A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Fabric

Buying fabric for sewing and dressmaking can be daunting. Here’s a guide to make it easier.

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Fabrics are either knitted or woven, and made from plant fibres like linen or cotton, man-made fibres such as nylon, or animal fibres such as silk and wool. Generally, knitted fabrics provide more stretch than woven fabrics.

Sewing and making your own clothes has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, so join the sewing community by using this handy guide to get yourself started.

Fabric Types:

• Cotton
• Cotton Jersey or Knit
• Linen
• Silk
• Wool
• Polyester or Polycotton

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Buying Fabric

It’s best to start with a fabric that is cheap and easy to sew. Mistakes happen at first, and some fabric will be guaranteed to be ruined while you learn. To make it easier, buy a woven fabric such as cotton linen that will not stretch too much or slip while you sew. Avoid fabrics such as cotton jersey, silk and rayon at first. Choose a plain colour such as white cotton fabric or small prints which are easier to lay out than checks and stripes. Avoid heavyweight fabric such as denim, which are difficult to work with.

Shopping

The starting point should be the sewing pattern you are going to work with, then you will have an idea of the amount and type of fabric you need, as well as ideas for buttons, thread and zips.

In the shop, take a proper look and unroll the fabric to check the drape to see how it hangs. It is important to get a feel of the different fabrics available. Is it soft and stretchy enough? Will it suit what you are going to make? The label should list the care instructions and fibre content – look for something that isn’t high maintenance. Check the fabric width, which should come in either 150cm or 115cm. The pattern will list how much fabric you need, just make sure you allow 10% shrinkage in the wash.

Cotton is always a reliable choice, and can be found at https://www.higgsandhiggs.com/fabrics/plain-cotton-fabric.html.

Most shops also have a haberdashery section to pick up your matching thread, buttons and zips when buying your fabric.

Don’t rush your choice, as once the fabric is cut, you won’t be able to return it.