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Discouraged with fabric choices
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Mary Heckman
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Mary Heckman  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Pennsylvania USA
Member since 5/4/09
Posts: 417
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Date: 1/13/11 7:45 AM

Since I am new at sewing the last couple years. I have made alot of things, but most I won't wear. One reason is I haven't got my fit right, and the most important reason is I just can't seem to pick the right fabric for the right pattern. I shop a lot a Joann's but as all knows the selection is small and not great quality. I need help in direction on where to look for fabric (reasonable priced since I am new) and how do you know what fabric would look nice with the pattern. Yes I read the back of the pattern at fabric suggestions, but then when I get to the store things are not marked as such. I don't know my fabrics so that is really a draw back to picking the right fabrics. Suggestions on books about fabric. Do they make a book with samples of fabric you can touch?

Michelle L
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Michelle L
Intermediate
Missouri USA
Member since 1/20/08
Posts: 1301
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In reply to Mary Heckman


Date: 1/13/11 8:54 AM

There is a book called "Fabric Savvy" that you might want to check out.

I tend to purchase most of my fabric online. Many retailers will specify "Pants weight" or "for blouses or dresses" which can help with making selections. Gorgeous Fabrics goes even further, and will make pattern recommendations, including links, for each fabric.

You can also purchase swatches from many online retailers.

I know that not everyone is comfortable with online purchasing; but the quality that I find online is much better than what I find at my local JoAnns or Hancocks. I only go to the fabric store for thread and notions.

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Michelle

http://cheapandpicky.blogspot.com/

EveS
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EveS
Intermediate
Michigan USA
Member since 11/26/06
Posts: 2701
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In reply to Mary Heckman


Date: 1/13/11 9:26 AM

Yes, there is a book (actually, books) that has swatches. It's called Julie Parker's Fabric Reference Series and she has a book for cotton, wool, and silk. I recently purchased and reviewed them on PR. For some reason my computer won't let me link lately, but if you go to the Book Review page, it's #9 on the list. The books aren't cheap, but well worth it if you're serious about learning fabrics.

Do you have any decent fabric stores in your area? By that, I mean something other than Joann's or Hancocks. A good fabric store is a great place to learn about fabrics. Usually, the fabric quality is better, and the labels (and staff!) are typically more helpful/knowledgeable.

I'm lucky to have a couple of really great sources that are somewhat local. If you don't know of any, perhaps you could post the question in the "regional" forum. No doubt someone will be familiar with your area and can offer up some suggestions.

Aside from my local stores (I have 2 that I rely on heavily), I shop online at some TNT (tried and true) sources. Most of the stores offer swatching services of one sort or another - always a good idea! I typically use Joann's as a last resort, simply because I rarely find anything there that I really like.

Other than that, go by feel. For example, you know what dresses that you love feel like. Study that fabric. Is it stiff? Is it beefy or sheerish? How does it lay across your open hand? Compare this to fabrics on the bolt and seek something similar. You really need to follow knit or woven (especially!) suggestions, meaning you don't want to use a woven for a knit pattern. But other than the stretch factor, you really can "break" some of the rules on what patterns suggest. Just keep in mind that the further you stray from the recommended fabrics, the more different your end result may be. That's not always an entirely bad thing, but something to keep in mind.

Some rules of thumb for any fabric you're looking at: Is it sheer? If so, are you prepared to line your garment? Does it wrinkle badly? If so, are you ok with that? Do the care instructions mesh with your lifestyle? I'm a SAHM to 3 people 4 and under. Dry clean only is a ridiculous notion for me. Are you ok with synthetics or must you have natural fibers?

The best teacher is experience. Just spend some time touching fabrics. You will be surprised how quickly you pick up on the general fabric qualities and how to make them work for you.

Have fun!!
Eve

------
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it - Chinese proverb

kkkkaty
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kkkkaty  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Utah USA
Member since 12/7/05
Posts: 2637
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Date: 1/13/11 9:35 AM

Mary, have you looked on this site for reviews of fabric stores in Pennsylvania? I don't know how close any of them would be, but since this is important to you, maybe it's worth a drive to explore local stores beyond Joanns. On the front page, go to "Store reviews, then search for the ones located in Pa.

