems with fabrics bleeding, fading or just wearing out. :)

Michele said...

I don't mind fabric snobs and their beliefs, but most of us don't have an unlimited fabric budget. My great grandmother made quilts from worn clothing and her quilt is my most treasured and interesting. I say use what you can afford. Recycling and reusing is always good.

Kenton and Marianne Ogg said...

I don't like to spend alot on the fabric because when I do, I tend to droll over it so much that I don't cut into it in fear that I will cut wrong and be left with unusable material. I have a few pieces that I've been hoarding for many years that I just can't stand the thought of them being cut into. So I buy cheap or on clearance.

leigh said...

I would love to only purchase quilt shop fabrics because usually they have better prints than the ones from JoAnn. But they are so much more expensive that it isn't realistic. I do shop at JoAnn (especially for backing) but have a difficult time finding enough for a quilt. It seems that they have been better lately at carrying better prints. And sometimes you can feel the difference in quality. But when you're making quilts that get used by kids all the time and washed all the time, I don't think the quality is as big of a deal. So basically - I agree with you.

TextileTraveler said...

As a fairly new quilter, I've used only JoAnn or Walmart fabric (and some of my own hand-dyed fabric) until recently. I recently bought some Moda fabric and I'm currently making a quilt with it, and I can't believe the difference in how it feels, how it sews, how it doesn't stretch, etc. I wish I could afford to use good fabric for everything I do in the future, since I do believe these quilts will last longer in the long run, but I would rather use cheap fabric than no fabric at all!

Aunt Spicy said...

Ditto what Michele said a couple comments before me. I use both JoAnn's and Quilt Store fabric. I like both. We have no quilt shop near us and at some point I am going to get tired of paying the shipping fees for "designer fabric"

Caroline said...

I, too, am on a limited budget. As a stay-at-home mom, recent college grad, and wife to another recent college grad and aspiring lawyer (with three years of law school to go) I have no extra funds for the high-end stuff. When I have a big project that I want to be really nice I save for a few months and go buy exactly what I need. Other than that I live off the hand-me-downs from other quilters and a WalMart/JoAnn's stash. I've got little other choice, and I love quilting so much I'm not willing to just give up on it. And a couple of my favorite quilts are made from WalMart fabrics! So that's my opinion.

Rachel said...

I've been thinking about this, too! I just finishes a *really* functional, *really* scrappy, *really* crazy quilt (well, the top anyway) and it made me think about women who quilted waaaay back when, and how they made these gorgeous pieces of art - not because they were art, but because they kept their families from freezing in the winter-time - and they made them from scraps of old clothes or linens or whatever else they had on hand. They didn't even have quilt shops, and the fabric they did buy mostly went toward making clothing and linens first. And some of them have lasted a hundred years or more! I think about those women when I make or see quilts that are matchy-matchy, or designed *just so* or when I spend way too much on "the best" fabric.

It's part of why I've decided to stop spending my new, costly quilting cottons on backing - from now on I'm heading to the thrift store for cotton bedsheets to use on the backs of my quilts.

La Viajerina said...

Ha! If I would use only "high quality cotton stuff from dedicated shops" I would completely quit quilting! There is hardly any of that available in my country, and when I can find something, is outrageously expensive, compared to our medium income...
I am lucky to travel sometimes, and then I get some supplies in shops all over Europe, but then, again, the prices are about double from what I see on American sites and shops.
I use what I can find closer in quality, I always wash (yes, wash, with detergent and full cycle) in my machine all the fabrics I get, to make sure they will not bleed, shrink, or whatever. Then I iron them under heavy steam, so they are all fit to last together for couple of years.
I've heard that vinegar can be used to stop colors from bleeding, but I never tried that.
If one fabric bleeds, I either use it for a garment, or bed sheets or something like that.
Oh, I forgot: I'm a "lonely" quilter out there in Romania, somewhere in Eastern Europe. I like your work very much, it is an inspiration to me, I follow your tutorials and wonder how you get all these great scrap ideas...
So, use what you can and be happy that you can have it!

Staci K. said...

I too love the quilt shop "designer" fabrics - but also use JoAnns fabrics. There are some very nice quilters cottons at JoAnns (M'Liss, Heidi Grace). I say use what you love! :)

Bridget said...

I buy the prints I like and I feel the fabric before I buy it regardless of where I buy it from. If it feels nice, looks great, and is only $1.50 a yard at Wal-mart I buy more. I say use what you like and feels nice and you can't go wrong and if the price is lower an even bigger plus. Who cares where it comes from?

So if you see a woman petting the bolts at a quilt shop or big box store that's probably me ;).

tisme said...

I had to comment on this subject!
I buy fabric at LQSs, online and Joanns. I only have those places to buy them from.
Everytime a discussion on this comes up it reminds me of my grandmother.
About twenty years ago, she bought a piece of fabric, not sure where, but remember her always saying that this piece was very expensive and she had to use it in something special.
She died before ever using it. So I guess I am saying use whatever you can wherever you can. And as so many said, there are no quilt police, so it is up to YOU!!

Angie's Chit Chatting Corner said...

You asked what do I do, I go to Joann's at least once every two weeks and only to the local quilt shop to take a class. Joann's has a 40% off coupon every week my local quilt shop NEVER has a sale.

QuiltyGirl said...

I usually go by how the fabric looks and feels. If the printing is straight and it's soft but not thin, I will use it. I've found great fabric at JoAnn's and I've found awful fabric at quilt shops.

I am careful about how I "mix" my fabrics, though. I won't throw a cheap fq in with a bunch of LQS fabrics for a project unless I really feel like it will wash, wear, and fade the same as the LQS fabrics.

I'm much more particular about my quilts and garments than smaller projects. I want my quilts to last, and I want my garments to fit well and feel good!

I don't mean to sound like a fabric snob-I'm thankful that I can afford to buy any of my fabric at the LQS. And if I couldn't afford it, I would make just as many projects with less expensive fabric :)

John said...

I don't think that you can generalize that all of the fabric at a single store (e.g. Joann) is all of the same quality. I definitely buy fabric there, but I try to be picky. I think some is better than others ... you just have to touch it and feel it and try your best to discern it.

I must admit that I am partial to "designer" (i.e. quilt store) fabrics -- I just appreciate the designs more -- but I RARELY buy stuff full price. I take advantage of sales and clearance and close-outs as much as possible. I troll the sale sections of the big fabric sites. That way, they really aren't any more than Joann fabrics!!

Lizzie said...

I agree, but consider who wrote that statement. Probably some fabric company wanting our dollars. I looked on FatQuarter shop website today at the new fabrics and was shocked to see $11-$13 a yard for the new lines. woah... I think I will be using my stash a lot more this year.

Peggie said...

I was proud of myself for buying fabric at Joann's instead of the less expensive Walmart until I joined the blogging community. Now I am embarrassed by it and do not mention it when others go gaga over their designer fabric. I am glad to hear that it is bothering another too. Didn't quilting start with woman using scraps of whatever they had?

Oh no, my word verification is no mommies!

Kristin said...

Honestly, I use anything and everything. I've used fabric from old sheets (all cotton). I've used different types and weights of material in one quilt. I love playing with textures. I've made a memory quilt out of old t-shirts and one out of baby and maternity clothes. While I would love to be able to use high end fabric, I will use anything I like and deem appropriate. And, if it is too stretchy, I back it with fusible webbing.

Meg said...

As a student, I can't afford a lot of quilt shop fabric... to be honest, I didn't even know it existed until THIS year when I rambled into the healthy blogging community that you're a part of!! I use JoAnn's all the time, and although sometimes I get pulls and weird shrinking problems, I think it gives my quilts more character. My favorite quilt is still the one I made my father out of all of his old flannel shirts! That is a quilt that means something to him, and it's in the spirit of the original craft. My philosophy is, quilting was born out of necessity - if you need a blanket that's warm, collect warm fabrics! If you need a blanket to be memorable, use fabrics that mean something to the person you're giving it to! If you need a blanket that's snazzy to jazz up your room, then maybe you'll want to use designer fabrics. If you need a blanket to be cheap - reuse and recycle! Thanks for your blog! It's an inspiration!

Jennie said...

I agree with you to a certain extent, but I have had haertbreaking results with "cheap" fabric- shredding and the like. My first few quilts tell the story- the first two, made exclusively with Joann's fabric, are shredded and faded. My third, made entirely with quilt shop fabric (and not used any less than the others)is in excellent condition!
I also feel extremely fortunate that I am able to afford quilt-shop, designer fabric.
Use what you like!! I think the "fabric snobs" are probably also the "quilt snobs"- the ones who think it's not a quilt if it's not intricately pieced, hand appliqued and hand quilted. The ones who think the modern and "wonky" quilts most of us like are "junk" and "lazy"!
Keep on quilting on!
~ Jennie

Sarah said...

