Conversant In Color: Buying Fabric Part 1

I know I did this to you before- I sat down to write one post, discovered I wrote two and had to divide them.  This post is for those who are new to wardrobing and for those who have magpie fabric buying habits and would like to learn another way to shop.

I won’t wait until next week for the follow up post, I’ll publish that next- including the palettes because they go along with the text!  This post is a related side note inspired by Scared Stitchless.

This week I focus on practicalities regarding wardrobing and color.

Planning = Efficiency

Learning what colors work best for you is the first step toward building a cohesive wardrobe and making the most of your sewing time.  It’s vital because once you understand what colors work for you, you can limit yourself to buying fabrics only from your favored palette.  When you do this, it’s easier to sew clothing that looks like it belongs together.   It takes less thought to put together an outfit in the morning.  You’re also more likely to wear the lovely piece you invested your time, skills and money to create.

Terra Incognita- Indonesian Batik Cotton, click for post

This is a good thing.  Once, my sewing friend Enid and I were passing a lazy afternoon at home.  I felt “odd socks” and cold when I woke up that morning so I put together a bright blue shrug, my Terra Incognita dress, and a pair of cropped jeans with pink toe socks.  Enid paid me a great compliment: “I don’t know how, but your clothes always look like they belong together.  Even when they don’t.”

I was tickled.  My clothes look like they belong together because I tend to fabric shop for myself from a pretty strict palette.  It’s deliberate.  I have fun with it, I don’t let it be a burden.   Color is the absolute foundation of building a wearable wardrobe- people seem to respond to color more strongly than to the cut.

When I go fabric shopping-

If I spot a good deal on nice quality fabric in one of my foundational colors, I don’t hesitate to snap it up even if I don’t have an immediate project in mind.  Bottom weight linens, stretch wovens, linen knits, merinos and organic cottons in my colors will always have a place in my home if I can afford them when I see them.   On the other hand, if I go out looking for a particular fabric and don’t find it, I come home empty-handed.  Period.  I come home empty-handed quite often, which is why I so readily buy when I find great basics.

It is not “rude” to go into a fabric store and leave with nothing.  I hear that and it drives me nuts.  The shop exists to serve you.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, go gently accost one of the sales staff and politely let them know what you’re looking for.  You may have overlooked something the sales staff can point out, or you may have just influenced the next round of fabric purchasing for the shop.  You never know until you ask.

While we’re on the topic of fabric-buying…

The Downfall of Binging on Prints and how to break the habit

Binging on quilting cotton prints for apparel sewing is a common bad habit.  It used to be my worst sewing vice.

I won’t tell you not to buy prints.  Do it.  Fine with me.  Spend heaps of cash on quirky fun quilting cottons and gleefully stitch them into one-off garments that probably won’t match each other very well.  All those novel prints are just screaming to be made into tasteful garments that definitely don’t look “home-made.”  You’ll wear those quilting cottons all the time and never ever stuff them into a deep dark corner of your closet to hide the guilt.    I say this sincerely- It’s your sewing.  You should do with it whatever you like.   Sew with joy.

When you’re over that and want to make clothes that look like “clothes,” like Scared Stitchless, then we can talk.    If you’re feeling cranky about my last paragraph, go read her recent post on sewing with quilting cotton.  I like her writing, and we’re in the same time zone!  I read her post and felt like I could have written that a few years ago.

I’ve only been sewing my own “daily wear” clothes for the past five years or so.  When I first started, I too was attracted to bright and happy quilting cottons.  Compound that with the fact I worked in a quilt shop and got a deep discount on delicious, high-quality prints.

My husband had to remind me a few times that I should be paid in money, not fabric.

I found myself at the same point as Scared Stitchless, wondering how to sew clothes that looked like clothes.   I was also slightly horrified by the mess of quilting fabric garments in my closet.  The stitching was quite good as a rule, but they still didn’t look right.  If you are looking for a way to improve the overall tone of your apparel sewing, I have a simple suggestion: buy solids.

Do it.

All the time.

Air kicks in my teal Clovers. Click for post.

Choose solids.  It’s a very simple but transformative move.  If the pile of fabric waiting to be sewn makes you yawn a little bit, then yawn and sew anyway.  While breaking my quilting-fabric-as-apparel habit, I made a rule. If I looked at the fabric I chose and wasn’t slightly bored by it, then it wouldn’t work as a finished garment.

Instead, focus on the quality of the fabric, the texture, the fiber content and the quality.  Focus on the lightness and durability of the sewing.  Focus on fit.  Focus on being able to run, sit, squat, and do rad air-kicks in your new make.  Find some cool patterns with interesting cuts- a great cut in a solid looks much better than in a print.  There’s plenty going on with garment construction to keep you interested without binging on a wardrobe of semi-unwearable prints.*

Mix in a few stripes, checks, plaids, and simple abstract prints/weaves for variety.

Try to challenge yourself to sew x number of solid, striped, or checked garments for every 1 with a crazy print.  Once you start sewing this way, you’ll see it makes a difference in the overall wearability of your sewing.

You may find the crazy prints disappear altogether from your wardrobe.  I like crazy prints, I really do- I use them in quilts, crafts, toddler clothes, linings, pockets, inner collars, potholders, cushion covers and for bags.  Sometimes I staple cool prints over stretched canvases and hang them on the wall.  Generally speaking, these days crazy prints and quilting cotton have no place in my wardrobe.

click for source. I guess I’m an enabler.

That said, I might make one skirt with a crazy print this summer.  Maybe.  Because skeletons shin-digging across a bright blue pleated A-line skirt is sometimes just what I need to get me through the day.

What do you think?  Is it worth developing the habit of buying only well-chosen solid fabrics?  Experienced sewists- do you sew this way?  How does that work out for you?  Do you use stripes/plaid/simple abstracts in your sewing?  If you’re an adamant quilting-cotton addict and you like it that way, I’m interested to hear from you!

Oh- and check it out, Annele from MakeBra weighed in on the Bra sizing debate.  Go check it out in comments.  She also wrote to me personally on the subject and was incredibly kind, accommodating and helpful.  This makes me even keener to start my own Make Bra!!

Name results at publishing time… ;)

And don’t forget to vote to Name That Lady for the cover of Tiramisu!  Vote early and vote often… I’m giving away a 3m length of a very tasteful navy blue polka dot cotton jersey.  More on the red soon…

(*Just for clarity- in this post I’m talking about quilting cotton prints, fashion prints on proper apparel fabric are a bit different.)


