Your Guide to Buying Fabric for Quilting

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Your Guide to Buying Fabric for Quilting

Quilting is an ancient art whereby a person creates a blanket by combining different pieces of fabric and stitches. Quilts are a multipurpose type of blanket. For example, they tell a story and are passed down from generation to generation as an heirloom. Furthermore, they use scrap material and multiple layers to make something new that is warm and attractive. A quilter often uses different textures, colours, and patterns to create a unique piece that is tailored to match his or her personal preferences, home décor, or theme.

In order to thoroughly enjoy quilting, it is advisable to have a basic understanding of the process, the history, and the legacy. Additionally, a quilter needs to know how to buy fabric that is appropriate for the process and allows the person to create something that is beautiful and durable. There are many places from which to purchase fabric for quilting. These include fabric shops, craft stores, discount stores, flea markets, and from online marketplaces like eBay.

History of Quilting

Quilts have existed for a long time. The word is loosely translated to mean "filled sack", which is similar to how they were originally constructed. The earliest known example of a quilted item was found in a cave in Egypt and has been identified as originating in 3400 BC.

Early European needlework often used Egyptian cotton, but many different types of fabrics have been incorporated since then. Only those who had the money to afford leisure time and hobbies were able to create quilts. Although some believe that early quilters utilised scrap cloth to make an economical blanket, this is not the case. Scrap fabric only came to be used in the 19th century with the advent of patchwork quilts.

Types of Quilts

There are many popular designs of quilts. Traditional styles include whole cloth quilts, broderie perse quilts, medallion quilts, block quilts, and Amish quilts. Contemporary styles primarily consist of crazy quilts. The various styles are sometimes produced with thick stuffing for added warmth and a cushioned feel, but they are often made without.

Whole Cloth Quilts

Whole cloth quilts are made of three sections: the top, bottom, and middle section, which acts as a form of insulation. The three pieces are sewn together, and then the quilting is done by stitching designs on the blanket. The designs are often very intricate and feature small tight stitches.

Broderie Perse Quilts

This type of quilt features figures cut from fabric remnants and sewn onto a solid fabric background. Broderie Perse quilts came into existence due to the expense of printed cloth. To create a printed image on a blanket, the creator pieced together the image similar to how one makes a collage. Although the images are typically fairly simple, examples of this type of quilt have been produced that were quite intricate.

Medallion Quilts

Medallion quilts are those that feature a fairly large central panel with an image or a strong geometric shape. These are often tree of life images, a photograph, or a star. The central panel is usually surrounded by two or more borders that may be solid but are often pieced from snips of fabric. These are great options to bestow upon someone as a wedding or anniversary gift and often are passed down through the generations.

Block Quilts

These quilts are created in a couple of different ways. The first type consists of a series of identically shaped blocks that are sewn together. The other type features blocks, or squares, of varying sizes that are pieced together. Both styles are made with or without a border. Sometimes, there are borders surrounding the block patterns.

Amish Quilts

Amish quilts were created as one of the few ways in which members of the austere group were allowed to add decorations to their homes. The quilting bee was established to produce these pieces while fostering a sense of community. The pieces are known for the intricate embroidery and bold, colourful designs. They have become famous worldwide.

Crazy Quilts

The crazy quilt, also referred to as a patchwork quilt, emerged in the latter part of the 19th century and was quickly embraced by young people as a way to express themselves. The quilts featured abstract shapes in a variety of sizes sewn together in a random order. These are often smaller than a bedspread sized quilt and are usually used as a wrap or a throw.

Types of Quilting Fabric

Understanding how to appropriately combine different fabrics in an attractive and durable way requires an understanding of the different types of cloth available. The table below lists several popular types of material. It describes each and provides examples of some of their uses and their comparative cost.


