101 Quilting Fabric – Everything You Need to Know

Quilt Club with Stacey Lee

The wonderful world of Quilting Fabric truly is wonderful, oh yes it is my happy place! However, I know it can be a little intimidating to those that are new to the quilting world, or new to fabric all together.

There are a few things that are handy to know about Quilting Fabric and a little jargon that comes along with it too, I wrote this post as a 101 on Quilting Fabric to help anyone that is new to quilting.


When making a quilt you always want to buy 100% cotton quilting fabric, for the quilt top and the binding. There are other fancy designer fabrics that will work, but let’s just stick to basics here.

I also recommend using 100% cotton quilting fabric for the backing in our quilting course, especially if this is your first quilt. You can use other fabrics for the backing, however, when starting out with quilting, 100% cotton quilting fabric is much easier to sew and manage.


Quilting Fabrics often come in collections, these collections include various different fabrics that are designed to go perfectly together. The theme, designs, and colors all work and match perfectly together. Buying fabric by a collection takes a lot of the guesswork out of picking your fabrics because all the hard work is done for you.

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A lot of collections are created by designers for fabric brands and manufacturers. On the selvage (the edge) of the fabric, you can find all the details of that particular fabric.

An example of this is in the picture above. The collection is called Happyland and it is designed by Jennifer Paganelli. The brand is Free Spirit and the manufacturer is Westminister Fibers. Right at the end, you can see the name “Eloise”, which is the name of this exact fabric.



When quilting we use the imperial system, which is inches and yards, for all measurements regardless of where you are in the world.

In the USA you will purchase fabric by asking for inches and yards.

In other parts of the world like Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain you will buy your fabric using the metric system which is centimeters and meters. When purchasing your fabric rulers have both measurements so they will easily be able to help you convert the measurements.


Off the bolt fabric, also known as yardage, are the big rolls of fabric you see in stores. Off the bolt is a very convenient way to buy your fabric, because it gives you the freedom to buy as little or as much as you want.

Off the bolt fabric is sold by the yard, and a yard is 36” long. All shops have different minimum cuts, but you can usually start with as little as 5-10”.

Most quilting fabric is about 42″-44” in width. Some are much wider and these are used for the backing of your quilt.


Pre-cut fabrics are fabrics that have been cut to specific sizes. They usually come in bundles with various fabrics from the same collection, and they always work perfectly together. So if you are nervous about picking fabrics they may be a perfect option for you.

You can find quilt patterns that require you to specifically use pre-cuts.

In a bundle, you may get at least one piece of every fabric from the collection, some doubles, or you may get an assortment. Check what is included in your bundle before buying.

It is not recommended to wash pre-cut fabric. Washing will cause shrinkage and the edges to fray.



Details of the fabric are found on the spine of the bolt or on the packaging of pre-cut fabric. This is where you can check it is 100% cotton, the width, the name of the collection, and the price per yard.


Buying fabric from chain craft stores is convenient and affordable. The selection and quality of the fabric is good. I have made many quilts with chain craft store fabric.

Buying fabric from a local independently owned quilt shop has its advantages, the main one being they will have a much larger range of fabrics for you to pick from. The fabric will be mostly designer fabric, which is of premium quality, but they do cost more. You will also find that staff members are more able to answer your questions and assist you in choosing your fabrics.

Buying fabric online is also an option from either chain craft stores or independently owned quilt shops. I buy most of my designer fabrics online, this is mainly because I don’t have a local independently owned quilt shop that is convenient to me. The downside of buying online is sometimes the colors are not quite as you expected. Also, the minimum cut is usually 1/2 yard.


Hobby Lobby – USA

Joann – USA

Spotlight – AUS/NZ

Hobbycraft – UK


The Fat Quarter Shop

Hawthorne Supply Co

I hope this post has helped you understand fabric a little better and that you are feeling confident to hit the shops.

Now you know about fabric, read my next blog post that explains how I pick my fabric here.

If you think I have forgotten something, please let me know by leaving a comment.   


This post is part of a free online course to learn quilt making, to find out more click here.

To find out what tools you need click here.

Thanks for popping by my blog!

Stacey x


Stacey x

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10 thoughts on “101 Quilting Fabric – Everything You Need to Know

  1. Joanne Stock says:

    I’m excited I didn’t see how much fabric to get for the quilt. How much backing and binding? Did I just miss it?

  2. Sharon says:

    Also where the name of the manufacturer is, there are colour dots. These dots are comparable fabric colours that you can use when choosing fabrics that match your base colour and design. It is very helpful so that you get the exact shade of blue or green etc.

  3. Amanda Hodgins says:

    Hi Stacey it’s How many squares of each colour are we cutting from the 13 fabrics in cannot find this information anywhere. Was going to cut today as have been away on holidays

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