September 4, 2006
Not all fabrics are created equal…
It came to my attention recently that my idea of good quilt fabrics and someone else’s idea of good quilt fabrics are not necessarily the same.
I recently agreed to make a quilt for a customer and let her pick out the fabrics at a fabric store and bring them back to me to cut and create the quilt. I gave her the amounts to get for each color she wanted and she left the shop in search of the perfect fabrics to match her newly remodeled room.
She came back a few hours later with a bag full of fabric and explained to me which was which for “light one” and “light two” and “light three” and the like for the twin size ‘Log Cabin’ pattern quilt that I was going to construct. I told her I would see her in about a week and both of us were happy as a clam. They were absolutely beautifully colored fabrics, though not particularly what I would have chosen for my taste, but I am not the one that was going to be under the quilt in the end anyways, so that was fine.
When I choose fabric for a quilt, I choose it for the color, texture, feel (softness) and price. Evidently “designer” fabrics are the exception to that rule.
In this quilt, every one of the fabrics was from a “Designer” signature, and every one of them was very heavily screen printed with myriads of layers of dye and ink. I knew I was in trouble when my rotary cutter got hung up on the first cut. The gold ink in all of them was so thick that I really had to bear down on the fabric in order to get a clean cut….but that was just the beginning.
Once I got to the piecing, it was realized that “Designer” fabrics are NOT the same width as regular calicos, and I ran short and had to go in search of the establishment where this customer had purchased her fabric. (note: even though I own and run a “Quilt Shop” of Long Meadow Farms Quilts, I sell only finished product [hence the "Quilt Shop"] rather than selling notions and threads and fabrics [thus a "Quilting Shop" FOR quilters, not selling quilts] just so you will not be confused by this). When I found out how much this customer had been taken to the cleaners on price for this “Designer” stuff, I thought that maybe all would be ok in the long run anyways. Not so.
When I was on to the quilting stage, every time my machine tried to pass through the heaviest section which contained the most gold ink, namely the center of the block which was the same as the back of the quilt, the thread would be torn to bits and break. It took me 10 times as long to finish the darned thing because of constantly rethreading my machine everytime I passed through the center of the block (all 70 of them!!!)
When all was said and done, it was a beautiful quilt, but I would not want to be under that rubberized gold ink on the backing of it…but then again, maybe this is one that will be hung on a wall, or placed on a sofa back with no intention of using it ever anyways.
The important lesson I learned from this is that I will NEVER intentionally go out and look for “Designer” fabric for a quilt on my own. I will stick with good old calico for that beautiful color and soft feel, and maybe someday when I strike it rich or something, I just might try some of that fancy-schmancy “Designer” fabric in a Wall Hanging…probably a very SMALL one so I won’t have to deal with too much of it again!