Top Tips on How to Buy Fabric for Your Sewing Project
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  • Sewing Tips, Sewing Fabrics
  • Posted January 27, 2016
Top Tips on How to Buy Fabric for Your Sewing Project

Tips on How to Buy Fabric for Your Sewing Project

Tips on How to Buy Fabric for Your Sewing Project

Having enough knowledge on choosing and buying the right fabric is very essential in the world of sewing. I understand that it is very overwhelming to walk into a fabric store if you don't have a lot of experience there but you can never have too much fabric. So let me walk you through it.

Typically the most prevalent fabric is going to be your basic cotton. Also sometimes called Calico in the fabric world. It is very noticeable because you will see it arranged by colors along at least one wall of the store.

That arrangement is usually for the quilter's sake so that they can easily find the color of fabrics they need for the quilt they are making. Often these calico fabrics will have small all over prints like little flowers, but sometimes they have more bold prints like polkadots. You can also see solid colored fabric along these calicos.


You will probably find many more cottons in a variety of styles on the shelves throughout the store. You may find a baby section, a designer fabric section, seasonal prints, etc. Just browse for what you are looking for. There are a lot of types of fabric. These can be suitable for many of your sewing projects like bags, aprons, quilts, and blankets.

You are likely to find fleece and other plush fabrics that are typically used for blankets and pajamas and other cozy things on another wall of the store. Just make it sure that you have enough money because these fabrics will be more expensive.

An Overlook of the Store

You'll probably see shelves and shelves of fabric and at the top a sign or a label indicating what type of fabric you are seeing. There are specialty type fabrics that you can use for fancy dresses, clothing, and other special occasions.

Sewing Fabric Store

You may also see home decor fabrics that are typically on large rolls that are very wide. In still another section you will find trims like ribbon and lace that you can buy by the yard. Just take them up to the cutting counter just like any fabric or ask for assistance and have them cut it for you. The rest of the store will be probably filled with things like thread and notions and other sewing supplies that you might need. Always remember to not to be shy to ask the store owner or the attendant for assisstance or for information about the things you need to buy.

Understanding the Fabric


First of all, take notice of the important information about the fabric you will buy. You are going to find information like the width of the fabric, the type of fabric, washing instructions, and pricing at the end of the bolt. In case these are not indicated, again, do not hesitate to ask. After that, take your fabric or trim up to the cutting counter and tell them how much you need. The smallest cut they will typically make is 1/8th of a yard and then you can do any increments beyond that. Try to figure out ahead of time or have a list about how much you are going to need.

Types of fabric

Here are some types of fabric that are commonly used or known:

Cottons or Calicos


100% cotton fabrics (that will probably shrink and ideally should be pre-washed) and are going to be very plentiful at most stores. Available in many different styles including designer fabrics with bold and trendy prints, baby fabrics, quilting fabrics, seasonal fabrics and lots more. Use: most basic projects like bags, aprons, quilts, items for around your home, and many more.

Heavyweight fabrics like duck, canvas and denim: These will be heavier thicker than your basic cotton calicos and more sturdy, so they will hold up longer, making them great options for outdoor projects or things that need a little weight to them. Use: Can be great for things like throw pillows, outdoorsy type things, tote bags, or anything else you want a heavier weight for.

Plush {like fleece and minky}


Soft and cozy and perfect for things like blankets and pajamas or all things baby. They will be a little more expensive. They may pill a little after washing. Some will have a nap to them as well which you will need to be mindful of while sewing. Use: Perfect for baby blankets or any blankets really, pajamas, stuffed animals or anything that needs to be snuggly.

Flannel: Usually you will find a flannel section with lots of baby prints as well as other prints. It won’t be nearly as thick as the fleece, it’s more like a basic cotton, but one side of it will be soft to the touch. Soft and snuggly but will most definitely shrink and pill after it’s washed a few times. Use: Pajamas, blankets, things that you want to have be soft but not bulky.

Special Occasion Fabrics

Special Occasion Fabrics

You will find a section with things like satin (soft and silky), tulle (like netting) and silks. These are usually used for dresses and other fancy things. One warning-they are quite a bit harder to sew on than regular cotton and will take some practice because they are so slippery. Use: special occasions, dresses, clothing.

Jersey Knits: Soft and stretchy like a t-shirt. Also can be a little harder to sew on because they stretch, but not too difficult. they often come in wider sizes than a typical bolt of fabric so pay attention to that. You may need less fabric because of this. Use: skirts, shirts, and other apparel.

Home Decor

Home Decor

On large rolls wider and more expensive than other fabrics but also much higher quality so it will hold up better and also won’t let light through (if it’s curtains for example) as easily. Use: curtains, rugs, pillows.


Alvin is a fashion and lifestyle writer who has recently earned interest in sewing his own clothes. Writing for Sewing Ideas gives him another avenue to express his experiences and learning in his sewing journey.

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