Monday, October 7, 2013

So Sew! Day 7: Purchasing Fabric

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Welcome to day 7 of our 31 Days series! Today we're walking through the process of purchasing fabric.

This week we are starting to get to the “meat” of this series… actually working with fabric! While everything we talked about last week is so, so important, I’m willing to admit that now we are getting to the fun stuff. :)

Today I’d simply like to walk you through the process of purchasing fabric, and explain some of the options available to you.

Heading to a fabric store can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. There are sooooo many choices, and you feel like everyone else in the room is probably a seasoned seamstress that knows exactly what they are doing, and they are all watching you flounder around wondering where to begin. {Chances are you’ve had this feeling any time you’ve visited a new place!}

You can make the experience enjoyable - and at the same time look like you know what you are doing {wink!} - by following these steps…

Know what you are looking for.

If you are following a pattern, it will tell you what types of fabric are best for the project. Head to those bolts first. If you are sewing on a whim, cotton fabrics are probably your best bet. Cotton is pretty much what I always use, unless it is a special project.

These tablet sleeves have been a best-seller, and I like to think it is because the fabric is so pretty and feminine!

Have a list.

A pattern will also list the notions you need, such as zippers, etc. Again if you are not following a pattern, think through your project so you will know what items are needed. Write them down. It is easy to forget things when you already feel overwhelmed!

Know your likes and dislikes.

Let’s say you are making yourself a shirt. Consider your design likes and dislikes so you know which bolts will catch your eye. Solid colours? Floral? Abstract? Stripes? Polka dots? There are loads of options, but they can easily be whittled down by your preferences. This will help you, so you don’t have to study every bolt on the shelf - your eye can glance through to the ones that you particularly like.

If the item is not for you or you are open to options, its okay to just browse around the store. Personally that is the best part. :) I could spend hours and hours just gazing at all the different options and imagining what could be done with them. So don’t feel rushed - take your time and enjoy it!

These pinks and browns were a custom request - but I love how they look, too!

Don’t feel pressured to make a purchase.

If you don’t feel 100% about it, put it back. If you buy something you feel “meh” about, you’re not going to like the finished product any better. It is ok to walk out of the store with nothing - much better then ending up with a finished product you won’t wear or use.

If it helps you, drag out a bunch of bolts.

I personally usually have an armful of bolts before deciding which ones to purchase. Because my brand involves three coordinating prints, I usually drag a few bolts around the store for a while matching colours. My sister comes in very handy for carrying it all around! =) Whatever you don’t use, just put back. Trust me, this is normal.

So how do you go about making a purchase?

Once you’ve decided on your fabric, determine how much of each you need. Fabric is purchased by the meter in Canada, and by the yard in the States. You can ask for however much or little you need, but common measurements are ½ meter/yard or a whole meter/yard. Some stores may require a minimum cut of say, ⅛ meter. If they do, they’ll let you know. :)

Remember that once it is cut, you are committed to buying it. Cut fabric can not be returned or refunded.

Consider themed fabric, too! Seasonal prints can be so much fun, like these zippered pouches!

Take your bolts to the counter to be cut. This should be obvious, but there will be a wide counter, usually with a yardstick or cutting mat. The employee will cut your fabric to your specifications. If you are lucky, she’ll even cut it straight. {excuse me while I get off my soapbox…}

Thats all! You can now pick up your notions, and head to the check-out counter to pay and complete your shopping trip. Don’t forget thread to match!

So tell me - do you enjoy buying fabric? What part of the process excites you most? For me, I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by bolts I'm considering and I'm working to get a match I absolutely love. What about you?

Challenge: Do you have some projects you are considering tackling in the near future? {During this series would be good!} Make a list of the fabrics you will need. Then go pick them out, and tell us that you did! If you have any questions or need additional advice, let us know in the comments section...I'll be glad to help if I can!

Do you already have a big fabric stash? Maybe this is a good time to go through it and consider what you won't use. It's ok to admit there are some pieces you just.don't.enjoy. Donate them or sell them on craigslist! (this will allow you to go purchase more...guilt free! {wink!})

Other posts in this series:


  1. I have decision issues when it comes to buying fabric so I really liked the "put it back" thought you added in here! I always feel guilty but I've also learned (in several areas, not just sewing) If I don't LOVE it in the store I wont love it when I get it home either, usually. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just walk away! Although it hurts to admit that. :)


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