5.09.2008

sewing tips friday


Buying Fabric:

This is a topic that people ask me about a lot. I'm pretty picky about the fabric that I buy. It's so important to buy quality fabric when it's being used for something that you're going to work really hard on. When you devote a lot of time and effort to making a garment, you want it to last for years. I spend a great deal of my design time sourcing fabrics. It can be a huge headache to try to find the right fabric and may take me hours, days, and weeks. That's why I don't give away my fabric sources, except to close friends or associates. But you can find your own fabric using some simple pointers.

1. Shop local. Most of the fabrics I use are from local fabric stores. It's essential for me to touch the fabrics before I buy. I will even unroll a bolt a little bit and place it on top of the shelf, letting the fabric fall down so I can see how it drapes. I also take the bolt with me to a mirror and drape it against my body to see how the color or print is going to look on a person. I hold it up to the light to see if it's transparent and needs lining. This is the best way to shop for fabric. If I'm ever forced to buy online, I ALWAYS order a sample swatch before spending my hard-earned money on yardage. I have a file folder full of swatches and their descriptions that I keep as a catalog. If there's a brand of fabric that I really like and believe in, it's not always necessary for me to order a swatch first. For instance, I never hesitate to order yardage of Yuwa printed fabrics because I already know the quality is good.

2. Shop natural. I always buy fabrics with 100% natural fibers. Always. Everything else looks cheap.

3. Shop smart. I try to buy fabrics that are 60" wide as opposed to 45" because it saves money. You can make a dress with 1 1/2 yards of 60" wide fabric or 2 yards of 45" wide fabric. See what I mean? Also the less yardage you have to work with, the easier it is.

I can't really tell you how to have an eye for picking out good fabric. It's more something that you have to develop over time. Spend an afternoon in an expensive boutique and study and touch the fabric that the garments are made of. Then spend time in fabric boutiques looking for fabric with the same qualities. The best fabric is sturdy yet soft/drapey at the same time. You just have to use your head to figure out if a fabric will work for a particular design. If you're making a dress with a lot of volume, don't use a stiff cotton. Use something light and flowy. If you're making a more structured garment, then you can pick something stiffer. The fabric you pick completely decides the shape of the garment. It just takes some practice and common sense.

14 comments:

Mountain Mom Alison said...

Hey, great advice. Just as I am about to make a dress hopefully to last me through 4 weddings this summer.

tiffany... said...

yay!
thanks jenny!
i love this advice... and always look forward to your sewing top fridays! i, too, buy nearly all of my fabric from local shops... i need to touch everything! and... even after i've touched it there... i, usually bring home a swatch and keep it in my pocket or hang it on the wall so i can feel it and mull over it for awhile... (and then there are those other days in which i make a complete impulse buy and abandon all my fabric buying morals... )
happy weekend lady!

you're the best jenny... this, i know to be true!

shim + sons said...

Great advice!! Have a fantastic weekend!

Kangaroopals said...

I am so glad I read your blog! Very good advices...

erica-knits said...

Oh this is wonderful. Thanks Jenny. Between this post and the previous there is one thing I've always taken away from your blog and that is by buying or using quality materials you will find yourself with a quality product. Even if it didn't cost a lot, it will look like it did. Thanks for all your sewing tips!

Marianne said...

Thanks for the tips. I too also buy only natural fibers. Shopping for fabric in Norway is expensive but there is usually a good supply of linens and cottons. If I'm sewing a complicated pattern, I'm always worried that I'll mess up and waste good fabric so I practice with super-cheap IKEA cotton muslin.

monika said...

Which online fabric stores can you recommend?

i'm always sleepy said...

Thanks for the tips. I'm a beginner in the crafting/sewing fabric tangibles and have managed to stumble across your blog (and couldn't be happier that I have). Your blog is beautiful and extremely inspiring.

Moiface said...

Hi!

I haven't checked out your blog in a while... I like the new environment you created for yourself and the new header!

lynne said...

thank you! that is great advice. you have an amazing eye - i love everything you do.

Moonbeam said...

Good advice - and kudos to you for only using REAL fabric. I still get totally freaked out at the thought of wearing petrolium products. Because of you, I think I'll be buying some gingham soon...also, I think I saw something a while back saying you were devloping some patterns (yes, no, maybe?) I'm so excited if that's the case!

Cafe Couture said...

Hello, and I absolutely agree with your advise on chosing fabric, for me it counts for 80% in a garment. It is absolutely important to touch the fabric before making the decision to buy. Ther's a good choice of fabric stores here (I am writing from France), relatively expensive but one can always find the right one. I often buy high labeled fabric sold out by sewing ateliers. Another rule is to buy fabric for a precise model, buying fabric in advance is often spending money for something that may rest a long time in your drawers and you're no sure to use it. I like your sewings, will come to see you often :)

Graziella said...

these are fantastic tips! thanks jenny!

Thomas said...

I recently finished my first sewing class and am now the proud maker of pyjama pants. Next up - bubble skirt. In any event, you were one of the inspirations for me starting.

Also, flower pins are the best.