This is the last pre-lesson in my Learn to Sew series. The series itself starts Monday, but before it does, let’s talk fabric. Or more specifically how to buy fabric.
I’m a sucker for fabric. Totally and completely. You can never have too much fabric. And I love to buy fabric. But I understand that it could be overwhelming to walk into a fabric store if you don’t have a lot of experience there, so let me walk you through it.
How to Buy Fabric In Stores and Online:
OK, you walk into your fabric store and you will see rows and rows of fabric. What are they all and what do they mean? Let’s take a little tour of the store shall we?
Typically the most prevalent fabric is going to be your basic cotton. Also sometimes called Calico in the fabric world. Along one wall of the store you are likely to see fabrics arranged by color something like this:
Kind of pretty looking isn’t it? Those are arranged like that for the quilter’s sake-so that they can easily find for example a purple to go into the quilt they are making. Often these calico fabrics will have small all over prints like dainty little flowers, but you can see that some of them have more bold prints like large polkadots. At the close end you can also see solid prints.
Throughout the store on shelves you will probably find many more cottons in a variety of styles. You may find a baby section, a designer fabric section, seasonal prints, etc. Just browse for what you are looking for.
On another wall of the store you are likely to find fleece and other plush fabrics typically used for blankets and pajamas and other cozy things. These fabrics will also be more expensive, so make sure to bring a coupon. (All the major chains have printable coupons if you just google it.)
An overlook of the rest of the store might show you something like this:
You’ll see shelves and shelves of fabric and at the top a sign indicating what type of fabric you are seeing.
A few other, possible more hidden parts of the store include home decor fabrics-typically on large rolls that are very wide:
In still another section you will find trims like ribbon and lace that you can buy by the yard. Just take them up to the cutting counter just like any fabric and have them cut it for you:
And there will be a corner with interfacing:
And then the rest of the store will be filled with things like thread and notions and any other sewing supplies that you might need:
OK, so you browse and find something you want. Now what?
First of all, take notice of the end of the bolt. You are going to find information there like the width of the fabric (this one is typical at about 44″ wide-some fabrics will be wider like 60″), the type of fabric, washing instructions and pricing:
Take your fabric or trim or interfacing up to the cutting counter and tell them how much you need. Typically the smallest cut they will make is 1/8th of a yard and then you can do any increments beyond that. Try to figure out ahead of time about how much you are going to need.
They’ll cut it for you and then you will take it, along with a ticket they will give you, up to the register to pay. (Remember your coupons!)
Now, if you are shopping online it’s similar, but a little different since you are browsing online. Let’s use one of our sponsors, The Ribbon Retreat as an example.
Say I want to buy some nice cotton fabric there to make a baby dress. Well, I like this fabric. (Seriously-that’s cute! Might need to make something with that!) So I am going to click on that fabric, read the description at the top and then decide how much I need and select that from the drop down menu and then add it to my cart.
They also offer accessories like ribbons and trims and some notions online as well. Pretty easy right?
Type of Fabrics:
Let’s have a quick overview of types of fabric you will find at the store.
Cottons or Calicos: 100% cotton fabrics (that will probably shrink and should be pre-washed) and are going to be very plentiful at most stores. Available in many different styles including designer fabrics with bold, trendy prints, baby fabrics, quilting fabrics, seasonal fabrics and lots more.
Heavyweight fabrics like duck, canvas and denim: These will be heavier than your calicos and can be great for things like throw pillows, outdoorsy type things, tote bags, or anything else you want a heavier weight for.
Plush like fleece and minky: Soft and cozy and perfect for things like blankets and pajamas or all things baby. They will be a little more expensive. They may pill a little after washing.
Flannel: Usually you will find a flannel section with lots of baby prints as well as other prints. Soft and snuggly but will most definitely shrink and pill after it’s washed a few times.
Special Occasion Fabrics: You will find a section with things like satin (soft and silky), tulle (like netting) and silks. These are usually used for dresses and other fancy things. One warning-they are quite a bit harder to sew on than regular cotton and will take some practice.
Jersey Knits: Soft and stretchy like a t-shirt. Also can be a little harder to sew on because they stretch, but not too difficult. they often come in wider sizes than a typical bolt of fabric so pay attention to that. You may need less fabric because of this.
Home Decor: On large rolls (see above), wider and more expensive than other fabrics but also much higher quality. For things like curtains.
OK, what do you think? You ready to go fabric shopping now?