  1. I love colour and I love prints. I have LOADS of prints in my stash. I make them into clothes, and I wear them. That said, they tend not to be novelty prints, and for me they are not quilting cottons (although I use often quilting cottons for my daughter’s clothes). I often do give myself a “buy solids” rule, and have done so recently. I am enjoying my solids – but keep getting drawn back to prints.

    • Yes- this post was not intended to be anti-prints, more anti-using-inappropriate-fabrics.. :) If you love prints and feel like you use them well, then go for it. Natch. :)

  2. Great advice, thank you. I definitely need to buy more solids, and it does take time to work out how to choose fabric and patterns that fit into everyday life. Beginning to get there, I think!

    • It definitely, definitely does. One of the things I always liked about sewing is how much it requires a certain attention to detail, and you’re right, it does take time to know what works and what doesn’t. :)

  3. I don’t tend to buy novelty prints. I’m a former quilter and have no desire to wear quilting cottons. I do put them in my clothes as linings or skirts for my girls but that’s it.
    I buy plenty of florals, more abstract in style as I have tended to very plain RTW and I’m enjoying the move into colour. I buy loads of denim in all shades and pair these with base colours with prints and brights. I want more checks this year, it’s classic and timeless.

    • If you’re once a quilter, aren’t you always a quilter? Sometimes I don’t piece much but the itch still comes back…

      Sounds like you have a great handle on use of prints. :)

      • I think patchwork and quilting gives you a great experience in design, shapes, balance and so on.
        I love the idea of quilting but I am a tad obsessive and I think my days of spending two hours picking one fabric for a quilt of many fabrics are over LOL.
        I have been meaning to post some of my quilts on my blog, it’s a whole different side to my sewing life.

  4. This is really interesting (Scared Stitchless’s post too) and I have found myself on this journey. My first sewing was for my daughter, and rather than a quilting cotton addict, I am a European cord addict and only in the wildest colours!! (google Stenzo or Hilco corduroy!)

    I thought I would find sewing with solids boring. However since I started sewing for my boys and for school, it’s been surprisingly fun to sew with solid colours and focus more on the pattern style and on using prints for linings, facings and ribbons for hems. I’ve also noticed that I look a lot more for plain colours and fabrics like linen and tweed when buying fabric.
    Now I just have to figure out what colours suit me ;-)

    • Ah cool! When I find something I like, I tend to use it heaps, too… :)

      You’re so so so right.

      Well… My suggestion for finding your colors is to start with white/ivory. Which one makes you look healthier, more alive? If it’s white, go check out “cool” colors, if it’s warm, go check out “warm” colors. Use that as a starting point.

  5. In sewing world and RTW world I’m a lady who likes to mix solids and prints. The longer I sew the clearer I’m finding my colour palette to become (sorry cooler colours- I’m seeing someone warmer now) and am basing more pieces around this. In saying that I still work prints in though all my recent print purchases have been more abstract/geometric than novelty. And polka dots. But surely that’s not a print and more a state of mind…

    For me, the next big step is going to be buying higher quality fabric that feels and looks the part. After dabbling in cheap and cheerful poplin for so long prices of good fabric can be a bit intimidating. It’s time to start investing in my sewing and the finished pieces I will wear!

  6. I am all about the novelty cotton. I would totally wear that dancing skeleton print. However, my novelty prints are confined to blouses that I wear under a solid colored jumper/pinafore. To me, that is the best of both worlds. The novelty print doesn’t overpower the outfit and gives me something fun to sew. After 20 years of sewing, I am only just now begining to explore solids but don’t think I will ever transition to all solids. Big gals need some prints to distract the eye from a “large canvas”, so the speak. But I am now comfortable with a menswear shirting stripe doing that job.

  7. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I never regret solids in my stash, particularly neutral cotton twills, wool double knits, etc. Snooze. Prints are fun. I buy too many. They go out of fashion before I can sew them up.

  8. It’s like you picked my brain! lol

    I have noticed the gap that Scared Stitchless talks about. I went into sewing knowing that I wanted clothing for work. RTW just doesn’t fit me well and since I moved to Florida, I wanted to wear more dresses. (The reason why should be a post of it’s own.) But as I tried on dresses, I noticed things fit horribly. If it fit at the waist, it did not fit at the hips. That’s how I ended up buying a sewing machine.

    At first, I was really attracted to the brightness and happiness of quilting cotton prints. I quickly learned they don’t suit me well. So I started venturing into knits but I still like prints.

    I think I’ve had a pretty good mix of solids and prints so far. I made a white pencil skirt and a floral one. I’m thinking more solid skirts and solid dresses and a few print blouses. I’m working on another dress and it’s abstract (I think? – is that what you’d call it?) – for anyone who is interested – you can see them at

    • Depending on where you work, I’d think stretch wovens in plains made up as button down shirts and well-cut skirts/pants might be right?

      Dresses too..

      It sounds like you have a really good handle on using solids/prints. You do some gorgeous work!

      • Thanks! I haven’t worked with stretch wovens much yet (what am I afraid of?!) I do have a couple fabrics (one solid, one print) that was supposed to be a dress but as I look at the loud print, I’m not sure I want to wear it lol. Buyer’s remorse I suppose. I haven’t tried pants yet ~ I think I will need one your blockers for that one ;)

  9. thanks for the link to sew stitchless – always good to find a new blog to follow. this is something i have been thinking about a lot recently. fun cotton prints are the easy option to start with, but i am starting to realise that they don’t always drape the way you want. with solids, i feel i need to understand more about drape etc as there’s no pattern to hide behind, and that is something i am working on. i love spots and stripes but i’m focusing on more solids now too!

    • Well.. I might go dig up the stuff I’ve written about weave, texture, fiber content etc and re-hash it as a weekly because it speaks to exactly this issue… :)

      They don’t drape well because they’re densely woven from fibers that are tightly wound to make a very durable fabric suitable for bedding….

  10. What a brilliant post, you’ve put into words the sense that lurks around in the back of my mind when fabric shopping which makes me slightly question why I’m holding a pile of printed cottons which don’t resemble anything I have in my bought wardrobe! I just find it really difficult to get excited browsing through solids…partly I suppose as I haven’t been sewing long and really need to improve my knowledge of fabric content and qualities so my choices are often to do with what the fabric looks like on the surface rather than the properties of it.
    I really like your idea of buying for your palette when you see a good deal, definitely going to give that a try. I know I’ll get more wear out of garments I make from good quality solids!

