Luna Fabric Inspiration

Over the course of the Luna Pantsalong, a bunch sponsors gave us suggestions for what fabrics they would recommend for a pair of Luna Pants. Now that the giveaway contests are all over, I’ve gathered them all into one post here. There are so, so many options; I’m sure these ideas will help you on your way to your next several pairs of Lunas!!

Andrea from Fabricworm recommended some gorgeous organic double gauze fabrics:

fw 4 fabric recs

top left: Wildland double gauze / right: Flight double gauze
bottom left: Wink double gauze / right: Elk Family double gauze

Emily at Jones and Vandermeer weighed in with these great ideas for Luna Pants:
jones and vandermeer

top left: Nani Iro Ori-some double gauze/ right: Liberty Bourton tana lawn
bottom left: Robert Kaufman Rayon Chambray / right: Cosmo Denim Effect double gauze

Cloud9 Fabrics doesn’t have a retail shop, but you can find their certified organic fabrics in a lot of fabric shops; they have a handy “Where to Buy” right on their website so you can see which stores carry your favorite prints. Here’s what the folks at Cloud9 recommend for Lunas:

Cloud9 Fabrics Inspirationtop left: Moody Blues voile / right: Desert Rose double gauze
bottom left: Threads double gauze / right: Yucca voile

Fat Quarter Shop suggested these soft, lightweight Denim Studio denims from Art Gallery Fabrics. I love the simple prints!

FQS 4 fabric recstop left: Ragged Daisies / right: Distressed Triangles
bottom left: Casted Loops / right: Pointelle Rings

Chelsea at Bobbie Lou’sFabric Factory recommended some lawns, double gauze, and voile — all great choices for a pair of lightweight summer Lunas:
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top left: Flight double gauze / right: Limestone Fee voile
bottom left: Sunrise cotton lawn/ right: Mystery Food cotton lawn

Perusing Robert Kaufman Fabrics‘ amazing Instagram feed, I fell in love with a lot of the solids/semi-solids and yarn dyes. These would all sew up into lovely basic garments that you can wear with just about anything. I especially like all the neutral options they offer. Here are some of my picks for Luna Pants from their countless fabric collections:

Robert Kaufman fabrics for Luna

top left: Double Gauze Chambray Dobby / right: Manchester (new colors this season)
bottom left: Manchester Metallic / right: Essex Yarn Dyed linen-cotton

luna inspiration

top left: Textured Cotton in peacock / right: Cotton Silk Radiance in gold
bottom left: Wool Flannel in gray heather / right: Cherries rayon

For today’s fabric inspiration, Karen at Honey Be Good recommends these lovely fabrics for Luna Pants:

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top left: Scattered Floral knit / right: Threads double gauze
bottom left: Wink poplin / right: Threads double gauze

As I’ve mentioned before, I love the idea of using knits for Luna and showed my knit pair here! I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Cloud 9 knits (though, obviously, I am biased); they are so soft and are a great medium weight interlock. Double gauze is a favorite pick of mine for these pants, and poplin would work perfectly for a slightly more structured look.

My all time favorite knit fabrics

I’ve had more than a few people ask me for resources when it comes to shopping for knits, so I wanted to share a few of my absolute favorite knit fabrics of all time and a few places where you can find them. I’m also adding this post to the “KNITS: Stretch Yourself” series, which is a set of posts that contains tips and tricks for knit sewing and such.

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One thing I want to say first is that you might notice that most of these knits retail for over $12/yard. I just don’t find many $6/yd knits that I love. Some are OK, but not great. Most get pilly after a few washes. Think about it though: most knits come in 60″ widths, so if you do the math, that’s roughly 50% more fabric per yard than you would get with a 44″ width woven fabric. So why on earth — when high-quality wovens cost $10-$12 yard — do we expect to get the same quality for 50% LESS, cost-wise, when it comes to knits? This baffles me, but I’m guessing most people never even think about it, they just see the higher $ and balk. Personally I’m happy to pay 50% more to know that my knits are well-made, high-quality, so that I won’t have to throw away something I’ve spent precious time sewing up. But this all goes back to my general philosophy on fabrics, which you can find more of in this post, if you haven’t had enough of my blathering yet.

