5 Lessons I have learnt while buying fabric | SEWING Guide

Over the years I have made so many mistakes when buying fabric for different sewing projects. I thought I would share some lessons I have learnt, the good and the bad.

So sit back and enjoy this quick guide on how to buy the right fabric that you will use and that won't add to your fabric stash.


Your guide to choosing the right fabrics that suit you and save you money!

1| Do not buy the first fabric that catches your eye
We have all been there, you walk into the fabric store, walk through the first aisle and BAM, that's it, the fabric you want, the fabric you need, the fabric that you would sell your soul for just to have a few metres of it. 

Step back from that fabric. 
Are you going to use it? Are you, be honest with yourself. 

Or is it going to go into your fabric stash and find its way to the bottom of the pile? You will forget about it and a year later find it and fall in love with it all over again. 

But then what happens? 
You put it on your sewing project list to do in your head and back in the pile it goes, not to be seen for another year. 

So stay on track, 
Put the roll of fabric down, 
Save your money and buy what fabric you NEED for the project you are making and went to the store originally for. Otherwise, you will end up with a garage full of fabric and a husband who has no room for his tools and had to build a shed to store them 😂😂 

That may or may not be me, okay it's me. Clearly from the photo below, I am not even clean with my fabric hoarding.
A glimpse of some of my fabric storage boxes in the garage
2| Always consider the project you are making
When buying fabric we can get carried away with a colour or print and forget about what we are sewing.

The biggest mistake I made was buying 10 metres of lycra fabric for a dance costume that was wrong. At a glance it was perfect, the right shade of colour, a great affordable price, it was shiny, and matched the theme. 

What I didn't think about was the stretch. Yes, I purchased lycra, but it was a 2-way stretch, I needed 4-way. At the time I was so caught up with the look of the fabric, I did not consider what I actually needed it for. So another lot of fabric that ended up in my garage, the whole 10 metres of it 😂

I recommend before you go to the shop, write a list of the supplies you need and stick with it. Add the right length zipper, cotton colour and fabric weight, texture etc. This will help you save money from not buying supplies you do not need but also keep you on track because we all know how many hours we can waste roaming the aisles and forgetting why we originally enter the store for.
3| Do not buy the fabric that is on-trend
The most common mistake I have made is buying fabric that everyone online is using and it looks so pretty or cool I need to do it.

I made this mistake when I decided to make a linen dress. Linen at the time was on-trend (still is) and everywhere online where you buy patterns from, were making samples from it. The linen dresses always look beautiful, cool and of course, I needed to make one. So I did.

But in reality, I do not have time to iron my new sewing creation every 5 mins? Or at least straight before I wear it because there is no way linen is coming off the coat hanger nicely pressed and beautiful. It will always, I mean ALWAYS look like it has been on your floor crushed by your dog without ironing it before wearing. 

So before you buy fabric, consider if it is suitable for the sewing project and you! Linen isn't for me, but it may suit your lifestyle. I hate ironing so the gorgeous linen dress I made has been donated to charity, fingers crossed the person who buys it loves to iron HAHA 
4| Be careful buying online
I have purchased a lot of fabric online. It's sometimes cheaper, and way more exciting finding prints you can not find in your local area and can make any rainy day better by buying some new fun fabric.

BUT, always read the description and reread it. If in doubt contact the seller and ask questions.

Check the width, print size and colour. Some places are vague with what they are selling so be extra careful. 

Let's say you are making a Minnie Mouse skirt and need a dotted red and white fabric. You find it at a great price, low postage and order 2 metres. 

What turns up is a tiny deep red dotted print you can not see, the fabric panel is narrow in width so there is not enough fabric to make a skirt for a 5-year-old and you have wasted your money and now have to look for the fabric again. Yep, that's happened to me 😄

From that moment I only purchased fabric that shows the true size of the print and has the width measurement. I also check the colour on another device like my phone to see if it looks like a different colour than what I am seeing on the device I am viewing it on.

When buying online you must also know the difference in fabrics. Most will say wool, cotton, viscose etc, so if you are not familiar with different fabrics and have only started your sewing journey, then do some research, visit your local fabric shops and read tags. 

You can also find some great guides like this one explaining what fabrics can be used for all your projects.
5| Always take a sample reference with you
When starting a sewing project we have an idea of what colours and prints we would like but if the project is to match an existing fabric you have or for homewares in a particular room then you may need to take a sample with you.

This is very important if you need to match fabrics when sewing patchwork, curtains, cushion covers and matching existing fashion pieces or even match your paint colour.

Every shade of colour has different tones and under the shop lights, the colour you remember you have to match at home can be completely different from what you think you are looking at in the shop. 

Let's be honest, there seem to be thousands of shades of white, cream and black and if you don't match them correctly you will be cranky that you wasted your time and money on more fabric you will not use.

I did not follow my rules last month and went to buy some fabric to make Daphne's Scarf from Scooby-Doo. This had to match a shade of aqua green bucket hat that my daughter would also be wearing with the costume, which was for a swimming carnival, so I had to match the colour.

Her costume was a modern day Daphne
All the hassle to match Daphne's scarf and she didn't wear the hat! haha 
I went to the shop without the hat, it completely slipped my mind to take it with me. After spending 30 mins looking at every shade of green and trying to remember what colour the bucket hat actually was, I drove home and returned the next day with the hat. 

This wasted my time and sanity. The best thing is I didn't add to my fabric stash in the garage by buying what I didn't need because for once I followed Point 2 in this list, I went home, grabbed the hat and colour-matched. yay. 
Let's recap on what you should do when buying fabric
  • Do not buy the first project that catches your eye
  • Always consider the project you are making
  • Do not buy the fabric that is on-trend, only buy the fabric that suits you!
  • Be extra careful when buying online, check the colour, print size, width and fabric weight
  • Always take a sample with you if matching existing fabrics or colours

Fabric hoarding is a serious problem, well only for my husband who's garage if full of tubs like this 🤣 ##sewer##sewing##fabric##hoardersbelike##diy##sew

♬ Something For Your M.I.N.D. - Superorganism
If I can follow this list, then I have faith in all of you to put down the fabric! 😀

Do you have any tips when buying fabric? Let me know below in the comments

Pin for later

1 comment

  1. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful.