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Lets talk about Kaleidoscope shot cottons

Lets talk about Kaleidoscope shot cottons

This new collection by Alison Glass arrived just over a week ago and has been flying out the door.

Kaleidoscope is Alison Glass' new collection produced by Andover Fabrics. There are 40 different shot cotton and chambray fabrics in the collection, and the colours coordinate perfectly with the colour pallets used across Alison's previous fabric ranges.

I have limited yardage of all 40 fabrics in the Kaleidoscope collection.  If you love a good rainbow you can grab Fat Quarter and Fat 1/8 bundles of the full collection. 

As 40 FQs is a LOT of fabric, I have also divided the collection up into four seasonal bundles of 10 fabrics.  Each bundle has 10 different fabrics, so if you fancy the colours in a couple, say the vibrant summer and autumn bundles, you can be certain you wont receive any duplicate fabrics.

You can check out all of the Kaleidoscope bundles here.

Shot cotton v chambray

'So what is the difference between shot cottons and chambray fabric?' you ask. 

Well OK, maybe you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway ;-)


A chambray cloth is one which has a white warp  and a coloured weft.  The warp thread is the thread which runs the length of the fabric and the weft is the thread which weaves its way from left to right across the cloth.

Here are two of the chambrays from Kaleidoscope.  The top is called indigo and the bottom is charcoal.

Alison Glass Kaleidoscope chambray

As you can see the cloth has an obvious contrast within the weave. Lets take a closer look in the next photo where I have frayed out a couple of threads on both the warp and weft sides.

Alison Glass kaleidoscope chambray in indigo


As you can see in this indigo sample, the weft is a dark navy thread and the warp is white.  

Shot Cotton

Shot cotton on the other hand is made by using two different colours for the warp and weft threads.  Unlike solid quilting fabrics which are dyed after weaving the base cloth, the thread is dyed before weaving.  This results in a cloth that appears almost iridescent.  The luminous appearance of the fabric is due to the way the viewers' eye perceives the interplay where the different coloured threads cross over. 

Lets take a look at one.

Alison Glass shot cotton

This particular Kaleidoscope fabric is called Salmon.  Light red and orange threads have been woven together to achieve a final shot cotton cloth which is an intense pinkish-orange colour.

Here are indigo and salmon together.  

Kaleidoscope shot cotton and chambray

Indigo is the chambray because of the white warp, and salmon the shot cotton because of the use of two different yarn dyed threads.

Regardless of whether the cloth is a chambray or shot cotton, the perceived colour of the fabric is determined by  the variance in colour of the warp and weft threads. This creates a lustrous depth of colour and additional 'interest' in the finished cloth.

Using Kaleidoscope shot cottons and chambrays

As I cut FQ bundles for all the pre-sale orders I noticed that some of the Kaleidoscope fabrics have a different feel in the hand.   I'm pretty sure this is due to sizing residue.

Sizing is part of the weaving process where a chemical treatment is performed on the thread under steam.  This makes the thread stronger and more resistant to friction and breakage; and therefore easier to weave.

If you want to read more about sizing I found a clear explanation here

These are fabrics you should pre-wash

Now don't shoot me, but somewhere along the way I stopped pre-washing my quilting fabric.  I used to pre-wash everything bigger than a Fat 1/8th, including yardage, but rarely do these days as shop life keeps me pretty busy.

Nevertheless,  I will definitely be pre-washing Kaleidoscope and this is for the following reasons:

  1. To remove the sizing.  I am certain you will end up with a softer cloth.  The sizing does make the fabric easier to handle when rotary cutting, so if you are worried about this you can always spritz on some spray starch afterwards.
  2. As a safety check for colour-fastness.   In my experience saturated reds, teals and purples tend to be the ones that will bleed dye when washed.  Kaleidoscope is full of these colours and you really wont want to discover one of them misbehaved in the washing machine after it ruined your beautiful pieced quilt.
  3. pre-washing will also pre-shrink your fabric

How to pre-wash your quilting fabric

I don't do anything fancy. Just clip, sort and check.

First of all I clip the point (about 1/4" ) off the corners of each piece of fabric.  This prevents excess fraying and avoids that rampant tangled thread mess at the end of the wash.  

I sort them into 'like' colours and wash them in the machine with a warm (not hot) wash and cold rinse, using the gentle setting.  I tend to use the same soap that I would normally wash the finished quilt in, and my favourite is Lux flakes as it is a pure soap with out all of the additives  that you get in regular washing powder.

During the wash I check out the water for any excess dye.  If it is just a light tinge I will let the machine run its cycle. 

If the water is heavily stained I dive in straight away and separate all of the fabrics.  I then rinse them by hand to determine the bloody, or in this case bleeding culprit.  If after repeated rinses that fabric continues to bleed I discard it.

Some people recommend using Synthrapol to help set the dye.  I've not used it, but it sounds good in theory.

I air dry the fabrics on the line and then after a quick press I'm ready to sew.


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Wendy Wild - June 12, 2018

Hi Margaret and Amanda

Yes! These saturated colours can be tricky that’s for sure. Can crocking! That’s a word I haven’t heard for a long time. Maybe that is a blog post in itself

Margaret Swan - June 12, 2018

The most extreme case of dye bleeding I have encountered (luckily in my pre-wash) was a green shot cotton – the dye still bled grass green after several washes (fabric from a famous designer label, in case you are wondering)

Amanda - June 9, 2018

I also find when using very saturated colours that prewashing helps prevent crocking where dark colours just bleed into its neighbours from moisture in the air or general fabric friction, esp with those dark colours you mention. You can usually tell which ones are likely culprits as they feel stiff and starchy.

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