Fabric: How do you choose?

12:00 PM

Monogamy vs. Stashing

When you purchase fabric, how do you go about it? Do you have a project in mind? Do you see it and buy just because? Usually, when I buy fabric I have a project in mind. I hardly ever stash, I'm very monogamous with my sewing. On the occasions when I do stash, I already have a pattern and they are put away together.

Local vs. Online

Do you buy online or do you have to see it in person? I sometimes buy online but nothing (IMHO) beats going into a store and walking up and down the aisles, fondling and caressing for a couple of hours! My local shopping is pretty limited so I usually get swatches from online retailers.


Just like most people, I'm a sucker for a great deal or a sale. BUT, I will NOT toss quality out of the window just because I find fabric on the $1/yd. table. When I sew something, I want it to last and not become "disposable". As sewers, we put a lot of time into constructing a garment and my philosophy is that you should always buy the best fabric you can afford.

Fabric Trends

Do you follow the fabric trends? I do. Even though sewing provides me with individuality, I still like to be reflective of trends. I usually model most of the things I make by what's current. I flip through fashion magazines, go to stores and boutiques, browse online to identify colors and styles of the season. For example, Spring/Summer 2007's big fabrics are jersey knits (which is a big favorite of mine), prints such as flowers, ginkgo leave and all sorts of exotic botanicals.

Other Characteristics

Grain is very important in fabric. Woven fabrics are "on-grain," if the lengthwise and crosswise yarns are at right angles. Knit fabrics are "on-grain," if the lengthwise rows of loops (wales) in the knit are straight. Fabrics must be "on-grain" so the clothes you make will hang straight and look right.

Wrinkle or crease resistant. Crush a corner of the fabric and hold it tightly for several seconds. Then look for wrinkles. Fabrics that wrinkle easily will require extra care.

Colorfastness. Rub the fabric against your skin or a light colored fabric. Check to see if color rubbed off.

Flaws in construction and dyeing. As fabric is unrolled from the bolt, look closely for obvious flaws in construction. Also, check for fading. Sometimes fading will occur along the fold or where the fabric has been exposed to sunlight.

Odor. Although chemical finishing odors usually are removed by the first laundering, it is wise to avoid fabrics with strong odors.

Care requirements. Read the information on the end of the fabric bolt. It should tell you what fiber the fabric is made from, the width of the fabric, the price, if the fabric will shrink, if there are special finishes, and how to care for it.

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