ETA: if you can find a good local(ish) store, take a pattern with you that you'd like to sew. tell them your budget constraints, and see what they would recommend.
-- Edited on 1/13/11 9:36 AM --

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Viking Lily 545
Viking Ruby
Bernina Activa 210
Brother 1034d

sharkycharming
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sharkycharming
Beginner
Maryland USA
Member since 11/10/10
Posts: 345
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Date: 1/13/11 9:36 AM

Fabric Mart is very helpful about what type of garment is appropriate for any given fabric. And joining Julie's Picks was money well spent because all the little swatches have really been teaching me about fabric. Fabric Sewing Guide by Claire Shaeffer doesn't have swatches, but it's extremely thorough and helpful to understanding fabric. I love that book. I read a few pages before bed every night.

------
Heather in Baltimore

kkkkaty
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kkkkaty  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Utah USA
Member since 12/7/05
Posts: 2637
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Date: 1/13/11 9:43 AM

According to the store reviews, Fabric Mart has a brick and mortar location in PA. ETA: it doesn't sound like a location where you can expect a lot of hands on help.
-- Edited on 1/13/11 9:43 AM --

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Viking Lily 545
Viking Ruby
Bernina Activa 210
Brother 1034d

mastdenman
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mastdenman  Friend of PR
Intermediate
California USA
Member since 1/12/04
Posts: 6130
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Date: 1/13/11 10:13 AM

Fabric Mart has great fabrics. I also agree with researching the kinds of fabric that you can use.

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Marilyn

January 2009 to January 2010 81 yards out and 71yards in January 2010 to the present 106.7 yards out and 146.5 yards in. January 2011 to the present: 47 yards out and 69 yards in.

zazzie
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zazzie
Intermediate
Quebec CANADA
Member since 3/20/07
Posts: 223
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Date: 1/13/11 10:19 AM

A few tips:

1. Picture the final garnment made into the fabric you intend to use. Imagine it being displayed in a store. Would you - or any savvy customer - find it "normal-looking", or odd? Would it look like something you are likely to see in ready-to-wear shop .... or in a craft show? (I am not talking of "art-to-wear", which is deliberately crafty looking).

2. You say :

Quote:
I need help in direction on where to look for fabric (reasonable priced since I am new)


I think it is a mistake that many beginners - and intermediates - do. I used to do it myself and after 20 years, I am not immuned! If you use a cheap-looking fabric, you got to be a heck a good sewist to make the final garnment look good !!

Do the opposite. Until you are a pro, find the best quality YOU CAN AFFORD. It sews more easily and the result will be totally different. Make a muslin of you are afraid to cut directly in you "good fabric".

Don't focus on the cost per metre (or yard). Look at the total cost of the garnment. Never, never, never compromise on the fabric. Designers don't do that. And I am not talking necessarily of couture desginers here. If you buy something thinking "well, it will do", the best result you can hope for, even if the fit and the construction are PERFECT, is" well, that shirt/skirt/top will do...."

3. Begin your project by picking a fabric you like and that inspires you, and suits your skin tone, shape, age, style, etc., THEN see if you can find a pattern for it. And again, don't compromise ! If it's not a perfect match, pass and move on to another project.


4. Speaking of savings: if we don't wear the clothes we make because of the fabric we chose, I call that a total loss, material and labour included. Not such a good deal after all ....

HTH !!


-- Edited on 1/13/11 10:22 AM --
-- Edited on 1/13/11 10:23 AM --

------
There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. - L. Cohen.

ClareinStitches

ClareinStitches  Friend of PR
Intermediate
International UNITED KINGDOM
Member since 1/2/03
Posts: 74
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In reply to zazzie


Date: 1/13/11 11:50 AM

Such wise words, Zazzie. and a heartfelt Thank You!

MrsLyn
MrsLyn
Intermediate
Nevada USA
Member since 11/16/03
Posts: 25
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Date: 1/13/11 11:51 AM

Snoop shop... study how & what clothing manufactures are using. But realize those same fabrics may not be avilable at fabric stores.
There always seems to be a disconnect between pattern back info and what's for sale at joann's or hancocks. My favorite example is "faille". I've only once seen a bolt marked that way.
Keep practiceing. experience is a great teacher. Try this, pick one type of fabric or one pattern (like PJ's) to specialize in. (that's what sewing teachers seem to do). We set ourselves up for failure by trying too may different things at once. Remember designers have staffs to sew multiple test samples. Keep your focus narrow. I ,myself want to have or try every thing I read about here.

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