What’s all the buzz about Peppered Cottons? Peppered Cottons is a twist on solids by Pepper Cory and Studioe Fabrics available in your independent quilt and fabric shops now. This fabric is really cool! It’s a “shot cotton” which essentially means that the threads in the warp (lengthwise threads) and the weft (crosswise threads) are different colors. This helps create an irridescent or chambray look which means that the fabric takes on different shades of color depending on the angle that you are viewing it.
What does this mean to a quilter? There is no right or wrong side to this fabric.
Peppered Cottons on the bolt. All shot cottons, after being woven, go through a finishing process where they are washed, dried, and calendared. Calendaring is a heat-plus-pressing process which imparts a subtle sheen and a soft hand to the cotton fabric. Art quilters, who do not need to wash their fabrics, can use shot cottons straight from the bolt, but most quiltmakers will want to wash the fabric prior to starting a quilt project. Calendaring disappears after washing.
How to wash… If washing small pieces of fabric, put the shot cotton pieces into a lingerie bag or knotted pillow case, giving the fabric plenty of room to move. We prefer to wash in warm water with a cold water rinse. Use a mild soap or detergent that you would use to clean a quilt. If washing multiple pieces, sort into several bags by color. Make sure your wash tub is full of water and includes a Color Catcher in the load. This step captures any extra dye particles. Peppered Cottons are color fast!
After washing… Take the fabrics out of the bag and fluff. Cut any loose threads and place the damp pieces loosely back into the bag and dry about 20 minutes. Don’t overdry! Remove from the dryer and unfold the pieces and air-dry completely. You may iron small pieces at this time, or fold the dry yardage and store on a shelf until you are ready to start a project.
Washed and pressed Peppered Cottons… have a slightly different hand. The calendaring sheen rinses out and the weave firms up, giving the fabrics the hand (texture + weight) of good-quality unbleached muslin. The brilliant colors also slightly intensify when the light-reflective finish is gone.
Peppered Cottons are a higher thread weight than most shot cottons which means that they blend well with regular-weight quilting fabrics and the heaviness gives the fabric a better hand than other shot cottons in the marketplace.
Because of the difference in shot cottons in finishing between on-the-bolt and washed Peppered Cottons, the best advice is to purchase all you need for your project and to treat the entire length of fabric in the same manner. Unwashed and washed Peppered Cotton colors shouldn’t be mixed in the same project.
You can find Peppered Cottons at your local independent quilt and fabric store.
Stop by tomorrow for Part Two: Sewing with Peppered Cottons!