  11. My name is Lauren and I have a problem with printed fabric.

    I’ve put a self-imposed ban on buying prints. It’s hard sometimes, but I have faith. I want to get better.

    This post is so close to home, it’s scary.

  12. I’ve never felt the draw to sew clothing with quilting fabric. My mom uses all kinds of cotton prints in her sewing, I guess as a kid I was always wandering fabric stores wanting to touch and look at all the garment clothing while she was buying broadcloth and prints for luggage tags and bibs. The soft and slinky textures appealed to me more than the heavy quilting cottons.

    I try to stay realistic in the prints I pick. Is it a colour I love? I’m still a little nervous of stripes that need matching in spots so I avoid fabrics that look like they would be a hassle to match. I love polka dots for being more exciting than a solid but not being too overwhelming to wear.

    • Ah ha! You were mentored.. :D I sometimes wonder about Lila… She asks me fiber contents now when we’re fabric shopping…

      It sounds like you have a pretty steady grip on using prints. :) There’s a few workarounds for difficult to match fabrics… Like.. Bias yokes, etc… I’m gearing up to make a seersucker Madras cotton Negroni for Stephen, and I do confess I’m a trifle on edge about making sure it matches across the front…

  13. I’ve made plenty of things with quilting cotton… and it always turns out to be so disappointing. Right now I’m emphasizing making clothing that will last for five years or so (classics, taking the time to do it right) over the quick but fun items.

    That means a long denim skirt that I will wear to death, done up properly with a waist stay, flat seams, embroidery at the hem. Using *shirting* cloth to sew up some fitted blouses. Learning to take my sloper and combine it with bits from patterns to make things that look awesome. It’s slow!

    I’m all about great color and texture – my shirting is sheer ivory, ever so slightly slubbed. For a strong spring like moi? There is nothing more basic. (I snagged 10yd on a big sale online).

    But that said – I had a situation where I *had* to sew up some knit blouses in bright prints for my daughter… and it was soooo boring. No nice techniques. No emphasis on quality. No learning. zzzzzzzzzz Even with electric turquoise cheetah (let the 8yo pick, yikes) … still boring.

    If I can just resist in the store, life is so much better.

    • Well put… Disappointing quilting cotton, the joy of a beautifully textured basic, and the snooze factor. :)

      I have a habit of just not going to the store. Like, at ALL if I don’t need something. It helps. Haha, I guess I’ve been poor a long time. :D

  14. I have mixed feelings about limiting myself primarily to solids as I did that for years and never felt quite like “me” doing it. I have been focusing on a palette for a season or year and finding solids and prints that fall within it that can coordinate together. My one big pitfall is that for whatever reason I tend toward prints in blouses and skirts and solids for pants and I really, really need more solid tops. I bought a bunch of solid color rayon and cotton knits recently for this very reason. I’m finding that certain colors, such as my favorite green, seem to appear in all the palettes and therefor a solid color skirt or top made in that green is likely to go with the vast majority of anything I make. While many of the dresses I make are solid color I do allow dresses, especially sundresses, to be the one anomaly in my palette scheme and generally make whatever strikes my fancy which has translated into a couple of dresses in prints that I might not have otherwise worn but find that I wear all the time now. As for the quilting cottons, I do use them but generally in clothing for my daughter, a few skirts for myself (which I consistently get compliments on), and as accents or linings. Enough blogs and others that I met in real life warned me that it’s difficult to get a good looking dress or blouse out of quilting cotton that I never got around to trying it for myself.

    • Very, very sensible. I’m not at all against fashion fabric prints, and used well they’re GREAT. I definitely wouldn’t say that everyone should wear solids all the time… I guess it’s mostly that dang quilting cotton habit that so many sewists fall into… I’m working up a good post on fashion fabric prints, using them, etc. :)

      Do people ever come up to you and say “You’re so brave, I could never wear that!”? I always wonder if that’s a compliment or not… Though to be safe, I always treat it as a compliment.. :)

  15. THANK YOU for posting this! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing novelty prints, but I do have a big bad problem with using quilting cotton for most garments (obviously there are a few that really benefit from the drape – or lack thereof – of the fabric, but most patterns require an actual garment fabric to look not-homemade). And by “problem” I mean I make everyone else’s sewing my business haha. I have definitely been snarked at & called out for daring to hate on wearing quilting cotton, but I stand by what I believe in. There is nothing wrong with wearing crazy prints head-to-toe, but it drives me crazy when people insist on using quilting cotton (because it’s cheap, or colorful, or has kittens on it, or whatever) and then bemoan that their clothing looks super homemade – and get offended when someone suggests the culprit might be fabric choice.

    At any rate, I love using solids & non-novelty prints (stripes, plaid, gingham, polka dots, whatever) because they really do get worn more. And hey, if you get bored sewing with a solid – pick something fun, like a wool tweed with a beautiful range of colors woven in, or something with a lot of texture, like corduroy. Use that printed cotton to make bias tape & do something fun with the seam allowances & facings on the inside. Stamp little hand made tags for all your clothes. Hem your skirts with interesting lace. Drop a crazy printed lining in an otherwise simple dress. All the fun doesn’t have to be on the *outside* of the garment ;)

    • Well- shoot… Aside from the print, the way quilting cotton is manufactured sort of puts it out of the running to make apparel… There’s a HUGE range of quality, to be sure, but by and large quilting cotton is intended for quilting. Bedcovers. High thread count for durability and so it feels nice as a bedcover. That means it’s densely woven, which is why it looks/feels kind of “stiff” for clothes…

      Fantastic fabric rec’s. I second all of it!

  16. I wanted to throw this in… I used pinterest to very good effect when choosing what direction I wanted to go in in regards to wardrobe. I pinned and pinned and pinned – and then looked at my pins. What I *thought* was my look (very 50s) turned out to not be my look at all.

    What I am attracted to can be put in a few boxes… but in those boxes, there is great consistency. (You could refer to them as summer and winter wardrobes, if I had seasons of note where I live). I looked at all those pins of long, flowing skirts in neutrals with sheer tops and said, “Huh. Maybe that’s what I should be making – not wrap dresses from quilting cotton, as dear as they are”.

