Understanding Fabric Types: Choose the Best Fabric for Quilting

Understanding Fabric Types: Choose the Best Fabric for Quilting

The Fabric Fox on 21st Feb 2023

Quilting is a popular hobby for many, and it requires a lot of creativity, patience and attention to detail. One of the most important decisions you will make when creating a quilt is selecting the right fabric. With so many types of fabric available, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best for quilting. Choosing the right fabric can make or break the look of your quilt, so it's crucial to take your time and choose wisely.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about selecting the right fabric so you can make an informed decision when choosing fabric for your next quilting project.

Understanding Fabric Types

The first step in choosing the right fabric for your quilt is understanding the different types of fabric available and their weights. There are two main types of fabric used in quilting: cotton and flannel. However, there are numerous types of fabric that can also be used in quiltmaking but it’s important to consider the pros and cons as they will impact the texture and stiffness of the quilt.


We specialise in quilting cotton which is the most popular choice for quilters due to its softness, breathability, and durability. It is easy to work with, as it does not shrink or stretch as much as other fabrics do due to its high thread count. Higher thread count fabrics tend to be softer and more durable, making them a good choice for projects that will be used frequently or subjected to wear and tear, such as bedding or clothing. Cotton comes in a variety of prints and colours, making it a versatile choice for quilting.

100% cotton quilting fabrics

Unbleached Cotton

Unbleached cotton is a type of cotton fabric that has not been treated with any chemical whitening agents. Unlike conventional cotton fabric, which is often bleached with chlorine or other whitening agents to give it a bright white appearance, unbleached cotton fabric retains its natural cream or light tan colour. You are able to see some of the natural impurities as little grey flecks throughout the fabric. In addition, unbleached cotton is often more environmentally friendly than conventional cotton, as the lack of chemical bleaching agents reduces the number of pollutants released into the environment during processing.

If you would like to check it out, Ruby Star Society often print their designs on unbleached cotton!

Unbleached cotton quilting fabrics

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is a type of cotton fabric that is grown and processed using methods that minimize the use of harmful chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. It is grown using organic farming methods, which promote soil health, conserve water, and reduce pollution. It is also hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin, making it a popular choice for bedding and clothing projects. When purchasing organic cotton products, it is important to look for certifications, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), to ensure that the cotton was produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

Cloud9 Fabrics are an excellent manufacturer of organic cotton fabric!

Organic cotton quilting fabrics

OEKO-TEX Certified Standard 100

The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification verifies that a product has been tested for harmful substances, including substances that are prohibited by law and chemicals that are known to be harmful to health, but are not yet regulated. The certification is awarded to products that meet the requirements of the standard, which are regularly updated to reflect new scientific findings and regulatory changes. In addition to testing for harmful substances, the certification also considers environmental and social aspects of textile production.

Art Gallery Fabrics and Dashwood Studio are OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified.

Sateen Cotton

Sateen cotton is a type of cotton fabric that is known for its smooth and lustrous finish. It is made using a specific type of weave that results in a fabric that is soft, silky, and has a slight sheen. Sateen is a popular choice for bedding, as it is comfortable and durable, and has a luxurious feel.

All of our sateen cotton quilting fabrics are extra wide width. With a width of 108 inches, they are the best fabric for quilt backings.

Sateen cotton quilting fabrics


Flannel is a soft and cosy fabric that is often used for baby quilts and other projects that require warmth, like pyjamas and hand warmers, but they tend to pill and wear out more quickly than other fabrics. They are made from brushed cotton, which gives them a soft, fuzzy texture.


Polyester is another popular choice for quilting as it is very durable and does not shrink or wrinkle. It is also resistant to mildew, bacteria, and stains, making it a great choice for bedding. However, polyester is not as soft as cotton and does not have the same natural feel, so it’s not the best choice for those who are looking for a soft quilt. Quilting cotton is your best friend in this instance!


Denim is a strong and durable fabric that is great for making a quilt that will last for years but as denim is a heavier fabric it is not the best choice for those who are looking for a lighter quilt. However, it is easy to work with and does not shrink as much as other fabrics.


