Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Fabric search

thimbles1260 | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Okay, here’s my current problem:  (I wonder if any of you are having the same challenge.)  I would like to sew a basic black sheath to be worn under jackets, sweaters, etc.  I went fabric shopping at ALL of the fabric stores in our town and guess what.  No one carries anything but craft and 100% cotton fabrics.

Now, I love to quilt, so I have always considered this a good thing but……Where do you ladies find garment fabrics!?!  I know that there are various online fabric shops but since I am a beginner, I really need to touch and feel to determine weight and drape.  Suggestions are welcome!


  1. PASDENOM | | #1

    Reconsider some of those quilting fabrics, unless you specifically don't want cotton. Some have the drape you want, especially after you wash out the sizing.

    There are mail order companies that offer swatches. Sorry I can't suggest any but I'm sure others will know which they are.

    1. thimbles1260 | | #2

      Have you used quilting fabric for clothing?  Some of it is absolutely beautiful and I love the feel of many of them.  Could they be used for blouses and summer bottoms? (pants?)  I've often wondered about this but thought maybe they would wrinkle so much it wouldn't be worth the trouble.  I struggle with such things when I leave the realm of pattern recommendations.

      1. PASDENOM | | #3

        I use lots of quilting fabric for clothing. There is more variety than you think in terms of hand, weight, drape, whatever you want to call those qualities. It's only because quilting is so popular that fabrics are labelled as being for that purpose. The same things used to be call calico or just cotton. There probably aren't too many suitable for pants, but most are good for shirts, skirts and dresses.

      2. Josefly | | #4

        I've used the cotton prints called quilting fabrics for clothing many times, most recently to make a slim skirt and blouse. I underlined the skirt with cotton batiste, and that seems to have taken care of the wrinkling problem. I did not underline the blouse, but it's a loose fitting pull-over blouse, and it doesn't wrinkle badly. (The blouse I made putting together different prints, the bodice primarily of the same skirt fabric, but with a yoke, neck button-placket, outside front-neck facing, and fold-up cuffs on the short sleeves, in coordinating prints. I used a total of 4 different prints in the blouse, and I get so many compliments whenever I wear the outfit that it's become a favorite.) I live just outside Atlanta and the weather here makes cotton prints very popular for a good part of the year. I would suggest you look for a collection of small-scale black prints, or perhaps just one black print for the dress you've described. It could be combined with jackets of almost any color. Have fun with it! I appreciate the longing for a good fabric store. In Atlanta, surprisingly for a city of its size, there are very few fabric stores - the usual Joann's and Hancocks, though I have to drive probably 30 minutes to get to Joann's, and a wonderful store called Gail K's - and though these stores carry more than cotton quilting prints, it's still hard to find something I've "dreamed up" before I start shopping. That's one of the reasons I like to go to an actual fabric store - to get inspired by the fabrics, rather than searching for a particular fabric, which often seems fruitless. I can't seem to get inspired in the same way by internet shopping, though I've seen some tempting. silks and other fabrics at: http://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/Happy sewing, Joan

        Edited 7/13/2006 12:39 pm ET by Josefly

        1. thimbles1260 | | #5

          Thank you ladies for your prompt and helpful suggestions.  I'm going to look at my quilt shop in a whole new light!  Sooooo, here it goes!  My plan is to sew my first dress using a sheath pattern similiar to the black one shown in the Sept. Threads mag.  I'll use black 100% cotton from my quilt shop so I know that it's a good quality fabric and underline with a batiste.  I'll have to attempt to alter the pattern some, but I'm hoping that it will be just a small change in dart location.  Believe me, I'll have my sewing guide book near at hand, but I won't learn unless I try!  If you have any further suggestions, I'm all ears!!  Should I pre-wash the cotton?

          1. lovestosew | | #7

            I hope you don't mind a few more "suggestions" but it's a good idea to pre-treat the fabric you're going to make a garment out of - of course, wash before you start your project. The other lady did mention that the fabric would lose some of its finish but, if you don't pre-wash, then you might have an unpleasant amount of shrinking. Unfortunately, cotton does shrink a bit. Cotton is a great choice for a first garment project - it presses beautifully and is so cool and comfortable to wear. Another choice for one of your future projects could be linen or linen blend. See how much confidence we all have in you? :)
            Anyway, happy sewing!

          2. Josefly | | #8

            I would pre-wash, too, in cold water and use a cool dryer. Yes, dark cottons will fade, and I've had the same problem with dark linen, but I still wear them and enjoy them. I often line-dry if there's time, because the dryer seems to "wear" the fabric more than the washer. Some quilting fabrics are polyester-cotton blends, which aren't as cool and comfortable on, I think, but they do hold their color better.Do you have your pattern yet? You mentioned a sheath -did you mean the black one shown with the obi-style wrap? That's a great, simple design that you can do so much with, and accessorize in so many ways, can't you?

          3. mygaley | | #9

            I'm adding my approval and 2 cents worth about washing dark cottons.  Yes, wash them as gently as possible, never dry outside, iron from the wrong side as much as possible and one tip I have never heard anywhere else:  Only wash black with black--just as dark fibers can get in crannies on light colors and whites, any color lighter than black will leave something on your black that dulls it.  Galey  PS watch that batiste--be sure it's 100% cotton also.

            Edited 7/13/2006 11:43 pm ET by mygaley

          4. PASDENOM | | #17

            A lot of what looks like fading on dark fabrics is actually surface abrasion, with lots of fine fuzz on top reflecting light. You'll get less of this if you wash your dark clothes inside out, where the surface is only rubbing slightly against itself, not roughly against all the other things tumbling around in the machine. I do separate washes of things I want to keep new looking, putting them through the shortest, gentlest cycle possible, tumbling briefly in the dryer to soften them and relax the wrinkles, and then hanging them to dry. Wash lightweight things with other lightweight things, and don't pile them in a big load with heavy things like jeans. Use more water than the load size needs so things are swishing around more loosely.

