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Topic: What kind of fabric?  (Read 1720 times)
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jeljohns
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« on: December 11, 2007 11:07:02 AM »

I'm just starting to sew. I got the book Sew What! Skirts, and I'm going to try to whip up a skirt. My question is about fabric. I am clueless. The only store in my town is Joanns, I might order online if I knew what I was doing....anyhoooo.  What type of fabric do you make skirts out of?  The only fabric that seems to have interesting patterns is that cotton quilting stuff that is cheap, but much too thin to make clothes out of (you can see right through it). Also, what can you make tops out of?

Thanks!
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flohmarkterin
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2007 11:17:19 AM »

Buy fabric for skirts that is similar to the fabric you would find in a purchased skirt.  It can be anywhere from cordoroy, which is stiff, to soft knits or thin chiffon.  If it was my first skirt I would use a light weight wool (no plaid) or a soft denim.  But the choice should go with the pattern of the skirt.  Does it have lots of layers (softer fabric), curves, etc?    I would start with something medium weight that doesnt ravel, maybe a suede cloth or twill.  Keep it simple at first until you get comfortable with sewing pleats, things on the bias (diagonal fabric) and gathering or ruffles.  Generally, it is easier to hem straight edges, instead of curves.  Most of all find fabrics that you like, and that will go with a top you already have.  For a first project, try a simple one, without a lot of pockets or top stitching.  I don't know your style or figure, but it is a good idea to go to a store an try on a similar style to the one you plan on making.  I look terrible in those cropped gathered 50's jackets that are so cute on a hanger....on someone who is tall they probably look great...There is nothing worse than finishing something and then finding out you don't like it.
Those cheap  $1.99 patterns that are on the spinning racks are really simple and would be a good place to look.

Good luck. 
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jeljohns
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2007 11:21:07 AM »

Most of the skirts I like just say "Cotton" on the tag. Then I think...what kind of cotton? Because that quilting material is all cotton, but if I made a skirt out of that everyone would see my undies! Smiley

I really like this skirt...



It just says "Cotton, lined with cotton"
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Thesingingllamas
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2007 11:51:35 AM »

You could make that with quilting cotton. Most isn't that see through, most is actually pretty sturdy. That skirt looks a lot like a kwiksew pattern I made which I did indeed make it out of quilting cotton in a fun print. It is kwiksew pattern 3372, view A without the appliqu. Their patterns are a little bit more expensive and they never go on sale, but all sizes are included, it is printed on real paper and the instructions are very easy to follow.
I buy my fabric at Hancock Fabrics, but I would assume most of their cottons are the same as Joann's and Walmart's . I really love kona cottons for solids because they have the largest range of colors and I have found a lot of fun prints.
If you are really worried about seeing through, you could line it.
Actually, a lot of what you see that other craftsters have made is out of quilting cottons, such as all those things made out of Alexander Henry's Tattoo fabric and much more, just look around.
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LauPre
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2007 12:48:45 PM »


I buy my fabric at Hancock Fabrics, but I would assume most of their cottons are the same as Joann's and Walmart's .

Just wanted to toss in a quick comment about the quality of quilting cottons.  I was just reading about this the other day, and I thought it was really interesting, so I thought I'd share.  I was reading a book about screenprinting for the textile industry (fabric suppliers) and the book explained the process a lot of suppliers use. For most prints that are put out there are three "runs" of the print.  The first is the low quality run.  They use the cheapest, thinnest, plain cotton they can to test the print and make sure that everything lines up and that all the colors are right.  The second run is done on a better cotton, with any necessary  adjustments made on the machine.  The third is a final run done on a very high quality cotton when they are sure that all the problems have been resolved.

The first run of fabric ends up in places like walmart (that's why you're likely to find strange prints like blue tigers and printing that doesn't match with the outlines in their $1 pile).  It is the low quality and wouldn't really be suitable for clothing or quilt construction although it can work just fine for linings, practicing a pattern, and other lilttle things.This is fabric priced between $1/yd and $4/yd generally. 

 The second run goes to places like Jo-annes, and probably Hancock's (I've never been there, though) and most of the online fabric sellers I've been to.  These are cottons that you'll find in the $5/yd to $12/yd range.  This range is perfect for most sewers.  It's good quality and will hold up well.  These are generally good places to find sales, too, so that's where I recommend shopping.  I was sewing for a long time on the cheapest fabric I could find, but once I tried using higher quality fabrics I saw how much of a difference it makes.  A better fabric will make you look like a better seamstress because it will be easier to deal with, with hang nicer, and, since you spent a little more (if you're anything like me)  you'll probably be a little more careful  Grin

The third run goes to high end commercial clothing companies and "boutique" fabric stores.  If you're lucky enough to find a place like this, you may want to bring a paper bag to breathe into so that you don't pass out after looking at the price tag  Cheesy  but the quality is really scrumptious.

Now of course this is just in general.  I'm not saying that you can't find some good quality fabric at Walmart, or that all fabric at Jo-anne's is good, but it's a guideline to get an idea of what you're getting.  The most important thing is to look at the fabric before you buy it.  hold it up to the light, tug on it, scrunch it up in your hand, compare it to other bolts or the clothes you're wearing. 

I always say that finding the perfect fabric is like finding your true love...
You may have to search for a while, but when you find it, you'll know.
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jeljohns
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2007 12:51:52 PM »

Are there other fabrics that are cotton, but not the thin stiff quilt fabric?

And what kind of fabric do you use to make tops?
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Thesingingllamas
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2007 01:13:28 PM »

A. some of the stiffness washes out when you pre-wash your fabrics. Yes, there are other cottons, such as twill and denim that isn't a quilting cotton
B.I don't know if it is true for Joann's because I only shop at Hancock's, but they should have a "fashion fabrics" section and Hancock's has a special occasion section. I also forgot to mention that even within these stores you will find different qualities of fabrics, I have seen some really good flannels and some really awful flannels at hancock (flannel is where I notice this the most,though).
For fancy shirts and dresses I love to use charmeuse and slippery silky fabric, but it is so hard to work with. For a basic button up, those quilting cottons are actually best. You can also use knits, but usually you can only find these in solids. I know Hancock carries a selection of rayon that feels awesome. Um, like said, you can also make skirts out of corduroy, denim, velveteen, twill, gabardine, and wool. Don't be afraid to ask the workers, most of them sew or know what is suitable. Just walk up to them with a pattern in hand and they can even instruct you on how to read that pattern, like what the fabrics are that it calls for and where they are located in the store.
Since you are new, I would stay away from the things that probably draw you the most which are charmeuses and ciffons, they feel wonderful, but can be really hard to work with.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2007 01:14:44 PM by Thesingingllamas » THIS ROCKS   Logged
keeperrox
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007 05:02:21 PM »

I have made about a half dozen long, A-line, drawstring skirts to teach in out of quilting cotton.  I've also made a few wrap skirts out of it as well.  You definitely can't see through it; and if you think you might be able to, make the skirt reversable!  You just have to go through that wall of quilting fabrics, touch everything you like (remember that it will soften once you wash it with fabric softener), and take it from there.
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mystico_tala
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2007 05:58:33 PM »

I had no idea about the different qualities at stores like that!  Very good to know Smiley
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jeljohns
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2007 06:36:12 AM »

When I'm in the fabric store I do a hand test. I hold my hand under the fabric, if I can see my hand through it then I know it's too thin to be worn as clothing. So far none of the quilting fabric has passed the test. I don't order online because I can't see how thin the fabric is. Sad
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