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Topic: Fabric quality question  (Read 2515 times)
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« on: August 03, 2010 12:56:54 PM »

I have noticed a buzz around the blogs that only high quality (expensive at $8-$10 a yard) is worth it in the long run.  I'm wondering if people here have an opinion about that.  If I had oodles of cash I would just go for it, heck who doesn't want a house full of Amy Butler??  But I see really cute prints at my local Joann for about half the price.  Any thoughts on the long term quality difference, or even short term! 


Progress not perfection.

« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2010 06:44:20 PM »

Insert my regular snark about "expensive" fabric in the US vs. in Canada ($16/yard for most moda, nearly $20 for amy butler. and I live in a quilty area.)

Really, depending on what you're doing, you can quilt with just about anything (I made one with linen napkins, once... leftover bluejeans is really popular... so are sheets...). There are positives and negatives, bonuses and drawbacks. I would avoid $2 muslin - I made a quilt for me using that as the white and sashing and the thing is just biodegrading. But Kona Cotton, which is usually about $6 a yard down there (and can be found for much less on sale), is quite good, and sturdy (tends towards fraying, but not bad.) You'll find a degradation of quality as the fabrics get less expensive, sure, but most of it is very minor, and tends to be only noticeable to heirloom perfectionists. And it's one of those learn-as-you-go-along things. Really, for me, it goes along the following:

Cotton/Poly broadcloth - $2 / yard - suitable for boys, kids (easy clean), and people I don't like (cheap).
100% Cotton broadcloth - $4-6 / yard - suitable for damn near everything. Right now I'm experimenting a lot with just plain fabric, no prints but just using colour for the design.
Joann's cotton quilting fabric - $6 / yardish - Same - I'm happy to use it on gifts for people I *do* like, but I tend not to do so for other quilters. As an aside, huge chunks of Joanns fabric is made by Len's Mill up here, and the quality of that stuff tends to be just fine.
Nice batiks, quilting cottons $don'tevenask / yard - For me, for my mom, for my partner, for other quilters. I like the way it handles, moreso than other fabrics - and I'm a bit of a design snob in that regard, too.
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2010 07:18:20 AM »

ACK!  to the expensive Canadian fabric!  I just cannot believe the import fees are so much that it should double the price.  And lets face it, the US dollar couldn't be weaker so that no longer makes up for higher Canadian dollar prices! 

Thanks so much for your response.  It's given me food for thought.  I've been pretty happy with the Kona cotton and Moda solids as inexpensive solid colors.  I went ahead and got some fabric at Joann for the border and backing of a quilt I'm working on right now made with Moda precuts.  It is very cute and works well with the fabric I have.  I guess we'll see if it can withstand the test of time!


Progress not perfection.

« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2010 06:46:38 PM »

Yeah we've been getting the crappy end of the stick for years. Prices went up when our dollar went down, but never came back down when our dollar went up. Craft is not a cheap hobby here.

I tend to use the best I can afford. I just like working with quality materials-I'm less likely to have problems with them. And you can sometimes get the better stuff on sale. That said, midrange stuff is just fine. Really cheap stuff is usually that cheap for a reason.
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2010 03:14:05 AM »

This is just my two cents on the topic, but I think that it would depend on what you're doing with the fabric and how long you want it to last? For example, if you're making a lap quilt and you've got kids & pets, it's going to have a much shorter life than if you were making something to hang. I tend to get inexpensive fabrics and then get small quantities of the more expensive (because I love the patterns) to add to a project. But, for me, I can't see spending the oodles of money for something that is going to go through daily life with me and eventually get destroyed. 

Arizona Quilter
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2010 07:29:30 AM »

I usually go by what the project is going to be used for.  If it is going to hang on the wall - go with the cheapest that I can find.  If it is going to be washed alot - more pricey usually washes better and lasts longer.  I have had a problem with buying cheaper material at big fabric stores.  I bought the needed 1/2 yard for a project, but it was so crooked that I had to go  back and buy more just to get the 18" that i needed - so it wasn't so cheep.  I also watch quilt shops for sales.
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2010 11:55:45 PM »

I always buy the best I can afford for any project, and if it's $6 a yard fabric on sale for $4 at Joann's, then it works for me. But yeah, it does depend on what you're going to use it for. I wouldn't use super cheap (Walmart close out fabric that feels like sandpaper) for something I put as much work into as a quilt, I think there's a happy medium between reasonably priced for the budget and designer fabrics. Don't get me wrong though, I love me some Michael Miller and Moda, but I try to get them on sale and use them alongside other fabrics.

One popular quilt blogger is in my quilt guild and was recently ripping on Joann's fabric at a meeting and it kind of irked me. But I think her point was (or at least, how I choose to interpret it) is that some designers are now creating cheaper (in both price and quality) lines to sell at stores like Joann. Personally, if there is "cheap" A Henry fabric at Joann for $8 and "higher quality" A Henry fabric at another store for $10, I'm probably going to wait for a coupon and buy the higher quality stuff. If the cheaper stuff were more like $5 I would go for it, but for a difference in quality I'm not going to pay such a similar price.

Oh yeah, my caveat would be to just get to know the feel of high quality fabric, and then you can decide for yourself if you're getting what you pay for, there are some really nice quality fabrics that don't cost a lot, and there are some crappy quality ones, so always feel up the fabric!

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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2010 10:53:06 AM »

I try to get what makes sense for the project and my pocket book!  I do shop frequently at JoAnn's and often get my backing fabric there.  I've never had issue with the quality of their fabrics.  Which I think has actually improved over the last few years.  They have great sales and coupons and unfortunately, the trees in my yard aren't sprouting money at the moment.

I do think quilt stores tend to have a higher quality fabric.  I'm just not convinced that it's the end all and be all.  I definitely patronize my quilt shop regularly, as well as online quilt stores.  But, I'm not 100% sure that the quality is that superior to JoAnn's.
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