What fabric can I use for quilting? - A Beginners Guide

What fabric can I use for quilting? - A Beginners Guide

Aaaah, fabric. 

When I started quilting I spent as much time choosing my fabric for the quilt as I did making the thing.  And there is a lot of fabric out there to choose from.  So many choices!  

In this post as part of the Quilting - A Beginners Guide I chat fabric.  Which to use and why.   Fabric scraps - A beginners guide to quilting

The more you quilt the more you get a feel for which type of fabric you enjoy using.  Which brands you like.  Which colour palette you prefer.  But to get to that point you need to experiment. 

The way I did this was by making mini quilts.  Over time I experimented with different fabric to find which I liked. 

But where is the best place to start? 

Quilting weight cotton.  

Quilting cotton is a high quality fabric which is the best and easiest choice for quilting.  As with all fabric it is prone to shrinkage so some choose to pre wash before use.  I have never had an issue with shrinkage using good quality quilting cotton.  Quilts naturally wrinkle after washing and become soft. So a touch of shrinkage is usually not very noticeable.  

Companies that make large ranges of quilting cotton which I regularly use are Robert Kaufman, Moda, Art Gallery Fabrics, Ruby Star Society, Dashwood, amongst others.   These fabrics are easy to use.  Some are lighter in weight than others but all work very well when making a quilt.

Cool Kona Bundle - £16.50


Linen looks fantastic in quilts.  It has a beautiful texture and feel.  However it is a bit more of a challenge to work with.  As it is more openly woven than quilters cottons it can fray easily so trying to handle it less is advised.  Just a bit of extra care needs to be taken when constructing your quilt so it doesn’t unravel when washed.  Robert Kaufman does a range of gorgeous linens Essex Linen which is high quality and I have found to be great to work with.


This is not something I use often. But I know many do. I have seen many people use flannel for smaller quilts, usually as backing.  It is very soft and relatively easy to work with.  Be aware that a flannel quilt can get quite heavy as it is thicker than quilting cotton.  If you do choose to try flannel you might need to check the pressure on your presser foot and use a lower pressure to allow the fabric to move through the machine evenly.

All that being said you can make quilts with any fabric.  Bedsheets, pillow cases, denim, old clothes…   The key to making your life easy when making your quilt is choosing cotton fabrics with the same weight.  Using the right needle for the weight of the fabric and also a good quality cotton thread.  

*Links below are online shops in the UK that stock a variety of fabric that I use on a regular basis.

Wool Ware House

Sew Hot

Read more in the Quilting - A Beginners Guide

Tools you actually need to make a quilt 

Which batting do I need for my quilt?

Speckled Bundle - £28

Warm Kona Bundle - £22


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Kathryn, It might be the thread rather than the fabric? Sometimes polyester thread can cut into fabric with time whereas cotton thread becomes part of the fabric. It could also be the weight of the cotton. Finer cotton would be more delicate than quilting weight cotton and might deteriorate over time. Saying that, most quilts can be repaired successfully with a patch or two.


Thank You for the information. My email isn’t working right now waiting for a geek squad, check up.

Marlys Bremer

I made several quilts years ago and now they are tearing and fraying around the edges. I used cotton. Is there a better fabric to use to avoid the fray due to aging? I want to make another, but I want to make sure I have the correct fabric. At this time, Walmart is my only local source of fabric.

Kathryn Lewis

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