Buying Fabric Bolts

Fabric Bolts – Do you buy the whole thing?

At first when I just got started quilting I thought this was the craziest notion! I mean, who needs that much fabric?

Yeah- after a little bit of time I can come to realize that having a whole bolt of fabric is actually a nice thing.    I don’t do this all the time and only have a few on hand (I know others though who have a lot of bolts!- and that’s ok too).

Why.  Why on earth would you need a whole fabric bolts…… let me tell you why.

Because I said so.

I really wish that saying would work better than it does!

Really though- for me, having a whole bolt of fabric means quilt backs.  It means I don’t have to run around town when I’m all done with my quilt top looking for just the right thing, stressing out and over thinking.

If you think about how much yardage is on the back in one piece (or pieced together) it’s a mega amount.  Yes, you can sew together your leftover fabrics from the project to put on the back, but sometimes that isn’t enough and I need something to go along with it. Thus the bolt is there to fill in.

fabric bolt buying - why? and what you should look for before you pick it up

Usually when I pick up a whole bolt I am thinking quilt backs.

One year I used one bolt for all my quilts– and when I see them now, I know when they were sewn and finished!

What kind of print should you look for?

I look for something that isn’t a funny, funky color.  I try to go with something that is a common color- blues, reds, or browns.

The print– I usually find something a little busy.  One that will hide any quilting mistakes…if you love to see the machine quilting, then you’ll want to stay away from super busy prints.

Also- something to think about is whether or not it can be used on a boy or girl quilt.  Picking up a whole bolt of bright pink fabric might be tricky when you are sewing up a boy quilt storm!

Buying bolt ends is a great way to pick up pieces that are larger and won’t be around for a year or two.  They get used quicker and thus– you’ll have to shop sooner.

I totally understand though if you need it to not look crazy on the back.  The quilt is for someone, or will be in a show….. but really, if it’s hanging on a wall, or will be a toss in the car and use it to death quilt, why pay a ton for the fabric on the back?!

The idea here to find something that will go somewhat with the quilt (you’ll be putting on a binding, so it won’t be seen from the front) and will be the same quality of fabric as the front.

Just because you can buy cheap fabric on the bolt for super cheap doesn’t mean you should.  You need to make sure the back fabric is just as nice or your project/quilt won’t hold up to use and washings. Don’t go cheap here!

The last time I went shopping I hit a store that had 2.99 yard fabric….but if you bought the bolt you got an additional 50 cents off! Wooweee!  This was fabric that had 12.99 or 10 yard pricing, so you know it was good….and it felt wonderful as well.  You know what I’m talking about with the feel.

So- of course I’ll take what’s left at 2.50 a yard.  thank you very much.

I knew I had one quilt that could do yellow on the back that would be done soon, then the blue crazy print- could be used for modern or boys quilts and the red… for anyone really.  Usually when you hit a sale like this the picking isn’t the greatest, but you can usually find a few that would work.

Basic colors.  Easy to use.  Plus, they might come in handy as well for larger borders if they fit in with the layout and scheme of the quilt.

buying the whole bolt

So– do you see why you need a few fabric bolts laying around in your studio?  They are useful as long as you get it for a purpose….backs, borders and the ultimate goal really is a finished quilt.

Do you pick up bolts?  What do you use them for? What do you look for when you do?  Love to hear your ideas!

Quick how to store your fabric scraps— for when you are cutting up your bolts and have leftovers.


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  1. Cheryl

    21 October

    Hi Becky,
    I agree with you! I haven’t bought at bolt, but I have purchased an end of bolt sale.
    I always look for online fabric that is good quality and on great sales. It’s wonderful to have them to choose for a quilt back! What stores do you usually shop at?

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