Not all fabric is created equal

Monday, October 18, 2010

When it comes to fabric shopping, there are indeed many choices to be made. Depending upon your project, you may have identified a specific type of material that is well suited to your design or taste, such as cotton, canvas, wool, silk and the like. You may even have a specific color in mind. For my purpose---creating stylish diaper bags and totes that will last for years to come---I prefer to work with top quality quilting and fashion fabric by well known designers like Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey and Tina Givens.

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is absolutely true when it comes to textiles. Quilting fabric typically costs $8 to $12 per yard. Lower end cotton prints can be found from .99 cents and up, per yard and I assure you, when in hand you will be able to feel the difference between the two materials. This is called the weight of the fabric and it is the single most important factor in creating a durable product. The higher the weight, the higher the price and the longer the product will last.

Many quilt weight fabrics also offer exceptional stain resistance. In our house, we have a set of placemats crafted from Amy Butler’s Love collection that are used daily; and, every time I wash them, I am absolutely amazed how great they still look. Not a single stain, despite the best efforts of our four kiddies who have spilled grape juice and marinara sauce on them! Another benefit of quilt weight fabric is that it holds the color nicely, even with repeated washing. Generally, I wash my personal bags a couple times a year and am always pleased with their appearance afterwards.

‘Sew’ people, when faced with the decision to purchase the bargain bin fabric or not, think first about the purpose of the product. If you would like to wash it and need it to hold up to everyday use, I highly suggest not settling for a lower quality material. Likewise, when shopping for handmade goods, particularly bags, don’t be shy about asking the maker what type of material they use and why?

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