How to Buy Fabric (Terminology & Shopping Tips!) | WITHWENDY

How to Buy Fabric (Terminology & Shopping Tips!) | WITHWENDY

Hey, everyone. It’s Wendy and today I’m going to be talking to you about how to shop for fabric. When I first started walking into fabric stores I remember the feeling of just being like why is everything everywhere? I’m gonna go through a couple of things to try and clear the air. I went on Wikipedia and searched up fabric and it was just a huge A to Z list of all the terms that fall underneath different types of fabric. When you get really into it, there’s a word to describe every single type of weave and color and pattern, but I’m going to cover the ones that I see the most in fashion and hopefully that’s helpful for you. First, I’m going to go through some common ways that fabric is categorized, so you learn a couple of keywords. Then I’m going to go through some common fabrics that I think about when I’m looking at warmer weather, cooler weather and also formal events. And finally I’ll go through some of my personal tips when it comes to walking into a fabric store and walking out with what you need. First, how fabric is classified. Most fabric can be categorized in two ways. It’s either woven or it’s knit. When it’s woven, the threads have been interlocked like this. Think of like a basket weave, but shrunk down into your fabric size. Therefore in woven fabrics the property is that you’re using it for is that it retains its shape. It doesn’t have a lot of stretch and because it doesn’t have a lot of stretch It’s easier to sew with that makes woven fabric a great starting point for beginners because it’s less likely to move under the machine while you’re sewing. Then the other way fabric can be made is knit. So think of some huge cable knit sweater. All the yarns are weaving in and out to create it and that weaving motion is what makes knit fabrics stretchy and flexible. When you’re using knit, you’re using it because you like the way it stretches and moves. But also because it stretches and moves it can sometimes be harder to sew with. Depending on what it is that you want to sew. You’re going to want to use a woven fabric or a knit fabric and most of the time it depends on whether you want it to be non stretchy or stretchy. Before I move on to the different materials that fabric can be made of, all fabric can have a right side and a wrong side. The right side is usually the side that was intended to show the outside world. It’s where the colors are brighter, the threads are cleaner. With woven fabric and knit fabric sometimes it can be obvious, sometimes they can be the same. Ultimately if you’re sewing the clothing you can just look at the fabric yourself and decide which side you want to show the outside and if you can’t tell the difference, I’m just gonna tell you now, you don’t need to stress about it because if you can’t tell I don’t think a lot of other people can tell either. Okay, the next way fabric can be classified is the material that makes up its fibers. There’s three types of materials that fabric can be made from. It can be natural, synthetic, or semi synthetic. Natural fibers are harvested and then woven or knit into fabric. You’ve probably heard of these fibers before. The more common ones in fashion are cotton, linen, silk, wool, cashmere and hemp. When it comes to synthetic fibers, these are ones that are completely chemically manufactured, there are way more different types of these because basically if you invented a new way to chemically manufacture fabric you can patent it and call it whatever you like. But the common ones that you’ll find are nylon, acrylic, polyester and spandex. And lastly, there are these semi synthetic ones. This includes rayon, lyocell, these materials are basically wood pulp, sometimes bamboo. It’s been modified into a cellulose based fiber which has been woven or knit into a fabric. For the exact same physical properties, natural fiber is usually the one that’s the most expensive, but the synthetic ones have really been made to imitate all of them. So when it comes to choosing between them I find a lot of it depends on where you stand ethically or what your preference is for how it feels and what it’s made of. Since synthetic fibers are less biodegradable, sometimes you can make a biodegradability argument for using natural fibers. At the same time some natural fibers have to be harvested from animals and people who are sensitive to the use of animals to make our clothing, they would prefer to use synthetic fibers. When you’re shopping for clothes, you don’t always get to make these choices because the clothing has already been made for you. But if you’re the one buying the material it’s good to think about what it is that you’re buying and whether you stand for how it became the fabric that is before you. Okay we’ve covered a lot of fabric terminology. Now I’m going to go through the different types of fabric that you usually use for warmer weather, cooler weather and formal occasions. I’ll show you as I go, some projects that I’ve made in the past that use these different materials, so that you can see the differences. There’s a couple of fabrics that you’ll commonly be looking for when you’re looking to make clothes for warmer weather. Typically it’s cotton, rayon, chambray, some knits, silk and linen. Cotton is really lightweight. It can range from being sheer to totally opaque. If it’s really thin, it can be soft, but if it’s heavier cotton, it can be more stiff. If you wanted to make a button-up shirt, a stiffer, pleated kind of summer dress, those are instances where cotton might be useful. The next one is rayon. Rayon is really smooth, it’s lightweight, and it can come in some really bright colors and prints. It’s been made to be pretty breathable, and it’s also a bit more delicate of a fabric. On dresses, you’ll use it for something that has a lot of movement and for shirts. It’s very soft so it falls and drapes on you in a gentle way. For chambray, this is like if you were trying to strike a point between light cotton and denim. It’s pretty smooth, it’s lightweight, but it’s a little bit stiffer. Dress shirts can be made of chambray and since it’s stiffer and a bit more durable you could also use it for a pair of shorts. Knit fabric, out of all of these probably has the broadest range of light to heavy weight. Its main feature is that it has stretch and in most cases with knit, it covers a wide range of natural and synthetic fibers. When you’re making tank tops or any dresses that are more fitted, knit is the route you want to go because it’s going to follow the curves of your body. And then there’s silk. Silk is very lightweight and it’s pretty delicate. Sometimes depending on how it’s made, it can have a shimmery and a dull side, and it tends to be a bit slippery, too. So it’s a slightly more challenging fabric for beginners. But silk just naturally has a very luxurious look to it so it’s really nice in dresses and shirts. And it’s super breathable, which makes it a great fabric for summer. Finally the last summer fabric that I use often is linen. Linen is a bit more medium weight, it’s very very breathable, but it wrinkles super easily. You can make dresses, shirts shorts, but linen is not going to give you that