In the past week, I've had some questions in the comments that I thought would make good posts, so today and tomorrow, I'll answer those. Today I'd like to answer a comment from Amy, from last week when I showed the red and white knit top from the SWAP, "Can you give some tips on fabric shopping online? . . . . How can I tell the difference between fabric that would make a cute top (like yours) vs. fabric that's really meant for a swimsuit.... or better for the trash bin?"
There's no fail-proof answer for this one, actually, but I'll give you some things I keep in mind when I shop for fabric online.
- Check the return policy. If you don't like it for some reason, can you return it or will you have to keep it?
- See if a swatch of the fabric can be purchased. Some retailers may not advertise that they sell swatches, but it doesn't hurt to ask, either. I always try to get swatches, especially for very costly projects.
- Know your fabrics. This includes being familiar with various weaves, weights and fibers. You might actually have to buy some fabric samples or do an extensive look and feel field trip to a well-stocked fabric store. I know, if we had well-stocked stores, we wouldn't be buying online! Knits can be tricky as different retailers label them differently. I purchase by fiber content and how many ways it will stretch for the knits (two-way, four-way).
- Keep in mind that monitor and photographic quality varies greatly and colors aren't always what they seem. If you need it to match perfectly, get a swatch.
- Be prepared for surprises, good and bad. I've bought pieces that were supposed to be suit weight wool that ended up being coat weight. I've also bought a piece of shirting that looked like it had a matte, dull finish and was pleasantly surprised to find that the fabric had a beautiful sheen and silky feel.
- Know your own skill and patience level. Buying a fussy fabric that you don't have to the patience to deal with (like chiffon or slippery knit!) is never a bargain in the end no matter how inexpensive it is per yard.
If anyone else has any tips, put them in the comments. I know some of you out there are big online fabric shoppers, and you must have some pearls of wisdom on this topic!
I've also been awarded the "Excellent Blog" award by Gwen:
Thank you very much! In turn, I'd like to nominate just a few other blogs, that truly are excellent an inspire me in many ways, not just in sewing:
Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
Couture et Tricot
My Secret Pocket
Parting Shot: I had a student bring me a huge bag of patterns the other day, and she told me that they were "really old". I just smiled and commented to my husband later that "old" to her must be about somewhere around 1985. Sure enough, I was right. A great majority of the patterns were from the 1980's, but there were a few late 1960's and 1970's gems in the group. I will share some with you over the next week. First, Simplicity 8080, from 1969:
From the pattern envelope: Misses' three armhole jiffy front wrap-dress: The front wrap-dress has square neckline and collar. V. 1 has scalloped braid trim. V. 2 has contrasting collar and facings.