When I first began sewing clothes the only fabric stores around were quilting shops. As a result, my first garment was a shirt made from quilting cotton. Don’t do that, it almost never turns out well. Luckily, things have changed and these days all kinds of fabrics can be found online.
Where To Find Fabric:
Chain Stores ($$) – Chain stores like Beverly’s fabrics, Walmart, Jo-anne fabric and crafts, etc. can be found online ifou dont have one nearby. It has been my experience that these places are really good sources for quilting fabrics and fleece, but are not so great for most apparel fabrics. I shop these stores once or twice a year when they have a good sale going. Most of the time I can’t find what I am looking for or I don’t want to pay the price they are asking.
Custom Fabric Retailers ($$$) – I just discovered custom fabric retailers this past year. These are small businesses that design their own fabric and have them printed especially for their shops. Have you looked at custom fabric yet? There are so many beautiful designs out there if you know where to look. Most of the time I hear about a custom fabric shop in Facebook sewing groups, or I find them on Etsy. The upside to custom fabric is that you can find unique prints on nice quality fabric. The downside is that they can cost upwards of $25 per yard.
Discount Fabric Retailers ($)– There are a few discount fabric shops that I regularly purchase from when I can’t find what I need from a fabric jobber. Discount fabric stores like Fabric.com, FashionFabricClub, etc. carry your basic apparel fabrics and have a huge amount of seasonal fashion fabrics to choose from. The prices here are usually more to my budget, but quality can be hit or miss.
Fabric Jobbers ($)– Fabric jobbers are my absolute favorite sources for fabric. Stores like Fabricmart, LDG textiles, & Knitpop are the three that I know about. Feel free to let me know if you know of another store! Fabric Jobbers are amazing. They have access to fashion districts where clothing designers sell their surplus fabric at low prices and in turn, the savings are passed onto the customer. The only downside to these shops is that a lot of the time the fabric will not be restocked and sometimes fabric content is not specific. It can also be hard to find basic fabrics at these stores because they specialize in one of a kind fashion fabrics. The upside is that you can get nice quality fabrics for super affordable prices. My favorite thing to do is buy their bulk mystery boxes where fabric can be $2 to $5 per yard. The fabric is always a surprise, but it’s good quality and if I’m not into the print, I can use it to try out a new pattern.
How to Know What You’re Buying:
Read the Description – The hardest part about shopping for fabric online is that you can’t touch it and sometimes the color on your computer screen doesn’t accurately represent the color of the fabric you’re buying. For this reason, it is really important to always, always read the description. If the description says ivory, but the photo looks blue, you’re probably not buying blue fabric.
Fabric Weight – The second thing I look at is the weight of the fabric. Some stores list fabric as heavy/medium/lightweight and some stores list fabric by the weight of a square yard in ounces (or grams per square meter if you’re shopping from an international source). The weight of a fabric can dramatically change the look of a garment. Most patterns will let you know what kind of fabric the pattern was drafted for, and it’s usually a good idea to follow their advice until you become more experienced with different fabric types.
Fabric Stretch – Both woven and knit fabrics can have stretch, and stretch can be two-way or four-way. Four-way stretch will have stretch from selvage edge to selvage edge as well as from cut edge to cut edge. Two way stretch only stretches in one direction and will be specified in the description. Some shops list stretch by percentage, and some list terms like slight stretch, moderate stretch and ample stretch.
Type of Fabric – There are so many types of fabric out there – too many to list in this post – and not every fabric of a specific type will look the same. Your pattern will say what types of fabric are suitable for your project. If you are considering buying a lot of a fabric, or buying fabric that is pretty pricey, it is a good idea to purchase a swatch. There are a few stores that you can subscribe to a swatch club, and they will send you swatches each month. This can be a great way to learn about fabric and I highly recommend it if you can afford it.
I hope this was helpful! Happy shopping!