Description and Uses

Relative Price


Available in a variety of solid colours, prints, patterns; very versatile; used for pattern pieces, borders, backing



Available in a variety of solid colours; used to add texture as a backing, or borders



Available primarily in solid shades of blue and some prints; often used for borders and heavy-duty quilts



Available in solids, patterns, plaids, prints; often used for backing


Polycotton Blends

Available in solids, prints, patterns; used to add texture in small sections; sometimes used for backing



Available in a variety of solid colours; sometimes used as a backing; as a border; small pieces to add texture to a design


Different fabrics provide a variety of textures, colours, and weights. By combining complementary materials, a traditional quilt is created. To create something a bit more contemporary, combine a variety of textures and colours that are non-traditional.

Choosing Your Quilting Fabric

To properly choose the right fabric from which to make a quilt, it is imperative to know what the purpose of the quilt is. Even if one is quilting merely for the enjoyment of the process, choosing a purpose for the quilt makes picking the design and material much easier. For example, if the goal is to make a baby shower gift, he or she would purchase soft fabrics like flannel and some cottons.

Creating a Practical Quilt

Some quilts are created for practical purposes. They are often sturdy of construction for outdoor use. When made from types of denim, they make great picnic blankets and to keep people warm at outdoor sporting events or concerts, as well as while camping. Overstuffed thick quilts make incredibly warm blankets. They are great for use in a draughty bedroom or when the heat ceases to work on a cold night. Thick fabric like corduroy, a dense layer of stuffing, and sturdy seams make an extremely warm quilt.

Creating a Decorative Quilt

Decorative quilts are also very versatile. They are often used as a bedspread or a sofa throw. In these circumstances, the colours match the theme of the room with enough variety that the colour scheme is not permanently determined. If it is purely decorative, the durability and the texture of the material are not as much of an issue.

Creating a Quilt for a Baby

If it is to be used as a blanket for a baby, a quilter needs to pay attention to the weight, the texture, the size, and the colours. For a baby, the fabric is optimally lightweight, so the overall piece does not overwhelm the infant. The fabric needs to be soft to avoid irritating the baby's sensitive skin, such as microfibre. Colours are typically light or pastel in items used for infants and the size is small, so there is less fabric.

Creating a Quilt as an Heirloom

Many quilting hobbyists choose to spend their time designing and sewing quilts to produce heirlooms for their descendants and keepsakes for their friends. The significance with which they are sewn calls for a diligent eye to detail and stitches which are archival. This means they do not easily breakdown, compromising the integrity of the quilt.

Shopping on eBay for Quilting Fabric

Once you have decided to shop for fabric for quilting, looking through the vast selection found on eBay is an enjoyable experience. Merely go to eBay's home page and type "fabric" into the search bar. This opens pages of products that match that term available for you to peruse. To conduct a more limited search, enter a few descriptive words or phrases into the search bar to narrow the options. For example, type "polycotton fabric", "velvet quilting fabric", "multicoloured fabric", or "floral cotton fabric". Consider shopping for the other items needed to make a quilt while you are there. Look for "quilting patterns", "fabric squares", and perhaps, "quilting panels".

To get the largest supply of quality fabric for the least amount of money, spend some time looking through the promoted items. Scrutinise the photographs of the fabrics provided by the vendors. Then carefully read the accompanying descriptions. Look for available colours and patterns in each listing, as well as the amount offered. Look for combination packages. Compare the prices and quantities of each to choose a product that is beneficial.


In order to buy fabric for quilting, it is a good idea to have a particular purpose for making the quilt. For a quilt that needs to be of a hearty, durable construction, it is imperative that one use thick, durable fabric, such as denim and corduroy. A baby's quilt, however, requires a lighter touch. It requires soft, lighter material, such as cotton or fleece, to be a cosy wrap for the child. Making a decorative quilt allows one to use whatever type of fabric wanted since the end product is handled with care. Heirloom quilts are made from all types of fabric. The main difference is in the way they are sewn.

Quilts have been around for a very long time and make a great item to pass down to future generations. Creating them is a relaxing pastime and they make wonderful gifts. Shopping for quilting fabric on eBay is also a leisurely, enjoyable experience.

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