Keeping It Real: Should You Use Quilting Cotton to Make Clothes?

So I was really excited to make a dress for the first time and post a review for the pattern and have some great photos of the finished garment. But you can see, it is not done…

Moore Approved Carolyn Friedlander Doe Dress Simplicity 1652 Robert Kaufman Fabric medium shot

As you may remember, I had ordered five Craftsy Make in a Day sewing kits including this Americana Chambray Dress Kit using the Simplicity 1652 pattern. While I like the blue chambray included in the package, I was inspired by all the lovely garments made of quilting cotton from booths at Quilt Market.

Instead, I ordered three and a half yards of Ladder Lines in Sage from the Carolyn Friedlander Doe collection for Robert Kaufman. It was not cheap – I spent about $35 on the fabric.

Because it was for a garment, I prewashed the fabric on a gentle cold cycle with the generic version of Woolite detergent, and tumble dried on the lowest setting possible that wasn’t “no heat.” I ironed it on the wrong side, then I noticed something.Moore Approved Carolyn Friedlander Doe Dress Simplicity 1652 Robert Kaufman Fabric spot skirt

There are more than a few tiny spots on the fabric where it appeared the top “layer” had flaked off? I’m not exactly sure what to call this, but there several spots just like this one where the dye has come off – revealing stark white underneath.

Not a huge deal, I thought. I brainstormed buying a dark navy fine tip fabric marker to hide these inconsistencies.

When I started sewing the dress together the problem arose again. Like everyone else, I am not a perfect sewist and there have been a few seam lines that I have had to seam rip. All of the areas where I’ve picked out the seams are also missing the dye.

One of these spots is right on the bust line where I had accidentally caught some of the fabric in the seam line as I was finishing it with the serger-like stitch. I’ve circled the two areas in red where this happened. In the photo it isn’t that apparent, but when you are looking at the fabric in person straight on – it’s pretty noticeable. Can’t use a fabric marker on THAT.Moore Approved Carolyn Friedlander Doe Dress Simplicity 1652 Robert Kaufman Fabric princess seam bust2

This is extremely disappointing! So far, my first dress project is NOT going well. The fit of the garment is actually spot on, but it seems like the print on the fabric isn’t holding up to the task. It’s such a bummer because I really love the Doe collection and am a big Carolyn Friedlander fan for her designs. (Still love you, girl!) However, I sadly cannot recommend Robert Kaufman printed quilting cotton for clothing. I do suspect another line like Kona solids might work better, since the dye runs throughout the fabric and not just on the surface.

After the seam ripping incident, I lost all desire to keep sewing this dress. Even if the rest of the construction is flawless – it really bothers me that the print has come off in places.

Manufacturers – not to knock you – but if a fabric isn’t really cut out for garments – just say so.  I feel like I wasted $35 and already more than 20 hours only to encounter major issues that are out of my control. When people see all your great photos of adorable clothing in the Quilt Market booths, they’re going to assume they can achieve the same results. When vendors are sewing samples they’re likely not prewashing fabric since the items are mostly for display only, but in real life – you need to prewash any time you’re going to be wearing an item and laundering it regularly.

Robert Kaufman – I am afraid! I am using Carolyn Friedlander’s entire Botanics line in an ongoing quilt project. Since I didn’t prewash those fat quarters, I haven’t yet noticed the same dye loss. I am praying it doesn’t happen the first time I wash the finished quilt.

I really did not want to write about this topic. However, I don’t want to be the type of blogger that’s only about hearts and flowers. That’s just not me, and it wouldn’t be fair to you if I didn’t talk about the bad along with the good.

Has anyone else encountered this with printed quilting cottons? If so – I want to hear from you in the comments! Especially if you have any tips for fixing this…

See you next time!

– Jennifer

UPDATE: Upon several suggestions, I have emailed Robert Kaufman to explain what happened with my fabric – if/when I get a response I will share it with everyone here.

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