Quilt Shop Quality Tops Chain Fabric Stores
The difference between the quality of the quilting fabric sold by genuine quilt stores
and online quilt shops verses the quilting fabric being offered at sewing, craft and
fabric chain storefronts is about quality, pure and simple!
Sure, chain retailers have the ability to provide a vast assortment of quilting fabrics
and other craft and sewing items at lower prices and in mass quantities. This is because
they have the funding to buy mass-produced quilting material manufactured in countries
like China, where labor is cheap and cost and profit margins are more favorable for the
But if you consider the history and meaning of quilting as an art form and you stack that
up against a philosophy of mass-production and organized labor in what many may call
less-than-favorable conditions for workers, the two concepts simply do not complement one
But what is more important for serious quilters to recognize is that these chain fabric
and craft stores are offering quilting fabric that is simply inferior to the fabrics
offered by quilting stores. To get a cheaper quilting product on the market you have to
cut corners, and the way they do this in China is to offer quilting cottons with a much
lower thread count. They also are using inferior dyes in the manufacturing of the
quilting fabrics which combined with lower thread counts, results in a quilting fabric
with a looser weave.
When you use quilting fabric with a looser weave the quilt doesn’t hold it shape and the
cotton begins to break down sooner. Additionally, the inferior dyes results in fading
after just a few short years. Imagine all the hard work and care you invested in your
quilt to find it unraveling and fading in such a short period of time. This is not what
quilting is about! In fact, quilts are supposed to withstand time: they have, for
centuries, been given as heirlooms and family treasures, handed down from one generation
to the next.
For the best woven cottons, quilting stores both online and off look to South Korea,
Japan and India, where fabrics and dyes are highly coveted and the market for their
cottons has a long history as a cherished international trade luxury. Great Britain and
the Netherlands vied for the coveted fabrics of India, as well as their spices of course,
and wars were waged over control over this precious export to show how much value Indian
fabrics were given on the open markets back home.
Yes, we all want convenience and we certainly all want to find ways to save time and
money. This is why chain fabric stores have become so popular. But when you consider
the time involved in making genuine heirloom-quality quilts and what the connection
between that quilt and the owner will be over time, it’s easy to see the additional money
spent in purchasing the best cotton available with the most sustaining dyes is worth
But aside from the emotional or cultural connections we make to the quilts of our family
and those we make and give to friends as birthday gifts, wedding presents, baby shower
gifts and more, there is the practical issue of paying perhaps a little more for higher
quality quilting fabric and knowing your quilt will look and feel more genuine, will last
for many years and give the receiver of the quilt a long time to cherish it. Keep in mind
that the products you use in making a quilt are just like a recipe. If you want the best
results, start with the very best ingredients!
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