To Be Quilty or Not To Be Quilty?

I have a thing with printed cotton fabric. More specifically I have a thing with printed cotton fabric that’s typically used for quilting. The quilting fabric industry has gone crazy over the past few years. They’ve even got “designers” for some of these gorgeous fabrics that would rival any Hollywood actor or actress today. Or so it seems. These people make some gorgeous prints. They really do. And I love cotton, because it’s one of those natural fibers that is inexpensive compared to others. It’s wearable, washable and easy to sew. But there still remains this question of whether or not some of these prints border on being nutty when turned into a garment.

I recently received my Spring copy of the Lilly Pulitzer catalog. Personally, I find it so fun, colorful, vibrant, feel-good and well, Springy. I’ll admit, I do think that some of the prints here are crazy, but isn’t that what’s so fun about it? This is like, crazy gone good. And yes, I would wear it. I wear crazy stuff. I like color against my skin since my coloring is such that I blend all together if I don’t wear color. But hey, that’s me. What do you think? Would you wear this colorful stuff? Or, isn’t it too printy or dare I say, quilty for you?

This quilty thing brings up a good point. I’ve seen quilty gone bad. And it’s real bad. I’m not saying that quilting is bad or that it’s not good for a quilt to look quilty. Quilting is a beautiful art, and when done tastefully is simply stunning. I’m talking about making garments from quilting fabric. Or should I say, printed cotton? Either way, I’ve seen it go bad. It’s kind of a nutty look. It’s that look that makes someone want to ask you, “So, you do alot of quilting?” because you are wearing it. So where is this fine line? When does one cross the threshold of being cute in a print, to being a walking quilt?

I think it’s a combination of the style of a garment coupled with what print you use. The Lilly P fabrics are loud and crazy and oh so 60’s and the style of the garments are funky, fun and fitted. They complement each other. What’s a style that wouldn’t look good with these fabrics?

What do you think? What passes the non-quilty test?


20 thoughts on “To Be Quilty or Not To Be Quilty?

  1. I’m not a huge fan of quilty. It looks cute as a handbag or a pair of shorts or summer pants, maybe a cute summer dress. It looks best in a warmer climate, I think. IMHO, quilty gets old fast.

  2. I also love those colourful prints but I must admit that seems a bit too “quilty” for me to make a whole garment.However I think it can look gorgeous in small touches for yokes or something…

  3. I began sewing because I fell in love Amy Butler prints… which are inevitably quilting cottons. I love prints and sometimes are hard to find in apparel fabrics. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line. I think it works for summer/beachy type apparel, but what else. Hehe… I love those prints for Lilly Pulitzer.

  4. I both quilt and sew clothes–and keep my fabrics separate from each other. The last thing I want is to look like I raided my quilt stash for making my clothes. Little girls can get by with it, 43 year olds can’t. I admit it’s sometimes tempting though.

  5. Haha! Those prints are gorgeous! I would totally wear the Lilly prints! I think it has more to do with the style of the garment than the print. We should watch out for styles that are not “youthful” dare I say? I think the disconnect comes when people use prints in a slightly dated garment pattern, or perhaps mixing too many prints together. That being said, there is some terrible quilting fabric that you would be hard pressed to find anything it would look good in.

  6. Totally agree! I fell in love with Amy Butler too! It really is difficult to know just where to draw the line. The funny thing being when I make something in a subtle print people don’t ask me if I made my top or what have you, but when I’ve tried to use a louder cotton print I’m always asked “Did you make that?” The point here being that perhaps the printed cotton looks too loud to not have been sewn by the person wearing it.

  7. Yeah, I’m a total sucker for quilty prints- but I hate the un-apparelly wrinkling that ensues so mostly avoid. But I have coloring much like yours and I definitely benefit from more saturated colors and interesting prints, so sometimes the temptation to whip out a little summer dress (“just for around the house”, “just for gardening”, etc… ha.) out of some outrageously adorable quilting cotton can be pretty irresistible. I noticed – I think, is it Anna Maria Horner, came out with a line in voile, which was a nice response to the market, of frustrated non-quilter seamstresses in love with the quilty prints!

