The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Tilly from the GBSB

That’s the Great British Sewing Bee to we colonists!!!!

Tilly (who was one of the fab contestants) had a great post today and something I hear a lot.  How to shop for fabric on an online source.

There are a ton of them out there, and if you’re in a spot where you have no fabric store, then you have a major problem getting fabrics.  Even in some of these spots the chain stores either aren’t there or they are there in ghost form.

As a side note here, I was contracted to do a wedding gown in NE, and flew into Boston, dove to NY to get the fabrics with my clients (we had a blast), then trekked to their home in ME.  My studio they set up for me looked out over the Atlantic and could see the lobster boats come in and go out and even though I had lobster every day, never grew bored or tired of it.

But, I needed a few basics – needles, thread (white), muslin, interfacing and some other basic things so went to the local chain store and I was shocked.  I asked if they were moving or having a close out sale: No……I asked if they were just low on stock: No…..I asked where was all their stock: This was it…..I asked if there was another fabric/sewing store in town: No…..and I sat there with my jaw on the ground wondering why this chain was even paying rent to open a store that had such pathetic sewing supplies (no needles, muslin and no white thead….what?!!!!)

So these stores are out there, as shocking as it may sound.

What’s left is shopping online, and doing this can really open up a huge opportunities and possibilities for your creative imagination.

But the prob as Tilly describes, is you can’t touch and feel.  Here‘s here blog on it, and below are a few of my suggestions.

  1. Nothing really replaces feeling the fabric and there are many fabric clubs to below to.  They are most of them relatively cheap and well worth the money.  At least you will have some fabrics to compare when you go to their sites.
  2. There are sites that really do make an attempt at describing their fabrics with great comparisons to professional color charts and percentage of stretch (which in my mind is way under-informed because this is half of the decision about picking out a good fabric for a project), and other details.  These do make it easy.
  3. Going to your local chain store or when you do visit a good fabric store, make it a point to get samples of basic fabrics such as linen, cotton, wool, silk, rayon, and the different weaves and weights, to make your own basic fabric chart to help you with choosing online.
  4. Often you can email them with questions:  is it light weight?….does it drape?….is it stiff?..does it have body?…is it heavy-weight?….all of those are appropriate questions and can help you make your decision.
  5. And if worse comes to worse, you can always call or chat online.  Most of these stores have a Facebook or other means of chatting.  Specify your project, or what you are going to use the garment for and ask for suggestions, or what the most popular fabric is.  For retail outlets, this is not a problem and often they are more than happy to chat with you.

Finally, it comes down to ordering, and realizing that it might be a mess-up, or a good do.  I’ve had both, but then I do sew a lot and I always have a “plan B” in mind for some of these.  But I also have a professional color chart (from Pantone) and there are many times I have purchased a fabric knowing that the color would be fabulous even if the weight and drapiness of the fabric was off a bit.

But whatever you do, don’t let a few failures deter you from ordering online. It can open up a whole new universe of options for your creative outfits.  One of my art teachers was fond of reminding me of happy accidents.  These happened when something you neither planned nor wanted ended up on your painting, and then you make the most of it.

Who knows, maybe if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, it could turn out to be a happy accident!



1 Comment
  1. Don’t tell me we were in Maine at the same time! Ackkk! It would have been great to connect. There are not many fabric stores left around Boston but there is a great one, The Fabric Place Basement on route 9. I am guessing that may be where you went to shop. There array of formal fabrics is TDF.

    Sounds like it was great trip. We pigged out on lobster while in Maine as well, and clams, and salmon, and scallops……..

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