Saturday, April 19

Sewl Food: Fabric Buying

When I first started buying fabric, I was so excited about finding deals that I bought everything I could get my hands on because it was cheap. (I am sew in love with the Walmart $1 table)


That impulse buying resulted in a tacky, low quality, cluttered stash. I felt like I wanted to chuck it all and start over but I can't do that with a clear conscience. I will just try to reduce faster than I add for now.

I know deep in my heart, that no matter how much I try:
  • I will always have a stash
  • I will always gravitate towards sale & clearance fabrics first
  • I will not always be able to resist buying a piece (or 2 or 3) of fabric when the urge hits me.
Knowing this I felt I needed to develop a new method for buying fabric. I decided to build a "happy" stash. This has slowed my purchases & makes me think before I buy and I am very happy with the fabric I bought this year.

My criteria for adding to a happy stash is:
  1. Know what the general yardage is for your garments. This will be based on your pattern stash. I don't always buy pattern and fabric together, so this allows me to buy what "moves" me and makes the piece more flexible. For me pants generally take 2.5 yds, knit tops 1.5 to 2 yds, woven tops about 2 yds, skirts 1.5 to 3 slim to full.
  2. Check the quality - when I scan a fabric I think Walmart or Bergdorf? Cheesy or trendy? Trashy or classy? This doesn't always equate to $$. I just bought some great stuff in the clearance section of Joann's (see pics below) and I will still shop the Walmart $1 table.
  3. Make time for fabric shopping & don't shop in a rush. I make the best choices when I have time to look and analyze. I try to go early or late to miss the crowds. By nature I am a "hunter" shopper, I look under and in-between to find those hidden gems.
  4. Ask yourself "Will I like this next year in case I don't sew it soon?"
  5. Gravitate towards naturals. I am finding that cotton and linen are so easy and such a pleasure to sew though! I say gravitate, because polyester often comes in some of the nicest prints. Most of my locally available cottons, rayons, linens are in florals and plaids - & not the cute ones. I am looking forward though to getting my hands on some silks and wools to practice with.
  6. Stock up on "classics" like shirting, solid knits, solid bottom weights and denim. Garments from these fabrics are always staples. I make these my just in case I want to sew something fabric purchases.
  7. Last but not least, just because it's free (or next to free), doesn't make it right. Last year when I went through my aunt's stash I was grabbing everything I could. If I get the chance again, I will be more selective.
Here's what I got today for about $19.

100% cotton stripe shirting. $2.50/yd. Seeing it, I immediately thought about Simplicity 3684.
I JUST noticed those HIDEOUS BOOTS she's wearing - LMAO!!!!

100% cotton Italian Jacquard $2/yd for New Look 6732

camo cotton/spandex blend, has some sequin detail. $1.5/yd for Simplicity 3515. (bottoms)
and for the top, 100% cotton Alexander Henry Mocca print $2.5/yd


Meg said...

OMG, you have been "reading my mail', I think. I've vowed to choose quality over quantity from now on, but that Walmart $1 table is evil. I ought to print your post and put it up on my wall.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

You can't say it any better than questions 2, 4 & 6. All sewists should adopt those questions! And you did good at Joann's, fabrics bought with a plan and reasonably priced is always good in my book.

For years when my DDs were smaller I had to be choosy with my fabric purchases - so the best quality I could afford at the lowest I understand that need all too well!

toya said...

OMG, I've never shopped the walmart $1 table,,, didn't even know it existed, lol
there is nothing wrong with getting good deals for cheap at all.

lsaspacey said...

Ok, WHERE did you find Alexander Henry for $2.50!? I must know.

Elaray said...

You made good choices. I particularly like the striped shirting. I would have bought that in a heartbeat.

gold said...

Wow I was the same way!!I also told myself that I was going to be more selective when I purchase fabric now!!I have some much fabric that I don't like now and I asked myself what was I thinking when I bought this.SALE FOR A DOLLAR!Just like you I am going to always look on Walmart 1.00 rack to see if there is something I really like.Then I will buy it!

Marlena said...

Everything you said so perfectly describes my own evolution of my yarn stash! I don't know why I never put it together that I could build a fabric stash the same way.

Of course, I should probably start actually SEWING again before I think about stash building. :)

Faye Lewis said...

Good tips for fabric buying.

Christy Sews said...

Amen and alleluia! I've been trying to do the fabric diet thing, but it's not working. I think perhaps, I too, must admit that I will always collect something and fabric -- it's my thing right now. Like you, I also had to change my methods -- I tend toward quality cottons (they hold up so well in the wash) and linens (the other reason is that I live in Florida -- natural fibers are the only way to go). I do still have some Walmart $1 fabric, but that is usually sent to me by my mom even though I ask her not to. So, I started using it for lining, underlining, interfacing and pillow forms. Finally, it has function.

ambika said...

This is a good philosophy *regardless* of what you're shopping for (tho, of course, some of these are very sewing specific, I think a lot of these methods could apply to other crafts *and* clothing shopping in general.

Dawn said...

I really like that New Look blouse pattern. I have picked it up and put it down half a dozen times.

Anonymous said...

I buy from the Walmart $1 tabe as well. Some things are quality, some are not. However, the key is to look on the side of the bolt. If it has that the fabric is undetermined or that the content is unknown or something to that effect, then don't get it. Also, you can tell by the feel of the fabric if it's worth getting or not. If it's hard and crunchy, don't get it. Nonetheless, I have found many jewels at Walmart, so don't totally elliminate shopping from the $1 table. Unfortunately, I don't have a JoAnn's fabrics where I live, so my other fabric comes from Hancock fabrics. Does anybody have any suggestions of a good place to purchase fabric online.

Anonymous said...

i am soooo glad that i am not alone in anaylzing my fabric buying habits! i see from the amount of comments on this topic that i am truly not alone! and thanks for your list, i will happily keep that in mind when shopping for my fabrics from now on!!