I would like to buy all these glorious, wonderful fabrics that I see in the quilt stores, but quite frankly, I’m not that flush in the money department. I have found a mill outlet that all the local decorators use that carries really nice stuff like Waverly. They are huge and have every kind of fabric imaginable.
I found some top of the line quilt fabric companies (like Fabri-Quilt and Moda) there and was able to buy some nice yardage at $3.50 a yard. I pulled out the fabric length I wanted and looked at it on both sides to see if I could see any flaws, I looked to see if it looked like it was printed straight or if the fabric seemed pulled or crooked. I looked to see if the design seemed to printed correctly or if it had light spots like the fibers hadn’t taken the dye well.
This outlet suffered some of the same”cheap tricks” like I had seen at JoAnn’s so I wonder if part of their stock was bolts or pieces that JoAnn’s couldn’t even sell. Not all of the fabrics in JoAnn’s are cheap, though they may not be as good as the quilt stores. Now none of these “cheap tricks” that I found were on bolts that were marked Fabri-Quilt or Moda, or for that matter, were they fabric that I would have thought would be quilt store quality.
One of the “cheap tricks” the manufacturer used was that they had taken two runs of fabric and serged them together and hid the join in the middle of the bolt. I also saw what looked like some inspector had tried tearing the fabric on the cross-grain several times tearing into the fabric an inch or so and stretching it. Again, the “cheap trick” was hidden way down the bolt length. What are other things that I should look for when I am shopping outlet fabrics and sales?
Fons and Porter say in their Guide that you can tell a good fabric if: “Fabrics that would make a comfortable, durable blouse or man’s shirt are the right, texture, weave and weight.” That sounds easy enough, but with all the starch, fillers, etc. how can you tell what a fabric will feel like after you wash it?
I am not ready to begin an heirloom piece yet. Anyway, I don’t want to start out using expensive fabric when I’m just beginning. Everything I have been reading about fabric says you have to buy really expensive quilt store fabric, and they never discuss that it is probably better for a beginner to start with a lesser quality fabric until they have good skills. They almost make it seem like sacrilege to use fabric from a chain store. For now I’ll work with the a lesser quality fabric until I am comfortable with my skill.
Is there anything else about fabric that I should be watching for while I’m shopping for the best quality I can afford?