    Pinterest helped me gel a look… now if I could materialize minions out of thin air, I could get my imaginary sewn wardrobe in gear.

    PS have you seen Tanit Isis today? Her (long) post seems to dovetail with yours.

    • Pinterest is AMAZING for figuring out that kind of thing. Absolutely. There’s definitely a disconnect between what you think you like to wear, and what looks good when starting out… I struggle still sometimes, but I think I’ve gotten a bit better at understanding what works for me…

      Woohoo! Hooray for style ephiphanies! :) I may have to quote you in my next “Pinterest is AWESOME and we’re getting maaaaarried” post.

      I love Tanit Isis. Will link to her awesome post in part 2.

    • I’ve had the opposite experience. Well, the same experience but with opposite conclusions. I knew I liked 50s styles but I thought I mostly liked more modern, casual stuff. But pretty much every single thing I’ve pinned is 50’s style type things. I think what it is is that I like clear, clean lines, and bright colours – mostly deep reds and bright blues – and the odd ruffly or buttony detail.

      It’s amazing how what I think I like, and what I actually like, don’t always mesh. Likewise, I always end up buying novelty print (apparel) cotton in the kids section. That’s fine for skirts or some dresses. But really, when it comes down to it, I reach for the solids in those same brights over and over again, and the prints only get the occasional airing. I don’t regret the ones I’ve bought because they got me sewing again, and they still make me very happy. I’m pretty much ok with being the weirdo in the obviously handmade skirts – and I have gotten quite a few genuinely envious compliments on them. But there are only so many fruit or robot print skirts that one gal needs.

  17. I couldn’t agree more. I buy solids 90 per cent of the time. I didn’t even realize it was boring! :-) I do add the occasional pattern for fun, but it’s blendable and compatible with other things. I make sure I’m not doing kitsch, I’m too old for that look! And I rarely work with cottons of any sort because I don’t find the drape that flattering on my figure, in general. Give me solid silk charmeuse or rayon jersey and I’m good!

  18. i never sewed quilting fabric (because here is quilting a hobby of few and the fabric is expensive)
    BUT! i love prints and woven patterns. and i wear plaid with dots, dots with flowers, flowers with stripes and a polkadot scarf, 1cm gingham with 50´s abstract print, embroidered jacket and no-plain handbag….. all tied together with the colors. so.
    i call it high end styling ;-)
    I just wear a blue skirt with white dots and a blue, embroidered mexican blouse.

  19. I use both. I also work in a quilt store, so I see all the awesome prints all the time. But I try to buy prints that don’t scream quilting. I choose the pattern carefully so that quilting weight fabric works. Some days I want people to KNOW I made the awesome shirt I’m wearing. I get that from prints. From apparel fabrics I get inner satisfaction. I’m not going to lie, the praise from others is really important. It’s not an ego trip. It’s an inspiration thing. So if my sewing looks too commercial I don’t get compliments on it! Isn’t that crazy? So I say throw in some fun stuff and wear it with jeans. It does the heart good sometimes! :)

    • Oooooh! It’s funny, isn’t it, working in a quilt shop and wearing quilting fabrics? Sigh…

      I dunno… I don’t really like being asked if I made my garment. People who know me assume I’m wearing something self-made so don’t ask (though we might geek out about a pattern or fabric or texture) and people who don’t know me probably assume I bought it/don’t notice. Which is fine with me, either way. :)

      • Somehow I really hate ‘it looks just like a store bought one!’ even more than being asked if I made it. Some of the things I’ve made – including the ones with unusual prints – I assume people ask because they can’t imagine how I got one, otherwise.

        It might partly be because I’m larger, and I get really really sick of all the clothes in my size signalling ‘please don’t notice me!!!!’ It’s nice to have something that I can wear with pride, that garners attention. And I draw a really bright line between ‘handmade’ and ‘homemade’. It’s freaking bespoke, thanks, not ‘home made’.

        • Craftastrophies, I hear you! My issue is that I am famous for making my handmade clothes from recycled fabric, so most of my friends (who lack the shame gene just like yours truly) skip “Did you make that?” to go straight to “What was this originally? Curtains? Bedding?”, and I am not too sure how I feel about that!
          To go back to the original post, when I first started sewing a lot of my projects were from crazy-printed, recycled fabric, so I made a rod for my own back :)
          You can definitely smell Autumn in the air here in the UK, so I am trying to concentrate on work separates that I can cycle in, in either solids or small prints! I hope I can have some usable pieces soon, and I am treasuring this whole discussion on color and prints and fabric shopping to guide me in the process!

        • Forgot to add – I am a big stickler for the difference between handmade and homemade, and I most definitely prefer the word bespoke myself!
          I was explaining different of seam finishes and the importance of pressing seams to a friend the other day, and I actually said “If you do it right it makes the difference between homemade and handmade!”.

  20. I have a huge stash of quilting cottons but of course I’m a quilter! And I do make garments out of it from time to time but these are star pieces in my wardrobe. Smocks, kirtas, sundresses. My big purchasing downfall is embroidered fabrics. I just dropped over $100 on a length of dupion silk embroidered with red roses. I have a whole cupboard of such fabrics, but I do use them eventually and they are so much my perfect fabric, I never get buyer remorse! :)
    There is SO much more to prints than quilting cottons, but I completely get your underlying point. Personally I like a print that picks up two colours in an outfit so they have an excuse to go together. But there is a lot of me and variety is important to breaking that up. :)

    • OooHoooooohhhhhh oh! Embroidered silk?! That’s a classy buying habit… I saw some the other day, lavender flowers on a cream silk background, I wanted to *eat* it. Nom nom.

      Yes. So much more to prints. So MUCH! This is a little more in response to the Scared Stitchless post/intro to part 2… I think an entire post on fashion prints wouldn’t be out of line. :)

      • That’s it, I want to EAT it too! It pushes so many buttons for me. Red flowers have ruled to date, followed closely by golds and greens, but I almost fell for enough to spend $350m on a peacock feather one. But truly, there is no fun in that, I love the thrill of the hunt and catching a bargain prize – bargain because the price is knocked down of course, not because it is cheap! :)

        • Bahahah! I know how that is, you’re talking to the person who waits a year and a half for guipure lace to drop from $120/m to $25. hehe.

