Fabric: How to pick it & where to buy it

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One of the compliments I receive the most, about my products, is my fabric combination. I love this {not because I’m being complimented, that makes me blush} because this is also one of my favorite pieces of the ‘creating a product’ puzzle.

Picking fabric seems to come naturally to me. I’m sure it’s similar to a musician being in tune {haha} with music {which I know NOTHING about} … an artist knowing their palette. However, telling you it’s just something that comes natural is not very helpful, is it?

I’m going to try to give you a few tips, hints and bits of {visual} encouragement so you’re not so overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices for your next sewing project.

Pick a color palette ~

Go for something that ‘speaks’ to you:: You may have a favorite fabric in mind that you want to base the rest of your fabric choices around {Inspiration #3 below} / you may find a photo that inspires your colors {Inspiration #1 below} / you may see a clothing combination that sparks your interest

If you’re not sure what speaks to you … go find it. A few wonderful online sources of color inspiration are:: Pinterest / Design Seeds / Photo Card Boutique Blog “Cool Colors Palette”

Pick your fabric prints ~

First, it’s good to have an idea of how much fabric you need and how many prints you need for your project. This will keep you from buying more than you need OR getting home and realizing you didn’t grab enough … causing much dread as you imagine another timely/costly trip to the fabric store.

Once you have a color palette, print it {or have it on your phone} and take it to your neighborhood fabric/quilt shop and start grabbing fabrics/prints in the same colors as your inspiration. You’ll get the hang of the mixing and matching quite quickly … but don’t doubt yourself, go with your first instincts and don’t sit and second guess yourself. If you’re more comfortable shopping online, you can do the same thing … go to your favorite fabric/quilt website and start adding fabric to your cart.

Pay attention to the size of the print … varying sizes will create more movement and interest within your project. On the other hand, if you’re going for a more cohesive, uniform or monochromatic look, you should pick similar sized prints.

Look for prints that combine two or more colors from your color palette to help pull everything together.

A safe place to start is to with a ‘line of fabric’ {a set of fabrics created by the same designer to coordinate and work with each other}. Select several prints from that line as a starting point. Then add in other prints to create a more modern and eclectic feel that’s not too ‘matchy-matchy.’

I think that polka dots + stripes + floral is a winning combination on a small scale. I often used this trio on the bags and totes I made.

Pick ‘good fabric’ ~

I consider ‘designer’ cotton fabrics put out by companies such as: Robert Kaufman, Moda, Freespirit, Michael Miller and Westminster/Rowan {plus many more … I’m just listing the bigg{er} names that I typically purchase} to be good fabrics. You can depend on them being printed on a higher quality cotton weave with uniform/non-bleeding inks. You can also count on paying a much higher amount for these fabrics vs. those found at your local big box craft/fabric store. There really is a difference. Take a few fat quarters {half of a half yard cut, approx. 18×22″} for a test spin and see and feel the difference.

Where to buy fabric ~ A {very, very, very} small sampling of a few of the places I have purchased from and my favorite things about them {and I’m not even being paid by them to say so!}

Hawthorne Threads:: huge selection / great prices as well as tiered pricing options / fabulous ‘color grid‘ tool that makes it very easy to find fabric based on your color palette / quick shipping

Fabric Worm:: wonderful quilt bundles if you’re not sure where to start / weekly sales / unique designers and prints

Fabric Shoppe:: large selection of fat quarters & fat quarter bundles for smaller projects / great customer service

Local quilt shops:: a great place to start if you’re not comfortable shopping online / view & pair prints in person / make notes and compare pricing to online resources

Alright, so you read through all that chatter. How about some visual encouragement? Here are a few examples I’ve put together with three different color palettes. I’ve shown the original inspiration and then included a list of the fabrics I selected::

Inspiration #1 – Inspiration Photo/Color Palette from Design Seeds

Fabrics:: 1. Emily Taylor, Verona, Dots in Gray / 2. Michael Miller House Designer, Wedding, Linda Lace in Coral / 3. Carina Gardner, Dainty Blossoms, Blooms in Blue / 4. Maude Asbury, Calypso, Kite Tails in Turquoise / 5. Simon Kabuki, Feather Your Nest, Blossoms in Latte

Inspiration #2 – Inspiration photo taken of a set of thread in my sewing studio

* Notice that fabric #1 includes hot pink, pale pink and green which ties together with the other fabrics.*

Fabric:: 1. Sarah Jane, Children at Play, Meadow in Green / 2. Jenean Morrison, California Dreamin’, Hollywood in Pink / 3. Dear Stella House Designer, Meet Me at Sunset, Stained Glass in Orange / 4. Denyse Schmidt, Flea Market Fancy, Eyelet in Pink / 5. Carina Gardner, Dainty Blossoms, Dots in Green

Inspiration #3 – Inspiration Photo/Color Palette from Photo Card Boutique Blog

*The original inspiration photo was of crib bedding. I found a similar look in fabric #5 which I used as the main print when selecting all the other coordinating fabrics.*

Fabric:: 1. Michael Miller House Designer, Ta Dot, Stone / 2. Amy Butler, Midwest Modern 1&2, Floating Buds in Sage / 3. Denyse Schmidt, Flea Market Fancy, Eyelet in Green / 4. Dena Fishbein, Tea Garden, Silhouette in Fuchsia / 5. Lila Tueller, Bohemian, Festival in White

I hope this gives you a little more confidence next time you go to pick out fabric!

PhotobucketFor more Knitty Bitties, you can find me rambling on my Blog; trying to keep connected on Facebook; tweeting on Twitter and most assuredly pinning on Pinterest! Or check out my previous 30days posts here.


  1. says

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  2. Stefanie says

    This is a good idea for all of us…Thank you for the help you have shared us here …I hope you can continue to post more too…

  3. says

    I love to sew and enjoy shopping for fabric. Thanks for sharing all of this fabulous information and the links. I hearted Jody’s Etsy shop Fabric Shoppe, her fabrics are gorgeous.
    Smiles, Paula