      3. Teaf5 | | #13

        I, too, often use quilter's cotton for campshirts and sleeveless shirts for our scorching summers.  The medium-toned colors seem to hold up well with average wash/drying, but the very dark tones and reds are often unstable.  There is a great range of quality of cottons, and I've found that the ones that are in special collections-- "vintage Martha Washington" was one--tend to hold color and wear well.

        Some of the more subtle patterns and glorious colors would make a very lovely sheath dress, but I would wash it by hand in cold water, as I do any dark linen, so that it doesn't fade.  Before starting any garment out of quilter's cotton, I cut off a 1/4 yard or so and wash/dry it several times to get an idea of the properties of the fabric before I commit a lot of time and energy into a garment (or a quilt!) of it.

  2. sewingkmulkey | | #6

    I like to prewash all my natural fabrics due to shrinking but keep in mind that you will loose some of the "finishing" on the fabric.  I would also be concerned about continual washing of dark cotton fabrics as they will fade and look "shabby" in short order.  Drying in a hot dryer is also hard on keeping the pigment in dark cottons.



  3. user-1123855664 | | #10

    Although I agree that many 100% cotton/quilting fabrics make some great clothes, for the item that you're describing, I highly recommend that you request a quarter or a yard of fabric from some of the better on-line fabric sources. They will probably be able to provide you with something even better than what you can find locally. My favorite recommendation would be Stone Mountain & Daughter fabrics in Berkeley, CA. They have cuts from well known designers (such as Donna Karan, Dana Buchman, and more) at discount. The quality is superb. And the pricing is quite a bargain.  http://www.stonemountain.com  Describe what you're looking for and have them send you a quarter of a yard to touch and play with before you purchase enough for your entire garment. I've been totally delighted with EVERY purchase from this source.

    I've also purchase some spectacular fabric from http://www.leandrofabrics.com

    Good luck! And definitely get back on line later to let the rest of us know how your garment turns out!




    1. thimbles1260 | | #11

      Thank you ALL for the wonderful support and encouragement!  I'm going to finish up my charity project today (a scrappy log cabin throw) and then it's off to JoAnn's.  That's the only fabric store we have locally that might have the 100% cotton batiste you recommended.  I'll make sure it's available before I purchase my fashion fabric.  If they don't have it, I'll have to wait until I can get to Hancocks....2 1/2 hours away!  I'm so excited though, I've got the DH attempting to schedule a camping trip near Hancocks!  LOL  He too is so supportive.  I'm a lucky woman to have so much backup!!  Thanks to all of you, again.  I'm off to the sewing room!!  :)

      1. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #21

        I was surprised to see that your local JoAnn's doesn't have dress fabrics, since mine is loaded with them. Or was it just that they didn't have any that you liked in black? They have special order fabrics. Mostly dressy and special occasion fabrics, but they may have some that you might want to consider. You will have to ask to look at the book, since it is probably not openly displayed. As to color retention, polyester and poly/rayon blends are going to keep their color the best as these are usually solution dyed.

    2. Josefly | | #12

      The first web address in your message led me to a site showing links to Stone Mountain Handbags and to Stone Mountain, Georgia hotels and motels, but not to a fabric site. But your second site certainly has some beautiful and unusual fabrics, including great Japanese cottons. Pricey, though....I'll have to shop their sale items. : )

      1. user-1123855664 | | #16

        Sorry. I guess I must have mis-typed it.


        I just checked this one and it works.

        Good luck.

        1. Josefly | | #18

          Thank you. That looks like an interesting site.

          1. user-1123855664 | | #19

            Whatever fabric you select, I hope that your dress turns out to be a constant joy to wear!

            For a first project, I concur that it is not a good idea to pay an exhorbitant price per yard for fabric. But, in my opinion, things will be much easier if you find something that is specifically designed for a dress. The folks at Stone Mountain Fabrics have many bolts of deeply discounted fabrics and they are very good with helping people find exactly the right weight and texture for their specific project. This is especially true when you're looking for basics such as black.

          2. SewinMari | | #20

            The last time I replaced my washer and dryer, I bought a front loading washer.  I wear suits to work and I like black or red knit tops underneath.  If you figure how many times I've replaced black shirts with another black shirt or red shirts with another red shirt, I think I've recouped the price difference of the front load washer versus a top-loading one with an agitator.  Whites didn't seem to get white until I slam dunked them with oxyclean plus an optional chlorine bleach chaser.  Now, I'm the mom with the whitest socked kids. (ha!)

  4. lilyrose | | #14

    Regarding your fabric search, and dark colors: If you are worried about fading colors, may I suggest that there are some laundry product available just for dark fabrics. Woolite has one, and another major company has one. I use the one from Woolite, and I DO see the difference, especially less lint.  Another idea would be to ask a supervisor or store manager if they have any swatch books for suiting weight or wool fabrics.  I once bought a length of wool for a jacket, and got home to discover it had moth holes....guess if I was happy about that.   Check the fabric from top side to back side for flaws just in case.  Also, check the bolt end for washing instructions- they are supposed to have them available. That will give you a clue about how the fabric should work. If it's a dry clean only-do you want that? or maybe hand wash only? I have on occasion washed just a small clipping from fabric. Say 4"x4"  +/-. Draw on paper around it BEFORE you you wash. Dry like you plan to do.  How did it turn out?

    1. thimbles1260 | | #15

      Thank you for all the great advice.  I'll keep those things in mind!

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All