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How To Mix Fiber Types In A Quilt Project

Summary

Ever wonder if you can mix fiber types in your quilt project? Quilting Contessa answers that question and gives you the details you need to mix fiber types in your quilt project.

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How To Mix Fiber Types In A Quilt Project

Can I Mix Fiber Types Within a Quilting Project?

Absolutely! Many "greats" in the quilting world mix fiber types within a project to increase the interest, texture, and overall design of the project. Remember, there are no quilting police and your quilt will be just as beautiful and interesting as your choices of fabrics and fibers allow.

How To Mix Fiber Types In A Quilt Project

 

Laundering Considerations When Mixing Fiber Types

While there are no "rules" for mixing fiber types, there are some considerations to keep in mind. One would be laundering the finished project. Do some of your fibers require prewashing due to significant shrinkage like flannel? If so, you will want to wash those fabrics ahead of time so that they do not shrink disproportionally to your other fabrics and threads.

Oh Snow Fun

 

Is there a chance that your fabrics or threads will bleed if they get wet? While you may not intend to wash your completed project, this can be important if you should transport your project and it rains, or worse yet, someone spills a drink on it while you are stitching. Prewashing or testing your threads and fabrics together is a great idea.

Do some of your fabric or thread choices require dry cleaning? If so, make sure to add that information on the label when you complete your project so that others will know how best to care for your work of art.

 

Needle and Thread Choices When Mixing Fibers

As you purchase your threads and fibers to be added to your quilt, keep in mind that the type of fabric you will be stitching through as well as the fibers being stitched with will both need to be considered when choosing your needle. You will want to purchase a needle with a sharp enough point to create an opening appropriate for the thread type so as not to damage your threads as they are being pulled through the fabrics. You also want to consider the size of the needle eye to make sure that it is sufficiently large to hold thicker fibers. Many needle manufacturers and thread companies have charts available to help you decide what needle type is best for your application, so it is a good idea to check their packages and/or websites.

Pins and Needles

 

Will you need any special tools to add your fiber type? Some fibers like wool roving are needle felted into projects and can add a great dimension or a wispy look to your quilt, but you will need to purchase the correct needles and holders to force the wool roving between the fibers of your other fabrics.

 

Consider adding "couched" fibers to your quilt. Fibers that are couched can be silk, wool, cotton, nylon, rayon, yarns, trims, etc. but generally these are fibers that would not be easily pulled through the fabric like thread. Couching provides a special way to take a larger fiber, or one of a special shape and add it to the surface of the fabrics you are using for your quilt. When you are making your purchases, think about whether you are looking for something that will add a "sparkle" or "shine" to the piece, whether you need something that will give a more flat, dull, or muted appearance, or whether a more textural fabric will give the look you want. Sometimes you will find that you need to use a wide variety of products to give your quilt just the right appearance.

Couching Fibers

 

Use of Fusibles When Mixing Fibers

Will your project be fused? If so, you will need to test your fusible to make sure that it works well with the fibers you are combining. Some fusibles require steam and may require a higher temperature than some delicate fibers will allow while other fusibles work at lower temperatures. Carefully read the instructions on each of your fusibles to make sure that they are appropriate for your fabric and thread combinations.

Fusibles

 

Fun Fibers - The More the Merrier

Contessa has enjoyed using perle cotton thread with flannel fabric and bamboo felt and loves the qualities that each of these fibers add to a quilt. The perle cotton thread has a slight sheen and comes in various weights and colors. You can also purchase solid colors or variegated ones that add a bit more movement and interest to the appliques. Flannels bring a softness of their own and add a certain warmth to the piece and, in some cases, an additional texture provided by the coloring or pattern of the flannel. The bamboo appliques add still another soft texture and you don’t have to worry about fraying edges or needing to use a fusible or turn under the edges of the appliques. It also allows you to "pad" or stuff the appliques lightly with either polyester fiberfill or a layer of batting of your choice. Other fun options are to use a hand-painted cotton or silk fabric for a background, or metallic threads to add special detail. Frequently wool artists will use flannel or cotton for their backgrounds with wool appliques, and wool, cotton, or silk threads to give the details to their creations. Polyester fabric is usually avoided when making quilted items as it tends to fray more quickly than cotton, but in some cases it can be very effective when used in the proper piece. Quilters also use netting, or tulle when they wish to add texture or sheen to a quilt to give a specific effect like water flowing down a waterfall.

Have fun, experiment with your fibers, and share the beauty of your creations with others to inspire them to try new products.

Fun Fibers

 

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Glossary

Batting
The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Filling, Wadding, Filler
Flannel
A soft fabric which can be made from cotton, wool or synthetic fibers. It is usually loosely woven and slightly furry and is very warm. It's tendency to ravel makes it a very good fabric to use for rag quilt.
Fusible
Various webs or interfacings which can be ironed onto a fabric for easier applique or to support the fabric.
Label
Information some people attach to a quilt that may contain the your name, name of the quilt, town, year and pattern used.
Perle Cotton Thread
A soft thread that is kind of like yarn and is used for quilting, decorative stitching or embellishments.
Author
Quilting Contessa
Quilting Contessa is a collection of various authors around the world that have submitted articles for the QuiltingHub 'How To' quilt wiki.  These are authors that do not write enough to have their own authorship, yet provide valuable content for the site.  If you wish to submit an article, contact us on QuiltingHub.
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