ATSW: Using Quilting Cotton
I was wondering about fabric choices for (vintage) dresses.
I see that you pick quite a bit of the "quilting cotton" type fabrics for your MTL series (which I LOVE!). I had been told that those fabrics didn't have such a great drape for (women's) attire, as they are a little (too) stiff. Something I kinda regretted, as there are so many absolutely gorgeous "designer cottons" around now.
But I see that you confidently choose (and buy and use) them, so I wonder what your personal experience with them is? (Also, I've just realized that maybe feedsack fabric kinda resembles quilting cotton, so if that is the case, then they are probably even a logical choice for some vintage dresses?)
Would you advice them as a preferred fabric for (summer) dresses/skirts/tops or do they indeed behave a little stiff and would rayon or whatever be a better choice?
I also wondered if you could add the type of fabric to the little "fact file" at the top of every finished garment post. That would be extremely helpful! :-)
Thanks, Sabine (and all the others who have asked this same question lately) for your question! Now, before I answer this question, I'll start by saying that I'm incredibly inept when it comes to identifying fabric. I can usually tell the difference between synthetics and natural cloth but then, after that, it's usually just a guessing game. That's the first caveat. The second is that I'm certainly not an expert in what fabric to use. So, I'm sure readers will be able to expand on my answer in the comments.
Okay, now, here's my answer.
I've found that the range of quality of quilting cottons and calico can vary quite significantly. If you visit a fabric store in person that carries a lot of quilting fabric (think big chains), you can touch the fabric and feel the difference because of differences in thread count/weave (I believe). I have found, lately, that the big shops (I shop at Jo-Ann's) are actually starting to carry significant inventories of designer quilting/calicos that have a much nicer drape than the quilting cotton they've carried in the past.
For the Seven in Seven Challenge, I used quilting/calico fabric for five of the seven dresses. The Macaron, Parfait, Eclair, Crepe and Rooibos were all created with fabric that was billed for "crafts and apparel." The plus side to using this fabric is that it's quite easy to work with. I think beginners should start working with this type of fabric because it's cheap and it doesn't provide any sort of nasty construction issues (other than being a bit too thick when gathering). The only Seven in Seven dress that could have benefited from different fabric was my Rooibos, but that's only because it actually didn't have *enough* body.
As far as prints, go, there isn't any type of fabric that rivals quilting fabric as far as availibility of reproduction patterns. I'd love to see more apparel-weight fabric printed in repro prints, but that doesn't seem to be too popular of a trend right now (I'm sure that will change, given the push toward vintage styles in fashion). For a 1930s housedress, the calico/quilting weight fabric works quite well. If you're trying to recreate more of a bias-cut 1930s dress, you'll be out of luck.
The sort of dresses/garments that I try to avoid using the heavier and less drapey fabrics usually have peplums, flutter sleeves, ruffles and really anything that you can imagine looking quite pretty when a breeze passes by.