An interesting topic (this is my first post!). For me, making a quilt takes such a long time, if I am going to commit myself to the process, I am going to make sure I like the fabric! And usually that means the local quilt store. I spent two years on my first quilt--the fabric cost over $100, which seemed like a lot to me at the time, but given the amount of time I spent on the quilt, it doesn't seem like such a big deal now. However I am continually amazed at how fast Amandajean can make quilts, if I could quilt as fast as her I don't even know if I'd be able to afford Walmart fabric.

So I've mostly stuck to the fancy quilt store fabric. But I would really like to recycle more fabric for my quilts, it seems more fitting into the historical tradition of quilting. I just inherited some heirloom family quilts, and most of them are from old clothes, even an old parachute brought back from the war. This just makes them more precious. I would like to be more creative in my quilting like this.

Silver Scissor Quilts said...

I always hate when people say that. I would hate for someone not to try quilting because they can't afford quilt shop fabric and have heard not to use anything but. I also think it's a little snotty to say you should just use the expensive stuff.

Heather said...

Oooo, good comments! When I first started quilting 7 years ago, I bought from JoAnn’s, I didn’t know about quilt shops yet. Some of the quilts made from those fabrics are already just falling apart, like toilet paper! Ack! I still buy from JoAnns and have learned to feel the fabrics, and you can usually tell the quality. I buy a lot of my solids, and backing from them. Lately I’ve been hunting at thrift shops for cotton bed sheets, still hunting… Mostly I buy fabric from quilt shops, but only when there is a sale, I’m cheap like that. I get my thread from Connecting Threads, the spools are HUGE and they are inexpensive, and good quality.

Kacie R. said...

I've found great quality fabrics that were $20/yard and cheap-o's at Hancock on sale for $1/yard and both made me just as happy and I think looked great together in the finished quilt.

I'm all in favor of quilts being sturdy, but I would love most of all to see a quilt I made all worn and tattered, because that would mean it has been used and cherished. And that would also mean the recipient liked it enough to use it, which means I did an okay job of picking fabrics in the first place, no matter the quality or cost. :o)

RazakFamily said...

I am also a mom of 3 on a very small quilting budget! I say use what you can use!! At least you have a quilting talent. I mean, it's something that's slowly being lost, so power to those that know what they're doing!!!

patsy said...

I am so glad you wrote about this! I use both-- for all the same reasons. I hear my friends say this... but I just do what I want & hope that they turn out. Now I will not fear!!! If you do it- heck I can too!

thanks :)

Hannah said...

I always go by the feel of the fabric. So far, I haven't had any problems. I can't afford the expensive fabrics. I have made many baby blankets with $2/yard fabric from Wal-Mart and made a quilt for my son almost 2 years ago with cheap fabric. It gets washed frequently (potty-training boy) in hot water. It's held up great.
I think you shouldn't break the bank just to make a quilt. That being said, I did encourage a friend to buy pricier material recently, but it was for a memory quilt for her wedding (instead of a guest book).

motherbee said...

I have been quilting for 25 years and I have to say I am quite disappointed in how my snob fabric has held up next to my slum fabric. It seems to fray and fade just as fast.

Crystal Hendrix said...

I sure hope so since all I can afford is the Joann's and Walmart fabric! Thanks for making me feel better with your opinion!

Katharine said...

Thank you for your post. I have been sewing clothes for my kids for years and so have collected a lot of fabrics from Spotlight (an Australian chain craft store). I've bought what I like, and that usually means reasonable quality, and I like the idea of using offcuts of fabric I've used for my children in quilts.

And, if this fabric has managed to survive kids' wear and tear and the washing, it will survive in my quilts. The only problem I forsee is fading, and everything seems to fade eventually in our harsh sun.

Hope said...

I agree with you. My most used quilt is made from one of my old shirts and lots of old pairs of my partners boxers. It is holding together just fine, and it had a beautiful soft feel from the moment it was made because the fabric was so worn already.

Amy said...

I buy what I like, no matter where it comes from,thrifting, Walmart, Joann's, Hancock Fabrics, or some of my favorite quilt shops. I won't buy something if it is not nice sturdy fabric though. I have never had a problem with any fabric I have used. I do tend to hoard the $8 a yard fabric for myself though :)

Jenna said...

I was just thinking about this last night - crazy! I'm with you. Though I do splurge sometimes on nice, "high-quality" quilt store fabric, it definitely doesn't make up the bulk of my stash. I can't help but think about the earliest quilters and the types of fabric they used - scraps of whatever was on hand - yet their pieces were still beautiful. What about the Gee's Bend quilters - their quilts are the same thing. Heck, even Denyse Schmidt and Alabama Channin (sp?) use scraps sometimes. My current project is a mishmash of scraps, including "nice" quilt fabric, cheap fabric, and even nice soft cottons from worn-out shirts and pajamas. Maybe not museum quality, but still attractive, functional, and - yes - art.

Kris said...

I, like you, LOVE quilt shop fabric. But it has gotten quite expensive. When I started to quilt about 10 years ago, places like Joann's had low quality fabric for quilting. But not anymore. They have really come a long ways for the quilting folks. I don't hesitate to buy fabric there, or Walmart, for projects. But I do so love to buy fabric at the quilting shops best!

MelissaS said...

Glad you brought this up. My "fabric snobbery" mainly is due to the designs available with the designer fabrics carried by quilt shops or online quilt shops. The reality of those purchases is mainly from my religious trolling on various online stores shopping their clearance sections. And as far as JoAnns, they are now carrying a line by the original designer from FreeSpirit fabrics and other "high end" fabrics.

In the past I have used pretty much everything, I think it just depends on the fabric.

HOUNDDOG's NEWS said...

I agree there are fabric snobs so let them pay those high prices I just don't think it matters as long as I like what I buy and the people I swap with like them it's ok. If you are careful and pay attention to what you are buying Walmart and Joann's has some good stuff. I don't even care if it is made in China or Vietnam. I have said my piece.

rj said...

Originally, quilts were made with scraps from clothing construction and clothing DEstruction. If a quilt got threadbare, you made a new flimsy and requilted. To my mind, whatever you want is fine. If you are a professional selling your quilts for hundreds, then maybe I can see the need to restrict what you purchase. But, for gifting and sewing pleasure, YOUR choice and wishes are the only ones that matter.

jess said...

You know, it cracks me right up to see the fabric snobs out there... I am a yarn snob, and now I know how the Red Heart Yarn people feel. (although I'd never, ever, ever dis on anyone)

Quilting and crafting is about pleasure, and creating treasures. I will not E-V-E-R be intimidated by someone spending more than I do on fabric. Screw them. *I* thoroughly enjoy what I use. They don't like it, they can kiss my fine white ass.

I shop at Jo Ann's and the local fabric shops. I have Heather Ross, Kaffee, and Alexanders. I also have swap shop (free, recycled clothing) fabrics and some Wal Mart stuff, I'm sure.

Ms. Fine said...

I think some vintage fabric is better quality than much that is available at Joann's Hancocks etc. I do shop at those stores, but I tend only to buy their highest quality muslin on days with coupons.

I am a 99% LQS quality buyer. I have such little time to devote to sewing that the thought of using anything that *might* self-destruct before its time makes me ill. That said, I can't recall the last time I paid full LQS store prices. In fact, I drive 90 miles each time there is a 5th saturday because this fabulous LQS has 30% off on 5th saturdays. Well worth the trip and gas money.

One thing to consider is that regardless of the quality of your thread or fabric, you should use thread that "matches" the type and quality of your fabric. If you are using fab thread that's nice and strong against weak, low thread count discount fabric, it will fray and tear. Harriet Hargrave wrote a book on fabric and fiber years ago that I still refer to now and again. She goes through a lot of detail about what makes fabric "good." I've found that I can use her suggestions to separate wheat from chaffe even from my LQS. http://www.amazon.com/Fiber-Fabric-Essential-Quiltmaking-Textiles/dp/1571200258/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251845357&sr=8-1

Andi said...

I was a 'fabric snob' for quite a while until my budget TOTALLY blew out. Now I'm just a semi-snob and about 80% of my fabrics is of the "good stuff". LOL

Marissa said...

