how to buy fabric

Information such as width of fabric, washing instructions, price per yard, fiber content, country of origin and amount on a full bolt, is usually available on the end of the flat fabric bolt.
If your project requires a large amount of fabric and you would like to purchase an entire unopened bolt, arrangements can often be made with the store to order one for you.
Depending on the amount you need, buying fabric in a remnant piece could be the way to go.
The amount of fabric on a whole bolt in retail stores varies, depending upon the manufacture and thickness of the fabric.
Most fabric stores will have a designated cutting space with a table or cutting board to accurately measure the amount you need.
If your desired fabric is on a large display roller, a store employee may need to assist you in moving it to the cutting area.
When buying fabric, you will often find in most large chain fabric stores, the displays are usually grouped by types of fabric.
A store employee will cut, from the bolt, the amount of fabric you wish to purchase.
Please note that a different amount may be required depending upon the width of the fabric.
These bolts of fabric can either be rolled onto a cardboard tube or folded onto a flat piece of cardboard.
To find this information on a rolled bolt of fabric, look for a tag attached to the cardboard tube.
This information is important when using fabric from different bolts for the same project.
However, if two bolts of fabric have different dye lot numbers, it means they were colored (dyed) at different times using separate batches of dyes.
For example, the craft and quilting fabric may be found all in the front of the store, and all the home décor and upholstery fabric in the back.
Home Décor and apparel (clothing) fabric can be found on both rolled and folded bolts, depending upon the style and manufacturer.
Look for information on your sewing pattern, if you are using one, to determine the amount of fabric you will need.
When a manufacture colors, or dyes, a large amount of fabric at one time it is given a dye lot number.
It is helpful to know when you’re buying fabric that some stores are dedicated to one specific type of fabric.
If two different bolts of fabric have the same dye lot numbers it means that all of that fabric was dyed at the same time.
After reading the information on this page you will feel much more comfortable with how to buy fabric – either online or at your local fabric stores.
When you are shopping for and buying fabric, don’t be afraid to select one that is categorized for a different use.
Store policies vary regarding the minimum amount of fabric they will cut for you.
Quilting and craft fabric are usually found on flat folded bolts.
Some stores will charge you even if it is a fabric normally stocked in their store.
Be sure to look for this information when buying fabric so that your selection is the best one for your finished product.
For example, you may find a denim fabric in the apparel/clothing section that would be perfect for curtains in your teen’s bedroom.
Fabric is shipped to stores in what is called "bolts".
Often, but not always, this fabric is available in a wider width than other type of fabrics.
It is basically a piece of fabric that is left over from the original bolt.
Quilting Fabric – This lightweight fabric comes in a very large variety of colors, designs, as well as solids.
If buying fabric in one of these shops, watch carefully that the cutting line is straight across the width of the fabric.
Or you may find a lightweight quilting fabric that would make a cute casual summer skirt.
Many fabric stores will also have what is called a "remnant".
Fabric is produced in many different sizes of widths.
Occasionally you may find fabric in widths other than mentioned here but these are the most common.
Fabric comes in many, many different styles and textures.
This is just one part of First Steps, a series of basic sewing tutorials by Darling Adventures.
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The less expensive calicos that are available at chain craft stores are great for craft projects, and sometimes kid projects or clothing, but If you want to create a quilt that will withstand washing or have fabric that holds a precise shape after cutting (like complex quilt designs or applique) you’ll need to purchase higher quality cottons from an online or local quilting store.
Different types of fabrics have different characteristics, and understanding the characteristics is helpful when you are learning how to buy fabric.
These types of fabric usually include silks, wools, satins, velvets and fabrics embellished with decorative elements like reflective materials or beads.
Stretchy fabric uses include workout clothes, casual clothes, costumes and a variety of crafting projects.
If you are trying to determine how to choose fabric for craft projects, then care is less relevant because craft projects typically do not require washing.
Once you have an idea of the fabric you want to work with, shop for trims and accents that complement the fabric’s design and characteristics.
Most patterns suggest appropriate fabrics to use, and some even suggest fabric designs and patterns.
Special-occasion fabrics are often the most delicate types of fabric, except for silk, which is durable.
