Cotton Fabric

7th Annual Simple Whatnots Club from Fat Quarter Shop


Have you ever wondered why 100% cotton fabric is the fabric of choice by most quilters? There are several main reasons why this is so:


  1. Cotton is easily washed
  2. Cotton withstands repeated washing
  3. Cotton doesn't pill
  4. Cotton behaves predictably
  5. Cotton is a natural fibre



In the 1970s quilting became fashionable again. Finding 100% cotton woven fabric suitable for quilt making was unfortunately difficult because there was not a very good range on the market. I remember my eldest sister became interested in making quilt wall hangings at this time. Like most quilters my sister had to use some cotton blended fabrics, the most common one being polyester cotton.


In quilted wall hangings this was not a big problem. But in bed and lap quilts this certainly over time proved to be problematic. There were benefits to polyester cotton blends being used in quilt making but as you can see below the problems were quite significant to a quilters end result.


Benefits to Using Polyester Cotton Fabric

  • Usually cheaper to buy
  • Wide colour & print selection
  • Stronger
  • Stable
  • Colourfast
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • No ironing needed after pre-washing


Drawbacks to Using Polyester Cotton Fabric


  • Often permanent press finished so tended to lift
  • Unable to iron flat
  • Lower thread count meant fabrics were a bit sheer
  • Sheer fabrics allowed seam allowances to show through
  • Fabrics pill
  • Some battings pushed their fibres through and these showed
  • Sheen of the fabric caused fabrics to slide




Some years ago I made my mum a quilt using predominantly silks that she had acquired over the years and some had a slippery tendency that made it challenging to sew so after that experience I decided to not use any fabric that had that sliding ability!


As quilting has become more popular over the years, and well known quilters began working with manufacturers designers, the range of 100% cotton quilting fabric available on the market grew. Today there is a fabulous range of 100% quilting cotton fabric on the market. In fact there is a huge range that can be sourced both at your local shops as well as online. 


This unfortunately doesn't mean that all 100% cotton quilting fabric is of the same quality. This isn't always a tragedy as I prefer to look at this as giving the quilter more choices and who doesn't like choices? 


In New Zealand (I'm a kiwi) we have some outstanding quilting shops to purchase from and we also have the discount fabric stores so we are very spoilt for choice! Add to that all the great online quilt shops then there is really no excuse to not finding the perfect fabric for your project.


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