I get annoyed with that too. I say quilt with what you have or what you can afford to get not what the "experts" say. Quilting started out by using fabric that had already been used in other things like clothing so why now do we have to use only the best and newest stuff?

tammiemarie said...

heehee, I tell my husband that all the time. They used to use feed sacks for crying out loud! I do love me some designer fabric, but it is out of my budget except for once in a great while splurges - and even then if I'm honest.

And something I've never admitted before? I feel more "superior" if I can put together a quilt top out of all found materials (stash, thrifting, etc.) than if I went and bought a designer line all matched up for me. Yes, I'm a reverse snob! It's true!

roylancemommy said...

I am SOOO Glad you said this. I totally agree. I just can't afford to buy "ONLY THE BEST QUALITY QUILTING FABRIC." I am a stay at home momma too, and I use whatever I like, that is at a good price! I do love some of the great prints from the quilting shops, but that is only every now and then that I get to do that :)

Lori in South Dakota said...

Wow--what a lot of comments.!! I use fabrics I'm not even SURE where they came from. I use the "feel" test too. Unless I'm making something that I think might be saved for YEARS AND YEARS, I have no hard and fast rules about where the fabric comes from. I buy a LOT of my fabric on sale with a 60% off coupon, and this is from a discontinued fabric outlet. Great manufacturers, the fabric may be odds and ends or discontinued. Usually it costs me about $2.20/yd, so I'm perfectly happy! I make mostly donation and used EVERY day type quilts.

Thread, although I PREFER Aurifil thread for piecing, I will use whatever I have if it doesn't show. For quilting I have preferences.

Tozz said...

I use mostly 100% cotton but if I like the pattern and feel of a fabric that isnt 100% then I dont hesitate to get it. But the majority of mine are 100% cotton. I dont think it has to be of the highest grade and I am a Carer for my DH and so my money is not plentiful so if I can get it for a reasonable price that I like to pay then I will get it and use it. Price doesnt make the fabric a better thing. Its how much love and time went into the making of it that counts :) I have heard from a costume maker and she has lots and lots of fabrics left over from her 20 odd years of making costumes that she intends to use for quilting and patchwork, so it doesnt matter what you use just as long as you are happy with it. :) hugs Vicki

BubbaChic.typepad.com said...

Amen! there are times that our budget doesn't allow for $9+ a yard quilting fabrics, so for the sake of having my creative fix (and saving my sanity!) I focus on the process, for making do with what I already have, repurposing and making things that may not mean alot in a quilt fair, but mean alot to me, my family and my friends who I create them for, Dee x

BitnByAQuiltingBug said...

I say forget the "quilt police" and use what you want. "They" tell us not to put purple and yellow together too, but if I want them together....they go together in my world! Doesn't the history of quilting show us that anything goes and it's best to use it than discard it? It's the joy of putting pieces of fabric together and making something useable for me! You must be doing a lot right, because all of us love your blog and quilts!

Andrea said...

I use both.... quilt shop fabrics in Canada are way higher than in the USA. If there's a line I really want, I'll most usually buy online from the US, or if there's a great sale, I'll buy at the quilt shop. My 'joann' store is called Fabricland, and their quilt dept is growing, and the quality frankly isnot too bad. I just blogged about my huge steal of a deal of 85% off christmas quilting cottons at the 'slum store' LOL and I was trying to justify my reasons why I shopped there and bought non LQS fabric. How ridiculous is that? I think if it's good quality, and you can feel it, I go for it!

BlueRidge Boomer said...

I use it all!! What ever catches my eye or fits into the design i have in my head.....and sometimes it's not easy up here in the high country to drive the 30-50 miles to the nearest quilt shop....so on-line or WalMart has to do.....it's all in the love that goes into the quilt!!!

Enjoy....LindaMay

Queen Lexi said...

I think the exactly the same as you are thinking n doing with quilt fabric collection. I dont let those readings or comments pressure me about getting the highest quality fabric all the time. I do whatever I want with quilting because it is my hobby, not under other's influence. I just look those readings as an advice and I take it or leave it.

Blogful said...

I slum it often. In fact, because they are so "fancy" I often don't pre-wash my quilting store fabric and that has gotten me into trouble once or twice. Plus, is it just me, or do quilt shop fabrics seem to be extra wrinkly? The only reason I spend my dough (too much!) in the quilt shop, is because of their patterns and designs. Can't find those at JoAnns and my Walmart is only good for solids if you want cotton.

Sudi-Laura said...

It looks like you've hit a hot topic here, Amanda Jean. I have just become a stay at home mom due to lay offs, and realized that I can no longer be a fabric snob. I use what appeals to me, unless it is so scratchy the thought of it touching my skin make my skin crawl. And, I have found some fab fabrics at both JoAnn's and Walmart, thank you very much.

While you have brought up this topic, I have to say that it burns me up to see swaps that say" fabric must be from a quilt shop or you cannot participate". WHAT. Quilting,for me, is about community. It hurts my heart to see people excluded from this world of fabric because they cannot afford the highly priced fabrics.

Whew....I feel much better now.

hoganfe said...

Great topic and responses! My fav addiction Fabric !

mary
hoganfe handmade
handbag originals

Diva Quilts said...

Oh gosh, I just ignore those "quilting cotton only" people. I grew up with quilts that my Oma and Tantes made and not a one was made with "quilting cotton" (I don't think it even existed when they were quilting) and even my Gross Mutti's Oma's quilts which were made with whatever was not being pressed into use elsewhere (including flour bags, dyed with onion skins for a beautiful saffron colour) which are over a hundred years old are still functional.

Following in their footsteps somewhat, I buy fabric that I love, from everywhere, and although I've made 30 quilts to date, I've yet to make one composed entirely of "quilting cotton". Almost all of them have no quilting cotton at all.

Why limit yourself when there's so much beauty out there?

So... *ptooey!* on quilting cotton only! ;)

Sue said...

What's wrong with using vintage fabric? I can see if it's really old and brittle, but I have a lot of vintage fabric & it's quite nice cotton.
If I'm making a wedding quilt for one of my kids I'll only use the best, but I buy & use fabric from everywhere. Much of it is from garage/estate sales. I won't use anything that doesn't feel right or unravels badly at the edges.

Cara said...

If I'm making a quilt for an adult, that I expect they'll want to keep for a long time (i.e. a wedding quilt or special gift) I use high quality fabric. My Mom warned me about how disappointed she was at the rapid fading on her first quilt, made when I was a baby. I'm not a prolific quilter anyway, so the annual cost isn't that bad. But for the most part, I don't worry about it. I assume baby quilts, my picnic quilt, etc. will be used up and faded no matter what fabric I use and that's part of the charm.

retirednana2008 said...

OMG !!!! You're really a brave girl to approach this subject....good for you!!! I haven't read any of the previous responses prior to writing this comment. I'm relatively new to quilting & have wondered about this particular part of quilting since I started. I KNOW that my mother, grandmother, aunt, & many other quilters in my family never visited a quilt shop. In fact, I'm not really sure one was available to visit. They used scraps, old clothes, feedsacks, etc. & those same quilts are still around....
Now....I'm gonna read other comments. Really interesting!!!
A young lady w/a lot of insight!! (in my opinion, that is)

Thimbleanna said...

What an interesting question -- and you've obviously hit a nerve -- look at all those comments, er opinions! I use mostly quilt shop fabrics, but once in a blue moon I'll see something I like in Joanne's and I'll get it. I tend to get my Kona cottons there once in awhile too. And eeekkk! Are you near Eagle Creek Quilting? I LOVE that shop -- it opened shortly after we moved away from Minneapolis -- it's probably good it wasn't there when we lived there LOL!

Pam said...

As someone who worked for Joanns and Hancock Fabrics for about 15 years, I can tell you that they have all levels of quilting cottons. Most of their fabrics come from the same companies that quilt shops buy from with their own store label. And they do have some fabrics that are lower quality as well. I shop everywhere, LQS, chains, Thrift stores (or used to before all three Hancock Fabric stores in our area closed and I became unemployed) and I agree that you generally can feel when fabrics are better quality. Isn't that why we grope all the fabrics? It's too bad that "they" always seem to make rules for what is supposed to be an individually creative process. I say do what you want. It should be enjoyable. In the end, you only have to please yourself. We too often forget this.

What Comes Next? said...

Yay for you for bringing this up! It's one of my pet peeves as well. While quilt shop cottons are lovely, they are not the be all and end all of fabrics available for use in quilts. As you say, quilting originated with folks making do with what they had, and I'm pretty darn sure they weren't running off to their local quilt store every time they needed some fabric! I don't disagree that using a consistency of fabric types in a quilt will help it to grow old gracefully, but then think about some of the wonderful crazy quilts produced - and used - over the years that incorporated all kinds of fabrics. I personally love to use whatever I have on hand - cottons, linens, woolens and silks, and if it is an art or wall quilt, I will incorporate all kinds of fabrics and notions, to get the look I want.

