Sewing with wovens…

Wovens – fabrics where the design is created by weaving dyed threads rather than printing on the surface with dyes. Stripes, plaids, jacquard textures and dobby dots are all woven fabrics.

Texture. That was the first answer from every designer who replied to our question “why do you like using wovens in your quilts and projects?”

Even with more than a dozen woven collections in the past several years, many consumers are still wary of sewing with these fabrics. So it was time to go to the experts and get opinions and advice.

Our Moda designer-respondents are:

Why do you like using wovens in your quilts?

Jen: I love the textural element they add to a quilt.
Camille: I love the texture they give my projects! One of the reasons we wanted to have a collection of wovens that coordinated with our other groups was so we could mix them in with all of our other projects. So far, I’ve used them in every single one!
I love stripes and plaids, and if you look at antique quilts, they are used frequently and abundantly.
I like the texture that wovens add to projects – they’re a beautiful addition to prints.

Do you mix them with prints? Have you made quilts using only wovens – plaids and stripes?

Corey:  Yes, to both. And more are coming!
Jen: Of course I mix them – with anything and everything! I have made a quilt using only wovens but my preference will always be to mix them with lawns, quilting cottons, shot cottons and so on.
Camille: Yes and yes! I love mixing them with prints and using them on their own. I recently made a Swoon quilt in just wovens and a Summerville quilt with prints and wovens mixed.
Yes, I mix them up! That is their charm. They often are a quiet spot for the eye when mixed up with prints. I have made quilts using only wovens – the Live Your Life Minis – but I mix them every chance I can.

Do you do anything different when you use them? (e.g., cutting, thread, pressing?)

Laurie: I don’t do anything differently. I starch heavily if I’m machine piecing – but I do that for prints too. If I’m hand-piecing or doing appliqué, I skip that step.
I like to give them a bit of a starch so they have a bit more body – and no, I don’t always starch regular quilting cottons.  I also find myself being a bit gentler when pressing so they don’t press out of shape.
No. Just use them!
Camille:Nothing at all. I treat them just like I treat my regular quilting cottons.

How are wovens for appliqué?

Laurie: Wovens for appliqué are particularly nice. They are a bit less tightly woven than most prints and this allows the edges to turn under nicely, especially with needle-turn appliqué. Curves are so easy with wovens.
I’ve used wovens for appliqué.  I am a fusible-web-appliqué girl, and that method works really well with woven fabrics.
To be honest, I haven’t appliquéd with them. lol That’s something to try!

Have you used wovens for binding? Do you have any tips to share about that?

Camille: Yes, and while they were a little bit stretchier, they weren’t any more difficult to use for a binding. I machine-bind my quilts and I didn’t have any trouble.
I have used wovens for bindings quite a bit – especially because of my love of striped bindings.  If you want your stripes or plaids to be on the diagonal – and cut on the bias -the wovens will do this beautifully.  The only thing you have to watch out for – and this goes for Bella Solids too – is to make sure that you have all your seams on the outside as it is easy to get it turned around. More than once, I have been almost done stiching down the binding and have found that a seam allowance is on the outside.
I am just getting ready to give it a try. My Sugarcreek wovens have a wonderful dark grey stripe that I think will be perfect for bindings.  My mom suggested doubling the binding – adding one extra fold to a double fold. (Would that be triple fold?) The reasoning is that it wears a bit longer… but I haven’t tried it. Yet.
Yes – and I didn’t find that I needed to change anything in my binding technique. My Moda wovens are so beautifully fine and soft that binding with them was a breeze.

Have you used wovens for any projects other than quilts – including minis and pillows? Bags?

Jen: I’m currently making a boro piece which I will turn into a bag. I’m also having some apparel made for my good self!
Camille: Yes! Minis and pillows. I made a mini version of one of my quilts – Sweet Escape – into a pillow and it is my new favorite thing. It makes me smile every time I look at it!
Not yet. But I recently saw a couple of little zipper bags made with wovens that I’m coveting.
Not yet… I’ve only used them for quilts so far. But I like making pillows and bags so I think that’s coming soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Jen: If I use them in a border, I do fold my backing fabric to the front and tack it to stop fraying. Bu that’s because I am hand quilting, so the very edge of my quilt gets a little bit of a workout during the process!
Camille: I’m asked a lot about using wovens and I think people might be a little nervous to use them because they aren’t familiar with them. But since I started out using them right off the bat – most of my early patterns mixed wovens and prints – I’ve never had a reason to fear them. I just knew how much interest they added to my quilts and it was love at first sight for me. Having a collection of wovens was certainly on my quilting bucket list and I’ve loved every minute of sewing with them so far!

So what’s not to love about using wovens?

Every one of the designers who sews with wovens agrees on one important point – they love using these textural fabrics in their quilts and projects.

What about you? Do you use wovens like these in your projects?

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26 thoughts on “Sewing with wovens…

  1. I don’t remember ever sewing with woven fabrics, but I have had my eye on them since I have seen them lately. I am drawn to them because of the “pattern” in the fabrics. I think they look old-fashioned. I am looking forward to quilting/sewing with them and so glad they are part of these great designer fabric lines now! One question – do they “fray” more than regular cotton? Thank you for your great posts!

