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Conversational Threads

why I’ve quit sewing

ecovalley | Posted in General Discussion on

I’ve had to quit sewing.  It grieves me to say this, because I learned to sew at an early age and always enjoyed designing and making my own clothes, albeit not perfectly.  I love fabric……the feel, the drape, the tactile comfort and beauty of it.  And that is exactly why I’ve had to quit sewing.  There is none to be found anymore.


I live in the suburbs of a fairly large city.  I grew up here, moved away, came back.  There were always a multitude of good fabric stores, it was the fabrics themselves that inspired me.  Now there is only one good fabric store left……and though there is quality material to be found there, my taste simply differs, so I rarely buy there.  The only time I sew now is the occasional Dharma Trading Company undyed linen or silk, or by gleaning used garments from Goodwill and dismantling them.  I don’t buy from online fabric websites because it is impossible to tell the drape from a little 4×4 inch fabric swatch, and it’s the drape of fabric that attracts me.  


The only fabric stores left around here carry just junk, I mean, hideous cheap fabrics like you imagine in a 3rd world country.  Hancock Fabrics makes me nauseous…..I don’t even dare check out a JoAnn’s,.  It is bad enough having to go into such places for notions now and then.  All you can find around here is Dritz, and Dritz is crap!  Take a look at the photo of the safety pin.  That is typical Dritz. Apparently they know they can make notions cheaper and junkier all the time because they have NO competition!  Anywhere you go, all you find is Dritz.  If Dritz doesn’t make cotton twill tape, well, forget it, you’re screwed.


Sorry about this rant!  But I am broken-hearted to realize the enjoyment I had from sewing will probably never happen again in my lifetime, and just needed to vent to someone out there who might understand.  If you want to do me a favor, please write to Hancock Fabrics and tell them they need to carry better fabrics.  And decent notions……not just Dritz!!!!




  1. idosew | | #1

    Don't quit!

    There are wonderful fabric store online!  You can order swatches for color checks. Most have links to fabric that matches. I love them. Many are from ads I found in the pages of Threads. Check the back pages too. Threads is a really great source for everything you need.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #2


      I've asked for recommendations online through contactus and attached an image of my sewing pattern.  I would copy type the recommended fabric from the back of the envelope.  I think a lot of the advisers are trustworthy and know a lot about fabric, they know more than the sales people I've asked in a physical local fabric store. 

  2. lou19 | | #3

    Sorry to hear you are having problems.

    But don't give up on on line fabric. There are so many great suppliers and almost all will be happy to answer questions and advise. Ebay is another online source for some great fabrics. Also charity shops and car boots (UK) - (Yard sales and goodwill stores in USA?)

    It is a shame some shops have closed but this has provided opportunities for others to sell online etc.

    Make a cup of coffee.look at the Adverts in threads  and get online!

  3. beeharris | | #4

    reply to why I've quit

    I 'm sorry to hear that you have quit sewing because of fabric. I do agree with you about good fabric being hard to find.

    I find lots of fabric in thrift stores, not always what I like, but I keep looking. I also let people know that I sew and some of them have fabric that they donate to me. Some of that I then donate to the thrift store, but some of it I can use. 

    I have found that some fabric websites offer a larger sample (for a larger price, of course) which would make it a bit easier to decide if it is to your liking. That may help you. 

    I was wondering, do you prefer natural fabrics over the synthetics? I do.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #5

      Prefer natural fabrics over the synthetics? I do

       I want you to keep sewing because it is a joy in life to be creative and self reliant.  I prefer 100% natural fabrics.  It prevents wear and tear on machinery and creations lasts longer without going yellow, cracked or flaky.  I used to make skirt suits and remembered how cute they were.  they were all vogue patterns, and I used synthetic blends.  I packed them away in preparation for motherhood.  after 8 years, I found that the synthetic garments did not store, the results were bad and the cloth looked damaged.  The natural fabrics saved extremely well.  I am reminiscing 20 years.  Some linen wear handed down to me could be as old as I am, well, give or take 10 years but the general employment population all think I have  new expensive clothes.  The cost of fabric is expensive, I agree.  I presently aim to have more than a dual purpose should the fabric delivered to me not  be what I ezcept.  I make a lot of bed linens, from linen, and even use 100% natural quilting thread to sew and serge with.  I find that old polyester thread scratches and is uncomfortable for clothing.  with polyester blends in bed linen, the old pills feel like lying on sand.  soft cotton pills just feel like soft cotton pills.  old natural fabric is reusable and old synthetics are not.  I no longer find good stuff at value villages or good wills because everybody is donating synethics.  The price of synthetics just doesn't equate to natural fiber which can be used and refurbished over years and years and usage to usage.  Also, I dont consider rayons to be natural fibers either, despite the adds and fabric reviews, historically.  I think rayons don't breath and end up not wearing a garment made of rayon. 