Ella said...

I have made with both and i have only been quilting with the good stuff latley . The cheap stuff just does not hold up for me I use my quilts and wash them and quilts that I made 15 years ago are very faded holy and worn, I have started to use the good stuff and I will tell you how it works in another 15 years, as for spending 8-9 $ a yard well you don't have to if you are patient and wait for the sales I get the good stuff for 2-4 $ a yard So I get the good stuff for a wal-mart price. I do however use the wal-mart and hancocks and joanns fabric for bags and Pj pants but they don't even hold up. This is the way I see it, if you are going to go through all that work on a quilt I want it to last. GET THE GOOD STUFF!!!!! Just my two cents!!

V and Co. said...

i use anything and everything i can get my hands on. funny thing is that vintage sheets to me are better quality then some fabric. i use anything that is cute...but i have had to be wary of walmart because their fabric most def wears a lot faster than others.
btw SUPER LOVE THE LITTLE HOUSE! how cute i that?

piecemealquilts said...

I started with JoAnn's fabrics, and I was happy enough with it. It was cheap, and cheap was all I could afford. As I got older (and my jobs paid better), I started using "quilt shop fabric" and I can't go back to the thin, muddy colored stuff I used to use. I will still buy some fabric at JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby, but I seldom look for the 2.99 a yard stuff anymore. Instead, I wait for it to go on sale or I use a coupon, or I check the clearance racks. Same goes for the quilt shops - I love the clearance fabrics. You CAN get good quality stuff at the big box stores, but it is going to cost just as much - and sometimes more than! - the quilt shops. JoAnn's has 10.99 fabric, for goodness sake! A secondary benefit of buying clearance fabrics is that it forces you to shop out of your comfort zone, which increases your creativity.

Bottom line - I say buy the best quality fabric you can afford, and don't write off 'the good stuff' as being too expensive without checking for sales.

Karen said...

I was talking about this with a friend of mine the other day. I am lucky to live in a small town with several local fabric shops, including one that is like a gigantic warehouse. The warehouse doesn't have any cottons that cost more than $5/yd and I've been buying fabric there for over 10+ years. My quilts look great (despite heavy use, windows w/o curtains, and lots of washing).
Designer and expensive fabrics are often really nice to have, but so are all of the gems I've found over the years. No need to be a quilting snob. You'll find me "slumming it" at local and chain stores any day!

Linda said...

I go by feel. If I like the way a fabric feels and it isn't rough or thin, I'll use it. It doesn't matter where the fabric came from. I agree, the quilt shop fabrics do have a nice feel to them and they do hold their shape well while you are piecing, but.... lIke you said, that isn't what the first quilters used and budget is important, too.

belanix said...

mmmm yeah, it could be. my patchwork teachers insist a lot on using 100% cotton fabric. Not only that, they repeatedly reject any fabric not manufactured in the US, acording to them the "only fabric sources apt for quilting". To that, add the fact that the shops that do sell fabric here in Argentina are far from having the variety of tones, colors, types, brands of the quiltshops i see on the internet from other countries.
I do share the view that if patchwork was born as a sort of fabric recycling, an art form based on plain color fabric, obtaining unimagined patterns and figures when those things were a luxury, to get squimish over what fabric to use is pointless.
that's my humble opinion from Argentina.

Cheers

Sarah said...

For me, I have had very bad luck with Joann/Wal-Mart fabric...I have gotten a lot of fading and piling. So for now, I stuck to quilt shop fabric.

That said, I think that you should do whatever makes you happy. Your quilts are gorgeous!!

thamil6614 said...

I have some scrap fabric that I have been trying to use up in the 9 patch a day blocks that is giving me fits because it is thin, and warps easily. I am hoping that when it is matched up with some better quality fabric that it will behave. That said, I love the tecture of quality fabric, but can't always afford it. Also, I too have purchased fabric that I am afraid to use because it is "my good stuff". What good can it be if I don't create something with it? I am learning to balance the two worlds and sew with what I think will look good.

Ariane said...

I'm a scrap quilter at heart. I grew up having 3 quilts on my bed to keep warm in the Northern Ontario winters. All these quilts were made from old clothing, sheets, etc. They were not fancy but still beautiful. I went to spend time at my Mom's place in June and I found a bunch of quilts that I used to use on my bed as a young girl. They are still beautiful. They've been washed a million times. They are still holding together. I have 10 brothers and sisters. I grew up knowing that you have to be thankful for what you have. Now that I'm quilting, I've used vintage fabrics, some cheaper fabrics and some high quality. I love quilts to look at. But my favorites are the soft ones you can snuggle up to, and are meant to be used everyday. Use what you want to use. I do!!!

Jennifer said...

i almost feel like it's pointless to comment because there are so many already....

i only shop at local quilt shops because i prefer to patronize local businesses. since i can chat with, ask questions of, and laugh with the person who owns the store and orders the materials, i'm confident that my money isn't contributing to some sort of immoral business practice. plus, it's funneling money into my local economy to people who are likely to spend their money locally as well. i like that my purchases (in a roundabout way) benefit my community.

Jennadesigns said...

I had to comment too. I applaud you for putting this out there! Thank you.

I quilt with a wide variety of fabrics. I have free fabrics I've scrounged, upcycled clothing and blankets, old bed sheets, vintage feed sacks and flour/sugar bags, cottons from JoAnns/Hancocks, and plenty of LQS fabrics. I don't favor one over the other - ever. I buy what I need to create my own art - whatever that might be.

That being said, some of the higher end fabric has held up better over time, but I've also had great, long-lasting fabrics from JoAnns/Hancock that cost me very little. You have to know how to feel if it's going to last. And yes, that's why we grope the fabric!

When I want the high end, designer fabrics, I usually purchase online, waiting until there's a huge sale on Fabric.com or the like. It might mean I don't have the newest fabric the minute it comes out, but I'm OK with that! I also buy great scrap bags of designer fabrics from Etsy children's clothes sellers (ThreeYellowStarfish has wonderful scrap bags, I swear by her!).

Whatever works for you - go for it girl! And those self proclaimed fabric snobs can shove it! :)

carol said...

Since I am a former children's clothes maker for 30 years, (only having started quilting for a year now), I have seen the differences in quality fabrics verses cheaper fabrics and the affects of laundering, fading, etc. over the years. I must admit that I have used both Wal-mart Fabrics and Joanns in the past for the kids things, but I have only used quilting store fabrics for my quilts. I do use the "good" bleached muslin by the bolt from Joanns though as it seems to "stretch" the good fabrics (budget wise) while brightening up the quilt due to the bright whiteness of the muslin. My family is grown though......and that does make a difference in my budget!! I say, use what you like, and buy the best you can afford and continue to learn and enjoy. That's the whole point anyway, right??

Ashley in WA said...

In the past I have used mostly Joann's fabric because I didn't realize the difference. Now, Joann's does carry some nice stuff, but you have to pay the same as quilt shops. I use aprox. 95% quilt shop fabrics, but I am cheap. I keep an eye on Hancocks of Paducah sale pages, Fabric Depot, Connecting Threads and Craft Warehouse's clearance. Honestly, I can't remember when I last paid over $4 a yard on quality name brand quilt shop fabrics.

JG said...

In any fabric store I feel the fabric and decide if it fits the bill. I have purchased great fabric at Joann's and like to use it. As with anything, the consumer needs to keep a perspective on quality plus cost. If the budget does not allow for it, the answer is easily no. I just finished cutting out a top with a piece purchased from Joann's. I washed/dried it before cutting and it's a beautiful piece. I like to see what I am purchasing before I buy it.

The Robbins Nest said...

I really agree with you!! You are so right about the old quilts. They used whatever they had. When I first learned to quilt, I was taught to use the best thread, best batting and best fabric. However, since then, the internet and blogs like yours, have opened my eyes (and wallet) to so many more options. I do love quilt shop fabric. No doubt, it's the best selection, but I love to see quilts made out of old sheets, too!

quiltingbonnie said...

I agree with U AmandaJean. I get my quilt fabric from all over: some from JoAnns,use to get a little from WalMart(almost all the WalMarts here in the South have deleted the fabric section in there stores,darn),Old Green CupBoard,a local Store, on line, and actually alot of women I know that don't sew will give me buckets of fabric. What I can't use I give to my daughter to make scrap quilts(we both love those). So I would say about 40-50% comes from "Quilt Shops". But I also shot thrift stores and use cotton shirts and shirts in my quilts

GARI said...