  21. When I buy RTW I invariably buy solids, so why is it that my fabric choices are invariably prints? It’s something I’ve become increasingly aware of as I’ve been working my way through the stash. So much so that I’m determined that going forwards I shall not only be sewing with a plan, rather than random garments on a whim, but also building the plan around classic, solid colours that build to create a coherent, wearable wardrobe.
    It’s good to learn that I’m not alone with my fabric shopping history, or the realisation that this possibly isn’t the best way to go about it

  22. I never really got into making loads of clothes from quilting cotton, as I just couldn’t imagine myself wearing them.
    I am perhaps the opposite in that most of my fabric is solids, and I really had to push myself to choose some patterned fabric. I find choosing patterned fabric a little intimidating. I have reached some sort of compromise (with myself) where I try patterned fabric for tops and occasionally dresses, but otherwise keep to solids. I don’t sew all that quickly, so I guess I have had time to come to the realization that there is not much point making something if it doesn’t go with other clothes already in my wardrobe.
    Most of my stash is actually within my colour palette, though I didn’t consciously choose it that way at the time. I just didn’t buy colours I couldn’t imagine wearing!

    • Wendy, you sound so sensible! I’ll work up a post about buying patterned fabric well, but it seems to me you have the sensible buying/sewing thing down pat. :)

  23. Actually I am the opposite. I forced myself to buy some prints (stripes, gingham and polka dots). I used to buy only only solid, I work from the feel of the fabric to find a pattern that matches. But, in agreement with all of the above, never ever sewn anything in quilting cotton.

  24. I’ve never had a big problem with novelty prints. I look at the fabric, I DROOL at the fabric, then I think “what could this turn into?” (my one rule before buying something – is there anything I could actually turn it into, or is it going to just be drooled over for ever?) and put it back. Having kids helps with the need for craziness a bit – skeleton print is perfect for an 8yr old boy, and my little girl loves colourful stuff – but generally I find myself more drawn to texture as a point of interest rather than print. A solid twill embroidered all over in the exact same colour, or a slightly slubby linen, or a sheer voile that looks checked due to uneven weaving. I’m super tempted to buy a whole heap of crazy quilting cottons to use as facings and pockets now though. Starting with those dancing skeletons..

    • That is SUCH a great question to ask. I’m in the process of teaching my husband how to look at a fabric and picture it as a garment. I have no idea how to teach someone that, so I figure that once he gets it that’ll help me explain it better. We’re working on planning his summer stuff right now… He’s gotten to be so picky about fabrics that he prefers the stuff I sew, which is flattering so of course I’ll do it… /end tangent

      You are so on target with the texture thing! And yes, I suggest buying fun fat quarters… They’re usually just the right amount for facings etc. Make very very sure you’re buying quality, though. Low end quilting cotton is not good for much.

      • I’m still at the point of trying to teaqch my husband the difference between a knit and a woven. He knows I knit, he knows it makes different fabric than ‘shirt material’ but when I was knitting a sock he got very confused when he found out that ALL socks are knitted, and got a panicked look on his face when I told him that actually t-shirts are made from knitted fabric too. I think I may have to just teach his fingers to tell the difference in feel rather than get him too see the difference, or trying to teach him different terms, if he ever gets over his fear of home-made and lets me make him something. (Fine for the wife! Her clothes are lovely! Fine for the kids! Isn’t Mini’s dress beautiful! NO WAY I’M EVER WEARING HOMEMADE STUFF!!)

        • …”he got very confused when he found out that ALL socks are knitted, and got a panicked look on his face when I told him that actually t-shirts are made from knitted fabric too.” BAHAHAHA! I have one of those at home too! Frankly, it’s adorable. :) Lucky for me, he’s warming up to homemade stuff, because his sense of social justice is so strong that he can’t bring himself to buy stuff made in certain countries anymore, and finding anything that says “Made in Canada” is tragically difficult.

          • My husband thinks the stuff I do is kind of interesting, and rather suprises me with how much he picks up… Though it did take a while for him to “let” me sew for him.. I think he’s kind of spoiled now because I use nice fabrics mostly when I sew for him, and he notices the difference.. He just bought a crop of RTW t-shirts, they’re nice and all and I’m happy for him to have bought them, but I did notice they don’t fit him as well through the shoulders… Ha!

            I’m gearing up to make him a few button down shirts for summer.. I did it a few years ago, he still wears the shirts and asked for more… I was rather surprised, but of course it gives me a chance to play with Negroni so I won’t say no!

            I love that your husband’s ethics are so strong. That’s awesome.

  25. i think its safe to say i’m not afraid to use a print. But not cutesy, I wouldn’t buy cutesy in RTW so i don’t buy cutesy in fabric.
    and in fact now that i think of it, the only garment i’ve sewn for myself that i worried about wearing (and didn’t wear for a long time because of some (meant to be) gentle teasing from my then boyfriend) was a coat i made from material i hadn’t actually chosen myself but had been gifted to me by someone else…

    • Louise, I love your style and the way you use prints. Have you written a post on using printed fabric well in sewing? Link link link!

      Did the fabric just not feel like you? Did you eventually come to like it..?

      • i haven’t but i could :-)
        some prints i’ve used are a little bit mental looking but work for me and i’ve known what to do with them as soon as i see them cos they just suit me – the more floral based ones are actually more outside of my comfort zone.
        let me mull on this, and link back to you…

  26. Totally guilty of bright colourful prints! Generally not cutesy though, I just fall in love with the fabric. I find it does tend to suit me, as an top heavy girl a a-line or pleat skirt with a dark top tends to balance me out (never would do the opposite!). Plus I know I probably can’t get away with wearing them forever!
    Now that spring has sprung in lovely Brisbane I think I will make one up this weekend…

    • I like to wear knits or more “fitted” cuts on top, and looser on the bottom, too… As a busty girl… Though I don’t scruple to wear screaming colors wherever… Your way is very very sensible. :)

      Spring… I admit, it’s nice for now, but I just dread the summer so much I can’t properly enjoy it..

