More Fabric Comparisons


Two weeks ago, I created a post titled “The Value of our Work”. In this post I discussed the various grades of fabric that quilters have access to and how our fabric choice should effect our sale price, if we are indeed selling our work. 

I mentioned my new friend Ashley and how she gives her customers a choice between fabrics, then she prices her commissioned quilts accordingly. I loved this idea so much I went out and purchased fabric from 3 different sources with the intention of doing some experimenting. This past week I got to do just that and even I was surprised at the results.

Letting Go of Great Expectations
I used the cheapest of the fabrics to test my various tulip designs and I am glad that I did, because I had a lot of waste. I find it much easier to throw out a failed attempt if it coasts $2.00, then if it costs $10.00. What I wasn’t counting on was the fact that the Walmart fabric that I had chosen was a pain in the … (well you know).

Dutch Tulip made with WalMart fabrics.jpg

WalMart Waverly Fabrics


Aauuggg…. What Is Up With That Stuff?

Wrinkled FabricThe Waverly fabric was filled with wrinkles and it would not press well at all. I had my iron on the hottest setting and I used my water spritzer bottle liberally, but it didn’t help. Eventually I went and grabbed my spray starch and sprayed the fabric until it was saturated, but it didn’t help much. Finally I gave up and just let the block have the wrinkles that it was so desperately holding onto. This turn of events left me frustrated to say the least, not to mention it ate up a significant amount of my time while I stood around pressing the fabric until my ironing board was too hot to touch. What I saved in pricing, I lost in work hours.


Second Time Is A Charm, Right?

Before I started cutting my quilt store fabric, I decided to test the pattern once again only this time I used the Joann fabrics. The Keepsake Calico fabric did press much better that the Walmart stuff, but it was so thin I kept snagging the fabric. Once I made a mistake and had to remove some stitching and it took over 5 minutes to take the stitches out of a 2 1/2” x 3” section! The fabric was so thin that, although I was using a contrasting color thread, I could not get my seam ripper below my stitches without also hooking the weft and warp threads of the textile. 

Dutch Tulip made with Joann fabrics

Joann Fabrics Keepsake Calico fabric

The other thing that I noticed is that the whole block was flimsy. It had no weight to it and it just kind of flopped. It had the rigidity of a wet noodle, which is not something that I particularly like when constructing a quilt.


In Conclusion

By the time I got around to cutting my quilt store fabric I was greatly impressed. It pressed nicely, it sewed nicely, wrong stitches came out nicely, the weight was nice, the opacity was nice, everything ran smoothly, which was nice.

Dutch Tulip made with quilt store fabrics

Quilt Store Fabrics


It took an experiment like this to open my eyes to what is really going on with cotton fabrics. I learned a lot from all of this and I can honestly say that I am a high quality textile woman through and through. Martha Stewart, in her book “The Martha Rules”,  says that, “Quality should be placed at the top of your list of priorities”. I concur.

Although I will never use Walmart fabrics again for anything, I will continue to purchase Joann fabrics for testing patterns. Only next time I will purchase a higher grade of Joann fabrics. For my quilts though, it will be only the best that I can find. If someone would like to purchase my work, they will need to pay for it and all the quality that went into it. I will not compromise my integrity just to satisfy someone who wants to save a $100.00. 

I am glad that there are people like Ashley who are willing to work with customers to give them exactly what they are looking for. I respect her, her business and her work. I think the world needs people who are willing to work on all levels of business; I am not one of those people though.

I’m really glad I did this experiment and I am glad that I toyed with the idea of fluctuating price points based on qualities of supplies. Now I have the experience and knowledge to back up my opinions on this topic.

Happy Sewing!

9 thoughts on “More Fabric Comparisons

  1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked the post and the blocks. BTW, I have subscribed to your blog “Branches on our Haimowitz Family Tree” several times, but I never receive eMails. I just resubscribed and lets hope this time it works. Great blog, btw!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know Joann’s fabrics are only 40 wide? So the money you save buying them can really hose up a BOM with 42 inch fabric. LAQS fabric RULES my stash, because quality makes my job easier. Your experiment is a perfect example to pass onto new people just starting out, and the bargain hunting grannies too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, most are 40″ wide. I thought about that while I was writing out my new pattern with yardage instructions. As long as someone is using quilt store fabrics, the yardage will be spot on. If they are using Joann fabrics, then they will need to make adjustments when purchasing fabric. A lot of people may not know that, thanks for pointing it out here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an interesting article. I have seen some of that myself with fabrics, some of them are so thin, it is really disappointing when you find the perfect print and it is a poor quality. Love all those block renditions, no matter which fabric!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bella – you did it the right way – prove to yourself that if you are going to spend all that time to make a quilt and one that lasts, it will cost more! Now modern quilters who make easy quilts won’t mind using the less expensive, less thread count because it is easy to make those Modern quilts – just too easy for me.

    I am really enjoying your posts! It is worth the money to purchase fabrics with great thread counts and fabrics that hold up. One thing that you might note is with batiks – All dark colors with batiks HAVE to be washed! The dye in them is unbelievable. I was working on my Yoder Lodge Star Quilt and thought, ‘well I won’t have to wash this set of fat quarters………..The very first one was orange and the muslin ironing board cover had orange on it the minute I spritz it with water! Off to the sink and I washed them all. The blue/violet pieces were so heavily dyed that I had purple hands!

    Great posts and it is time consuming to do what you did, but so worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you are enjoying the posts Nanette. You are 100% correct to pre-wash all batik fabric. The colors do have a tendency to run and some people are allergic to the chemicals that are used during the dying process. Personally, I can feel the chemical residue all over my hands after handling batiks. As a general rule, I tend to stay away from batik fabrics. Thanks for reading and commenting Nanette. Have a great day!


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