You must have really struck a nerve with your question. I, too, tend to use whatever comes to hand. I buy a lot of fabric from my LQSs but I really do feel I need to use ALL of it so it does go into a lot of different quilts and projects. I have found that as the prices go up I have bought less and less: mostly I quilt from stash.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you wrote this post! I often wonder why we are told to use this fancy fabric but the old quilts that people are collecting are made from worn out clothing and any scraps of fabric that people could their hands on. Those quilts were used and loved and does paying $9-12 per yard really make a quilt mean more to the people that are wrapped up in them? I don't think so.
- Kat

AMD said...

I was expecting to see that beauty of a quilt top you got from Browerville (or a thrift shop somewhere up there) in this post.

Have you come up with a plan for using it? You have got to feature it here somehow, don't you think?

quiltingbonnie said...

amanda, sorry about being such a bad speller. I love your Blog. When U don't feel like doing your Blog, even tho I miss U, it is still OK, I just wait till U come back. Your quilting virtual friend from Fl. Bonnie

Kathy said...

I didn't read every comment because -well you got a lot of responses.

I agree with one I read where you go by the FEEL of the fabric.

Lets face it Joanns and Walmart could afford to have cotton mills run the line for them on their own selection of grey goods. Thus the quality is not the same as what the mill normally uses/what quilt stores sell.

And we NEED to support the independents. Now I buy Joanns fabrics for specific reasons - I use a lot of their "clothing" fabrics in crazy quilting. I might buy a backing fabric or some quilt fabric that is too cute.

And they tend to have their own fabric designer lines at Joanns, so some designers that is where I find them.

BUT and its a big BUT - think about the quilt - are you making one that is to USE by kids? Then use Joanns fabrics. Are you making a masterpiece you want to last 5 generations? Then don't use Joanns fabrics. Spend a bit more and it will last a lot longer.

Oh walmart - thats like the $2 fabric store. I still remember a woman telling me (in the store) she bought a corduroy print and made a blazer only to have the "print" wash off. So why would you buy fabric again from such a place? Who knows what will happen the next time!!! (Yes I was in there - needed something for a Xmas pagent - it was going to be tossed after and used once so cheap was my goal - so again its what are you using something for?)

Kathy

Erin said...

I once bought nearly all the fabric for a bed quilt from a LQS because I was making it in flannel and couldn't find anything decent anywhere else. It's held up well, but it cost me an arm and a leg, though! Mainly I buy at Joann, because their fabric is just fine for my uses and Walmart doesn't seem to have any better prices. Plus Joann has those fabulous coupons they mail me and great sales! I do draw the line at cheap thread, though. I have had cheap thread break, and I don't want to waste my work that way!

Valerie said...

My little Granny just uses whatever fabric anyone gives her. She says that she makes quilts to keep you warm. So I guess you can use whatever you want to.

Kissthis said...

I've recently started quilting, and I use scraps from a friend who makes her own clothes, I use old pillowcases and sheets from op-shops. I try to only buy new when it's on special (or I really want it). My first quilt was made from a cotton/polyester blend curtain fabric sampler. I'm trying to stick to the using what we have, as I'm also a stay at home mum, and don't have much spending money.

kristyn said...

I am with you!! Up until now I thought I was just being cheap but I am a college student which equates to very limited funds. I do this primarily as a hobby and to make gifts so I guess it would be different if I were hoping to make any money off of what I make. Until that day comes (if it ever does) it is JoAnns and Wal-Mart and the occasional splurge on Fabric.com for me.

Starbound Studios said...

Agree with you! I use fabric from all over the place, and whatever thread I happen to have at the moment.

Oh, and Eagle Creek, love that little shop! Are you from our little neck of the woods up here in MN??

Trisha said...

Amandajean, you rock! I love that even in your blog popularity you are so real. I feel exactly the same way about fabric as you. It is nice to have the quilt shop fabric but I can find some pretty cute stuff at Joanns that holds up nicely with many washings.

Do the quilt shop fabrics really last longer? My sister's daughter had a quilt that my sister made her that she would drag around with her everywhere. It was a mix of Joanns fabric and quilt shop fabric. Guess which fabric was shredded by the time she was four years old. The quilt shop fabric. So who really knows...

Lynn said...

You turned me into a Joann's fan last year - when I asked you about this topic. You pointed me in the direction of those great 40 percent off internet coupons. And bolts of the off white fabric - can't beat them at that great price. They have a great selection too. But sometimes I feel guilty about not supporting my lqs ( I have 3 within 10 minutes) but at 9.00 a yard I almost have stopped buying there (maybe a fat quarter every so often). I either use stash or Joann's fabric. My grandmother used flour sacks that came off the ships in the baltimore harbor. My grandfather brought them home with him. She used scraps and snippets and I have one of her quilts and it couldn't have been high quality and it is still in good shape.

Molly said...

I believe my ancestors made quilts. And they made them from any scrap of fabric they could get their hands on. They were industrious like that, and when one quilt would wear beyond use, they would use it as batting in a new quilt. Use what you can...I love designer fabric, but I am not going to run up my credit card on the stuff. That just doesn't seem like a true quilter to me.

mksumo said...

Be confident - its your quilt!!!!! Put into what you want & what feels right for the quilt.

debra lynn said...

I quilt and sew clothes for both my kids. I've been irritated at the "buy only the best quilting fabric" for stuff (especially the kids clothes). The best pair of shorts (Oliver + S) I made for my son were out of fabric I used from a mens xl button up shirt I got at Goodwill for $3. Granted my accent fabric was a japanese import, but scraps left over from a quilt project. That is how quilts and clothes were made back when I was a kid (the 70's) and I'm happy to carry (some of) the tradition on to my children. Mixing up the old and new is the best way, and most cost effective, to go! Thanks for bringing this up!

RusticOkie said...

I'm so glad you thought this out loud. I've read several things along those same lines lately and quite honestly it just irritates the heck out of me.

First of all there aren't many really nice quilting shops around me. In fact, there aren't many places left to find fabric at all let alone "high quality" fabric.

I know my grandmother never bought high quality quilting fabric, it wasn't available nor in her budget. I still have many of her quilts that she made 20 years ago (or longer) and they are beautiful and holding up just fine. These aren't sitting on a shelf either, they are well used. Really well used.

Sure I would love to have an endless supply of wonderful, expensive fabric on hand to make everything with but that just isn't realistic for me and that's okay. I'm perfectly happy with my regular low end fabric. Bring on the scrap quilts I say.

Owens Family Adventures said...

I'm gonna tell ya a little story....a couple of years ago I belonged to a quilting bee. We had decided to exchange 20 5' inch squares every meeting so that at the end of a year we would have a great quilt to remember our time together. There was one woman who made a big deal about making rules for this exchange and one thing she said she must insist on was only quilt store fabric. Then she went on to say all this bad stuff about people who shouldn't be quilting if they couldn't afford the hobby in the first place and other not nice things. It got me so riled up that every time we met to exchange I went to Walmart!! and got my fabric. And....AND I didn't wash it! Hmph! She was the only one who got the Walmart fabric. The other ladies got my good stuff but boy did she steam me up!! She never even knew either! I mean come on...it's fabric not gold boullion!!
Great question!!!!
dawn

Andie said...

i looooooove quilt shop fabric, but let's be real here, i can only afford so much "designer fabric" i "slum it" at jo-anns as well and i love repurposing something old into something new... curtains, blocks for quilts, etc.

is paying more for something necessarily getting the best quality? my fossil purse is holding up just as well as any louis vuiiton i've seen...

Tara said...

Ummmm, apparently we're all with you! I am a fabric snob as well as a yarn snob. I purchase my Kona Cottons at Joann's, as well as the other things I like. And who would choose new over vintage? Plane ticket purchased--did you get the info? Do you like the times?

Cheryl Arkison said...

Well, we don't have Joann's here in Canada, but I've been known to buy a fabric or two at Fabricland, a large chain. I will fully admit to about 90% of my fabric coming from quilt shops. And most of that is Canadian quilt shops where we get totally gouged on price compared to the Americans. I buy online sometimes, but only things I can't find at my a LQS.

i think a lot of people need to remember that even the quality among quilt shop fabric varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Also, for many of the cheaper runs of fabric the main difference is in the quality of colour and how colour is applied to the fabric.

I won't tell anyone what fabrics to use anymore than I would tell someone how to raise their kids. Just don't get me started on picking schools!

mrac said...

When I first started quilting, I bought any fabric from JoAnn's, Walmart or a quilt shop that I liked.

