Informational,  Quilting Fabric,  Things we like

Fabric Quality Matters!

By Alison Dea Bolt

Love those good goods!

I’ve heard that “love is blind;” so’s the love of fabric. In both cases, finding what’s right for you can be frustrating and labor intensive. When I was looking for love, I knew exactly what I wanted: someone gentle, strong, and attractive—someone whose integrity I could count on. Oddly, those are exactly the qualities I now demand in quilting fabric. Unfortunately, like my dates, I’ve had to “kiss a few frogs” on my way to a cotton compatibility.

As a new quilter, I had serious “stash envy.” I raced to amass an arsenal of fabric, buying at chain stores with low prices. I’d used their material to make holiday decorations for years. Cotton was cotton, right? Wrong! I had no clue about low thread counts, excess dye, or substandard runs of the ever-unpronounceable greige goods, so I loaded up on yardage. Just like my dates, I knew I’d made a horrible mistake as soon as I took them home. When washed, my treasures became limp, terminally wrinkled, and frayed. Many had weak spots and bled more profusely than my college fencing partner. I tried ignoring the odor of finishing chemicals and sewed some unwashed fabric. I needed a hammer to flatten the seams. When I finally pieced some blocks, they were stiff and rough. I never put my baby in sandpaper diapers, and I sure wasn’t willing to cover her with a perpetually exfoliating quilt. I quickly discovered “cheap” wasn’t a “bargain” if it meant wasting time and fabric. Although chains now tout better lines, I’m no gambler. With each bolt I pick up, I still ask myself: Are there slubs? Is the weave so loose I can read through it? Does it stretch more than my gym shorts? No thanks….

Visiting a premier quilt shop like Keepsake Quilting can be a real eye-opener. When you fondle their fabric, you immediately feel the difference. Because it’s manufactured on top quality cotton with a high thread count, the fabric is soft, durable, and colorfast. Better still, it comes in a dizzying array of colors, and designs created by famous names in the quilting world. What I value most, though, is its dependability. Any of Keepsake’s thousands of bolts will give me the desired outcome. All I ever worry about is choosing what will work best in my project and remembering where in the store I left my tote. Everything I need to succeed is at my fingertips, including salespeople who know their stuff and eagerly weigh in on color or technique questions. I’ll take that to standing alone, juggling questionable bolts in a warehouse any day.

In this economy, saving matters, and quilt shops are doing their part. Keepsake always has lots of bargain bolts, not to mention Medley™ packs, die-cut shape collections, and stash builders—all designed to save fabric and cash. Scrap lovers can buy scrap bags or wrestle their friends for the best bits in the scrap barrel to pull a quilt together for 1/3 of the cost. There’s something perfect for everyone’s fabric taste and budget, and you never have to sacrifice quality to get it. The good news is that when you take it home, it doesn’t grab the remote or ask you to cook for it…

Alison Bolt lives in Littleton, New Hampshire


  • Cheryl Entrekin

    Great article!! I learned this lesson the hard way…buying “cheap” fabrics at first! We spend too much time and money in making quilts to let part of them fray or look tacky after being used awhile…better quality saves money in the long run!

  • Judy Huffman

    Unfortunately just knowing the best fabric houses isn’t enough. I am known at my favorite shop as a “fabric fondler” If I can’t feel the quality I don’t buy. There is definatly a difference between fabric that has been treated with stabalizer and truely fine gray goods. They must know this at Keepsake because I have never been dissapointed in the “feel” of their fabric.

  • Hilda Hoas

    This is so true…I have been looking for some wonderful flannel fabric to make a quilt for my grand daughter, thought I found “exactly” what I wanted, until I pulled the bolt off of the shelf – without a word of a lie, I could of read the newspaper through it.
    Keepsake Quilting has been a godsend for some of us who have to travel 100’s of miles for a good quilting store. Thanks.

  • Melissa Ashby


    I love your writing. It is so true regarding fabric. I’m happy to say Allison was my first quilt instructor. I still use notes from that class.


  • Joan Riphenburg

    You rock, girl!!! I was looking through the magazines on the rack a few years ago…saw some pretty quilts, so picked it up and started drooling! Then, eyed your story, and got attention by laughing out loud! Just happend another quilter was next to me, and she said, “boy, she sure knows how to ‘tell it’ doesn’t she!” We both bought the magazine, not only for the beautiful quilts, but we wanted to share the story with our fellow quilters. I also subscribed to that magazine..just to read your inspiring slant on life with material ! Thanks.

  • Theresa Rollin

    I am a 65 year old granny and I would like to start quilting. I just drool over Keepsake Quilting’s website.

    Would you please tell me what a fat quarter is? What size is the piece? I also have a difficult time in choosing fabrics to make a 27 in x 45 in wall hanging to go over our bed headboard. Can someone help in in choosing my fabric?

    Thank you.

    • Keepsake Quilting

      How wonderful that you’re taking up quilting. Fat quarters are easy-to-work-with pieces of fabric that are cut into 18″ x 22″ pieces.
      A great way to choose fabrics for a project is to start with one of our coordinated Medleys. You can then add other fabrics if you wish. Of course, kits are wonderful, because all the fabrics has been selected for you for a particular project.


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