4 Useful Fabric Shopping Tips

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There was some wall art in October’s crate that said, “Buying Fabric and Sewing Are Two Different Hobbies.”

That is so true!

It’s easy to buy more fabric than you have time to sew…

When you’re a beginner, though, shopping for fabric can be overwhelming because of all the choices!

We decided to write a blog post with some tips on shopping for fabric since many of our subscribers are still in that ‘beginner’ stage. We hope this post helps you, and that you fall in love with fabric, too!

1. Check Your Pattern for Fabric Suggestions

An important question you need to ask yourself when shopping for fabric is: Do you choose the fabric first or do you choose the pattern first?

There is no right or wrong answer, but your choice does affect how you shop for fabric.

If you choose the pattern first, you can look on the pattern envelope or in the instructions for fabric suggestions. This is nice because you can go to the right section at your fabric store or have the right keywords to search for if you’re shopping for fabric online. The downside is that you may or may not find fabric for your project that is on sale.

It’s ok to use different fabric than your pattern suggests, but you should make sure the fabric you choose has similar properties to the suggestions in your pattern. For example, you don’t want to use a woven fabric if your pattern suggests knits.

2. Find Out the Price Before You Head to the Cut Table

Another important thing to know about fabric is that it comes in a WIDE RANGE of prices. You can buy fabric for as little as $3 per yard or for more than $100 per yard! If you need more than 2 or 3 yards, the cost can really add up! That’s why it’s important to check the price on the bolt before you head to the cut table.

Coupons can help bring the cost of fabric down… As a matter of fact, you should never step into a big-box fabric store like JoAnn’s without them. If you do, you might be in for some serious sticker shock.

It’s not always cheaper to sew your own clothes!

If you’re shopping for fabric online and you’re not sure if some fabric is worth the cost, try ordering a sample first. Most online fabric stores have this option.

3. Realize That Some Fabrics Are Tricky to Sew

Even experienced sewists find some fabrics difficult to sew. For example, silk and satin have a slick texture that is aggravating because it shifts so easily. Denim is also a little tricky because it is so thick when you need to join multiple layers together.

It’s common for beginners to also get intimidated by sewing knit fabric... However, we recommend that you do learn to sew knits early in your sewing journey because they make great clothing. Knits are not as difficult as you think!

Read: ThreadCrate’s Tips for Sewing Knits

One of the biggest benefits of subscribing to ThreadCrate is that we take all the guesswork out of choosing the right fabric and pattern. We like to throw in a challenge every once in a while, but we always choose projects that are perfect for beginner and intermediate sewists.

4. Buy the Right Amount of Fabric

To keep your costs down, try not to buy more fabric than you need. Patterns always have a chart that tells you how much to get. However, if you don’t already have a pattern selected, you’ll have to guess what amount to buy. A good guideline to follow is 2-3 yards of fabric for a blouse and 3-4 yards for a dress.

If you choose fabric with a print or a nap, buy a little extra yardage so you can match up lines and designs when cutting out your pattern pieces. As a beginner, it’s always a good idea to buy a little extra fabric anyway, just in case you make a mistake and need to recut a piece.

ThreadCrate’s Ultimate Fabric Guide

If you still feel overwhelmed by fabric shopping, we’ve put together a FABRIC GUIDE to help you gain some confidence. It is 19 pages of helpful information, especially for beginners!

Here are a few things we cover in the guide:

  • The difference between knit and woven fabrics
  • Types of fabrics and when to use them
  • Fabric suggestions for common garments
  • A list of our favorite online fabric shops
  • A fabric swatch card printable

Get your download today! Fabric shopping can be easy!

Do you have any fabric shopping tips to share? Leave your advice in the comments below.

Have You Tried ThreadCrate?

ThreadCrate is a sewing subscription box for people with beginner to intermediate sewing skills. We send you a pattern, fabric, and all the notions you need to sew a garment each month. We throw in sewing tools and goodies, too! We hope you'll join us.

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