My guide to buying quality fabric

Today I want to talk to you about buying fabric. Its something that is useful for every crafty person who needs fabric regardless of what your budget is. IMG_6689

So let’s begin with budget. This is your beginning point, and its the bottom line. Some of us have very little to work with, and others have much more disposable income. This means, some will have more and some will have less- and that’s okay! There is no contest. 20140907-DSC_0026

What should you buy? Simply put, you should only buy what you love and forget the rest. This sounds a little brutal, I understand, but you ought to focus on what you like, because you are not likely to use whatever falls outside of this box. afterlight (7)

Some people stash and stash away, building a mass of fabrics so that they have a lot at their disposal. This is useful because you can easily choose whatever fabrics your want from your own personal collection if you get a hankering to make something right now. Other people will purchase per project, carefully planning what they need and buying only that. 20140127-DSC_001420140124-DSC_0060

When I started sewing, I did the latter. I thought it was bazaar to collect fabric en masse that went largely unused. Now I’ve found a happy medium that works for me, and that’s what I encourage you to do. 20130819-DSC_0047

I don’t like every fabric out there. There are a couple of brands I love, some I’m indifferent to, and a couple that I disdain. Designers are in the same boat- I love Anna Maria Horner, Alison Glass, Juliana Horner, and Liberty of London. Others are hit and miss with me. There are some very prominent designer’s whose work I am just not interested in. And that’s okay! We should not feel pressured to own something just because its what everyone else is going gaga over. Bloomsbury Gardens Spectrum

I like to look at it through this lense: I am in “x” income bracket. I love JCrew. They come out with hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful items every season. People go crazy over these items, which will be old and out of style in a matter of months. I’m not going to go buy 300 new styles just because they came out. I can’t afford it, and frankly that would just be insane. I don’t like every single style. Instead I will choose an item or two, and most likely wait for it to go on sale when I can afford it and when it won’t put my family in a bad spot. JCrew

This is how many of us look at things like clothing. So why on earth is fabric any different? Why on earth do we feel that’s its okay to spend a fortune on fabric that we kind of like? Just something to think on….

Here’s how I purchase fabric:

I LOVE Anna Maria Horner, Alison Glass, and Juliana Horner. They are the only three designer who’s fabrics I feel I have to have. Therefore I “stash” all of their designs in various sized cuts. Do I buy them the day they’re out? No. I wait for a sale, and for when I can afford it. The fabric is no good to me if it means my family has to skip meals to pay for it. 20140903-DSC_003520140817-DSC_0064

Liberty: my true fabric love. I stash prints now and then when I have saved up for them. I buy a fat quarter to half yard of prints that I love because those are the most useful sizes for me. I don’t think anyone could possibly own all that they put out, so there’s no pressure there to HAVE IT ALL. On this note, one might wonder how I or anyone else can even afford Liberty. After all, it is over three times the price of standard designer cotton. This is how: I don’t buy a ton of other fabric. I know what I love and I have tunnel vision for it. So I skip out on the bundles and presales for the thirty other lines, and instead get Liberty. Its what I value, and its what I want. You can purchase it too, but it may mean sacrificing some other collections. By the way, you can find a stellar collection of Liberty at my sponsoring shops Jones and Vandermeer (they cut by the meter!), and DuckaDilly who offers monthly clubs and a host of precuts. 20141019-DSC_0008

Other fabric: all other fabric I get is purchased on a per project basis. This means I only buy it if I have a concrete plan to use it soon. Otherwise, I don’t need it. 20140225-DSC_006320140506-DSC_0004

What I want to you get from this post is really the same tone I set out to communicate in “Handmade by Humans”: be purposeful in the things you do. Don’t clutter your creativity with unneeded things. If you stash, stash, stash you may feel that pressure to use it and rush through projects with very little care. Instead, I would entreat you to slow down, enjoy the process of not only making your items, but carefully choosing those special fabrics that will take your projects to the next level. 20140528-DSC_000620140626-DSC_008220140711-DSC_0027

Don’t give into the fads, love what you buy! You will feel so much better working with what you love.

I hope this has been helpful!

-Meredith

Share on: FacebookTwitterPinterest
  • Kay

    This is a great post. I love Liberty too and would rather have something I love and will use carefully. I have previously bought fabric that was on sale because sit was a good price and then never used it. Now I am more careful with my money and fabric choices.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth J

    Great points! I myself am wary of “fabric clubs”. They sound really great, and I joined one for a year. I ended up spending money on fabric I didn’t love and have not used to this day! Then you have to resell it, or make a scrap quilt with all of your not-loved fabrics. Not fun at all!ReplyCancel

  • Ivy

    Thank you for this. I am trying to be more of a curator, too.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Clark

    Thank you! I love all of your points.ReplyCancel

  • Carolynne Gordon

    Enjoyed the sentiments in this post. My mother was a fabric hoarder, and when she died we had to dismantle her sewing room. Aaaargh. I decided that day not to collect anything anymore. I became a quilter and learnt to trust that I would find what I needed, when I needed it. It’s become a metaphor for living. And as I buy second hand fabrics, mostly, from markets and thrift shops, it tests the premise further. And it generally works for me. Good luck, good nouse, along with a bit of magic.ReplyCancel

  • […] I know this was a long post, but it is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart. I wish I would have had someone tell me this years ago when I was just discouraged and not doing anything well. Just remember it’s all a process, and your life and family is unique. If you could use some advice and encouragement about buying fabric (because the temptation to have every new line is real!),  you can read this post about responsibly buying fabric.  […]ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*