A pattern is a critical element, your style adds the sparkle, your mad sewist skills put it together, but really? Fabric makes it happen. Great fabric elevates a garment from ho hum to zowie wowie!
For example let’s think about a basic skirt. If sewn in a medium charcoal ponte it is a very nice, sophisticated, skirt. Sewn in a laser cut scuba knit you have a whole different feel! Fabric Rules! Don’t be afraid to experiment within your own set of parameters!
KEEP A FABRIC JOURNAL:
Using a small journal, either spiral bound or hard cover, that will fit into your purse, keep notes on fabric you love. If you’re a sewist, you’re a ‘fabric feeler’, you touchy feely your way through any and every store with clothes or fabric! Break your notebook down into categories like: Knit, Wool, Cotton, Specialty (activewear, faux fur, faux leather/suede, coating) and when you see something you love, open your notebook and jot a note!
The days are over (for the most part) when a fabric store would cut a sample for you, but if you find a retailer or online provider who will give you a small snippet, insert that into your fabric journal as well.
I’m always on the lookout for fabric I love in garments I own or those I see in ready-to-wear. For example, it’s very hard for me to source locally great activewear fabric for Mara or Meetra leggings. I like a very snug legging for that nod to shapewear and I prefer a fabric that is not shiny but matte. From a pair in my closet that I really love the fabrication, the label says that the fabric is 54% cotton/32% polyester/14% spandex. From there, I search favorite online retailers of knit and activewear fabric. You may not find anything with those search parameters so you have to get a little creative. Of the search string above, I went to Mood Fabric and searched for 14% spandex. This brought up 10 fabrics while great…..were not what I was looking for. I continued to search using cotton polyester knit, cotton spandex knit and polyester spandex knit.
One of the fabrics that the search returned had a great appearance AND it was similar in the content at Content: 56% COTTON, 26% POLYESTER, 14% NYLON, 4% ELASTANE. (Elastane is frequently used interchangeably with spandex so keep that in mind). If I wanted, I’d request a swatch of this fabric, or jump out and order some yardage. (Which by the way, I did! Coming to my Handmade Wardrobe and a yoga studio near you!!!)
I never would have found another fabric from my search, a Dark Brown and Coral Double Cloth Stretch Jersey! Reversible! Now, I might not actually USE the reversibility feature of this fabric when I’m just looking for a great chocolate brown activewear knit from the parameters I wanted—— but on second thought, using the coral side might be really interesting for the high waistband of Mara leggings, or for the skirt portion of the Meetra Skirted leggings.
Be a detective, KNOW what fabric you love by keeping a journal. Search at your local fabric retailer or online and educate yourself. Fabric makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE! If you don’t love the fabric of a garment, you won’t wear it much! No matter how great the pattern! Fabric Rules!
You can go with a simple silhouette, apply a few hacks and sew it in FABULOUS fabric for a wardrobe full of versatility and smashing good to look at (and wear) garments!
That’s how you make fabric work for you!
Do your research, be educated and remember, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s the best bet for your garment! Here’s my UGLY TRUTH—– I have always been swayed by the Bargain Bin! You too? I am a sucker for inexpensive fabric! Honestly it doesn’t matter if it’s a bad fit for a project, or even if it’s somewhat sketchy on content information. I see CHEAP and I just can’t help myself. I blame my mother, Queen of the Cheap Fabric.
I have to hit myself over the head when I hear the siren call of cheapo fabric, ask myself REALLY? I mean REEEEAAAALLLY? Are you going to use that? Are you going to LIKE that? Can you live without that?
I figure if I’d add up all of the bargain fabric I buy in a year and hated or didn’t use, I’d be able to purchase some really lovely fabric that I’d adore!
What’s YOUR fabric confession?
Fabric Journal Sample: