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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: HiSissa
Date: 06-27-2007, 02:35 PM (1 of 9)
Granted, I'm pretty much a beginner, but I find myself most challenged by understanding fabrics. I just finished a top and thought I had followed all instructions, but clearly I chose the wrong fabric and it looks terrible (I made the same top with another fabric and it had looked great). I clearly needed a stretchier fabric. I have a few other fabrics that I bought because they were gorgeous and on sale, but now I'm not sure how to find patterns for them because I didn't write down what it said (plus most just say "cotton" or "polyester" and it seems like there are many, many different kinds of cotton and polyester, etc).

I feel at a complete lost with the different kinds of fabrics and how to match them correctly to the pattern. I know each pattern asks for certain fabrics, but that doesn't seem to help me much.

How do I learn more about fabrics? I feel like I'm missing some basic information in this area.
User: HiSissa
Member since: 06-07-2007
Total posts: 5
From: DorothyL
Date: 06-27-2007, 06:18 PM (2 of 9)
There are several books on the subject. Sandra Betzina's are good.
You learn a lot from experience too.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: paroper
Date: 06-27-2007, 07:17 PM (3 of 9)
Until you get to the point that you can feel the content of the fabric, it might be a good idea to take a little notebook and a tiny pocket stapler with you to the store. You can then write down fabric content, care (which in most cases is coded and you'll need to look up) and staple a small piece of the fabric to your information.

Be sure and check the back of the envelope for information about recommended fabrics. The recommendations are usually the best selections for that particular pattern.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: DorothyL
Date: 06-27-2007, 10:09 PM (4 of 9)
Or you can write the fabric information and, rather than attach a piece of the fabric to the information, attach the information to the cut fabric when you get it home. Either way you know what you are dealing with.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: MartySews2
Date: 06-28-2007, 02:49 PM (5 of 9)
Hi! Don't feel like a dummy as most people learn about different fabrics thru trial and error. I invested in a couple of great books by Claire Shaeffer - The Fabric Sewing Guide and Sew Any Fabric. With these books, all types of fabrics (with photos) are discussed including type of needle, stitch length and width, as well as cleaning instructions. It has really helped to improve my sewing. Hope this helps.
User: MartySews2
Member since: 05-03-2007
Total posts: 293
From: MissTaraTara
Date: 06-29-2007, 12:12 PM (6 of 9)
If you frequent a store that has a remnant bin, pick up a few fabrics you've never seen before. They are usually cheap and some pieces are close to 1/2 yard or more. You can play around with them when you want to toy with your machine but don't have a particular project in mind. Keep the finished samples in a notebook. Most remnants are labeled. I will agree that the bolts don't usually state what the fabric is, only how wide, the name of the collection, the fiber content and care requirements.
User: MissTaraTara
Member since: 01-24-2006
Total posts: 227
From: bridesmom
Date: 07-04-2007, 09:36 PM (7 of 9)
I share in your frustration especially with knit fabrics. I bought a few pieces to make tops with that I thought would be great, and they keep on getting bigger and bigger and bigger as I wear them. Then I tried another type of knit on a pattern and I can barely get the darn thing over my head and the pattern was huge with a different knit. I get so frustrated sometimes that I just want to chuck the whole lot of it.
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: jessie s
Date: 07-05-2007, 07:58 PM (8 of 9)
Take your pattern with you when you go to buy fabric. Ask the clerk. She usually will even help you buy the extras like elastic, thread, buttons etc. If they won't help you change to another fabric shop. After a few items you have sewn you will feel more confident picking out material. jessie s
User: jessie s
Member since: 02-26-2007
Total posts: 46
From: Barbara Span
Date: 08-06-2007, 02:13 PM (9 of 9)
I think most people favor particular styles.

I found that this works for me.
After you have choosen a pattern take a finished garment that hangs and fits the way you like it with you to the fabric store. Be sure the finished garment is similar to your new pattern.
Then look for fabrics that have the weight and feel of the fabric in the finished garment.

User: Barbara Span
Member since: 07-22-2007
Total posts: 8
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