If you are working with stripes or plaids, it is a good idea to buy at least 1½ times more fabric than the pattern recommends so that you can cut pieces in a way that the pattern coheres on the finished garment.
Besides fabric, you might also consider trims and accents when you compare fabric styles.
Keep in mind that adding trims and accents can change fabric characteristics.
For example, if you sew a satin ribbon around the bottom of a stretchy knit skirt, the trim will limit the stretchiness of the fabric wherever you’ve attached the ribbon.
Depending on your goals, some fabric styles might be better for your project than others.
Characteristic Description Examples Drape describes how fabric flows over a moving body.
Thread: Holds pieces of fabric together, essential for any sewing project.
You can determine how to buy fabric by considering the aspects of the project you are buying the fabric for.
With its wonderful drape, this burlap fabric is perfect for creating a rustic chic wedding theme and home decor accents like table runners, no-sew window coverings, apparel, crafts, pew bow and much more.
Offered in an assortment of colors, the 100 percent jute Joann Stores Burlap fabric is ideal for a wide variety of fabric and decor based projects.
Craft stores and quilt stores both carry pre-cut pieces of yardage called Fat Quarters.  A Fat Quarter is a quarter of a yard of fabric, but it is cut in a different shape than a regular quarter yard of fabric.  When cutting a quarter yard of fabric off the bolt, you are getting a piece 9" wide x the width of the fabric (around 42"-43.) Four of these cuts, create a yard.  A Fat Quarter is a piece of fabric cut 18" off the end of the bolt, and then cut in half on the fold.  Four of these put together still make up 1 yard of fabric.  Imagine a piece of paper cut into four equal horizontal strips compared to a piece cut once horizontally and once vertically to get four equal square-ish pieces.
If you are making garments or items that need to be preshrunk I would wash all cottons first.  If you are going to be cutting fabric for piecing a quilt I would wash any cheap fabric you buy (i.e. from the bigger chain stores) but most of the more expensive yardage is going to be fine cutting into it before washing.  I personally would not wash any of the pre-cuts before sewing.  Deep reds and blacks, however, you may want to wash first.
The bigger box stores are going to carry cheaper, not as well-made fabric – especially in the quilting cottons.  There’s no reason why you can’t use the cheap stuff.  If you’re making something like a Halloween costume that is only going to be worn a couple of times, or a carseat cover that is just going be thrown-up on or be a home for smashed crackers, then I personally would not invest in super expensive fabric.
First: Not all fabric stores fill the same needs.  My own experience is that the bigger chain outlets are going to be a little more overwhelming and a lot less personal.  There are fewer employees per customer, so they can’t feasibly hold your hand through the process of picking fabric or get you started on that first sewing project.
I hope all of this makes everyone a little less scared of the fabric store.  Also please feel free to leave any favorite tips or suggestions of your own.  The goal is to remove all fear of choosing your fabric – although I will tell you now, fabric addictions have been known to take over people’s lives and storage space.
The store owners order the fabric months before it arrives in the stores and by the time it does arrive it is usually difficult to order more of that collection.  A few months later, it’s generally impossible to order more.  Just remember, you wouldn’t ask The Gap why they don’t have the same pants that coordinate with the outfit you bought last year.
Colors, patterns, scale – everything is gathered together for you.  One note about designer collections: they are released only once, so if it’s something you get it when you see it.  We frequently have people come in and ask if we still have a fabric they bought last year, or if we can order more.  The fabric companies generally print one run of the fabric collection.
Recently I was with a group of women from my new neighborhood and they started talking about their fear of fabric stores and how intimidated they felt to go in one.  It was interesting for me to hear their thoughts because I occasionally work in a fabric store – something I don’t think any of them knew.
One recent innovation by the bigger fabric companies (like Moda) is the creation of pre-cut fabrics.  These little bundles of fabric come in strips, squares or triangles and contain a sample of each fabric from then entire collection.
The number of panels (cut pieces of fabric) that you need depend on the width of the window and the width of the fabric.
If for example, your window is 50 inches wide, then you would want to buy fabric that is 75 – 100 inches wide or you can sew narrower fabric together as panels to achieve the width.
Handbags usually need no more than half a yard of fabric, larger canvas bags shouldn’t need more than 3/4 of a yard.
