Playing-with-Fabric-Texture-in-Quilts-Part-One Essentially Loved Quilts

Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts Part One

I LOVE playing with texture in my quilts! My love came from a sweet quilt shop lady who said different textures are good for babies’ brains (1), so, in the spring of 2019, I picked out a quilt pattern that would be “easy enough” to do in different textures and have a bit of whimsy to it. I then dug through the fabrics I had in my stash to see what I could play with. I came up with a very sweet little boy quilt for a friend’s baby; it had cotton, linen, flannel, fleece, sweatshirt, jeans, minky, wool & mesh (we’ll talk more about this later 🙄), chenille, and vinyl (aka faux leather). Whew! Needless to say, it was a lot of work, but the little boy (he finally got it around his second birthday 😆) LOVES it, still! Another little guy I did a similar quilt for had cotton, wool, “sherpa”, minky, flannel, and linen all on the front and a pashmina(?) as the backing. And he loves that blanket as well—snuggles with it all the time. I have one planned for his sister now, as well. I did change the pattern, which should make the quilt simpler than the first one, but still working with texture can be a challenge.

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts a textured baby blanket Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts a textured baby blanket



Let’s start with the easy stuff first… cotton. Cotton comes in two main textures, quilting cotton and flannel.

Quilting cotton is the stuff you see all over quilt shops; it is the majority of what is used in quilt creation. There are different levels of quality, I talk more about that in this blog post, but let’s leave it at: for all the effort we put into our snuggly creations I highly recommend using the GOOD stuff.

Quilting cotton is SUPER easy to work with and what I recommend you start with and play with for a bit before jumping to other textures. I suggest sticking with quilting cotton simply so you can get the hang of cutting and piecing before you dive into alternative textures, especially ones that can wreak havoc on your new sense of quilting. 😅

Essentially Loved Quilts Cotton and woven fabric, what's the difference

The Dark Green is the woven... the Light Green is quilting cotton.



Wovens are very similar to cotton fabric, but just enough different that it warrants a mention. Quilters cotton fabric is printed upon with colors and patterns after the threads are woven into fabric, which is why you a “right side” and a “wrong side”.

Woven fabric uses different colored threads that are then woven into a pattern—typically in plaids and stripes—and they don’t have a right or wrong side as the threads are the same on both sides.

Wovens are a beautiful fabric to play with, but the tricky thing with them is they are more thready as they are oftentimes not woven as tightly as quilter’s cotton. They are still a great quality and wonderful for quilts as the texture is often soft and pliable. Wovens are also fun to use as a simple napkin or other functional decoration because of the fraying that will occur after washing 😃.


Flannel (another cotton, but different)

That’s right, flannel is another form of cotton, but it’s different. I can’t speak to the process on what makes it different, I just know it is 😅 (and that’s not what this post is about, so another time 😉). Just like knits can also be cotton, but again, another time. Flannel is soft and warm. And I always think of babies or winter bedding & blankets when I think of flannel.

This fabric is not too far different than quilting cotton but can be a bit harder to work with simply because it’s thicker. Which in turn, will make your seams bulkier and harder for your machine to sew through. A “rag quilt” is an easy and fairly fast project to do with flannel and a great beginner project as it doesn’t have big, bulky seams—I’ll work on a tutorial for one of these soon 😅.

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts



We often think of chenille as a material sewn together to make clothing like soft and cozy sweaters, socks, and sometimes blankets. It’s actually closer to a yarn but made in a special way to produce the softness.

As sewists we can make our own by sewing a straight seam on the bias (diagonal) of cotton, wool, silk, or rayon fabric, then cutting a little way away from the seam on either side. After washing or brushing, the fabric will fray causing the chenille-d affect. There is also a wonderful company out of Utah that has pre-made chenille that can be sewn onto your project to create a textural look. Check out 😊.

Chenille isn’t really a “base” fabric, but more of an add-on after your project is done, an accent if you will. It’s definitely fun to play with to add a little something extra to your project.

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts with chenille Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts with chenille-it Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts with chenille-it


Minky or Cuddle

This is a relatively new product that is akin to faux fur but can also have a short pile with varying textures or designs on it. Shannon Fabrics was the first(?) in the industry to trademark cuddle fabric and should you visit their website you’ll see a variety of colors and textures where you’re sure to find something to your liking.

Made from polyester it is a slick fabric and like, sherpa you’ll want to pin the schnockers out of your pieces, so they don’t move 😅. You’ll also want to use a walking foot when sewing minky or cuddle.

For quilters using it on the quilt top is not for the faint of heart, but as a backing it’s pretty easy. My longarmer does suggest you get a few more inches than what is called for, for the backing as it is so slick it can be difficult to cut, so buying a bit extra ensures there is enough backing to give your quilter room to do her thing.

Minky is a bit stretchier than regular cotton as well, so keep that in mind when sewing with it. And it also is messy when cut, especially the long-piled ones, so have a lint roller or dust buster on hand to reduce the fiber mess after cutting 😆.

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts with minky/ cuddle Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts with minky/ cuddle



Jeans are cotton and a wonderful material for quilts, but you’ve really got to be careful with thickness on this one, as multiple layers add up quick to bulky seams. I have seen a few quilt tops, but more often I see backings made from jeans. If you’re doing a top be sure to keep the pattern simple… think minimal HSTs and snowballed corners, straight lines from strips or squares, and even offset seams to keep the bulk to a minimum. Jeans quilts, whether on tops or backings, will have a wonderful weight to them making fabulous “stress blankets”, and they’ll also make great picnic or car quilts because of the hardiness of the material.

You’ll want to use a Jeans needle in 90/14 size or bigger and a walking foot for easier piecing. Be sure to go slow over seams, especially bulky ones, you may even consider hand cranking the actual seam part if you feel your sewing machine start to struggle.

I highly suggest googling “jeans quilt” images to see some beautiful examples of what can be done with leftover jeans. There are some beautiful tops, “rag quilts”, and more to spark your creativity. So next time your jeans are about to hit the round bin 🗑️, consider saving them for some future quilt blocks or even selling/giving them away for someone else to recycle them into something useful 😊

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post Playing with Fabric Texture in Quilts with jeans



These are the main quilty fabrics you will see used, but that doesn’t mean that’s all of them. Stay tuned for the next post continuing the textural fabrics discussion 😃. Using texture in your quilts is a fabulous way to add some fun character as well as interest, especially (but not limited to) for baby quilts.

Be sure to check out Part Two of this series here to finish our journey into fabrics that can be used in quilting 😃.

If you like this post, you may find these ones interesting as well:


Warmth & Love,
💜 Tracy


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