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Questions About Fabrics
DOGLOVER389
DOGLOVER389
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Member since 1/11/12
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Date: 2/22/14 0:50 AM

Hi All,

Moderators, if this post is more appropriate for the Beginner's forum, kindly move it. I wasn't sure where to post it.

I do not have a lot of familiarity with the various fabric types, names, etc. I saw a sale at Fabric.com (I know a lot of people have complained lately, which has me very concerned), and most of the fabrics I like do not have swatches available.

How do you know what a fabric is like if you don't know anything about it?

Is "Kona Cotton" anything like shirting fabric (both 100% cotton)? It gives a weight of 4.3 oz / square yard. Is it as heavy as shirting fabric? As soft?

How does shirting fabric compare with their "premium cotton broadcloth?" This is their description:

"This premium cotton broadcloth fabric is perfect for shirting, fuller skirts, quilts and quilting projects."

There is also a "light weight" cotton broadcloth, which I expect to be thinner than the "premium." It might not be bad for summer weight shirts, but how thin is "light weight?"

I found two Halloween fabrics, both of which "glow in the dark." They are 100% cotton, yet the descriptions do not list apparel as one of hte uses. The fabrics can be washed and dried in the machine. How would one know anything about the weight of the fabric?

There are several batiks I like but, again, there isn't a swatch available and I have no way of knowing if they will be suitable for making shirts.

Two of the batiks say "machine wash cold/ DRIP DRY." The others say "tumble dry low." Would those that say "drip dry" really need to be dried in that manner? Does it say that because of shrinkage (all of the fabrics in which I am interested are 100% cotton), or becuase the fabric will actually be damaged in some way? All of the batiks are Indonesian.

Given the wide variation in the way video cards/ chips display color, how does one know what color a fabric *really* is? Again, swatches are not available for most of the fabrics that interest me.

When using a fabric such as this one, how much extra do you need to buy so the front, back and sleeves match?

As someone carrying extra weight, I am apprehensive about using fabric with certain prints / designs. Should one use designs that are small, or is it better to use a design that is approximately 2" (say a seashell or seahorse)?

I thank you for your patience with all of my questions.

I have searched on several sites, but I cannot find the same fabrics.

Perhaps the fact that swatches are not available is a signal that I should not be spending money on fabric, and that I certainly should not be ordering from fabric.com.

Any and all suggestions and opinions are greatly appreciated.




Many thanx,


DogLover389

------
Cut my teeth on a Kenmore 117.58

http://pages.sewing-machine-manuals.com/173/PictPage/1922064294.html

Singer Merritt 9612

plumfan
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plumfan  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/22/14 3:14 AM

DogLover those are all great questions. I am by no means an expert, but I will share what I've learned from reading this board for the last year.

Care instructions: care instructions are suggestions. Every fabric these days seems to need to be treated with kid gloves. Many say dry clean only when the fabric content will be perfectly safe in the washer and dryer. One recent poster I read even said they had 100% quilting cotton that said do not iron. Cotton wil shrink. That's why you should wash and dry, maybe more than once, if you are going to use cotton for a garment. Washing can change the hand of some fabrics so it's a good idea to find out why dry cleaning may be suggested for fabrics that are regular-wash safe. I don't have enough experience to give you any examples.

I don't quilt but have read that quilters will not prewash their fabric to get a certain look that the shrinkage will bring to a finished quilt.

In general, pretreat your fabric the way you plan to treat your garment. If it's something special you will dry clean, you can have the fabric treated at the dry cleaners, usually expensive, or there are various methods of preparing it at home. Do a search and you'll find numerous suggestion.

I do not lead a dry clean only lifestyle. I'm a wash and wear girl. All my fabrics take a spin through the washer and dryer. If something happens I'm glad I found out before I put my time into a garment that wouldn't have worked out anyway.

As to fabric descriptions, some sites are better than others. Fabric.com is one that doesn't do the greatest job of describing their fabrics. I order from Fabric Mart a lot and find their descriptions pretty good. YMMV, but it's been my experience that after I've ordered a few times, I get a better feel for how the site describes fabric and figure out key words to look for when shopping for a particular fabric.

I mainly sew with knits, so hopefully someone more knowledgeable about cottons will post about your specific fabrics. You may just need to take a leap of faith and order some half-yard cuts to check out or just order the amount you need and hope it works out.

