Elle’s Top 10 tips for fabric shopping

Sewing Kit

After a summer of fabric buying like crazy, and an afternoon of sorting out my massiave fabric stash, I have a few tips on how to buy fabric, that I thought I could share.

  • 1) Check your current fabric stash, and organise your fabric into colours, plains, patterns and type.

There is nothing worse than securing that bargain black and white polka dot print, only to discover when you get home that you already have 20 metres of black and white polka dot print at the bottom of your stash. Believe me, there is only so much you can do with black and white polka dot fabric!

  • 2) Write a list of the fabric you have, and take it with you.

If you have a camera phone, take a picture of your fabric stash, so that you have it with you in case you come across an unexpected fabric sale. It will also help prevent purchasing fabric you already have. Consider making a small fabric sample pocket book so you can colour match your projects. When buying fabric for a specific pattern, take the pattern with you to show the shop assistant , you may be able to seek advice on construction and fabrication from them.

  • 3) If buying in a sale, buy more than you think you need.

If you make a mistake, or fancy making co-ordinating pieces, you will have some spare fabric to work with. There is no guarantee the same item will be available if you don’t buy extra there and then.  Any sizeable pieces of fabric left over can always be used in for other crafts such as quilting, toy making or you can even sell it on an auction site. Better still, organise a fabric swap party with family and friends.

  • 4) Think outside of the box.

A terrible phrase I know, but if you are looking for economical fabric, don’t just look in fabric stores.  Check out your home ware stores too. King sized duvet sets often have over more than 5m squared of fabric and can cost as little as £10. You would be hard pushed to find that price point at the cheapest of markets.

  • 5) Don’t forget to stock up on lining and interlining.

If you see a good quality, affordable lining fabric, especially in plain black, cream or white – get it! You will always make use of it – test muslins, sewing practice, or even for lining! Consider getting off the roll as this tends to be the more affordable option than packaged pre-cuts.

  • 6) Don’t overlook the bargain buckets.

Many a time I have found skirt lengths of expensive material, at rock bottom prices.  A long, thin piece of fabric can easily be made into a scarf or hair tie. I have even sourced pricy Liberty fabric, pure silk and designer suiting fabric from a bargain bucket.

  • 7) Check out online fabric shops.

Often you can get the same fabric online at a much more reasonable price point. It’s also a great way to do your own price comparisons.

That absolute must have, bargain 20m length, neon pink, purple and orange striped faux leather end of roll piece won’t be the bargain you thought, if you suit an Autumn/Fall colour palette and work as a High Court Judge! ( no jokes please LOL)

  • 9) Be scrupulous.

Try not to buy fabric on a whim, if you can’t think of at least 1 way to use it, or it is more likely to be left in the sewing cupboard for more than 6 months, then unless you intend to open a fabric museum, don’t buy it!

  • 10) Don’t forget to join Busy Elle Bee, for even more fabric buying tips 🙂

For instance, when you go fabric shopping, make sure you take a good strong shopping bag or 2 – fabric is heavier to carry than it looks!

Do you have any more fabric shopping suggestions?  Please share them with us 🙂

Don’t forget to check out BEB Extra, for even more ideas on sewing, cooking and all things fab.

Thanks for reading, hope you found something useful.




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