When Lisa joined in on this series, I was thrilled! She’s amazingly creative and she likes to save money, but have quality outcomes. Check out her series on Recreating Kate – all about mimicking the royal wardrobe of Princess Kate without the large price tag. Today Lisa is going to tell us all about when to buy or not buy fabric. Take a look!
Hi, I’m Lisa Mabey from Mabey She Made It, a sewing, crafts, and home decor blog with classic flair. I’m excited to talk a little bit today about saving money when it comes to fabric. It’s something I’ve thought about over the last little while, and my thoughts have actually changed on the topic over time.
I’m frugal by nature. Find me a good deal, and I’m all over it. I learned to sew using things from the remnant bin at 50% off the sales price. But as my skill has increased, so has my philosophy on buying fabric.
It used to be all about cheap prices. I didn’t care what it was, if it was really inexpensive, I would buy it. I’d sew with it, and I’d be satisfied with the results–for about two washings and I’d notice strange shapes, pills, and poor drape. Since I was learning, I attributed it all to my sewing skills, but as I look back now, I don’t think it was ALL my skill. I think some of it was the quality of fabric. So my first tip for saving money is:
Buy Quality Fabric
But wait, you might say, isn’t higher quality fabric more expensive? Yes, but it’s worth it. Since I’m taking the time to make clothes for my kids and myself, I want them to last and look nice for a long time. I want those clothes to last through more than one child. I want the reason I get rid of a garment to be because styles have changed, not that it looks old after a few washes. Another thing you realize when you start sewing with higher quality fabric is that it’s easier to sew with, your results look better, and it’s a better experience all around.
Lower quality knits peel or develop holes easily; cheap cotton wrinkles like crazy. I don’t have time to remake an item or to iron it every time it comes out of the wash. And since time is money, that’s just one more reason to buy quality fabric.
I’ve also been thinking about how to know when you should buy a fabric so that you’re getting good quality. Trust me when I say I’ve had some bad experiences ordering fabric online only to realize once it got there that it wasn’t anything I was going to use. It was a total waste of money, which brings me to my second tip:
Read the Descriptions Online
I see a print I like, I see a price I like, and often I’m tempted to just add it to my cart and check out. But those product descriptions are really important. What are the care instructions? What weight is the knit? Does the fabric type match the project it’s intended for? These are all questions I ask myself before purchasing. I know that I don’t like sewing with lightweight knits, so I avoid them. If I can’t tell from an online description whether it’s a medium or heavy weight knit, I leave it. It’s not worth wasting money on.
This does require that you know your fabrics–something I’m not so great at still. I prefer to shop in a store most times because I sew by feel and drape most of the time. But learning more about fabric types is something on my to-do list as I know it will help me better understand product descriptions and know what I’m getting.
Ask Others Before Purchasing
If you’ve never bought fabric from a source before, use those Facebook groups and your sewing circle to see whether others thought it was quality. If you can’t find anyone who has used that vendor before, consider only purchasing a small amount or swatches so you get a feel for quality before investing in more. It might take more time and possibly extra shipping charges, but at least you won’t have 3 yards of a knit with no stretch or recovery that will sit around forever without being used.
Only Buy What You’ll Use
I’m also learning what fabric I ACTUALLY use on a regular basis. I might like a print, but if I’m not actually going to use it for a specific purpose I’m learning to leave it. This doesn’t mean all the fabric in my stash has a project slated yet; it just means that I know I’ll use it and have a general idea of the type of project it would be good for. I also have learned to match yardage with a general project idea so when the perfect pattern/fabric combination appears, I have enough for the project (vs. not having enough so it sits on my shelf forever wanting to be used).
With these tips, I think you’ll be better prepared to make great fabric choices that lead to amazing projects. And don’t forget to look for sales–quality fabric is even better when you can get it at a killer price! Happy fabric shopping!
Oh man, what great advice! I know I’ve been a sucker for a great deal – I make something for myself and not 2 washings later the shirt is pilling all over. I LOVE Lisa’s advice for buying quality fabric so your garment stands the test of time. Anyone else have a story to share about fabric shopping failures?!
Tune in tomorrow to hear from Phat Quarters and the rule of thirds for saving money!