crispy look that chambray or cotton could. Those are the ones that I use the most. Some of those fabrics can transition into the winter time. But the winter does bring around a couple more heavier fabrics that I can talk about. Denim, flannel, fleece, wool, faux fur, real fur and leather. Denim you’re probably already familiar with if you own a pair of jeans, but it’s a bit more heavyweight. There is not a lot of drape or stretch to it. The only reason skinny jeans are able to fit well is because it’s been mixed with some spandex. Flannel is a little bit more lightweight but it’s very soft and insulating so it’s perfect for pajamas or any kind of comfy clothes. Fleece is another one that specifically is used for its insulating properties. It’s in the medium heavy weight range. It’s almost always made of polyester and it’s really great for hoodies and sweaters, any kind of those campus crewneck type of things, they’re often fleece. Next is wool, which has a pretty broad range for light to heavy weight, but in all cases, it’s pretty insulating but still not a fabric that’s used much for warmer weather. It’s very durable and you can see it in a thinner form in things like suits all the way to something really thick like what they use for pea coats or jackets. Between faux fur and real fur, faux fur is a little bit less insulating, it doesn’t last quite as long as real fur. They’re both very heavyweight and usually used as an accent type of piece on winter wear. It could be the entire coat or it could be part of the trim. And in most cases, faux fur is also much less expensive to buy than real fur. Finally the last winter fabric that comes up a lot in fashion is leather. Leather is typically pretty heavyweight. It’s a bit more challenging to work with because once you sew through leather, those holes are there forever so you can’t make any mistakes. I’ve used it before to make jackets but you can also obviously use it to make bags and other durable pieces. The last kind of category where a lot of fabrics sit is in the more formal type of clothing. Here you’ll find your tulle, crinoline, chiffon, satin, lace and velvet. Tulle and crinoline are both a form of netting. Tulle is a lot more soft and densely netted. Crinoline a bit more generous and very stiff. Tulle is used to be decorative in the accents. Crinoline is usually hiding underneath to provide more structure. Chiffon is a very lightweight, very sheer fabric. It flows really easily. If you get silk chiffon it can be pretty expensive and on the other end there’s polyester chiffon which is a lot more affordable. Satin is the glossy fabric that you’ll often see on wedding dresses or prom dresses. It can range from light to heavyweight, but its main feature is its glossiness. Lace is typically silk or cotton threads that have been purposefully patterned into all sorts of flowering embellishing shapes. That’s one of the main reasons why lace is expensive because it’s much more difficult to manufacture. And finally, velvet. Velvet is pretty medium heavyweight. I would not recommend wearing it for summer. It’s insulating and it’s usually purchased because it’s shimmery. Those are the typical fabrics that I’m looking for whenever I go in with a sewing project. Within each of them there are even more terms to break down. Different categories and types of prints that you’re looking for but usually those categories will help me to conceptualize what it is that I want and once I get there I’ll see within that category if they have what I need. Which brings me to the last thing: a couple of shopping tips to help make this whole thing a little bit less stressful. First, there is: How to buy fabric. In most stores, fabric is sold by the yard or by the meter. You can always ask the person who’s cutting the fabric how wide it is on the roll because what you’re trying to define is how long you’re going to be buying. Say the fabric is sixty inches wide and you decide to buy one yard, you’re going to end up with a rectangle that is 60 inches by one yard. And it doesn’t have to be whole yards or whole meters. If you want one and a half yards, one and a quarter yards just ask them how narrow they’re willing to break down the yard or meter. When you’re buying your fabric, there’s a couple of things you want to look out for. One is shrinkage. Especially with natural fibers, some of them shrink after you wash it. You may have to buy extra, pre-wash the fabric, and then sew with it. Flannel, for example can shrink 10 to 20 percent of its original size. So sometimes you have to buy much more of it than you need. The next thing to look for is the direction of the print. If there’s a certain design on it and it matters to you that all of that design shows facing the right direction on your clothing, then you might have to buy more fabric to fit all the parts that you’re planning on cutting out. And lastly, of course, you should think about whether you’re buying this fabric for it to be durable or for it to be biodegradable, and how it’s going to impact the environment. For example in fast fashion, there are a lot of synthetic fibers that they use that are not meant to last and that’s why it’s called fast fashion. You’re supposed to go through it and then throw it in the garbage. Therefore cheaper, lower quality fabrics. They lose shape, they lose color, they age faster and they tend to be a little bit less biodegradable because they are synthetically manufactured. I think it’s good to think about how long you want to wear the clothes, how much it matters to you and make a decision that is good for you and also the world around you. My final tips are just to sum up everything because I don’t know if you can even remember all of this in one go. This is my approach whenever I’m shopping for fabric. First I do my research. I make sure I have lots of photos on my phone and then I go into the store and I just find a person and ask for help. I show them the pictures, ask them where to find the fabric to make the thing that is in the picture. Then I always make sure that I feel all of the fabric. I check if it feels nice, if it drapes nice, if it’s see-through. Getting to touch and interact with the fabric in person is going to be a huge help in deciding whether or not you like it. When it comes to how much I order, whenever I’m in doubt I just order two yards because with two yards you can pretty much make any standard sewing project. And if you’re a beginner to all of this, it’s way less stressful if you start out with less expensive fabrics. That way if you make a mistake you won’t stress out too much that you paid a lot of money for the fabric and you are willing to embrace that this is a learning process. The first time I bought more expensive silk, I think I just sat around staring at it for at least two weeks because I’m so scared to touch it and ruin it. That’s the gist of my fabric shopping tips. I hope it’s helpful for you and make shopping a little bit less overwhelming. If you like this video let me know and you can also find me on Instagram. It’s @withwendy. And lastly if you want to see more of my fashion sewing tips you can subscribe. I upload new videos every Wednesday and Saturday. And there’s the subscribe button for you. I guess I’ll see you guys next time. Bye.

