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Patchwork Pulse Newsletter, Issue #021
April 13, 2011
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In This Issue:
This month, you'll find Part Two of my article, "Secrets of Selecting Quilt Fabrics." Armed with this information, you'll be able to inspect fabric like the pros!
If you're going to invest your time and energy into sewing that special quilt, then it makes sense to invest in quality fabric.
Not only will your quilts look more professional, but they'll stand up to the test of time.
Last month in Part One of my article, "Secrets of Selecting Quilt Fabrics," you learned a few ways to test your fabrics for quality. This month, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
Don't worry about jotting down these tips, because I created a handy-dandy checklist at the end of this article. So, let's get started, shall we?
Have you ever walked by a row of quilting fabrics and noticed a strong odor? Beware. You're smelling chemicals.
Some manufacturers try to disguise inferior fabrics with heavy layers of starch or sizing. This makes the fabric look thick and stable. But it's only temporary. Once you wash out the chemicals, you're left with thin, limp fabric.
Grab a corner of fabric between both hands. With generous pressure, rub back and forth in a rapid, scrubbing motion. Now, smooth out the fabric and feel it again. Has the fabric lost its stiffness (body)? Does it feel thin and limp? If it does, you know you're dealing with junk.
When you "scrubbed" the fabric in the previous test, did the dye transfer to your hands?
“Crocking" happens when the dyes in the quilting fabrics aren't sealed (a sure sign of inferior fabric).
If dye transfers to your hands, it's not colorfast. If you don't see the word "colorfast" on the label, test the fabric yourself. Here's how:
Cut out a small piece of white cotton fabric, about three inches square. Wrap it around your finger. Rub your finger back and forth on the fabric you're testing. Now, look at your white piece of fabric. Do you see any color? Even if it's slight, don't buy it.
Find a table and unfold the fabric so you can see several yards. Are there any spots where the pattern overlaps?
The first graphic on the left shows an example of this problem. Check the fabric carefully for other occurrences. If you see it once, you'll probably see it again.
Now, look at the second graphic. This shows an example of a design that skips. Again, check your fabric to see if it skips in other places. While you're at it, make sure the color doesn't fade or disappear in certain areas.
Manufacturers add a final finish to quality fabrics. This seals the dyes and gives the fabrics a softer feel or "hand". But cheap fabrics don't get a final finish. So, they feel stiffer and they wrinkle more easily.
Take a corner of the fabric and squish it tightly in your hand. Does it feel stiff and crinkly? Does it have a lot of wrinkles? If so, don't buy it.
If you study my fabric checklist, you'll save a lot of time and energy. You'll also have a better chance of avoiding a less-than-wonderful quilt. To make it easier, print or copy the following list and take it shopping with you.
Barbara Brackman designed this quilt for her "A Morris Tapestry" reproduction fabric collection. She has a great fondness for antique quilts, especially those from the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. She's equally interested in women's history and the quilts that they produced.
Barbara has been quite involved in the quilting industry. For starters, she's a quilt scholar and author of numerous bestselling historical quilting books.It's no surprise, then, that Barbara is an expert at dating historical quilts. This quilt pattern is an extension of Barbara's love for quilts, both old and new.
See you next month!
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