Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shopping Smart for Fabrics Part 2

So what about the big RETAIL fabric Chains for fashion sewing?
It's been quite awhile since I had shopped at a retail chain for garment construction.  Most of my projects involve crazy quilting for handbags, wall hangings, etc.  However, with a new little one to sew for, I gave it a go.  

I got in my car and headed to a well known large fabric chain store.  Upon entering, I could see that a known designer had ON SALE some cute daisy like fabric in the distance, plus another selection with an equally delightful motif so I headed in that direction. I expected that this fabric would be more expensive and was certainly not surprised at the $8.99 & $9.99 price sticker per yard. Inwardly I  smiled as it was on sale for 30% off.  And then I was surprised, as I reached for the bolt:  It felt like cheesecloth, and I could see through it.  The weave of the fabric was of a quality that brought disappointment.  And one aisle over, there was something else to be learned: There was  non-designer fabric not on sale that was much better. So you really need to look at all the aisles before making up your mind. I also followed up by checking two other chain stores, and the story was the same.  This  post is directed to being a more savvy shopper no matter where you go to purchase fabric.

Lesson learned that day at several chain stores:  Price does not necessarily reflect quality!  Bring coupons or pay the same price as a specialty store and perhaps get less quality.  Handle the fabric and be honest with yourself.  You will still be investing your hours, skill and machine to the project.  You want the finished project to be something you love. If you are just learning to sew, remember that nicer fabric handles much better, cuts more easily, washes better.  A new sewer should consider bringing someone who sews to help with the fabric selection and quality thread.  Thread is another subject and I will only say this: 
Remember thread is what holds your seams together so QUALITY is important. 
I cannot blame the stores for their cost cutting measures including smaller width bolts, looser woven fabrics, etc. However,  the point is that price is not the unit of measurement that reflects these silent changes.  I simply prefer to choose only those fabrics that meet my own criteria: nice weave, soft to the touch.  And this includes T-shirt fabric & ribbons.  Notably my poodle is not as fussy as she has fluff barrier to protect her skin. But even then I am picky about the drape ~ smiling at you - Cookie

Heart Designs 4 Machine Embroidery - Available at
Next article:  what to do with left over scrap fabric :)


Anonymous said...

What specific brands can you share about quality thread?

Anonymous said...

I was taught ALWAYS use the best quality materials you can afford for any project. The real cost in anything is the labor. Also if you want your garment to last a long time, quality materials will pay off in the long run, washing and wearing will take their toll on the garment. Better quality material will hold up longer, thus descreasing the cost per day over the life of the garment.