100 thoughts on “How to Buy Fabric (Terminology & Shopping Tips!) | WITHWENDY

  1. Be sure to read honest and real reviews of Fabric on my blog before you buy. Go to gohonestreviews. com/fabric-review/ Thanks, Fritz.

  2. Awesome , sewing for yrs , still learning. Thx miss speed had to pause , as taking notes too.

  3. Thank you very much for making this video, it is very informative , exactly what i needed to know and happy to learn more.

  4. Thanks for sharing with us. Yes, I agree with you, shopping for fabric can very difficult. Especially when you have limited budget💕

  5. Honestly this was an amazing and very educational video, u kno I smashed that subscribe button 😎


  7. Amazing video! Thank you so much. I want to begin sewing and currently in the process of making something and this is so helpful

  8. Great video. The only fabrics I buy. And I do buy. Is high quality(vintage mostly 1980's-1990's)fluid polyester Liquid Satin and satin charmeuse that must be cool to the touch…because of the quality thread and yarn used the satin fabric dispells heat well when touched so the satin fabric feels unusually cool to the touch..Ultra slippery slick smooth ultra glossy shiny highly reflective satin fabrics. That can be further ironed so they slip and slide ultra slippery smooth liquidy glossy. They must polish to a high gloss. And be non-electric conductive yarn and thread(static resistant)satin fabric. Made from non recycled polyester or plasics. Not like what they sell nowadays. Peace. Please urge textile manufacturers to make soft supple polyester liquid satin fabrics.

  9. NEEDED THIS OMG i'm planning on making a cosplay after i obtain more money for fabric since i'm pretty sure i won't be able to find the dress i'll need for it. bless u for breaking down literally everything😭❤

  10. Any suggestions for fabrics to make a maxi skirt? Heading to Mood in a few days and want to make about 6 maxi skirts. I am not a beginner but also far from a pro. I also haven’t bought a pattern (I may use a skirt I already have.)

  11. I cant wait until i buy fabric mannequin and sewing materials to make whatever i want

  12. Hey…those were really great tips..
    I was trying to take pictures of the names of the fabrics…(personally speaking, you went way too fast..I'm sure it's because, you thought you didn't want your video to be so long and/or thoughts one could come back & view it)..either way, certain parts..was very fast.

    Over all..I enjoyed & learned, a lot..

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!!

  13. The most expensive fabric I've ever purchased was a beautiful blue/grey wool for a winter coat I'm making now in the middle of july! I cut into it the same day I bought it or I would have stared at it for ever and not used it.