However, now that I've been quilting longer and have learned about the manufacturing process, the fabric in a high quality quilt store is 100% first run quality. The colors will not run or fade over time..that is why it is more expensive.

JoAnn's, Walmart, Hancocks and others buy the 2nd or 3rd printing of fabrics which makes them lower quality, hence less expensive.

The way I look at, if I'm going to put all of the time and effort into making quilts, I want them to last. My first quilts are fading and fraying because I used lower quality fabric. I'm bummed about that.

With the internet, I can always find good deals on high quality quilt shop fabric. In fact, at www.wishuponaquilt.com, I have found name brand fabric at less than JoAnn's!

Just my 2 cents.

Marty said...

You make a good point. But I am a fabric snob. I do quilt shop high quality every time.

Angie said...

I think that your quilts are awesome, so whatever you are doing it is working. I love "quilt shop fabric" but mostly because I love the design and colors. I figure if I am going to put a lot of time into a quilt I want to spend the extra $ and get what I want. I was surprised at how much quilt fabric was at Joann's last time I was there, almost as much as the quilt shop. I also stock up during sales at the LQS.

Julie in WA said...

I rarely go into quilt shops. I love JoAnns; please don't call shopping there 'slumming it'! I love their new lines of high quality fabrics, especially Heidi Grace. And with a 40% off coupon each week, I can make high quality quilts on a budget. I am happy that they still sell 'updated calicos' for those who are not interested in the more modern lines of fabrics.

That said, I DO shop online, and I will buy the quilt shop quality fabrics, but only when they are in the 40-50% off sale fabrics. I have gotten some fabulous fat quarter bundles and charm squares that way. I could not afford them in the quilt shops. Now, if the quilt shops would send me a 40% off coupon each week, I might tell a different story!

I, too, can tell the quality of fabric by feel and also by holding it up to the light. You can find cheaply manufactured fabrics in quilt shops as well as JoAnns.

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

I find this debate really interesting.

The Global Financial Crisis is just that - Global - but I know that Australia has not been hit as hard as the USA.
That being said - we pay so much more for every type of fabric.

Speciality Quilt Store Fabrics cost about $26 per metre (just over a yard), and quilting cotton fabrics at the big chain stores (Lincraft and Spotlight) are cheaper, but not as cheap as you guys are used to.

I could be over-generalizing, but I don't think we get too snobby over here - we can't afford to.

If it is 100% cotton, and feels good in the hand, I will use it.

We also don't have the availability of fabric like plain Kona cottons, so I will often use homespun for sashing, or backing - because it is affordable.

I am amazed at the number of quilts that you and some other bloggers manage to make in a year, not just because of the work involved - but the cost. I think whipping up a quick, "cheap" quilt is impossible here.

That said, I still love it.

Thanks for an interesting debate.

Tammy in Ontario, Canada said...

Use what you can afford. You shouldn't have to give up your passion because you can't afford it.
If you want something to last generations then save until you can afford the good stuff. Jo-Anne's does have some good quality fabrics but you have to feel them to find out what is the better stuff.
If you are making something for a child that you don't expect them to keep past their "style of today" then use something less expensive.
Most of all- enjoy what you are doing.

Quilter_Momma said...

I don't like when fabric stores and websites say to use only the finest fabrics for quilts.

My son has a quilt that was made for him by a family friend. When I opened it at his baby shower, I was in awe. I sat there looking and feeling for at least 10 minutes. I had never seen anything like it...It has ALL different types of cloth/fabric, including lace and satin.

I have a few quilts made by my own grandmother that had sheet backs and some has sheet fronts, while others have a Lone Star on the front made out of sheet scraps, old clothes, and other random fabric.

I have received most of my fabric from craigslist and freecycle, with a smidgen of it bought by me in the past.

I have nothing against Quilt Shops, but I have made all different types of quilts, and I am VERY proud to say...

Not a single one has had quilt shop fabric.


I am a textile artisan.
Quilts are my art.

Bravos Grandkid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bravos Grandkid said...

Every time I read your 'thinking aloud' comments I agree - you are awesome and honest and right!

Who are 'they'? These people should be banned from preaching their propaganda about 'highest quality quilt fabric'..... Let's face it, when we can afford it, we do, when we can't, we don't.

Let's start a petition to ban the Quilting Police, whoever 'they' are.

Love your work ;)

VeeV said...

Hi Amandajean

I am so-o-o glad you brought up this subject. I am fairly new at the patchwork/quilter world.. and yes, I've read those same irritating comments often enough. the quilting snobs would be mortified at what i do.... but i have NO intention of ever entering a competition with my 'works'.

I think it's a personal preference and I'm so-o glad your preference fits much better to my style than to the quilting snobs..

so far so good...I'm making quilts and learning as i go... i am so grateful for all the free advice and information that's so readily available to me with the internet to learn... discuss... and even debate.

for me.. 100% cotton is the only stipulation - but that's because I cant imagine using anything else.

waste not; want not!!

larry7pokey said...

Well, with so many comments you don't need mine, but, I use what I like, or what I have. I started sewing when I was 6, a long time ago. My heritage is of 5 plus generations of quilters, and you better believe that we used anything and everything to quilt. Not to mention I have some family members who think it's a crime to purchase a
piece of fabric just to cut it up!! With all that history, I have become a good judge of quality fabrics, and I try to keep the poorer weaves out. Sew what you like, and always what you can afford!
ps, I don't wear designer clothes for the label, either : } pokey

Anonymous said...

No one will confuse me for a professional quilter, but I'm a happy rookie quilter. Sometimes I will sit back and look at a quilt that only cost me a few bucks to make and think, "Wow, I created something beautiful out of practically nothing"! Cheap can be nice. The pricey quilt shop fabric is beautiful. Like fine chocolate, I don't eat it everyday, but I love it when I can afford it.
Thanks for your blog. Love it.
Rhonda from Oregon

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I think the vintage stuff is actually better than most of what we get today. I will say, I used to use all cheap fabric...until i used brand name. I combined a mix of the two and my $3 fabric from JoAnn's faded in the wash and it was obvious next to my brand name fabric. Since then, I'm a little more careful. If I use coupons and shop deals, I can often times get the prices to be pretty close.

I do think there is a time and a place for the cheap fabric. Like when you have to make something for your MIL and you don't want to spend money on good fabric :)

Rose said...

My grandmother made quilts out of her old dresses and bed sheets, one of which I still have today. I use it and it has a special spot on a display rack in my living room. I love the idea of "scrap" quilts, where you can re-use material, like old pairs of jeans or vintage materials like you said. The biggest thing is that there is love in every stitch, so to me it doesn't matter if it's brand new Moda or my husbands old pair of jeans. Also, if you ever find that self-unloading dishwasher, let me know!!!

Annie of Blue Gables said...

Thank you. I wasn't allowed to join in a quilt square swap because I didn't have any quilt-shop fabric. All my stuff was from Wal Mart and JoAnns. I didn't know any different. I began to feel like I was being left out of something I always felt part of. The QuiltSnobs wouldn't let me play.
I made a comment that I would love to sign up, but I didn't own any of that fabric and I got an anonymous note on an unrelated post that said she had read my comment and then proceeded to lecture me about only buying the best fabric from the quilt shop. She had put all that work into a quilt that was warn out much sooner than she had expected. Now she only shops at the best places.
I had found designers who sold to quilt shops also have fabric at WalMart and such. I even commented that I had just purchased this very same fabric at WM for $3.00 a yard cheaper. The worker at the shop was incensed. They had made a deal to only buy stuff that was NOT at WM. Thanks for this post.

And you are right. Where did quilting start? with people's old warn out clothing they no longer could use. It was recycled into a quilt.

I really appreciate this post. Thank you. Judging from the 162 comments ahead of me, I think you pushed a button. eh?
~a

Cathy said...

Check out this place...oh why didn't I think of that!! http://www.wornandwashedfabrics.com/
Fabulous idea. xo

Jantine said...

I do the same as you. My budget seems to be never enough. I buy at markets or IKEA or other fabric shops. I do always make sure though it is a 100% cotton!

Metanoia said...

I can understand why they're saying that. I think that it is probably the same as when re-enactors or costumers say use the highest quality materials. You get a better finish, and at the end of the day a quilt made out of high quality cotton is going to look much nicer than a quilt made out of cheap weight cotton. I get mine on sale of course, but at the end of the day I'd rather spend my time on something that will be high quality at the end as well as my time is the most expensive part.

Libby said...