    1. Hi Susan – Some do, or can. I’ve found the homespun textures to be a little looser weave so they sometimes fray a bit more easily. But the “silky wovens” by Bonnie & Camille, Jen Kingwell, Corey Yoder, Laurie Simpson and French General have the same thread-count as the printed cottons. For some pieces, the thread-count is higher and the weave a bit tighter. They’re lovely to work with. 🙂

  2. Years ago when wovens were popular I made a quilt and the rule was “only stripes and plaids”. I hand appliquéd (no fusible then) both regular needle turn and reverse appliqué, machine pieced and hand quilted. Had no trouble with the wovens and still have a stash of them waiting to be made in to a quilt. They are wonderful and not to be feared .

    1. A “boro” is a patched-darned-layered piece textile. Originally, quilts and garments with tears, holes and worn spots were patched with scraps of fabric that were literally layered on top and stitched thru the multiple layers to secure the piece. The purpose was utilitarian and done by farmers and laborers who couldn’t afford to replace the textiles. While they were once viewed as little more than rags, they are now highly collectible pieces with a generational history stitched into the cloth. They’re quite beautiful.

      Modern boro textiles have the same feel – layering patches of fabric and stitching through the layers with sashiko-style stitching.

      Here are some examples –

  3. These questions and answers by pros was very helpful to me. If the quilts are for my home they have to fit the 1800’s look but I think I would like to include them with regular cotton fabric. I back my wool applique with wovens — great look. Thank you for above information.

  4. Several years ago I made a quilt for my oldest son entirely from wovens, and it is one of the most soft and cuddly quilts I’ve ever made. One tip I just received from my local shop is to use a shorter stitch length when sewing. Besides starching, I plan on doing this with my next woven quilt.

    1. Picture 1 – Northport Wovens by Laurie Simpson – coming in September.
      Picture 2 – Sugarcreek Wovens by Corey Yoder – coming in August.
      Picture 3 – Swoon Quilt by Thimble Blossoms, colored with Bonnie & Camille Wovens – in shops any day now.
      Picture 4 – More Sugarcreek Wovens mixed with Sugarcreek Prints – coming in August.
      Picture 5 and 6 – Bonnie & Camille Wovens by Bonnie & Camille – in shops any day now.
      Picture 7 – Behind the Scenes Wovens by Jen Kingwell – in shops last year, 2018.

      I hope that helps. 🙂

      1. Thank you Carrie for clearing up the collection and availability of these wovens. I have been on a fruitless search!

  5. I love wovens and have a pretty good collection of them. I love the warmth and “home-iness” they add to my quilts. One of my very favorite quilts is a Christmas Bullseye made with only woven plaids and stripes in reds and greens.

  6. I just finished two quilt tops with wovens. I love them but am having second thoughts thinking they may fray. My seams are true but I don’t starch. Should I quilt them more dense than normal?

    1. Hi Chris – I have good news. (At least I hope it’s good news!) I’ve used every kind of “woven” fabric from cross weaves to chambrays, brushed homespun plaids to the silky wovens, and I’ve not had any problems with fraying. Pre-washed and not, starched and not, I’ve been using woven fabrics for quilts and garments for more than thirty years, and my quilts have held up beautifully. (Even the beautiful but really thin stripes and plaids from India that a famous quilter put her name on in the early 1990s!) And with a dog that happily slept on the bed, my quilts were washed a lot – A LOT. So if you’re using Moda wovens and the seams are stitched with good thread, a normal stitch length of approx. 12 stitches to the inch and the usual scant 1/4″ seam allowance, I’d be surprised if your quilts didn’t hold up well with “normal” density of quilting. 🙂

  7. I can’t wait to finally use the B&C Wovens! I thought they would be in stores in May? but didn’t find them yet.

  8. Yes!! Love wovens and so excited to see Moda has been producing more!! Love to mix them with prints!!

    1. I’m pretty sure it was a line by April Cornell that coordinated with her regular cotton line. I’ll run across it someday in my stash!

  9. I have been sewing with Moda’s wovens since they first brought them out and I still love them. Have quilts that are made completely with these great fabrics for years and they have held up well to everyday use and frequent washing. Thanks for always having a product we can count on!

  10. I recently collected different Wovens to use in a quilt I’m about to start making. Love the fabrics & am looking forward to working with them. ( Now I am on the hunt to find the pretty pink that was in the article!)

  11. I don’t understand why these fabrics are called wovens, when all of our quilting cottons are woven. What you’re referring to as wovens are in fact yarn-dyed.

  12. can’t wait for the Bonnie and Camille wovens and Corey Yoder’s: I love plaids and these are on the top of my wish list!!! Hugs, H

  13. Thanks for these insights! My fear in using wovens has been in choosing the right quilt pattern. Maybe I’m a little OCD, but I find that using medium or large scale plaids and stripes in stars or swoons distracts from the overall design when the plaids don’t match or the stripes end up going in different directions. I’m looking forward to seeing more examples because I really do love all the new collections coming out!

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