I don’t know about you but finding the right fabric is sometimes the most challenging part of sewing. I used to refuse to shop online for fabric (I am a touch and feel kind of person) after all it is 100 times easier to pick a fabric if it is right in front of you and you can feel it, and see how it drapes, and how sheer it is, and how bulky it is. I am however not fortunate enough to have great local selection of fabrics especially when it comes to apparel fabrics, so I have slowly turned to ordering online and now I would say I buy about 80% of my fabrics online. Shopping online for fabrics can be hard though it took me a while before I found myself happy with the fabric I thought I was ordering and the fabric I actually got. So here are some tips (along with links to all the fabrics I used for the Winter Wonderland Collection)
Tip #1: Learn your fabrics. This one takes time really. Go to your local store, check out the fabrics the fiber content, weight, and check the drape. You may not be crazy in love with the selection they have and that’s fine but you will learn what say a linen cotton blend feels like. You will know what weight and blend of knit fabric you like, cotton spandex? Jersey knit? So go study some fabrics, learn the fiber content then when you shop online you will feel more confident.
Tip #2: Read descriptions. Fabric can look one way online but it’s hard to really know what you are going to get unless you read. For example when a shirting fabric says:
“A boldly checked cotton shirting with a hint of Lycra for crosswise stretch and comfort. Imagine how cute a shirt or dress out of this fabric would be.”
Then I don’t even have to try and imagine how the fabric will work out. Most online fabric shops like Mood will include typical uses which helps you to take some of the guess work out of the equation. The descriptions also tell you the fiber content which since we learned in tip one you should know something about that. Cotton shirting with a hint of lycra tells me that there will be a little stretch which is especially great for kids clothing since stretch helps them to move freely.
Tip 3#: Trust the fabrics you love. I personally have never met a linen that I didn’t love. Linen tends to be my go-to fabric and even though there is a lot a variety in linen fabric I know that I will likely love every linen I order. (and I have) Same with denim, I have never gone wrong when ordering denim. Since you can read the descriptions to find out if you are getting a heavy denim or a light weight denim, and if your denim has lycra which will give it some stretch (my favorite for boys and girls since it makes it even more comfortable) Do you love a fabric from your favorite store bought top? Check the label find out what kind of fabric it is and go pick one with the same content.
Tip #4: Matching colors and picking fabrics that go together is the hardest part. This is why when I buy fabrics that I need to go together I buy them from the same place. They are photographed all in the same way. (typically) Which means same lighting, same camera. This means that if two swatches match online they will likely match in real life too. This is my favorite thing about Mood, Mood boards that allow you to pin fabrics to a collection. This lets’ you easily match up fabrics and check if the colors go. I find that the colors won’t always look true online as they are in real life but they will at least match each other. Another option is to stick with colors you know will work no matter the shade they actually come in such as the black and white I used for the sweet bonnie.
Tip #5: Learn about fabric weights. A lot of fabric will include a weight (such as 7oz. knit) This is probably the best indicator of the type of fabric you are going to get. Weight is the thickness and recovery (as in if it stretches how much it will bounce back vs. stretch out and stay) I use this the most when selecting a knit fabric. Is there anything worse then ordering a knit fabric you plan on making a shirt or leggings with and then finding out it is paper thin, or stretches out and doesn’t bounce back? No one wants a saggy butt, or knees, or any other number of saggy place. Thin knits have their place but it’s always better when you know what you are getting. So when it comes to knits especially for leggings, I never go below 7 oz. 8 is usually perfect with a spandex or lycra blend. Cotton interlock even in a heavy weight doesn’t have the fibers needed for a great recovery. Most of your bottom weights, denim, twill, stuff heavy enough for pants will be 12 oz. or higher. You need a heavy weight so that it will hold up well. You wouldn’t want a heavy weight like that as a top however since it won’t drape or perform well.
My last tip for you… forget all the other tips and just go for it. If you are a fabric lover like me then you know that no fabric will go to waste so if there is a fabric you want to try (like a Jersey Silk) just go for it. Get a small amount sometimes you can even order a swatch, check it out feel it see if you like it. Also don’t be afraid of fabrics. Some fabrics get a bad name, polyester, silk, knits. You will hear that they are difficult to work with or challenging to care for, or maybe that they feel bad. Sometimes those things will be true but you will never really know until you go for it. If you are stuck in a fabric rut, get out of it try something new.
Do you have any online fabric shopping tips?
And don’t forget to snag your copy of Winter Wonderland before it’s gone.
You can also still enter to win A Mood Fabric shopping spree, Minnetonka Moccasins, and One Little Belt, so you can style your Winter Wonderland Patterns however you want.
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