  14. Hello! I've subscribed to your channel for quite a long time but today I decided that I will take serious lessons from your channel because I want to start making my own clothes. I always find it frustrating trying to find clothes that fits me well and suit my taste, and ending up buying pieces that roughly suit my style only to find out a couple seasons later that the pieces that I had in mind ages ago were finally come into existence in the market, so I've decide to take it to my own hands! Wish me luck!

    P.S. I love that you put Biblical verses at the end of your video, although I'm a Muslim hijabi myself, it's encouraging to see that there's still other God-loving youths out there that do not afraid to show to the world that we are still trying to hold on to our faiths regardless of where the society is heading now. Keep up the great work! I learn a lot from your channel 😡

  15. Liked the video topic a lot, Very informative. Only issue I had was the background noise and music playing. I would recommend to remove them from your future videos as it made it difficult to hear your explanations and I kept pausing the video to see if the noises were from my home or your video.

  16. Loved the video – I’ve learnt so much, thank you! Then there was that verse at the end ❤️ I needed that today ❤️

  17. just a note on the ethics of polyesters and nylon and such. these fabrics are made from petroleum. they are a form of plastic. here's the most important fact about the plastic in our oceans (check out youtube vids on this) 90% of the tons of plastic waste humans throw into the oceans is NOT bottles or straws or plastic wrappers, it IS mirco-plastics – the lint from synthetic clothing than comes out in the washing machine and pumped out of your home and into the ocean. 90%. the only way to stop our devastation of the oceans from plastic is to stop making/using/buying synthetics. (this does not include rayon and such, only petroleum based fabrics.) personal note, polyester satin is much cheaper than silk for many reasons (none good) and way more prone to static electricity, unlike silk.

  18. You are pretty, charming and cheerful. I can't take my eyes off you. At the same times your explanation engaged me so much. Your accent is easy to understand. Love it. Thanks so much for your video.

  19. A tip on linen. If you want it to look crisp, iron it wet. Not just steamed, but straight from the washing-machine, or held under the spigot and then wrung out. When it's wet, it irons as easily as cotton. Otherwise it will fight you for every wrinkle.

  20. Choosing the right kind of fabric for the type of clothing you wish to sew makes all the difference in the world. Some fabric just don't do well with some type of clothes. For example, you can't sew a blazer using spandex, it just won't work. If you're serious about making good quality clothing, learning your fabric is key. Great video !!

  21. NOBODY.. gives as much USEFUL info as you do in such a short amount of time. Ill never watch another channel about this.

  22. Hi! Love how quickly you managed to do a fairly complete overview of fabrics.

    I just wanted to point out something related to inclusivity: you said if you’re not sure how much fabric to buy, two yards is usually enough… That may be the case for you, but I’m 5’8” and I wear about a US size 12-14 (which is the most common size and height for women in the Netherlands, where I live – and I think in the US it’s a size 14). We, the curvier crowd, may be able to make a tank top/fitted top or a pair of shorts out of two yards, but that’s about all we could do with that – and I personally dob’t wear short shorts, because chub rub (ouch!). Obviously, I am not even on the biggest side of the size spectrum, and all of us would like to see ourselves represented! So maybe next time you could keep in mind that bigger/curvier bodies than your own exist out there, and that we, too, would like realistic guesstimations for yardage? Thanks!

  23. I've never seen you before and I don't need to know all of this but I'm loving the video, you are likeable and I like how much info you gathered. Nice!

  24. Currently studying fashion design and i never understood fabrics UNTIL THIS VIDEO. You are a superstar and the teachers at my university NEED YOU, honestly ridiculously helpful and such a perfectly simplified explanation of everything that's necessary to know.

  25. Finally a video from which I could learn a lot in under 15 minutes! ❤️🙌🏼 definitely subscribed before the video was over lol thanks!!

  26. For me, it's too difficult because in Spanish I don't know the name of the fabric, i would like you to help me with that please. i can't understand english very well :'c

  27. I'm learning so much watching your videos and you are truly gorgeous, I had to watch this video a few times to write everything down but 5:15 is my favorite part.

  28. Going to fabric stores is a wild time because it’s just a couple old ladies, some teenage artsy girls, and me and the only other punk in my city, and we’re out here with our studded jackets and Circle As trading diy ideas with crochet grandmas and it’s honestly the best feeling

  29. Great list! Also, when starting a new project, always check the type of material recommended on the pattern, makes it less stressful.

  30. Jajaja i have a very very very expensive sequins fabric that its been in my closet for two years because i'm afraid to ruin it

  31. Imagine being set on fire and you have polyester (synthetic) fabrics on. I know I have polyester clothes in my wardrobe, but there's a lot of negatives- depending on how you care for them they don't last as long (you get what you paid for)

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