  4. denise | | #6

    i had to quitsewing

    i started  sewing again when i found  fabric on line , i have my two favourite reliable  and

    and the best  fabric  at good prices,  i to live in a smalll capital , which,hasone fabric shop

    i just do not go there.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #7

      local business going out of business

      I don't have any fabric oulet near me anymore.  If I need sewing supplies and fabric I shop on line or drop by the local dollar shop.  I recall a local fabric outlet and how they went out of business.  they weren't discreet.  Whenever I used to shop there, the shop owners would asked me what I am making.  they have more time than me and my creation would be displayed on their window way sooner than i had time to even begin my project. their presentation would be in a matter of hours.  Luckily I don't purchase fabric from them but only order kwiksew patterns, so my creation is not that identical.  I mentioned their method of advertising creativity at the local library when I was there and patrons in the neighbourhood all experienced the same thing about having their personal creative ideas copied and displayed before they ever had a time to begin their project.  It is really a disappointment how a local outlet can become their own worse enemy and have sewing patrons feel plagued by their own personal endeavors.  I really enjoy sharing ideas and enjoy looking at creations posted on web pages.  I like the idea that people are allowed to be creative , share their ideas, and still get credit.  Too bad that this outlet was so indiscretionary.

  5. Sancin | | #8

    Quality online fabric shops

    Quality Fabric stores I have book marked






        Marcy Tilton - http://www.marcytilton.com



    I have recently purchased a new computer so my favorites are not up to date - for notions try



        http://www.agreatnotion.com/    - every notion you could ever want


        http://www.lilyabello.com/sewdir.htm - a site of links



        http://www.mjtrim.com/supplies-tools.html    Quality Fabric stores I have book marked


  6. ecovalley | | #9

    why I've quit sewing

    Thank you all for your responses.  I appreciate your encouragement, and the lists of online fabric outlets.

    The reason I rarely buy fabric online is because photos of fabric doesn't inspire me.  It was the tactile sensuality of fabric that would draw me into the stores.  I'd go in, fall in love with a fabric and then think of something to make, rather than thinking of something to make and then going shopping for the fabric.  Given how expensive fabric has become, it can be a waste of money trying to guess drape, which is what I love most.  Little 4x4 inch fabric swatch don't tell enough.   

    But frankly, the fabrics I've seen online just don't look too promising anyway.  Have dyeing chemicals changed in the last 20 years?  Even clothes in expensive stores, made of fabrics of assumed high quality, look garish and hideous to me these days!  Has something changed about fabrics overall, or is it just me?  I virtually never see fabrics I like, either in fabric stores OR ready-to-wear.

    The only fabrics that look promising to me these days are some Japanese fabric websites on etsy that offer simple natural cottons and linens.  But they are somewhat expensive and I've resisted so far.  Instead, I sometimes buy used clothing and strip it for parts.  Mainly, I've just turned to knitting.  Still a lot of yarn shops around.

    Thank you all again for your input!  I'm an artist, I'll never stop being creative.  I just quit most of my sewing, that's all.


    1. silverlining | | #10

      So Sad.

      I do understand not buying fabric online.  I can't tell by a little picture online how it actually feels or really looks in a bigger area as I would see in a fabric store.  Having said that, I have recently purchased high quality Kona Cotton solid in "Snow", a white color of course.  It is very high quality and I am very pleased with my purchase.  I must disagree with you about some of the fabrics offered online and in some fabric stores.  I really don't like Hancock very well.  But now, we have a Joann Fabrics here and I resisted but went anyway.  Yes, there are some cheap fabrics there But, there were some beautiful quality cottons there as well.  Prices will always increase over time.  I'm sorry to hear that you are so displeased with the fabric world around you.  I hope you will give it another try.  I am very picky about my fabric and there is nothing wrong with that.  Go into Joann's near you and just look around.  You might be surprised.  They have coupons all the time.  

  7. Sewfluffy | | #11

    I haven't quit sewing, but I do agree with you about the lack of fabric shops and good fabrics.  In my area, there used to be tons of fabric shops, but now there's just JoAnn.  Even JoAnn seems to be cutting back on fabric and turning into a Michael's with crafts and home dec items.

    I have been looking for years for good Japanese rayon challis.  That is one of my very favorite fabrics.  All I can find is the Chinese challis, which feels like cheap cotton.  It's stiff and doesn't drape at all.  When JoAnn carries any challis at all, it's the Chinese stuff.  I could probably find it on line, but I can't judge from swatches.  I need to hold the bolt, unwind some of it and really get the feel.

  8. Teaf5 | | #12

    Take a break, but don't quit!

    Having sewn for many decades, I understand your frustrations about finding fabric!  Sometimes, though, we just may need to take a break from a favorite hobby and then come back to it with new ideas and inspirations that lead to new directions.  Maybe it's time for you to take a break, re-group, and then come back to sewing later.  Here's how that worked in my life:

    In my teens, I sewed all my own clothes and accessories, having lots of free time and little money.  In college, without time OR money, I bought clothes in thrift stores and used my sewing machine mainly to alter vintage clothes.  As a young professional, I had some time and some money, and I went back to making most of my own clothes--separates, dresses, and suits.  Then children came along, and I had some money but very little time, so I bought & altered my clothes and had fun making theirs.  I still make some custom-fitted items--even a wedding gown-- for them as adults, but now I sew mainly for gifts, for the home, and for alterations.

