Fabric Expectations

Fabric Quality

Please remember that a requirement of this bee is to use quality quilting fabric. One of the biggest complaints that participants have about the blocks that they receive is that someone used poor quality fabrics to create them. How do you differentiate poor quality fabric from good quality fabric? Here's some helpful pointers:
  • Blocks made for the Stash Bee must be 100% cotton quilting fabric.
  • I would tend to trust anything that came from a shop that is dedicated to quilting fabric -- whether a local brick and mortar store or an online shop. Most of us know the "big brands" -- Moda, Free Spirit, Robert Kaufman, etc. -- that always provide high quality products so it is a  good idea to check who the manufacturer is when you're shopping online.
  • If the fabric comes from a craft store (JoAnn, Hancock, etc.) I would be rather wary and inspect the fabric before buying it and/or using it in a Stash Bee block.
  • Compare the feeling of fabric you know to be good quality fabric to what you're unsure of. Is it rough? Does it have a very low thread count? Does it seem extremely thin? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you might want to reconsider.

Fabric Style & Color

When selecting a block, the Queen Bee will provide an example of desired fabrics and/or color palette. They should also note what, if any, fabrics they would like you to NOT use (such as novelty or batik fabrics). A Queen Bee is NOT allowed to ask hive mates to use a particular brand and color of fabric to complete your blocks. For example, you may ask your hive to use a white background, but you may not ask everyone to use Kona White. If you desire to have all of your blocks to have identical background fabric you have the option to send out fabric to each one of your hive mates to use in completing the block. You are also not permitted to ask for a particular designer or line. You are more than welcome to reference fabric lines for your color palette but you are not allowed to request that hive mates use fabric from it.

Hive mates should be following their Queen Bee's requests as closely as possible -- that's just good etiquette. However, as this is the Stash Bee, participants are not required to go out and purchase fabric to complete their blocks. If you feel the fabric in your stash doesn't closely match your Queen Bee's requests, then you should contact her and see how flexible she would be given your current stash. More than likely you can come up with a solution. For example, if Audrey is the Queen Bee and requests that you use a pink floral print for your blocks and you don't have any, the right thing to do is to tell her your situation and see if there are any other fabrics in your stash that might work.

Note: there may come a time when buying fabric may be the best option for making a block, because your stash doesn't have the colors/styles that the Queen Bee is looking for. If Sarah is the Queen Bee and requests that her hive make blocks that have purple in them and you have absolutely no purple in your stash, it would be wrong to make her a blue block because it is "close enough." In this situation you could purchase purple fabric, ask the Queen Bee to send you some purple fabric, swap with a friend or guild mate for purple fabric, or request an angel block for that month (by the deadline, of course!).

Common Fabric Styles

The following is a brief list of some common styles of fabric in the quilting world that people sometimes have strong feelings for or against but in no way is a complete list. The purpose of this list is to educate anyone who is new to the quilting world and may be unfamiliar with all of these terms. Your queen bee will tell you what types of fabric to use and what types to avoid. Use your best judgement when picking fabrics from your stash for the blocks that you will make and err on the side of caution when necessary.
  • Batik: Batik fabric is made from a repeated process of dying and using wax as a resist on fabric. Batik fabrics often have patterns that look mottled, may incorporate floral or botanical motifs, as well as what I would call "tribal" type prints.
  • Civil War: Civil War fabrics are fabrics that reproduce patterns and prints that would have been popular during the 1850s-1870s in the USA. Often times these are somewhat darker fabrics, often using paisley and other florish type motifs. White backgrounds are not often found with civil war fabrics. A modern designer that produces Civil War style fabrics is Barbara Brackman.
  • 1930s: This type of fabric is often bright and use white much more significantly than Civil War style fabrics. Many 1930s prints are small scale florals or geometric prints-- 1930s fabrics don't often incorporate very large scale prints, unlike many modern designers.
  • Holiday: This is rather self explanatory -- holiday fabrics have motifs that recognize a particular holiday. Unless your queen bee specifically permits or requests holiday fabrics for her blocks, you should not be using holiday fabrics.
  • Novelty: Novelty and holiday fabrics often go hand in hand. Novelty fabrics are not usually subtle. They often have characters, animals, people, fruits, vegetables, specific careers, sports teams, etc. etc. etc. These should be avoided as well unless your Queen Bee requests them.
  • Florals: have flowers and botanical motifs -- pretty self explanatory.
  • Text Prints: have words/letters on them -- again, self explanatory.
  • Tone on tone prints: patterned prints that often look like a solid at a distance or if you would squint. Often referred to as "blender" fabrics.

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