This means that when you buy a yard of fabric you’re getting 1 yard x the width of the fabric (usually measured in inches).
This is where all the great looks start! Thousands of fabric choices including every color, pattern and material you could imagine to turn into Fabric Shades, Panels & Drapery, Valances and Home Décor no one else has because we custom craft them just for you! You can even purchase our fabrics and decorative trims by the yard, to create your own unique, coordinating accents.
1: Grand Sukhumvit Hotel 2: Novotel Bangkok Siam 3: Baiyoke Sky Hotel 4: Anantara Bangkok Sathorn 5: Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit Terminal 21 6: Chatrium Riverside 7: Park Plaza Soi 18 8: Grand Swiss Sukhumvit 11 9: Nasa Vegas Hotel 10: Grande Centre Point Ratchadamri 1: Ayutthaya by River Sun Cruise 2: International Buffet Dinner 3: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (Half Day) 4: Calypso Ladyboy Show 5: River Kwai Tour incl.
The complex features a hotel (Silom Village Inn), and a shopping arcade where an impressive collection of fine antiques, handicrafts, lacquer-finished products, jewellery, Thai silk, and furniture can be found.
Inexpensive silk items or articles of clothing marked ‘Thai silk’, like the neckties or scarves for sale at stalls along Sukhumvit and Silom Roads, is not the real thing.
The Jim Thompson Company, the famous international promoter of Thai silk, is renowned for its quality and beautifully designed products.
A very simple and basic indicator of the quality of bedding at an instant look is the thread count that is mentioned on it.
Apart from the quality check, make sure you pick out bedding that suits the theme of your bedroom, the existing décor and comes in designs, colors and patterns that you like.
Purchasing high quality bedding might look like an expensive deal, but when it comes to giving you the perfect night’s sleep no amount is too much.
Percale is a type of fabric with a high thread count and a specific type of weave, and can be made from a number of different materials.
Whenever you wish to buy new bedding, remember that cotton is always the most preferable fabric and is safe both environmentally and is the healthy choice.
But when it comes to picking something on which you spend almost one-third of your life and tend to get all the rest you need, there must be absolutely no compromise in quality.
Thread counts for bed linen can range from as low as 80 for a basic fabric to as high as 400 for Egyptian cotton.
It is by now an universally agreed fact that bedding made out of Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton are the best in terms of comfort.
So do think about quality beyond price when it comes to the fabric that coaxes you to sleep.
The single most important factor that determines the quality of your bedding is the quality of material that it is made of.
(Please note: if you’re purchasing plush seat fabric for a pre-July 2011 mamaRoo, your plush fabric’s snaps won’t line up with your mamaRoo’s, but don’t worry, this doesn’t affect the fit or safety of the seat.
Prepping for a fabric trip right now and was using your "Little Blue Table" post as inspiration for one of our own, and have a full sheet with sketchups and a full list of what to buy, as well as a basic plan for how to get through the store as painlessly as possible with my little one in tow.
The store I do most of my fabric shopping at has carts, so both kids go in the cart, and they know if they keep quiet, as I find fabric I like, I will put the bolts in the cart – two on each side, then two up top to make a fort for them.
You posted this right after I took my 2 year old fabric shopping–and of course, pulled out my secret weapons (dumdums…he never gets lollipops other than at the fabric store!).
But he's a BOY so he automatically hates the fabric store 🙁 It's a nightmare each time! i have to pack my tiny purse (reFUSE to carry a diaper bag anymore :P) with toys (which each have several noisy buttons) and cookies and a harmonica.
My 2yr old daughter has charmed the local spotlight staff by sitting on the cutting counter and saying "hi" and their names, and "helping" me carry fabric they are really lovely in there….they now ask where she is if I go without her! We haven't reached terrible twos yet though and the bribe of a fluffy/babycino post shop always works.
I used the "secret weapon" a lollipop on mine the other day when I discovered a large amount of vintage fabric at the thrift store.
Parting thoughts: when you return to your vehicle with your wonderfully-behaved children and vast amounts of fabric you know not the purpose of, you must hug them (the children, I mean; you can embrace the fabric at leisure when you get home) and praise them for their marvelous performance in the store.
This is just too funny! Now we need a post on how to keep a husband happy at a fabric store.
