Tuesday, 5 February 2013

by Jennifer Gilmour Stitch Me Lane
The world of fabric is full of vibrant cloth, made of everything from cotton to plastic and countless blends in between. Britain is booming with the latest fashions from the fabric industry, and sewing courses are popping up across the country to teach you how to use them.
As a lover and seller of fabric (and an avid sewer), I know how important it is to choose the right type of fabric for your project. In this blog post, I will be looking at quilting or craft weight fabric and some of the products on the market – such as liners, stabilizers and waddings – that can add body and stability to your fabric. These can add a professional finish to what you are making or selling.
Cotton is a popular choice with Folksy makers, perhaps because of its versatility and the myriad of different prints to choose from. It also comes in different weights or thicknesses, with the most popular being quilting and craft weight cotton. It is a forgiving fabric to use, meaning that it has some give without being “stretchy” and is easy to sew with.

All product images from Folksy
Good quality cotton is also colourfast, wears well, feels soft and is easy to sew (both by hand and by machine). Quilting and craft cotton can be used for clothing, home decorating, bag making, quilting and much more. You can also change the way it “behaves” by using one of the many products on the market that add thickness, stiffness, warmth and padding. This means you can use your favourite cottons for multiple projects. These products are available at most of your favourite retailers, though you may have walked right past them to more exciting bolts of fabric. Let’s look at some of the most common types, what their names mean, how much they cost and how to use them. Hopefully, this will shed a little light on the subject.
Just a quick note before we begin. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. It’s always best to check your pattern for guidance.
Linings: These are the inside layer of a piece. Linings have several important functions. They hide the construction and raw edges of your finished item. They also add an additional layer of strength, so there is less stress on the seams. In garments, they prevent wrinkles, increase opacity, and prevent stretching. Lining can also add body and stiffness. For example, lined bunting is less floppy than one-sided flags.
If what you are making needs to be lined, this is an area where you can save a few pennies. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on lining as you can use almost anything that will wash in a similar way as your outer fabric. I once made a bunch of trick or treat bags for a friend’s party and bought a simple black bed sheet to line them with.
Wadding: This is the fluffy stuff that traditionally goes between layers of a quilt; it is also known as “batting” in the U.S.A.. You can “quilt” almost anything: tote bags, placemats, clothing and more. It is also used to add warmth, or padding to items like gadget cases. The variety of wadding available has improved by leaps and bounds since the 1980s, when only white cotton and polyester were on offer. It now comes in different colours, thicknesses, fibre blends and warmth ratings. Your choice should depend on how big of a gap can be left between your lines of stitching, whether you are quilting by hand or by machine, and how the wadding behaves when washed.

All product images from Folksy.
All of these factors are reflected in the price of the wadding. As a maker on Folksy this is a very important consideration. My advice is to feel the different types and ask which one is the right choice for what you are making and selling.
Helpful hint: Sometimes you can use fleece or flannel, which might be cheaper.
Phone case stiffened with interlining. Loobie & Boo at Folksy.
Interlinings: These are fabrics that are used between the outer layer and lining of an item, and are often used in garments and curtains. Their main function is to block light or prevent clothing from being see-through. They can also be used to exclude drafts.
Interfacings: These are fabrics that add stability and structure to your outer layer. Interfacings come in a variety of thicknesses, and range in price from £1.50 a metre upwards.
Interfacing fabric £4.15 for 5m from, Sew, Who Are You? at Folksy
Interfacing fabrics are usually “fused” on to the wrong side of your fabric using an iron. For example, if you are making a handbag, an interfacing would be fused onto the backside of the fabric you want on the outside of the bag. They have an adhesive coating on one side that adheres to the fabric when ironed. My favourite is the cotton backed interfacing (rather than the stuff that feels like paper), which usually costs 3-4 pounds a metre.
There are also non-fusible interfacings on the market which are sewn in, instead of ironed on. You can see the difference in Picture 2 between the fabric on the right and the fabric on the left. They are both the same size, the only difference is that I’ve used fusible interfacing with the owl fabric. That makes it much stiffer.
I hope this post has helped you make the most of the fabric you buy, and will help you calculate that magical and mysterious asking price. The products mentioned above can give your project a professional finish without breaking the bank, as makers and sellers, we all know how hard pricing can be. Of course, all these extra layers add cost, and so can make the difference between making a profit or just breaking even, so be sure to factor them in. .
A final tip, sign up to your favourite shops’ newsletters to receive notifications of their sales and offers so you can stock up on these sewing staples at a bargain price.

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