Shall we start with the confession? I’m sure you’re wondering how wicked I’ve been. Well it’s on the back of the quilt above. Yes a polycotton backing! I hadn’t realised when I bought the fabric online but once I dug it out the drawer I realised my mistake.
Polycotton is a divisive topic for quilters with many spurning the use of this fabric for their quilts insisting on pure cotton. Our Siblings Together Bee Quilts guidance notes (or rules!) specify that the fabric used must be good quality quilting cotton but nevertheless sometimes polycotton appears. Some mamas will unpick and resew. Would it surprise you to know I just turn a blind eye!! Although I think whatever the mama specifies then that is what she should be sent be it colour choice or type of fabric but when it comes to your own quilts well clearly it’s up to you. However I have a feeling that because of inexperience I bought some similar fabric from the Fabric Guild which I’ve used up now but with the benefit of hindsight think was the outlawed polycotton. Sorry mamas if it ended up in your blocks….
Even for cotton purists not all cotton is made equal. There is some horrid stuff out there. I bought a couple of metres of John Louden Christmas fabric, it was cheap at c£8 per metre, but it was also scratchy and generally unpleasant to the touch. I used it for Christmas sacks so it really didn’t matter.
But as I smooth down the soft and comfortable fabric of my scrappy quilt which is currently draped over me keeping off the chills of a very cold spring, I’m grateful for the quality cotton fabrics from manufacturers such as Moda, RJ Kaufman and AGF. I certainly would not want to use those particular John Louden fabrics for a quilt. The same goes for those starchy rough fat quarter fabrics you see at Hobbycraft. I know you are saying you pay for what you get and while that’s true I’d rather the relatively cheap soft silky polycotton than the rough and scratchy cotton. Quite the fabric snob aren’t I?
But for all the derision that polycotton incites perhaps not all polycotton is created equally either and the better quality has its place. The fabric for this backing is soft and silky to touch, a bit like an Art Gallery Fabric, it needed next to no ironing and generally behaved itself when basted and sewn. It’s Rose and Hubble fabric which I believe is quite a good brand. I’d cheerfully use it again and it was a bargain from the Fabric Guild. In fact the feel of it is warmer and cosier than the conventional quilting cotton backed quilts that are piling up waiting to be sent to Siblings Together.
I think the bad reputation is the mixed use of polycotton and cotton in a block; with the former not shrinking as much as the cotton and potentially distorting the block when washed. But as a backing fabric, particularly with the wadding I use being an 80/20 Cotton poly mix from Hobbs, I’m not sure it’s going to be a problem. I must experiment and see whether distortion in a mixed block causes me a problem.
Back to the quilt this was such a quick make I’m almost embarrassed to show it! After making this quilt with my mum we had a whole load of scrap strips left over. I must have forgotten that with two of us sewing we would make twice as much. I thought it would be effective paired up with white in half square triangles.
These were sooo easy. I simply trimmed the blue strips into 8.5” wide strips and which were about 35” long , added a 8.5” white strip on top the same length and then sewed up both pieces along the long sides. Then using a square ruler lined it up on the sewn edge I just cut out triangles which came out as 10” half square triangles. All very effective and all very easy.
Then laid it out in a design as a straight copy from one on Pinterest and sewed it up.
I had basting help from my daughter which made it so much easier. I must involve her more often. My wicked backing behaved perfectly, to be fair it’s not a huge quilt at c70” by 60”. Then for some simple straight line quilting. This is a quilt that could be good for a boy/young man and I decided curvy free motion quilting wasn’t right. It called out for lines echoing the diamond shape. This will be heading off to Siblings Together in the summer.
I will wash the quilt and see whether the uneven shrinkage of cotton front versus polycotton back adversely effects it. Assuming not I’m keeping to my wicked ways….. in the meantime I’d be interested in your views on polycotton – in or out?