I hate to say this (because I LOVE my fabric) but I believe that the fabric industry is becoming the same as the clothing industry...we are paying more because of the name thats on the label...I couldnt care less about having designer clothes (walmart is ok with me) so why do I think I NEED designer fabric?

Jo said...

90% of my fabric comes from quilt shops. 10 years ago I made a detailed scrappy quilt for my bed. At that time I tied it as I wasn't brave enough to machine quilt it. After four years, of everyday use, I could tell what fabric was from Walmart or JoAnn's. So I made a few rules for myself. If I was making a quilt I wanted to be around forever, I use quilt shop fabric. If I make a quilt for a baby gift, need muslin or solid print fabric, I use cheaper. I recently started using sheets from Goodwill for the backs. I give away SO many quilts that I have to economize somehow.I just made a cute quilt for my new nephew out of JoAnn's solids and a Goodwill sheet...no one would ever know...you can see it on my blog www.makingthriftyfun.com. It's the first art type(no pattern) quilt I've done and I had more fun doing that than working with any quilt shop fabric. Even though I use primarily use quilt shop fabric I am collecting vintage sheets and striped shirts to make other quilts...and I am not a quilt snob...I figured if I can even make a couple quilts cheap, that allows me to be in "quilt therapy" awhile longer and I need "quilt therapy".

Patricia said...

Wow! Lots of people have viewpoints :-) as do I. I buy fabric whereever I find stuff I like. I often go to Joanne's and am finding the quality of their fabric is increasing. I have gotten really bad fabric at QS that cost me 8.99 per yard, only to fade out with the first washing. I have gotten fabric at Walmart (when mine had fabric) that to this day is absolutely beautiful although the quilt has been washed and washed. I agree that you should get the best quality you can at these places, not wash your quilt in any detergent that has a bleach (or add bleach) and after that first washing, not really dry it in the dryer. Your quilts will last and if not---make another!

Have a wonderful day to all---Hugs!

bimbi said...

hi,
i'm a stay at home mom too, with a tight sewing budget in mind.
I think we have to use the most of everything we have, and just forget the rest (such as "should only use the highest quality quilting cottons that are available"). that "should..." line just annoys me coz
for me, the main thing is the fun and joy feeling that I experience while in the process of making / sewing it :)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. If I only used QS fabric I would be broke. I have to use the fabric I can afford.
Thank you for being so honest. I have also heard this and it irritates me as well.
Rebecca O of Buffalo

Bethany said...

I am with you! I really LOVE the high quality fabric, but my budget is very small. I am currently working on a quilt that is made entirely from thrifted sheets. (You do have to check these as they are not always 100% cotton.) This tends to to help my obsession for quilting.

Jessica said...

My theory on fabrics is just like yours. I like quilt shop fabics, but most come from JoAnns. I use vintage and repurposed fabrics as well. My ultimate goal is to find fabrics I love-whether it is a $10/yard cut of designer fabric or a $3 sheet set from Goodwill.

Shoebotmom said...

I completely agree with you. Sometimes the quilt shops have many different prints that you can't find at walmart or joanns.....but they are also very expensive. I don't have tons of time to quilt and I am a stay at home mom of two.....so I don't purchase a ton of fabric. But on a very limited income in an expensive area, I have to do what I have to when I want to financially support my quilting habits. I do notice the difference, sometimes, in the quality of the fabric as I am working with it....but I am a pretty novice quilter and often can't tell a difference. Quilting should be fun and if the money thing gets in the way, then it will cease to be fun.

Renee said...

I use only quilt shop fabric for a few reasons: First it's the only place I shop that has fabric, the local Walmart and Zellers no longer carry fabric and the smaller fabric shop in town is long gone. By the time I pay shipping and duty fabric from places like Joanne's it costs me as much and sometimes more than supporting my local quilt shop where I can pick it out and see the actual colours instead of guessing from an online thumbprint. I also sew few quilts, usually only 4 - 6 a year, so I'm not using tons of fabric. The quality is great and if I buy whole bolts I get 25% off. I buy it by the bolt for sashing and backings.
I'm attracted to colour and pattern... for me if it's the cheapest or most expensive fabric in the store I buy so little that I indulge either way. What I have noticed is that since the store I frequent has the biggest selection from most anyplace in a 3 hour drive from my house she's able to have the best prices as well.
Mostly, I just love to sew and quilt, and pretty fabric inspires me no matter the price point.

jaybird said...

you were honest. so i will be. when i started in 2003 i didn't know quilt shops existed. i worked with joanns fabric till early 2007. then i found independent quilt shops and for 98% of fabric didn't look back. {just because i did doesn't mean everyone else has to} now i those early 4 years i made many quilts and bought lots of fabric. so now i have 2 stashes. untl your one a day quilt a long i have avoided mixing joanns fabric with QS fabric.. but i gave in on the one a day because i needed more scraps.

here is the truth. the fabric is different. over time {long time} it will wear different.

but for me it is more supporting my LQS and independent retailers over large ones. {keep in mind i've been a manager for 2 large retailers} ..but they will weather this economy. LQS are having a hard time and many may not. so when i do have $ to spend on fabric i try and spend it at a local store to show my commitment.

Annie said...

I use mostly fabric from JoAnn for my sewing. I'm still learning, and good fabric is expensive. I will buy good fabric if I can afford it, and I know what it will get used for. I'm with you though. Quilts started out as scraps and such from old clothing. So what's the big deal?

Darlene B said...

I always prewash my fabric. When I've prewashed JoAnn's fabric, it still is very stiff, unlike the drapeable quality of quilt shop fabric. A friend of mine used JoAnn flannels in a quilt, and all the colors ran together after she washed the finished quilt. I just can't take that chance. I actually like some of the patterns/colors in the JoAnn's line of "quilting" fabrics, but the texture is just so rough and stiff. I'll shop around for sales at LQS to be able to afford the nicer fabric.

The Calico Cat said...

I think I actually have a few new points...
1. flour sack fabric was the BEST fabric available at the time. Think about how it was used - to carry fine milled flour. If the fabric had been of a questionable weave,t eh flour would have sifted right out...
2. My great-grandmother was a quilter. She used the scraps that were left over from the clothing that she had made. According to my grandmother, she did not use word out clothing...
3. One of the quilts that I loved more than anyother was made out of double polyester! (& other non-cotton fabrics & it was tied with yarn.)
4. I am currently (when I get to the sewing machine) working on a quilt that has 80's calicoes (that were probably purchased at a Joanne or the like, before there were quilt shops) & you know what, the fabric feeles like the LQS fabric that I added to the mix.
5. If you are making a quilt for a child who loves Disney, guess what those licensed images are only available at JoAnnes & the like.
6. When my Wal-Mart had fabric, I would buy from there occasionally - You do need to feel it - or really like the image printed on it.
7. I buy at my local quilt shop often - too often if I am 100% honest. (I apparently collect fabric.) But I like to support a small local business... & I prefer Kona Cotton Solids to the solids available at JoAnnes - if fo no other reason that the LQS has a larger variety to chose from.
8. I used to only use muslin on my backs - but I now have too much pretty fabric, so I use it on the fronts and the backs.
9. I love to make I SPY quilts - you buy where ever the images are - LQS, WM, Joannes...
10. I am a recovering cat fabric addict - you buy where ever you can find a kitty - LQS, WM, Joannes.
11. - This is a hobby for 99% of us & we should remember that & quit stressing over pre-wash or not, brand-name or not, habd quilted or not, etc.
12. with all of that said, my so has a Heather Ross quilt mixed with Kona Snow & I hope that he loves it to death - just like the I SPY quilt that has fabric from everywhere!
13. Someone else said it, but it bears repeating, if the quilt is worn out because it was loved & washed to death - is there any better compliment? (Please ask me to make you another quilt because the first one wore out!)

The Calico Cat said...

One other thing:
Once upon a time ago, I loved Asian prints (Hoffman - LQS purchased) & I really liked those gold flecks - not the glitter, rather the gold outlines.

I got some in "solids" & so when I made a scrappy green quilt, I included that gold outlined green print. That green quilt has been washed a thousand times! The gold has worn off, but the print is still stable & green - just a word on that gold...

(Not that it is stopping me from completing my quilt that is using that gold fabric in every color variation including rainbow that I could find. - then again that is a hand applique project that will probably not be washed a lot. It is almost embarrasing to admit that I make quilts with no intention on "using" them. Now there is a topic!)

Robyn *Ü* said...