I hope this helps some.

------
Stash in as of Feb. 1, 2014 - 43
2014 Items finished for me - 12
2014 Items for others - 9
Approximate yardage used - 40

DOGLOVER389
DOGLOVER389
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Posts: 311
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Date: 2/22/14 12:38 PM

Hi Plumfan,

Thank you for your reply.

I sew primarily with 100% cotton for myself (not necessarily the dog coats). Before cutting any fabric, it not only goes through the washer and dryer, but I will wash in hot and then dry on high heat to maximize the shrinkage before I do any cutting. My typical laundry temperature is warm for the wash (colors).

If I am using "reds," I will also add a stain treater to the wash to make the fabric "bleed." Though this is not always fool-proof as I have red garments that have been washed for years and do not typically bleed, unless I screw up and add the stain remover to the wash. I try to remember to wash reds in their own batch.

I do not understand cotton that states it should not be ironed (if it isn't "textured"). I hate having wrinkles in my work shirts.

I wish there were more fabric stores in my area, especially stores that do not cater to quilting (no offense intended to quilters). I miss being able to browse bolts and bolts of fabric and getting to feel them. Buying "sight unseen" is hard when one has been out of the activity for so long and there have been so many changes.



DogLover389

------
Cut my teeth on a Kenmore 117.58

http://pages.sewing-machine-manuals.com/173/PictPage/1922064294.html

Singer Merritt 9612

AnneM
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In reply to DOGLOVER389 <<
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Date: 2/22/14 2:13 PM

Quote: DOGLOVER389
How do you know what a fabric is like if you don't know anything about it?

Well, I'm no expert either but here is my take on some of your questions.

Quote: DOGLOVER389
Is "Kona Cotton" anything like shirting fabric (both 100% cotton)? It gives a weight of 4.3 oz / square yard. Is it as heavy as shirting fabric? As soft?

Kona is a quilting cotton. Quilting cottons can be used for garments, but I think they are a bit stiffer and wrinkle a bit more easily than cottons designed for garment use. Others might be able to comment more on the differences.

Quote: DOGLOVER389
... but how thin is "light weight?"

You don't know unless the website is consist with their descriptions and you have ordered from them before. One persons light weight might be another's extra light or medium.

Hopefully the site is consist within itself, so their lightweight is thinner than their medium weight.

Quote: DOGLOVER389
Two of the batiks say "machine wash cold/ DRIP DRY." The others say "tumble dry low." Would those that say "drip dry" really need to be dried in that manner? Does it say that because of shrinkage (all of the fabrics in which I am interested are 100% cotton), or becuase the fabric will actually be damaged in some way?

Machine washing and drying will shorten the life of fabrics. That being said, cotton is pretty good at handling the heat. As with many people here, I wash and dry my fabric at least once, and often multiple times, before making a garment. In addition to getting the shrinking out of the way, it will also show up front if it can't handle that treatment.

Quote: DOGLOVER389
Given the wide variation in the way video cards/ chips display color, how does one know what color a fabric *really* is? Again, swatches are not available for most of the fabrics that interest me.

You don't. So if you are trying to color-match, you definitely need a swatch. There are a few sites (Emma One Sock, for example) that give a Pantone color number, and if you have the corresponding charts you can know the color. Unfortunately, they don't seem to make the home version of those charts any more. You might be able to find them on E-bay.

Quote: DOGLOVER389
When using a fabric such as this one, how much extra do you need to buy so the front, back and sleeves match

Sometimes the description will say 'design repeats every 24 inches' or some type of information. If the description said that it was a 45" wide fabric and the repeat was every 24", you could lay out your pattern pieces and get a good idea how much you would have to order. (For cotton, add some extra for shrinkage as well.) Without that type of information, and knowing what you are going to make and how you will lay it out, it's a guess. I don't have much experience with a batik like you link to.

Quote: DOGLOVER389
As someone carrying extra weight, I am apprehensive about using fabric with certain prints / designs. Should one use designs that are small, or is it better to use a design that is approximately 2" (say a seashell or seahorse)?

Personal preference, and perhaps if you browsed the plus size forum here you might find some discussions on that. You can do a search, or click at the bottom to give yourself a year's worth of posts to look at (vs the default 60 days). My personal opinion is that really large prints are a bit more difficult to wear, but medium to small are very flexible.


