Extra curricular sewing activities (buying fabric when you aren’t supposed to)

Today I met up with a few of the girls from our BurdaStyle Sewing Club for lunch at Chez Jean-Claude Patisserie in West Leederville which just so happens to be right around the corner from Potters Textile Outlet. “How convenient?” I can hear you say…Why yes, that’s what we thought 😉

I haven’t managed to get back there since my last visit and 99% of their stock had completely changed. I mean the standard linens were still there (they don’t count) but honestly there was only one other bolt of fabric I recognised from last time and two bags on the remnants table, the rest: Brand new. Plus they now have some trims too…ohhh!

Here is what I came away with:

So I know the pink/brown leafy design is a cotton/viscose (it feels so nice!) I got 1.5 meters, the other three were from the remnant table so take a guess. The black is definitely cotton with a slight stretch and (you might not see it in the picture) has diagonal ribs through it, there is only about 1 meter of this but it’s so nice I grabbed it. The shiny black with the cool 80s Aztec print is a sort of foil print with a tiny bit of stretch and I have no idea what the black and white fabric is. It might be a silk crepe and it has a really nice feel,  I got about 1.5 meters and the pattern changes in wide bands from polka dots to lines and back again in the reverse. All up I spent just $50 and LOOK at it! What a perfect lunch outing.

I am terrible with fabrics, I know. Knowing what to call them, content/type etc, this will be one of my 2011 New Years Resolutions, to get a better handle on my fabrics. I bought a hard cover scrap book and I intend to hand-write in (because that’s how I’ll remember) fabric definitions and then staple in a piece of the fabric to help me identify them. This will hopefully also include handy notes like washing instructions, what that type of fabric is good for and any other properties that might be interesting/helpful to know. I’d like to try a few of the tests I’ve read about online (burning/smelling/smoke colour type experiments) that help you determine a fabrics content. I also have plenty of sewing books to help me with this task, I just have to take the time to learn from them and put it into a format that helps me retain the knowledge. I’m sure you’ll hear more about this ongoing project next year.


8 thoughts on “Extra curricular sewing activities (buying fabric when you aren’t supposed to)

  1. I have a book that is very useful when identifying fabrics. Its called “More Fabric Savvy” by Sandra Betzina. Spiral Bound… even better!

    It is a US book and some of the terms we use are different but its got pics which is creat for sorting out confusion IE: jersey & interlock.

    I also keep a small spiral notebook in my bag for jotting down all sorts of info. If Im buying fabric & the info I need isnt on the receipt I write it down in my notebook for later use. I then attach a note to the fabric stating its fabric content and perhaps washing instructions.

    Nothing worse than thinking your fabric is one thing & then discovering just how wrong you where.


    • That book sound really handy, I am looking forward to expanding my fabric knowledge this year. I got myself a little spiral notebook to keep in my handbag just like you, now I have no excuse for not jotting down the fabric off the label 🙂

  2. When buying fabric, I write in a notebook the amount and a discription of the fabric (color or texture) and where. Each on a page (mostly the same shops ) so there is place left for adding.
    When cutting a fabric I eraes it , and after 6 months adjust the pages by rewrite them.
    I always guess whats the fabrics made off ,mostly viscose ( wrinkels so its cotten) or polyester when it does not wrinkel.

    • Thank you for adding your excellent suggestions. I do something similar to you: When I get home I fold up my fabric (very nerdy) and pin a label to it that tells me width, length, where I bought it, cost and date etc and I add the fabric type too if I know it, sometimes they put it on the receipt or I can remember from the tag. Maybe I should try your way and write it down in a little book when I am in the shop. 🙂

  3. oh I also am in a “guessing” stage when it comes to fabrics… Normally when you buy they should also give you the name and fiber composition- they must have that for purchasing from their distributors, plus if the saleswoman has been there for a while she must have gotten used to the different types of fabric…

    shrinking/burning tests also come in handy – I prewash all fabrics and measure them before and after – that gives you a pretty good idea how “natural” things are there hehe…

    “the format to retain the knowledge” as you put it – I think a sampler would help… I’m thinking of doing the same too… all that you have ‘identified’ with the help of others or with testing methods put them in a small catalog- hmm actually I think I’ll enjoy doing that myself also!

    pictures and descriptions from the internet – how it looks, how it feels, how it flows, close-ups and garmets for a “big picture”

    I hope we’ll exchange some opinions and infos on this later as well- it’s a good resolution for 2011 for me too!

    • This is a good goal to achieve together I think, by the end of 2011 we’ll both be fabric experts 🙂 Potters are quite good at labeling their fabrics compared to other stores and the sale people are very knowledgeable, I have to get in the habit of asking (and not being embarrassed to ask) and writing it down if it isn’t on the receipt. Thanks for your extra identification suggestions, I’ll be sure to try them out too 🙂

      • there’s nothing to be embarassed abt when asking – it’s sort of their duty to give you details, fabric composition is a serious thing – that’s how you know how to make your money worth by not risking wrong setting when ironing, washing, drying etc… clothing producers have to specify by law all that on a label ( in most countries I guess) – it’s not less “important” for us just coz we’re making our own clothes, so make sure they don’t get away with it!;)

        it’s also a good way to test yourself- comparing what you think it is with what they say it is

        and I love the “fabric expert:D” 2011 project but I think those who really know, do so because of learning from experience over a long period of time – that must be making knowledge more durable and solid (or am I just trying to make a disclaimer meaning that if by the end of next yr I still can identify only what I had the chance to work with – I won’t be disappointed?:)) )

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