Quilt batting, also known as wadding, is a type of insulation material that is used between the top and bottom layers of a quilt. It is placed inside a quilt to provide warmth, padding, and structure to the finished project. Each type of batting has its own unique characteristics, including warmth, softness, thickness, and durability, so it is vital to choose the right type of batting for the specific quilt you are working on.

Understanding Fabric Weights

When it comes to weight, there are three types of fabric: light, medium, and heavy. Lightweight fabrics are typically used for summer quilts, while medium and heavy fabrics are best suited for winter quilts. The weight of the fabric will affect the draping and the overall look of your quilt, so be sure to consider this when making your selection. Depending on the manufacturer, our quilting cotton is either light or medium but the honest truth is both weights are perfect for quiltmaking. Our heavy fabrics are our cotton/linen canvas blends, which we do not recommend for quilts but are ideal for bags, aprons and home furnishings.

Colour and Pattern Considerations

Once you have a basic understanding of the different types of fabric available, it's time to consider colour and pattern. The colour and pattern of your fabric can have a big impact on the overall look of your quilt, so it's important to choose wisely.

When selecting the colour and pattern of your fabric, consider the design and style of your quilt. If your quilt has a complex design, you may want to choose solid colours to ensure that the design is the focus. We suggest using Bella Solids by Moda Fabrics for solid colours. If your quilt design is simple, you may want to choose fabrics with bold patterns to add some interest. As stocking fabrics with bold and colour patterns is our speciality, you will not have a problem finding the best fabric for your project.

It's also important to consider the colours and patterns you already have in your home. You want your quilt to complement the existing décor, not clash with it.

Tips for Selecting the Right Fabric

Now that you have a basic understanding of the different types of fabric and the factors to consider when choosing your fabric, here are some tips to help you make the right selection:

Touch and Feel the Fabric

It’s always advisable to touch and feel the fabric to make sure it is the right weight, texture and colour for your project. We love attending craft shows because it gives you the opportunity to see our fabrics for yourself but as we’re an online fabric retailer we also want you to be able to buy your fabrics from home with confidence. Whether it’s colour matching, additional photos or a fabric sample, don’t hesitate to contact us as we’re always willing to help.

Consider the End Use

Think about the purpose of your quilt and the environment it will be used in. Will it be used for bedding, as a wall hanging, or as decoration? This will help you choose the right weight and type of fabric for your project.

Buy Extra Fabric

When purchasing fabric for your quilt, it's always a good idea to buy a little extra. This will give you some wiggle room if you need to make any adjustments or if you make a mistake. After washing, quilting cotton can shrink up to 5% too, so it’s worth taking this into consideration when buying fabric.


Making a quilt doesn’t have to be expensive. Quilting cotton is budget-friendly while organic cotton can cost a little extra. Look out for discount codes and fabric sales when shopping online or in your local haberdashery. Usually, the more expensive quilting cotton is, the better quality it is. All of our quilting fabrics are 100% premium cotton.

Recommended Fabrics for Different Quilting Projects

Now that we've gone over the different types of fabric that can be used for quilting and the factors to consider when choosing fabric, let's take a look at some recommendations for different quilting projects:

Bed Quilts

For bed quilts, cotton fabric is the best option as they are durable, easy to work with, and budget-friendly. You should also consider flannel if you’re making a winter quilt.

Lou Orth Designs Sprout Quilt Pattern

Wall Hangings

For wall hangings, you can use a variety of fabrics but quilting cotton works best as it’s easy to sew with. Panel prints are designed in such a way that they are easy to turn into quilts but a great sewing hack is to use them in wall hangings instead.

Lou Orth Designs Paper Kites quilting wall hanging

Decorative Quilts

For decorative quilts, you can choose any type of fabric that you like, as long as it is easy to work with and durable. Quilting cotton comes in a huge variety of prints and colours, which makes them perfect for decorative quilts but denim is also worth considering if you want a more rugged, worn look.


Choosing the right fabric for your quilting project is an important decision that will impact the look and feel of your finished product so it’s important to consider the purpose of the quilt, the desired weight and durability, and your budget when making your choice. By following these tips and using the information in this guide, you'll be able to choose the most suitable fabric for your next quilt.

Now that you know what type of fabric you need for your quilt, now is the perfect time to find out everything you need to know about quilting cotton from our Quilting Fabric 101 guide.

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