  27. Oh it’s like you wrote this post just for me! I know I need to stop buying fabrics that just catch my eye, and don’t match anything else I own, and I need to buy shoes to go with, and the colours don’t suit my skintone… This is a very helpful post, thankyou :)

    • oh I’m so pleased you found it useful! :) I’m still getting a handle on the shoes/belts/accessories thing, but having a designated palette definitely helps. I can buy some brightly colored shoes without wondering how much of my wardrobe they’ll go with…

  28. Interesting post. I confess that I have never been drawn to quilting cottons, but I DO have a problem with Liberty of London. It’s the quality of the cotton, I think. I learned to sew on natural fibre fabrics only because they were easy to handle and it was in the air around me that quality is better than quantity. And the Liberty cottons feel deeee-vine! That said, I have only recently started purchasing prints and patterns, and let me tell you, they cause me a LOT of grief. I mean, I love the fabric, but what the heck to make out of it? And my summer wardrobe is a bit stand-alone piece-ish, but they’re all dresses, so I’m OK with that. But I’m liking your friend’s comment on your clothes: they always look like they should go together. I need to think about doing more of that sort of planning.

    • Oooooh liberty! It’s totally the quality! I agree, quality over quantity every time.

      Most of the planning happens while fabric shopping… And even then, over time it becomes a habit and the clothes more or less magically go together after being sewn… :)

  29. I just realized while reading your post that I’ve never sewn anything for myself with printed quilting cotton. In fact, I own less than 5 printed garments. I just happen to love the way details stand out in a solid fabric, and how easy they are to embellish. =)

    • I think it’s good to have a balance, it’ll be different for everyone… But being stagnant is never a good thing! I’m a fan of “branching out.”

  30. Hmm, I don’t know, I want to be skeptical of your categorically-anti-quilting-cottons stance. I am not as experienced a seamstress as many of your commenters, and I am admittedly not committed enough to aim to make all or even a majority of my clothes. A more realistic goal for me is to sew a few tanks or tunics to wear with RTW skinny jeans, for example. And, in choosing those fabrics I find myself drawn to the same sorts of prints that I am drawn to when shopping for RTW tops: basically, vintagey, Liberty-esque florals. Maybe that means that I should just wear Liberty lawn all the time, but that fabric is not appropriate for all garments. Good quality quilting cotton (I just wrote “guilting cotton;” clearly your stance has influenced me somehow!) seems to me not that different from the fabric in some RTW skirts (a-line, somewhat structured) that I own. And it seems that not all quilting cotton is created equal (Art Gallery Fabrics, for example, is a manufacturer that many bloggers point to as making quilting fabrics that are more suitable for apparel). I have to say that online I have seen some garments made up in quilting cotton that are well fitted and in styles well suited to the material; I have also seen ill-fitting garments in apparel fabric. I think it is all about choosing the fabric for the job carefully and also paying attention to fit (which is exactly why making my own flowery printed tops appeals to me over RTW). So I’m skeptical of saying never, I guess, but as a relative newbie I also fear going astray!

    • Well- I’m not really a very strident dictator type, definitely not trying to induce any guilt. :)

      Quilting cotton, as a general rule, is woven differently from other types of cotton. It’s woven more densely than other fabrics, as it is intended for bedding, and this affects how it behaves on the body.

      I’m not saying it isn’t fun or sometimes useful for garments, but as a general rule it’s just not really suited to apparel. This unsuitability for garments paired with the often loud or out of scale prints (the scale is really more important than the color… but that’s another topic…) in the hands of a beginner or intermediate sewist is generally a recipe for a less-than-desirable garment. :) Hope that helps.

  31. I don’t think I’ve ever made a garment out of quilting cotton. Actually, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I knew there was such a thing. (My grandmother made her quilts out of leftover shirting and dress fabrics). If anything, I tend towards solids a bit too much. I like prints, but I just don’t find many that look good on me or are in that ideal color range for ‘real’ clothes. However, I do indulge myself with crazy color and bright stripes for pj wear. The pj drawer is a carnival of color, but the closet is mostly black, gray, and navy. A few of those closet items do have colorful print facings, though, but that’s just for my eyes. : )

    Also, I do buy both plain canvas and quilting cotton prints for making zakka – household objects (e.g, garment covers, laundry bags, and a hanging pressing-tool caddy). I recently bought some multi-color butterfly printed charmeuse that I would never ever wear, but it is in the process of becoming a lingerie drawer bra box (custom-sized for D+ bras). So, I’m just saying, there are other ways to indulge in fun fabrics, storage and wallet willing…

    • I like using apparel fabrics for quilts, too. I generally “beef up” the lighter weight fabrics with some fusible woven interfacing so the fabrics are all more or less the same weight…

      Zakka? I’ve never heard that term. Cool! I love new and descriptive words. :)

      • Zakka is a Japanese word for small household goods. I don’t consider myself to be a “crafty” type person, but the Japanese craft magazines have some really cool projects. Great tip about the interfacing for quilts, I hadn’t thought of that.

  32. I buy prints but not as often as I buy solids. I definitely have to fall in love with a print to take it home, and definitely not in quilting cotton.

    • Yeah for sure. :) I buy them too, I’m not proposing a ban… Just more like gentle advice to keep in mind… But you know what you’re doing!

  33. Fantastic never thought of this I don’t sew with quilt fabric. I do feel comfortable sewing the knit prints I buy as they do go with jeans really well. I love that pinterest board you linked too thanks so much. I will now look out for plain bargains an untapped gold mine. I am also attracted to textured fabric which also goes great with lots of things.

  34. I think select quilting cotton prints can have a place in a daily wardrobe if that’s someone’s style. What I try to do is pair my crazy prints with good, basic solids. It seems to help anchor them. One of my guilty pleasures is trolling the novelty cotton aisle, plucking a print meant for children & sewing it into a quick & dirty dirndl. Instant gratification. It’s like candy- gives you a high & is satisfying at the time, but not good for you if you overindulge. Still, I find myself wearing my fun print skirts all the time in the summer. But the longer I seriously sew, I find myself gravitating more towards solids in really nice fibers. Like a good diet, it’s about balance: treating yourself once in awhile to a sugary & light print, while maintaining a solid intake of equally tasty (albeit in a different way) fibrous veggies like beautiful woven linens & wool knits.

  35. I just found your blog this morning, and read it with great interest. I love to sew and quilt. I never thought about the reason why quilt fabric doesn’t look right made up into clothing for adults. You’ve opened my eyes!
    I’m curious about how much fabric you buy when you find fabric that fits your palate and passion?

