Friday, January 9, 2015

What Material To Use?

 I have always enjoyed crafting it doesn't really matter what it is. I enjoy crocheting, sewing, quilting; my most loved craft is embroidery. Growing up I didn't have a lot of money to put towards my crafts, I could only get what fit within my budget. Sometimes, I simply had to use fabric from clothes that no longer fit me. There has always been material that worked or didn't work. However, I have always shied away from what they called high end fabrics. When you can make a meal for 4 for what it costs for 2 yards of high end quilting shop fabric, well you know the meal usually comes first. With this being said I have used the high quality fabric and if you can afford the fabric by all means get it. No matter what your budget is though you can make beauty with all levels of material. 

What is the difference between material at your local fabric shop, Joanne’s, Hancock’s, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and the Quilting shop fabric? I began a monthly quilting class this week and I heard a term I had never heard before or it didn't register when I did hear it, but the word was Greige goods (Greige is pronounced "gray"). Greige goods are the raw fabric before it is dyed and printed. Quilting fabric is usually 100% cotton with the ending of the Civil War the cost of Cotton began to increase and is still increasing. According to an article written by Josh Sager in April 2013 "it requires approximately 400 gallons of water to make a simple T-Shirt" that’s a lot of water, a standard bathtub only holds about 90 gallons of water. Now this may be an accurate quote or it may not but what it does show is that growing cotton is expensive.  This is a picture of cotton before it is harvested. For some reason this looks so nice and clean but you know with wind blowing, rain, smog and all the other things we have introduced to the air this just seems super clean to me and I just don't think it comes that way.

So once the cotton is taken from the fields it then needs to be cleaned and milled. You go from white cotton bolls to these big blocks of cotton smashed and bound together.

And here is a short video but a great video on how cotton is made into yarn or thread.

And another video that shows you how the yarn is turned into fabric. 

So what it comes down to is this each piece of fabric that is made with cotton is a woven piece of material. The quality depends on the thickness of the yarn used in the vertical and horizontal weave of the fabric. The horizontal weaves are called weft and the vertical weaves are called warp. If you were to take cotton sewing thread and cut 40 pieces approximately 10 inches long and weave 20 pieces horizontally through the other 20 pieces that were laid out vertically you would have a flimsy piece of fabric. But if you were to take 40 pieces of embroidery cotton floss and do the same thing your piece of fabric would be slightly thicker. This is the difference in fabric found in the different stores.

So the fabric at Walmart is made with a different thread type then what is made at Joanne's and a much different thread type is used within quilting shop fabric. The patterns, the colors, all play a part but it is the thread that is most important when we look at the difference in fabric. No matter what cotton fabric all begins the same way on a cotton plant. Once it is taken from the cotton field it is then processed the same way but then it gets sorted by quality and the better quality thread that is put into your high end fabric and the lower ends get divided into categories. 

So just like some people are able to quilt on a domestic machineothers are able to quilt on a mid-arm machine like aHandi-Quilter and still others can use a long arm machine like  Gammill. You have some people who can quilt on fabric from thrift stores, Walmart, and some who quilt with Joanne's, Hancock’s, and others who use nothing but Quilt Store fabrics. I believe that no matter what you use if you practice enough and work to improve each type of fabric has a beauty within it because it is the journey not the destination that is important. And to be honest I would not want to practice my stitching on fabric that 2 yards would buy a meal for my family. If once I have improved enough to step up a notch in fabric then I will.

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