Today is Day 16 of 31 Days of Sewing School.
Or, if you want to start acquiring a “stash” (what sewistas call their ever-growing collection of fabric), you’ll want to stock up on what will be most useful to you. A word of caution though, buying fabric is known to be addicting, so consider yourself warned!
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I will at least touch on some of the fabric types I keep on hand.
This is the most commonly used fabric type for most people who sew. It is a versatile material useful for quilts, small projects (like wallets, purses, zipper pouches, placemats) and even many garments. I use cotton a lot for kids’ clothing.
You will definitely begin to notice a variance in quality when it comes to cotton. Higher end stores (such as quilt shops) stock the highest quality fabric, fabric stores (such as JoAnn and Beverly’s) carry the second-grade quality of cotton, and finally the lowest quality fabric will be found at big box stores like WalMart. You can feel the difference in higher thread count cottons.
Of course, you get what you pay for, so the nicer fabric tends to cost more, too. Check for sales!
Muslin is a lightweight cotton that is great for lining projects, prototypes (in designing clothes) or things like dolls.
I’m pretty sure you all know what denim is, but I did want to point out that while fabric stores do sell a variety of shades and designs of denim, one of my favorite things to repurpose is old jeans. You’d be amazed how big of a piece you’ll end up with when you cut open the leg on a pair of pants.
Other heavier-weight fabrics include duck cloth, broadcloth and canvas.
Another great fabric for clothing is knit, such as t-shirt knit (or jersey, made from cotton spandex) and polyester knit. I love to repurpose t-shirts into other clothing or projects and you can also buy knit by the yard if you need more than a shirt will give you.
Knit is a little trickier to sew on because it is thin and stretchy but with the right needle, stitch, and with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.
I recently came across an online class for sewing with knits that looks really cool.
Looking for something soft and cozy? Flannel is a great cotton fabric for pajamas, quilt backs and other soft projects. Another super soft fabric is minky, a plush polyester that is oh-so-cozy and often used for baby items and quilt backs.
You might think batiks are just another cotton fabric but they are actually unique because of the way they are dyed. Batiks appear to be a bit stiffer than regular cottons, but they do soften up after washing. They make great quilts, purses/totes, and home decor projects, among other things.
Batiks are painted, stamped, and dyed with wax and different shades of color in places like Indonesia and Bali– don’t be misled by tie-dyed copies.
Heading to a football game? Just cut a big piece of fleece and you’ve got a blanket! Or better yet, choose two designs and cut and tie them together for a great no-sew option.
Fleece can be great for sewing projects too, like a baby sleep sack (so cozy!) or a travel pillow/blanket set. Fleece comes in a million different prints (including many sports teams) now.
Another really easy-to-use fabric is felt. While it can be used for lots of no-sew projects as well, it can also be used with sewing by machine or hand. Look for high-quality wool felt (rather than cheap polyester) if you can (although be aware that it’s not washable like other fabrics). Felt can be bought in cut pieces or by the yard.
You don’t have to buy new!
Remember, repurposing old clothes and linens is a great way to give new life to old fabric. T-shirts, jeans, and other garments can be refashioned into new things, and vintage sheets are a great find at a thrift store– so much (high-quality) fabric for a small price (or better yet, cut up an old un-needed sheet you have at home!).
I have a whole pin board for repurposing where I collect all the great ideas I find.
What’s your favorite fabric to wear or to sew on? Tomorrow we’ll discuss getting your fabric prepped.