  8. Yes, I recently used that voile for a lining of a coat and it worked wonderfully. I also think it would be great as a nice Spring/Summer top. I’m a total sucker for the prints. Total sucker. I hadn’t even thought about the wrinkle, but you are right, it’s just not quite right is it? Very good point! My next thought is I wish these designers would design a line for apparel fabrics. That would be something. A very good something.

  9. I have the same dilemma with using quilting cotton for garment, they are so beautiful but they don’t always suitable for garment sewing. Having said that, it totally depends on what you want to sew. I love Amy Butler Liverpool tunic (on my to-sew list) and also Parfait in Nicey Janey in here I guess what I am saying is we can’t totally dismiss quilting cotton for apparel.

  10. I’ve finally found a way to post comments on your blog:) yuppie, I was becoming frustrated not to be able to comment πŸ™‚
    I love color! The one that I like the least is gray, I find it impersonal. And I also like prints. So I wouldn’t exclude the possibility of using quilting cotton for garments.

  11. I’m so glad you were able to post a comment! I’m so sorry about that! I think the colors in the Lilly P fashions are just so loud and fun and fabulous. And I also can’t say that I can exclude quilting cotton for garments because I just can’t. I love it too much.

  12. This is a great question Allison! Typically quilting cotton is a heavier/thicker weight than apparel cotton, unless you are look at bottom weight fabrics. Quilting cotton is usually in the “quilting” section of the store and is usually only woven, not knitted or weaved in a different way and usually doesn’t have added ingredients like spandex or lycra. Now I say typically/usually, because the quilting industry has been coming out with cotton voiles (a sheer cotton), cotton sateen and other types of cotton geared not only for quilting but wearing it seems. I’m still trying to decide if too printy also seems quilty or if this just falls into a too printy category and maybe it shouldn’t be worn. I’m still a little on the fence because I love prints and I like colorful things and the quilt cotton prints can be oh so fun. Oh what to do….

  13. Ooh yes– I hope that’s a trend! That’s one of the reasons I’m really interested in Spoonflower & the like– yes, it’s ludicrously expensive at the moment (that has to come down some day…right?), but there are some really great designs on there, and available in a range of fabrics/weaves. That is actually probably where my fantasy lies right there- if I could check a box beside an Amy Butler, Alexander Henry, Joel Dewberry or whoever print and pick my fiber, thread count and weave!

  14. I’m a print-lover too! I also often find myself in the quilty section of the fabric store, picking out colourful floral prints for imaginary A-line skirts. I tell myself if I wore it with a white blouse and pumps, wouldn’t it look less quilty?? I once made an A-line cotton skirt with a cloud-and-lightning print and it was a bit nutty. (My excuse – it was a long time ago! I made some nutty things when I was a teen. And it seemed like a good idea in theory.)
    Hillary’s right about the wrinkle that happens with quilting cotton, and I agree with Peter that it works better in a warm climate. But I LOVE the idea of quilt-prints on voile! I personally love voile prints, their sheerness helps to combat quilty-ness and they wrinkle in a different way…
    Good luck expressing your love of prints while staying non-quilty!

  15. i love the fantastic colors and prints in the new “quilting/apparel” cottons. And I didn’t invent the slash, the quilt co’s have been marketing them that way for a while now. LOVED the voiles, I used some of those and they were in deed beautiful as garments. I’m prone to use them, especially for cute summer skirts because I think you can definitely get away with a little wild at heart in a skirt with cute sandals and a tee!
    I’m also rather fond of unexpected prints in a button down shirt, but they have to be very fine cottons, like Liberty or the aforementioned voile print. Wish more designers would do those!

  16. But, I have to say that sheets are a different weave generally than cotton quilt prints. They have a different hand and drape. I think Hillary has a seriously good point here, in that quilting cottons just don’t wrinkle quite right. I have to say that sheets tend to wrinkle more like an apparel fabric than a quilting cotton fabric.

  17. So do I. They tend to work better on the apparel side of things. I think these cottons also are great for skirts. You are right, you can get away with something a little crazy in a skirt. It makes it more fun.

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