It depends. I have bought Walmart fabric and used it in a quilt with quilt shop fabric. The Walmart fabric looks terrible. It has faded and streaked while the quilt shop fabric still looks beautiful and colorful. However, I have also used Hobby Lobby fabric that stands up fine. By the way Hobby Lobby sells Kaufman fabric among others. I think you have to judge the individual fabric and not the store. A lot of the Walmart fabrics feel rough and cheap to me. However, I have been very pleased with Hobby Lobby fabrics the quality and feel of them (plus you get a 40% coupon). In this economy you have to make do with what you can. Don't let anyone judge you. This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby not controlled by fabric police.

Kelli said...

I really do prefer LQS fabric. I do shop at Jo-Ann, however and have had some successes and some failures with their fabrics. I especially do not like their FQ's. They feel awful to me. Otherwise, I shop by feel of the fabric.
I look for great deals on high-quality fabric and often spend just $5 a yard.
What I get sick of is the specific designer snobbery. It seems that people just love to see and comment on a quilt if it has HTF pieces in it. Not so much on the quality and detail of the finished product. *my little rant is over*

Evelyn said...

For me, the greatest pleasure of quilting is making something beautiful out of "found" raw materials (where "found" can mean anything from bought at the LQS to dug out of the garbage!). That pleasure is even greater for me when I'm re-purposing fabric (old linens, scraps from garage sales, etc.), because it's more challenging than just going to a quilt store and buying a set of coordinating FQs. I feel like I'm giving the fabric a new life, and making something usable (and hopefully pretty too!) from "trash".

Barbara Myltschenko said...

In a perfect world I would have millions to spend on fabric, but I don't, so fabricland is a place that I covet because my LQS would bleed me dry. I also don't wash all my fabrics before I quilt or sew them . . . there's a whole nother subjet!

tims_mom said...

My first quilt I made, I used "high quality fabics" because it was a class at that quilt store. First washing after assembly, and every square that had a certain fabric in it, disintegrated along the seams. The quilt store told me it was my fault, bad stitches, etc. But it was only that one fabric, the other fabric and seams held.

That said...I use a mixture of fabrics...Joann's and "quilt store" fabrics, and if it wears out, after many uses (not just one), then it was worn out with love, not bad fabric.

Patricia said...

Hi! Here in Brazil we have some good quilting cottons, but those importeds ones are always the best, specially the japonese. The problem is the price. So I usually buy a mix of them...

Kelli said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I've got to go to nearest big town (30 minutes away) to get to a Joann's, so I've got Walmart or a LQS, but the LQS is so expensive that I often come out ahead driving to Joanns. I've bought beautiful sturdy fabrics from there and some I wasn't so sure about...but I figure life is to be lived and quilts are to be used and if I make something for someone and they use it till it falls apart (assuming that's years from now and not next month!), then the quilt did it's job and I'm happy with that. I would LOVE to have only name-brand fabrics, but I'd rather continue to be a SAHM and have time to make quilts. So--for my money and time, I use what I like, what I can afford, and what feels good to me!
kelli
kellbell_6@hotmail.com

Sandra said...

I just bought a couple of thrifted men shirts to make a quilt in blue tones foe my son. for me too it is nice to buy fabric in quilt shops but the originall idea off patchwork is to use pieces of old fabric and I do like the idea of reusing, recreating something new out of something used.
thank you for this post I had simmilar thought too.

Blakely said...

I'm glad you talked about this subject. I don't make quilts that often, but I love to make children's clothes mostly smocked clothes. Well, I just can't afford to make everything out of swiss batis or the higher end fabrics, but several people in my sewing circle have looked down on my projects because I have used Hobby Lobby or Hancock fabric to make a bishop dress or smocked Christmas stockings for my mom. Who by the way picked out the fabric. Some of the comments I have gotten are, "why would you waist your time sewing with that cheap fabric" or "if I was giving someone a gift I wouldn't make it out of THAT!" I have gotten over it and have just decided that some people are just fabric snobs and I'm not one of them. If a piece speaks to me then I will make something out of it.

Lisa said...

I agree with you! I love quilt shop fabrics and the designer fabrics and yes, I would prefer to quilt and sew with them, but I don't think a person has to. I have 5 children 4 of them we are pretty much supporting at the moment and money is tight so I sew with whatever I can (making sure it feels sturdy and I do look for 100% cotton). Someday I might be able to afford to always sew with the best but for now it isn't going to happen very much and I'm not going to let that discourage me from quilting and sewing :)

Zarina said...

It is no longer an issue for me. i have purchased quite a number of the quilt quality fabric and the shipping to Malaysia cost a bomb. Nowadays I purchase from a local fabric store but the design is not always to my liking. I have an applique quilt i've made ages ago that have gone through so many washings and its still great.

Mercedes said...

Just I say now I´m working with Ikea frabrics 100% cotton for a quilt to my brother as BD gift and I can affirm this won´t be the last time . I ´m wishing to see how they work when I do quilting . Nice fabric, cheap and perfect for young people with their colors. So , quilt fabric in a quilt shop are great BUT we have to OPEN our eyes to other one... and more with this crisis, you know.

heather said...

I agree because some of my favorites quilts have mixes of fabrics from all over. To be honest Nolan's blue log cabin is still one of my favorites and there might be one or two quilt shop fabrics in there but I LOVE it!! My new resolution is to only buy big when I go to the fabric shack and shop their sale rack and their fat quarters. Then if I love something at eddies I might spluge or hopefully Michael will get me a gift cert there again then I will shop there. Otherwise I need to be smart with being in the same boat as you. I didn't read any of the other comments but it sure looks like people have a lot to say about this subject!!! Have a GREAT day. Does it feel good to have the kiddos in school?:)

Lauri said...

Oh yes...that is definitely a pet peeve, at the very least! I personally think people who think like that are "quilting snobs" (please no nasty email, it's just one opinion) and yes, you are right about how that does go against a lot of history about quilts to begin with.

None of the "Gee's Bend" quilts were made with fancy and expensive quilts but, they are some of the most beautiful I have seen!

I shop everywhere...including Wal-Mart before they stopped carrying fabric...for fabric. I will even buy shirts or dresses from thrift stores for their fabric. The only thing I am "snobby" about is that it has to be 100% cotton for me; and that is because I have tried fabrics that are not 100% cotton, and I'm just not that good at piecing strechy and slippery fabrics together. However, I would never ever ever put down a quilt because of they type of fabric used! I'm all about the design and, mostly, colors! lol!

Jen Petersen said...

Part of the art of quilting for me is playing with various fabrics - bright, vibrant new patterns paired with a some pieces of my grandmothers sheets that I remember making forts out of as a kid. If I were trying to make some pristine quilt that would stand up to anything, maybe I'd use all nice quilt shop fabrics. But art's meant to reflect who I am and quilts are one piece of art I can literally wrap myself or my loved ones up in - the scrappier the better as far as I'm concerned.

Calico Road said...

AMEN SISTA!!!
I am a "budget quilter" which means that I cannot afford the quilt shop fabric, and find that Joanns has plenty of good fabrics too. Now, Joanns also has plenty of crappy fabric, but I pick through those to get the good stuff.
Thank you for saying these thoughts outloud, I agree!

betseykerr said...

I use it all...why not. Sometimes the Joann's or Hancock fabric is oviously less quality, I avoid those, but more and more those stores are carrying higher quality fabrics! I say, use what works for your budget and what you like! I always like getting a deal and still making beautiful quilts! Fabric quality has greatly improved over the last 10 years or more and good quality fabric doesn't have to come from an expensive quilt/fabric store.

Annalia Romero said...

use anything beautiful! that's my policy...and yes, I love quilt shop fabric. I have to use every last scrap of it though...and I don't quilt nearly as much as you!

lately, some of my favorite fabrics are old sheets from Goodwill. Top that for slumming!

Terry said...

I could not agree more with your assessment. I use 100% cotton bought from many different places, but I do look for good quality fabric.

I have been quilting for almost 20 years and when I started you went to JoAnn's or Wal-Mart because there was not a LQS around in most towns.

I made a quilt from fabric bought at JoAnn's that was made for a 3 year old child so you can imagine the beating it took. I am happy to report that the quilt and colors are still in good condition after many washings.

The LQS fabric is beautiful and when I can get to a quilt shop I love to browse the fabric selections.

Maybe I am just a scrouge but I would hate to see a quilt where I had spent $10 - $12 per yard being dragged around on the floor and outside. I also live on a budget and I could not indulge my fabric shopping nearly as much if I only used LQS fabric.

Meredith said...

I buy quality because of the time I put into my quilts. Hand applique and hand quilting take time. I do not buy cheap fabric. I Prewash all of my fabric. I have one piece of vintage fabric and the quality is good. I have not bought a lot of vinatge fabric due to the quality. I did not think it was worth using.

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