    • Nice to meet you, Judy! :)

      Ohh… as for buying lengths… I don’t know. It depends on the fabric, the state of my bank balance, the other projects I have planned for the next few months, etc. I bought two 10m lengths of that polka dot jersey the other day, one in red and one in blue. It was on sale and a very versatile and washable cotton jersey so I thought whatever I don’t use for samples and giveaways I can put in my etsy shop for those who can’t find stuff like that where they live…

      let’s see… I bought a 4m length of a lightweight textured merino jersey not too long ago because it’s a color my daughter and I both wear, it would make good basics/layering pieces, and it was a jaw-dropping price. It really just depends, but I usually pick up enough of a basic for at least two tops, if not more. I hate making a top, loving it, working with it in my wardrobe and then not being able to re-make it when it dies. So I generally *generally* buy basics generously.

  36. These posts are so timely for me. I went to the only fabric shop I have nearby and was pretty frustrated by the selection. I usually sew with solids, but I was hoping for at least one FANTASTIC print to add to the collection. The only one that appealed to me was to poor of a quality to work with. sigh. online I go!

  37. I think quilting cottons have their place in clothing. I’ve had success in making them into simply-cut garments, like A-line knee-length skirts, and certain sundress patterns. But I’ve also learned they have their limits, and it’s often better to go with actual apparel cottons.

    That being said, while I am making an effort to have more basic solids in my wardrobe, I would get SO bored with all solids all the time, both in my sewing and in my dressing. Viva la crazy prints!

    • Yeah for sure, if it works for you. :) I don’t know your skill level, but have you tried experimenting with new techniques? You might like it… :D

  38. Hehehe. Buying solids has never been a problem for me, does this mean I get to feel all smug ‘n stuff? ;) I’ve never been much for prints in my clothes. Well, there was the unfortunate hawaiian-pastel phase when I was ten or eleven, but after I recovered from that, I’ve been pretty good. Texture, now, texture I die for…

    I have fallen for a quilting cotton once or twice, but even those haven’t really made it into garments other than, as you mention, linings, facings, pockets, things like that. The look just wouldn’t be right. Although I do have a couple of metres of one Japonese-inspired print that’s been trying to become a skirt for quite a while. I just can’t quite wrap my mind around it.

    I tend to need to be more careful with the styles I pick… It’s really easy for me to get sucked in by a cute retro pattern and end up with something just whack…

    • Well… I mean… I would never tell Tanit-Isis how to handle her sewing! She does a great job without my input. :)

      Hawaiian pastels? Ohh la la… Tell me more.

      Circle skirt for the japanese cotton? or a half-circle? definitely simpler cuts for busier prints, but it could work…

      Whack indeed. I know what you’re talking about..

  39. Steph I think this is one of your best posts. Ever. I love this post. Love. It.

    I rarely wear prints and even more rarely buy them, and when I do I almost always regret it, I find that nothing dates a garment more than a print does. Does anyone remember flowered camo from a few years ago? I wouldn’t be caught dead in it now, but I bought it then,

    My fabric closet is full of mostly plain fabrics. Some houndstooth, subtle plaids, stripes, but that;s about it. Plain and textured for me. Thank you for making me feel wise for already doing what you recommend.

    • Thanks! :) Hehe.

      OH! I forgot about flowered camo! You may be onto something there, about prints dating a garment more readily than a solid might…

      Plain and textured.. I think eventually most experienced sewists end up there more or less, just trying to offer a shortcut for those who aren’t thrilled with the look of their sewing but don’t know what to do about it…:)

  40. I think the problem is that in a fabric shop, you are comparing fabrics with fabrics. Of course a pretty printed fabric is going to get your attention! If you are comparing skirts with skirts, you may not choose the one made of a wild print, because you are looking for something different, there are different features to compare. It is similar to how wardrobe orphans can come about even in RTW wardrobes – in the shop, you are comparing, say, all the skirts, so you pick the “prettiest” skirt, without thinking about how that will affect an overall outfit. I have found (thanks to Pinterest!) that when looking at complete outfits, the ones that catch my eye are usually composed of quite simple pieces. When looking at individual garments though, I tend to go for more complicated pieces. And when looking at just fabrics, I will probably admire ones that are more involved than the fabrics in the garments I like OR in the outfits I’ve picked!!
    So, I think we should all step back. Look at some style blogs, pin your favourite OUTFITS. Then look at the individual clothes they are wearing. Look at the fabrics those clothes are made of, and buy them! This mode of thinking helps me avoid some of those eye catching fabrics, anyway ;)

  41. Pingback: Conversant In Color: Buying Fabric Part 2 « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  42. Great article! I am just starting to make more clothes, usually make purses. I do have an issue with buying crazy prints and then having them forever.. but now have started suing more as linings in a purse for an \”unexpected\” find. While you may have a secret love of hot pink skulls, not too may folks would buy a purse made from it.. however, they would buy the purse made from a recycled leather coat with the fun surprise of hot pink skulls deep inside! I will e watching my fabric purchase more closely now!

  43. Can’t we just all get on with making and wearing what we want without criticising people who have different preferences? That’s a totally general comment not a dig at this post. So what if people like wearing lots of ‘icing’? So what if someone likes wearing novelty prints? For me every day is a gift and I don’t know when this life might come to an end, it might be any day, personally I need and love mad colour and mad prints in my life…..if people look at me and think I’m a fashion disaster that’s their problem, I don’t want to waste another single day in my life not being true to me. I’ve had a few comments on Sew Weekly posts about “being brave enough to wear that out” or “but where would you actually find somewhere to wear that”….this is how I dress, it makes me happy, and I dont dress to fit in…..but I would never go up to someone in solids and ask why they dress that way. I wish people could just get on concentrating on their lives and enjoying what they enjoy without voicing opinions on the choices of others. Why can’t we all just get along? Sorry but it makes me sad.

    • Tempest, I could not agree more, and I’m glad you didn’t see this post as being a criticism of choosing the quilting cottons and the bright novelty prints. I’m more concerned with guiding those who may not have developed mindful fabric buying habits and are looking for a way to express themselves more consistently. I am the *last* person on earth to dictate who should wear what, but since I have kind of crazy taste I have put a lot of thought into how to stand out, and how to blend in….

