Dressmaking with Quilting Cotton
5 Reasons to use quilting cotton as a dressmaking fabric:
- Quilting cotton is an excellent good quality cotton fabric.
- The range of patterns available and the quality of the print and colour.
- Ease of use, quilting cotton is easy to cut and sew.
- Irons well and continues to look great after many washes.
- Use the 115cm fabric rating on your dress pattern.
If you come to visit More Sewing, you will see bolts of wide dressmaking fabric (cotton, viscose, jersey etc.). You will also see a number of quilting (or craft) cottons. These cotton fabrics are excellent quality and have been made primarily for crafting, quilting and patchwork. It is no surprise that many dressmakers come into the shop and don’t even consider looking at the quilting cotton. They only only look at the larger dress fabric bolts. This is a real shame as quilting cotton is a great quality cotton fabric that is ideal for use as a dressmaking fabric. If you are not considering quilting cotton for your dressmaking projects then you are really missing out.
Quilting cotton is a mediumweight fabric, heavier than a poplin. It is stable and does not fray easily. What is great is, if you are buying your fabric online, quilt cottons are of a consistent quality. One quilt cotton from Michael Miller will be the same quality as another from that company.
For us, the great advantage to quilting cotton (apart from the quality) as a dressmaking fabric is the sheer number and quality of the patterns available. There are hundreds of patterns being released each year and a good number of those are ideal for dressmaking. Here at More Sewing we buy our quilting material primarily with an eye to dressmaking. Don’t misunderstand, we sell a lot of our quilting cotton for, well, quilts and patchwork! The fabric patterns are unique and look great on quilts and as skirts, dresses, tops etc.
One thing to note is that quilting cotton patterns are printed (not woven) this means the pattern is only on one side of the fabric (the reverse is usually white, possible with a faded looking version of pattern on the ‘front’ side). We have never found this to be an issue when using the material for dressmaking but it is something to be aware of. These fabrics also have a distinct selvage edge, usually with the name of the supplier and design of the fabric on it. This does mean that you cannot use the fabric edge to edge but where we say the fabric is 110cm wide this excludes the unusable selvage edge – the fabric can actually be 112-115cm wide).
If you are using a commercial dress pattern for your dressmaking, almost all of them will give the fabric requirement for two widths of fabric – 150cm and 115cm. If you want to use quilting cotton for your make just use the 115cm requirement to work out how much dress material you will need.
Quilting cotton can cost more per metre than other cotton dressmaking fabric – this is not necessarily to do with the quality but is more to do with the quilting fabric companies largely being american (most quilting fabric is imported from the USA and is subject to import costs and exchange rates) and the production and designer costs. We think the issue of cost is balanced by the quality of the fabric and the designs you can get.
Supposedly, quilting cotton may shrink on the first wash. The advice from the fabric suppliers and companies is to pre-wash the fabric before use. This remains our official advice. In saying that, we have run hundreds of sewing classes in the shop using quilting cottons from a number of suppliers. In all classes, we have used quilting cotton straight from the bolt and we have never (I do mean this) had someone come back to us complaining that the fabric has shrunk. As I have already said, you might pay more for this fabric but the quality has been proved to us time and again.
The fabric holds up to repeated washing and ironing. To give you an idea of how well, this is a picture of a pair of pj bottoms that Laura made over a year ago . These bottoms have been worn and washed every week since they were made. They still look as if they were made yesterday!
Overall: Using Quilt Cotton as a Dressmaking Fabric
You’ll find that sewing with quilting cotton is incredibly easy. It’s easy to cut, doesn’t slip and slide, and irons nicely. Which is why it’s so popular with quilters and dressmakers alike. The next time you are planning a new dressmaking project, don’t ignore the potential of using quilting cotton as a dress fabric.
Enjoy More Sewing!