From a practical point of view, I'd suggest ordering just one or two fabrics to try them and see if they are what you might be able to use. Sometimes I've ordered fabrics and it has been exactly what I've expected, and sometimes it was a bit of a surprise.

------
With a great wardrobe that's still in the flat-fabric stage.

frame
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frame
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In reply to AnneM <<
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Date: 2/22/14 6:08 PM

Wow, Anne, that was a great response.

------
"framed" was taken
"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant." - Horton(Dr. Seuss)

Scrnme007
Scrnme007  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/23/14 1:13 AM

You should cut swatched of your fabric ( perhaps a three inch square but I like larger) ; make sure you mark the cross grain; trace it onto paper, also marking the cross grain, Wash and dry however you plan to wash it, then place it back on the drawn tracing in the proper direction, and see how much your fabric shrank. If it shrank a lot you may need to change your cleaning method. Also I think the problem with the batiks is that they may fade.
-- Edited on 2/23/14 1:15 AM --

------
SewWannabe-SewReady

Adaire
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Adaire  Friend of PR
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Date: 2/23/14 9:10 AM

I have never had the slightest problem with fabric.com and I order from them often. I know some PR members have had problems, but I think those are pretty much resolved.
I sew primarily for children, occasionally for myself, so I always wash and dryer dry everything. So far have never had a problem except for some slight shrinkage.
Other online sources that I have enjoyed using are Pink Chalk, Farmhouse Fabrics and Hawthorne Fabrics.
Incidentally, I have used 2 of the Joann's batiks recently. I know you will all howl and shake your heads, but they washed and dried beautifully and no color comes off.

grey ann
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Date: 2/23/14 11:32 AM

Cotton Batiks are boiled or put in boiling water to melt the wax, so shrinkage is usually not a problem, but I stll prewash and dry. A rayon batik may be labeled drip dry.

Are you looking for garment fabrics? Quilting cottons are not the best for garments.

I think one of the most helpful things when you are still learning about fabrics is to subscribe to a swatch service, such as Sawyer Brook Fabrics. You will get regular mailings of fabric swatches with great descriptions, and this will help you learn more about fabric weights and quality.

As far as fabric.com, I have ordered from them in the past, and I have found that price is a good indicator of quality. If the price is a 'bargain' the quality will be 'bargain' too.

Three very good online shops besides Sawyer Brook are Gorgeousfabrics.com, emmaonesock.com, and Apple Annie's. I love that emmaonesock shows a close and also a draped view. Any of these sites will send swatches, some free, some for a small fee. But if you gather a few swatches, make notes on weights and content and care, you will become more comfortable buying online.

SandiMacD
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Date: 2/23/14 4:41 PM

Julies Picks is another swatch club. When I returned to sewing in MT, there were no garment fabric stores anywhere near me so learning from swatches helped immensely. Some really good suggestions here.

I found Fabric.com, Amazon and JoAnns to be bragain fabrics- you get what you pay for-sometimes worth it and sometimes not.

If you know what type of fabric that you want but can't find it try a PR search for the name or post and ask for a site that other members use and like.

You have asked all the questions that I had when I started sewing again. And so many good PR responses! I buy about 10% more because I have found that they all shrink. That's OK but I want that to happen before I sew it up. I wash and dry 2-3 times in hot before cutting. I want the hand to change before I cut the pattern so I know what I am dealing with.

I am a natural fibers girl, although this year I am adventuring into athletic and swim wear so am learning about the syntethics and mixes. Still, I prewash to remove the chemicals and whatever else they use nowadays to make it enticing or make you think it is something its not.

------
sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

Coconuts
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Date: 2/23/14 11:40 PM

IME, the QPR (quality/price ratio) from Fabric.com is not good. Of the 33 fabrics I've ordered, I've only been thrilled with about 6 of them, with another ~10 that were decent but not amazing, and the rest ranged from "not what I was expecting" to "Walmart wouldn't even sell clothes made from this!!".

If you're looking for Hawaiian shirt fabric, Joann's has a decent number that you can actually see in person. They seem pretty decent on the bolt at least. They're $10/yd regular price, but it's Joann's, so a 40-60% off coupon shouldn't be hard to come by at all.

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