      In your case, you know what you’re doing and for what it’s worth I absolutely adore the things you make. Your clothes express the soul of a vibrant, intelligent and joyful woman, and I love that. Your choices are deliberate and an expression of who you are. :)

      I tend to cringe when people congratulate me for “bravery,” too. It’s not like I rescued a child from a burning high-rise apartment or stood up to injustice or circumnavigated the world in a canoe. I simply had the nads to make something for myself precisely the way it lives in my imagination, and to wear it. I don’t see what’s brave about that either. :)

      Did you read this post: :)

      • Also, unless I can see someone’s underwear/privates or they’re wearing something that’s racist or offends dead people or celebrates violence, I really don’t judge. I figure it’s none of my business and a waste of time to sit around picking apart someone else’s fashion choices. Super big waste of time. I have other things to think about / do and the day isn’t long enough as it is! :)

      • Yes Steph, thats why I was keen to say it wasn’t your post, but it was more a comment generally at what I’ve been seeing around the blogosphere. I think it’s incredibly hard to find one’s own true style and quite often people are too worried about what others might think of them to take silly risks……I definitely learn best by making mistakes, and I would just like a sewing community where newbies especially are inspired by the sometimes poorer-made-not-gonna-last-as-long-duvet-cover-dresses etc to pull the sewing machine out of the loser and have a go themselves. I think the Me Made Months are superb in showing our diverse world of creation, solids and/or crazy prints. We shouldn’t be afraid to make and post things that make us happy, because life truly is too short. Ok I’m stepping off the soap box now honestly before everyone starts throwing fruit at me (though the novelty print I’m wearing wont show the stains like it would on sensible solids ;)).

        • Nah there’s a pretty strict “no fruit throwing” policy around here.. And you’re so right about newbies… I really love teaching newbies in person, I’m trying to bring that a little more to the blogging by talking about more basic subjects… I know I have a bit of a “head in the clouds, la-la land” approach to some stuff… :D

          But yeah, could not agree more. It’s like that epiphany Redhead has in Mean Girls… Putting down someone else doesn’t make you any better! Much better to “build up.” I try to be tolerant and open-minded, because that’s how I want others to treat me. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen even in our gorgeous online sewing community, but if there’s enough of us that don’t put up with that sh*t then we’ll be fine.

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  45. After I read this post, I hiked on over to my Pinterest sewing inspiration board, and lo and behold, it’s almost all solids. Yikes. Being that I normally make (and wear, proudly) dresses from bizarre prints meant for bedding, this post definitely pricked a little. As I’ve been thinking about my real, everyday wardrobe, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that fun prints (and I’d like to think that I mostly choose cuts that work for the stiffness of bedding fabric, but you can let me know if you think otherwise, as I value your opinion!) work fine for dresses, but my separates need to be more toned down or else they’ll never get worn. I think mostly I’m okay being vaguely Ms. Frizzle-like in my dresses; like Tempest alluded to, it’s taken me too long to figure out who I am and what I like, and now that I’ve figured it out, gosh darn it I’m going to wear it! At the same time, I know I have enough prints in my stash and I’m trying to only buy solids. So thanks, I appreciate the wake-up call for what makes a wearable wardrobe!

  46. Pingback: Sewing for the Life You Want « Disparate Disciplines

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  48. Can I just say ‘NOOOOOOOOOO’ I’m not ready to give up my precious prints. But I know I its time. You are absolutely right. I really appreciate such a thoughtful post on things like color and prints. I have a print problem, but thankfully its not a novelty quilting print problem. As you know, I work at the fabric store and I am always lusting over beautiful printed silks and ignoring solids and thus my hand-made wardrobe is rather printastic but nothing goes! I completely baulk at buying solids! But I really really want to make the move across. So thanks for the inspiration. I might make the leap of faith.

    • You don’t have to give up your prints!! It’s more speaking to a particular issue I’ve noticed among some sewists, and it’s an issue that I struggled with too… :) That’s all! You don’t have to give them up!

      That said, you really really might be pleasantly surprised how much you like your solid colored makes… ;)

  49. OK, this is a stupid question — sorry.
    But what exactly do you mean when you write “Just for clarity- in this post I’m talking about quilting cotton prints, fashion prints on proper apparel fabric are a bit different”? Meaning what is proper apparel fabric and how/where does one find it online? (I, too, live outside the US)

    And how do you know if a cotton fabric is “quilting cotton” or “proper apparel fabric”?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hey Tammy- This is an entire post in itself! I’ll be brief for now. (And there’s no stupid questions!)

      Basically, quilting cottons are cotton wovens. Usually the threads are spun tighter and the weave is denser. This makes it suitable for bedding, but in my opinion too stiff and relatively unyielding for clothes. Generally, they don’t look great as clothes, they have a certain quality to them.

      Apparel fabrics are the fabrics that clothing manufacturers might use to make garments. Clothes fabrics. :)

      Does that help at all?

      • It helps some, and thanks for your gracious reply.
        If I understand you correctly, fabrics described as “100% woven cotton sheeting” is what you’re referring to as quilting cotton.

        But, since places like sell these fabrics under “Apparel & Fashion Fabrics” (probably also listing them under quilting fabrics), I don’t yet know how to determine what you mean by “the fabrics that clothing manufacturers might use to make garments.”

        I.e., how/where does one find and identify them online given that the cotton sheeting is also listed as apparel fabric?

        Thanks in advance.

        • No, quilting cotton is usually labeled as such and is most suited for craft and bedding projects. It just is. I’ll do some kind of experiment soon to illustrate this. :)

 is in the business of selling fabrics. Which is fine. But they’re a fabric selling business, not necessarily an arbiter of what fabrics can and should be used for what purposes. That’s up to the consumer. They just move fabric and mostly do a good job of it. Sheeting can work for some projects. I’m just saying that as a general rule, bedding fabics make inferior clothing. Not always, and I do it myself, but it’s one of those beginner-intermediate things that can help make a difference in the sewing.

          Well… What I mean by “fabrics that clothing manufacturers might use to make garments”…. Basically, go into your closet. Put your hands on your clothes. Feel what they’re like. Go shopping. Notice clothes that appeal to you. Put your hands on them. Feel the fabric. Touch it, pinch it, twist it, even smell it. These are “clothes” fabrics. Find out what they’re called. Often you’ll find jerseys, cotton twills, cotton sateen, stretch wovens, etc are used commonly for clothing. This is because they’re well suited to the purpose of clothing active bodies.

          As for shopping online, I’m sorry to say it, but that’s just a practice thing. You can order swatches, which are quite cheap and wait for them so you can poke and stretch and test the fabric yourself so you know what you’re buying. This is prudent. I often do this for more expensive fabrics/things I can’t find locally. It’s also a great way to build your knowledge. The other option is to just buy some fabric and hope for the best. I do this too sometimes, but usually for more “generic” fabrics… Like cotton slub knit, etc.

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