Fabric Primer For Those New To Sewing & Quilting
There are always a lot of weird and wonderful things to discover when you begin a new hobby. I can remember when I was new to sewing and being completely bamboozled about some of the terms used. It’s no fun being overwhelmed, right?
When you visit the ABQ Sewing Studio you’ll step into a quilter’s paradise – walk in and discover quality quilting fabric and lots of creative ideas. Our staff are all sewists with the know-how to help you with your questions. We are a Baby Lock Sewing Machine retailer and we also have a complete online store for those who cannot visit.
Let’s talk Cotton Quilting Fabric
Our 100% cotton quilting fabrics are found on bolts measuring between 42″ and 45″ wide. When you buy with us you’ll find that our fabric is sold by the meter (we are in Canada). A meter of fabric is 39″ long, 3 ” longer than a yard of fabric that measures 36″ long.
The wide back collection of fabric is used to back quilts. For those new to quilting, a quilt is made up of 3 layers: the top (the pretty bit), the batting (warm stuff) in the middle and the backing fabric.
Wide Backs are generally 108″ wide but can be up to 120″ wide. If you buy a wide back fabric for your quilt backing, you won’t have to sew two or three 44″ widths together to make up the size you need for the back of your large quilt – and that’s a big time saver! Shop Wide Backs
Pre-cut fabrics have become very popular and have a wide variety of patterns written that use them. They are a big time saver because you don’t have to do as much fabric cutting for your project. There are several different sizes of pre-cuts and they generally have 40 pieces per package:
- 2 ½” squares called Mini Charm Packs or 2 ½” squares
- 5″ squares called Charm Packs or 5″ squares
- 10″ squares called Layer Cakes or 10″ squares
- 2 ½” strips called Jelly Rolls or 2 ½” strips
- 1 ½” strips called Honey Buns or 1 ½” strips
Fat Quarters – Ours are Bigger!
Then there are Fat Quarters. These can be a bit confusing. That’s because Canada, the UK and Australia use the Metric system and the United States uses the Imperial Measurement System, the sizes of a US Fat Quarter differ slightly from our Fat Quarters. Ours are bigger.
A fat quarter gives you the same surface area as a quarter meter cut from the bolt, but it offers it in a different shape – fat instead of long. Fat Quarters are quite fun to collect for scrappy projects (projects using a variety of fabrics) and bonus, there are literally thousands of patterns written for Fat Quarter use. It’s also nice to have a sampling of fabrics on hand when you might need a bit of this or that! I have a collection of cheese themed Fat Quarters myself! Why? Why not?
Buy quality fabric so your quilt lasts
Many quilting projects are made for significant life events like births, weddings, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries. Buy the best quality, you’ll want to make sure that the quilt that you create lasts for years to come.
So, when buying fabric buy the best quality you can afford. Not all fabrics are created equal and there are some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. Watch out for bargain fabrics that could:
- Fade with washing or sunlight
- Those with ‘fugitive’ dye. Think of reds and dark blues that run in the laundry possibly ruining the whole project.
- Poor quality fabrics that have undue shrinkage when washed
- Cotton that is flimsy or thin – it will wear quickly
Quilter’s cotton and more
High quality cottons are also much easier to sew with and have less fraying and distortion. At ABQ Sewing Studio we only sell the best.
We have lots of other types of fabrics as well. You’ll find batiks (these are 100% cotton but hand-dyed using a wax-resist method), linen, rayon, denim and more. You can read more about these types of fabric in this post.
What about Flannel?
But that’s not all! We also carry a selection of cosy and colorful flannel. Within the flannels we have yard dyed flannel (plaids) and surface printed flannels. Right now I’m on a chenille kick making snuggly baby quilts.
In a short video on our Facebook page I show you a technique to make a chenille quilt or a rug.
When buying flannel keep in mind that it does shrink. It’s best to wash flannel fabric first before cutting. Of course, it is always best to wash any fabrics before using them to remove any sizing or chemical residue.
You can’t go wrong with solids but if you like solids with a twist try Shot Cotton. These fabrics appear from a distance to be one color but up close, you’ll see that the warp (threads running the length of the fabric) and the weft (threads running the width of the fabric) are different colors. That gives the fabric a shimmering quality. Our Shot Cotton is manufactured in India. Just as an aside, most fabrics are made off-shore now. No fabrics are manufactured in Canada (we can’t grow cotton). However a few lines are manufactured in the USA. Shop shot cotton.
Our fabrics are categorized to make finding what you need easier, both online and in-store
In the studio, we have fabrics placed by themes. Online, look for the “browse by” selector to find the various categories.
For example, if you’re doing a project for children, you’ll find fabric across several different categories.
Our wide selection of Kids fabrics includes categories such as:
- Licensed fabrics (those that have copyrighted cartoon characters)
- Textures and Tonals
- Holiday fabrics for Halloween and Christmas
- …and more
Play with Panels
We also have a large selection of panels. Panels are larger scale prints. Many are the full width of fabric while others can be printed as various sized squares ranging in size from 5″ squares for lap quilts to 12″ squares for pillows. We also have patterns specifically written for panels, such as Shooting Stars and Seeing Stars quilt designs. Watch for our new pattern “Panel Play – One For All” coming out shortly.
Buy Just What You Need
Our fabrics are sold in any quantity you need in the shop. Online you can purchase in combinations of meters, ½ meters or purchase fat quarters. When you order multiple meters and/or half meters of the same fabric we don’t cut them separately but give you one length.
To make life easier, we have a design wall at our online store. When you find a fabric you like, hit the button ‘Add to Design Wall’. Find others and add them as well. Then you’ll be able to compare one fabric to another to see if you’d like to use them together in your project.
No matter what you need, be it fabrics, a spiffy new sewing machine or just the best thread color for your special project we are here to help you with your dreams. Visit, shop online or give us a call. We are here for you!
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