    I've stopped sewing for myself because a maturing body is difficult to fit, and it is easier to find heavily discounted, functional clothes that I can alter with way more success than it is do it all myself.  In a few years, I expect grandchildren, and I will probably find joy in making children's items again.

    With all your experience in sewing, you aren't going to forget how to do it if you take a year or even a decade off, and maybe now is the time to find someone to teach--handicrafts and sewing skills are in big demand again.  Or maybe check out another hobby for awhile and then see if you catch the sewing bug again!

  9. wjmjsed4 | | #13

    Sewed in past

    To reply to the person who had to rant about the fabric stores in her suburbs I too live in a suburban area of a large City and find some fabric stores around my area also but we have a few more than Joann's and Hancocks.  I also sewed since I was very young and gave it up when I took to doing counted cross stitch more.  Now I have an interest in taking up sewing again and am trying to refresh myself in a few of the basics.  I also love the fabrics and they fascinate me when going into the stores but I find nothing wrong with Joann's nor Hancock fabrics here.  I recommend to you going into it with a positive attitude unless you're already doing that and that will help out.

  10. crumbhaven | | #14

    Why I've quit sewing

    I live in a suburb with a supposedly excellent independent fabric store (Vogue Fabrics) and I still end up shopping on line. Vogue used to be a great source of designer buys, but now it's more like bolts of cast off junk. The original owner retired. The place is filthy (I don't think they've washed the floors in the 40 years I've shopped there) and I can't take classes there because of the outgassing fumes due to no ventilation and not a single window in the place. Last winter they had no wool jersey--a basic high quality staple, no? I've turned to Emma One Sock, Marcy Tilton's site, and Fashion Fabrics Club. Ask for swatches.

    One thing that has made my own sewing more satisfying is wardrobe planning--Threads has had some great articles on this, but I'm also inspired by a blog called TheVivienneFiles.blogspot.com. I can't sew fast enough to duplicate the ideas there. What I like is she shows very expensive designer ideas, but many, many of them are SOOOO easy to duplicate. Online fabric shopping is much easier when you go looking for a specific thing or type of fabric.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #15

      wardrobe planning

      yeah, I  wardrobe-plan, I have preferred fabrics and the fit and color -- and this allows me freedom to chose.  specific clothing, fabric, color, or fit  aren't available if its not that current trend.  I serge my seams using 100% cotton thread. it isn't scratchy and the clothing has a higher quality.  I sew everything with 100% cotton thread.  I think thread quality is the most important element in an outfit.

  11. JanF | | #16

    Quitting sewing

    At last - a fellow sewer who feels the same as me- I thought it was just me and that I was getting old n crabby!

    I hate synthetic fabric, mainly because of its handle and the fact that it doesn't breathe but I also agree that you just cannot buy fabric after looking at a picture on the screen! There is no substitute for going into a fabric shop and running your fingers over the fabric rolls and getting all those ideas running through your mind. Buying fabric is almost a sensuous luxury and I defy anyone who says buying on line is a substitute.

    I have now decided that I will buy fabric when I do happen to come across a shop, as I did on a recent visit to London.However, I can see that in a much larger country coming across such shops must be difficult. 

    I too have started to revisit knitting but  somehow it never quite hits the spot.

    I wish the general public would wise up to the use of cheap synthetic fabric but I do despair when so called designers and retailers design even their more expensive ranges in crappy polyester variations of fabric- is it just me that sweats in any synthetic stuff? 

    Ah well! Rant over for me too but take comfort in knowing you are not alone and  possibly do what I'm doing- move onto using the sewing machine for other stuff such as creating fabrics of my own by surface decorating natural fabrics with free embroidery etc. Buying plain fabric online would be easier for anyone who loves silks etc and then can play about with them but I know not everyone wants to do this.

    I would like to urge you not to give up altogether, indeed I suspect that if you love sewing like me you will eventually come back to it in one form or another- I've just had 2 years away from it as I retired from teaching textiles and somehow couldn't get into doing any of the things I had always been planning to do with my retirement... But....a new sewing machine has revitalised me and I'm "on a roll" as it were. Good luck to you and "getting your mojo back" and I really do hope a good fabric shop crosses your path.

    1. User avater
      TaraSews | | #17


      I am coming back to sewing now that my youngest will be in 1st grade and had sewed most of my life. Now I am amazed at allthe learning/sharing opportunities on the web to the sewing world. However I am continuely frustraded on the lack of Fabric walk in and shop stores. I have Joanns and that is really it. I have searched google but I have way too many upholstery fabric. I live in a hot spot too South FL, so expected more.

      What can we do about this? Has there been a thread where we can share locations of fabric shops with a small 1-3 sentence review on it?

  12. netizen | | #18

    I wouldn't mind having a Joanns nearby that carried awful fabric, ugly patterns and cheap notions. At least I could touch something.   Because like the majority of people who live remotely, buying anything sewing related means either mail order, or an overnight trip to the city.   There I can still find speciality stores who carries fabrics I like. Being able to go into stores and feel fabric is just about up there with a trip to DisneyWorld.  This is how I have bought supplies for years.  

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