3 reasons why I buy fabric

Fabric buying - ponte, faces print, stretch lace

I attempted to go on a fabric diet this year because my sewing has not kept up with my fabric buying for quite some time. I even experimented with selling a few pieces from my stash via Instagram and Facebook, which you can read about here. Now that 2017 is nearly over (can you believe it?), I’ve been thinking of all the reasons why I buy fabric. Here are my top three:

  1. It was on sale. Yep, if I’m really honest with myself, this is top reason for a fabric purchase. When I started sewing again around 2009, I was a sucker for a sale – whether it was in-store or online. I would buy fabric that appealed to me and I liked it even more because it was on sale. I didn’t yet know what I would make from it.Now I tell myself, don’t buy it unless you know what you’re going to make with it. I’ve even avoided sales because it’s so hard to resist buying more fabric. I love touching fabric and looking at all the lovely designs. That said, I broke my fabric diet in San Francisco when there were sales at Britex Fabrics and Fabric Outlet. Britex was having a “Yard Sale” discounting many bolts of fabric – all in preparation for the store’s big move to 117 Post St. in December. They are now in their new location – a beautiful space that really shows off their wool and silk fabric.Over a two-month period, I got several pieces of fabric from Britex, including a red crinkle cotton and these four fabrics – clockwise from top left: ponte with a huge print (maybe a full-length Pilvi Coat), cotton lawn from Italy (marked down to $10/yard because of a flaw in the print, possible blouse or skirt), a black and silver stretch lace (skirt) and a black lace knit fabric (sleeves for a knit top).Britex Fabrics purchases - ponte knit, cotton lawn print lace knit fabrics
    I also got a couple yards of some fun home decor fabric for free because I did a guest post about the fabric for the Britex blog. I also wrote about it here.At Fabric Outlet, which had a 40% off sale, I used a $25 gift certificate one of my sisters gave me for my birthday. So I felt that gave me license to just browse and buy whatever struck my fancy. I got a couple yards of black french terry (Toaster sweater perhaps?) and a berry red stretch cotton, which should make a nice shirt.
  2. It was irresistible. Sometimes you see a piece of fabric and you just have to have it, no matter what the price is. You love the design, the color, the way it feels, the drape, etc. When I saw this fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, I just had to get it. I eventually I made this Pilvi Coat from it, which I love.

    Pilvi Coat - back view - CSews

  3. It was a planned purchase. Sometimes I buy fabric with a specific pattern in mind. I’ll bring the pattern envelope with me or I’ll take a photo of the front and back of the pattern and consult it when I’m in the store to make sure I have the correct yardage. Or if it’s a PDF pattern, I’ll just look up the info on the company’s website to make sure I have the right info.

Now the fabric is piling up. It’s in bags in the closet and in a couple of plastic bins in the bedroom. For 2018, I’m going to do my best to shop my stash and to start making some of the things I planned to make with the fabric when I bought it. My plans have changed for some of the fabric I bought a few years ago (no surprise) so for some of it, I’ll be rethinking my sewing plans.

I have not taken any inventory so I don’t know how many yards are in my stash. I’m not sure I want to know. I don’t have space to maintain a large stash so I am going to try to sew more in 2018 and attempt a RTW fast. Goodbye Valentino is hosting a RTW fast, encouraging people to sew, not buy clothes (see her invitation here sign up by tomorrow, Dec. 31!).

What are your reasons for buying fabric? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you have to say on the topic.

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

10 thoughts on “3 reasons why I buy fabric”

  1. I started looking in my stash for fabric to make dresses for weddings I plan to attend this year and was shocked to find a beautiful fabric I had purchased years ago that had been in the closet has large white blotches in the folds! not sure why or how they occurred since it had been in a closet in the dark for about 3 years. Another reason not to horde fabric, when you go to use it and it is no longer usable. In this case I may be able to cut around it but what a disappointment.

    1. That’s horrible! I wonder why that happened. Another great reason to sew your stash. I hope you’re able to cut around it and make something beautiful.

  2. Funny, we were definitely drawn to some of the same fabrics at the Britex sale! I picked up some of the black on white voile you have pictured above right (which was my condolence purchase because I’d gone back to buy the abstract navy/white ponte you have pictured on the left, but it was sold out). These were my final purchases for a long time. I hope. I recently cleared off a closet shelf for fabric storage and it’s full. So, until I sew down some of it, I can’t add more. Personally, I really love the randomness to the designer ends that Stonemountain has been getting. I feel like the interesting things stick out more when not with other fabrics that are similar. To answer your question, I shop for fabric because it represents so much possibility and I enjoy outcome dreaming that comes with it.

    1. Maybe when I’m ready to buy fabric again – hopefully not soon – we can shop at Stonemountain together. I think I’m going to make a full-length Pilvi Coat from the ponte print. 🙂

  3. One reason that I buy fabric is that my stash is an unwieldy beast that I didn’t know what is contained within. I took inventory a few months ago and am trying to shop my stash for fabric. The other reason is I love the creative process of planning the garment – it’s much easier and more successful for me than the construction.

    1. Taking inventory is a great idea. My stash isn’t huge but this year I realized that I forgot about some fabric that I bought a while back. And that’s one of the reasons why I need to sew my stash. Enjoy shopping your stash!

  4. So timely as I plan to buy as little as possible next year! I often buy for same reasons, or if I travel I like to buy a piece to make something with. I hope my 2018 has me buying none and sewing lots of stash!

  5. I stopped buying fabric earlier this year, mostly because I don’t have time to sew form myself anymore. I have sew many sewing jobs. But I have decided that this year I am going to make something for myself once a month and I will shop my stash first.

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