Too funny! Now we just need a post on how to keep a husband happy at a fabric store.
Fifth, a well-conditioned child is one who loves the fabric itself, not the other "craft things" that the store might also stock.
Now my big two [7 and 5] enjoy fabric shopping, especially if one of the things we're looking for is for them [ie, they get to pick fabric for a dress I'm going to make them].
What a hilarious and oh-so-true post! I have 3 kids, aged 3 and under, so the fabric store is always an adventure.
Otherwise you will have to carry all the sippy cups as well as all your non-walking children back to your vehicle because you don’t want to risk having water leaking onto your new fabric in the shopping bags.
The title says it all – it’s how I go fabric shopping with three small children, all under five.
All this is SO TRUE! I have 4 girls, and I use food, bribery, positive reinforcement and dress them well!! Of course I learnt to do this the hard way, after chasing my eldest while heavily pregnant between fabric bolts in the shopping trip from hell.
This means a few days after birth, they must be taken out in their car seats to the nearest fabric store to expose them to Important Life Experiences.
This post made me laugh! I have three boys and I have occasionally taken them all with me fabric shopping.
I must admit on the few occasions I have taken my (1) toddler along to the fabric store, it's gone really poorly.
When they were small they were in a sling on my back and learnt the love of fabric , as they began to be walking everywhere I cultivated a love of buttons in them! Now we go into the shop, they spend the required amount of time searching through the 100's of tubes of cute novelty buttons for one to add to their collection.
😀 My girls do love the fabric store, but want to touch, touch, touch.
Finally, the same rule for attire on airplanes holds for fabric shopping trips: dress your children adorably.
Do you also have some tips for husband who gets crabby at the sight of fabric store but insists on driving you everywhere.
I took my grandson Austin, fabric shopping with me from the time he was two and a half months old–first times we took him out, as had someone stay at his home until he was around that age.
First, it is important that small children be trained from as young as possible to adore fabric stores.
I have a tough time taking my one 2-year old to the fabric store.
You must pick something else, or risk shameful failure in the fabric store.
I don't have small ones, but I also don't have a fabric store here.
My mom started taking us (three girls and a boy) to the fabric store as little bitty ones.
My daughter decides she needs to go to the toilet right about the time I'm loaded up with 5 bolts of fabric.
I had some great luck stumbling upon I purchased some beautiful discontinued Herman Miller upholstery fabric from them at an amazing price! They were excellent to work with and will send sample swatches of fabrics you are interested in.
Was running thru antique shops looking for the perfect chair–when I found the perfect fabric instead! Dallas does NOT have many fabric options, so I was all aflutter going thru shelf after shelf of killer vintage fabrics (appeared to be 1930/40–1970’s), Verbena and Hortense (dealer 036), INSIDE Forestwood Antique Mall, Dallas,Tx, 972-661-0001.
This is so great! The fabric choice in Canada isn’t the best, so I think I really need to hop over the border soon to check out some of these stores in person! I’m going through all the shops listed in the comments now.
Wow, thank you SO much for this post, Grace! I’ve actually been scouring the city for some great unique fabrics for my upcoming wedding.
Great list, thanks so much for the resources! One of my absolute favorite sites that I don’t see on the list is …they sell fabrics and pillows and other accessories.
YAY! Thanks for this post, Grace! We are just starting a fabric search to use on a fantastic old chair, and I’ve been looking for fabric with gray wood grain.
Have a favorite fabric studio or shop that’s missing here? Feel free to add it below! I’m always looking for great places to buy fabric.
I was about to ask if you knew of any fabric resources but I guess you beat me to it! I’m working on redoing some things in my new home and can’t wait to check it all out.
Thanks, Grace – I don’t often get into NYC, so it’s nice to know where I can get Liberty fabrics when I’m there! I do like shopping in Liberty’s, though…something about the way they display is really special.
I just wanted to say that they have a colour matcher – it lists all the colours in the fabric and when you click on one, it will find any fabrics they have that have the same colour in them.
If you’re in Los Angeles the absolute best fabric store is Lincoln Fabrics in Venice.
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Located in the northeast part of the city, Nippori is easily accessed by the JR Yamanote line and is a great place to go if you want to spend a day shopping for fabric.