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Many of the knits below come from current or past sponsors of this blog, but some do not. I love fabric, so while I like to shop with my sponsors to support them, I never hesitate to purchase good fabric from other sources. You will see this reflected in these choices; these are the BEST knits I have personally had experience sewing with; however, there are a ton of other great knit fabrics that I haven’t yet had a chance to try out, including many that are currently available from the shops that sponsor this blog (for instance, the very popular knit-source Girl Charlee just started sponsoring this blog and I got their substrate samples last week, so I don’t really feel qualified to give you an opinion there, but I’m excited to give some of their fabrics a try!). Feel free to weigh in with your favorites in comments as well.

Pickering International
Pickering knits are a fantastic quality, and come in a number of different weights. I purchased some heathered jersey last summer from Sew to Speak (they take phone orders so I just watch their IG feed and call when I want something) that is a bit thicker, but the grey Pickering jersey I made the hoodie below from (purchased at Dry Goods Design in Ballard) is super thin and stretchy and has also held up REALLY well without pilling.

Hilco and Lillestof
These knits come from Europe, and are pricey but TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY. The blue striped Campan knit that I made that henley for Elliot out of (below) may quite possibly be the best knit I have ever had the pleasure of sewing with. I’ve only been able to find Hilco at Banberry Place and Kitchy Coo, but maybe you know of other sources and can share them in comments.

Another Euro-knit brand with super-awesome prints is Lillestoff. If you like the Scandenavian look for your kid’s knit garments, you definitely need to check these out. You can find them at Banberry Place, Kitchy Coo, and this Etsy shop. (UPDATE: All of these links are now gone; does anyone know where to find these fabrics? Let me know!)

Robert Kaufman Laguna Knits
This jersey has a higher lycra content, giving it a wonderful recovery (it doesn’t get stretched out), and comes in awesome solid shades. I’ve made a ton of stuff with it, including tees for myself and my kids (see the pink tee for Clementine, below. I purchased that knit from Pink Castle, who currently carries a number of other great colors as well). Because it’s jersey, the edges curl up when you wash it, so I often skip the hemming and just leave the rolled edge much of the time.

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Spoonflower Organic Knits
This substrate from Spoonflower (though I can’t speak for the other two substrates, the Performance Knit or their new Modern Jersey which is thinner and drapier) is one of my favorites. UPDATE: This substrate has been discontinued WAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! I love the natural background color on this interlock, and it’s thick enough and has enough stretch to make for excellent tees. I don’t love the fading that happens (due to the digital printing process) when you wash it, but I’ve found you can reduce fading significantly by washing garments inside-out on a more delicate setting.

If you don’t want to purchase digital fabric on-demand, two similar organic knits are the Birch and Monaluna knits (that link is to the “knits” category at Fabricworm, where you can find both brands); while I don’t have as much experience sewing with these two brands (yet!), they feel very similar to the Spoonflower organic knit in both weight and stretch, and are equally as soft.

Windham knits
This year, four of the Briar Rose prints by Heather Ross were printed on a jersey substrate from Windham fabrics that was really soft and nice. I sewed a couple of things with it that have held up really nicely with wash and wear, so I’m adding it to this list because I’m hoping they will release more prints on knits this year! You can still find these knits a few places online if you just search for “Briar Rose Jersey Knits.”

And finally, this company is closed right now because they’re moving their facilities, but I’m really really hoping that they’ll open soon, because it’s one of my favorite sources for knits:

Near Sea Naturals  (update: now Organic Cotton Plus)
These organic cotton knits are manufactured in the USA and are super-high quality. Order swatches first to make sure you get the weight you want. My favorite fabric from them so far has been this charcoal and cream striped knit that I used both for a knit top for me (below) and one for Elliot. It’s a nice medium-weight rib knit that has a good deal of stretch and has a nice thickness. The cream jersey shown in the Alabama Chanin babydoll top shown below was also from Near Sea Naturals. As far as I know, they are only available from the Near Sea Naturals website.

If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy this post:

fabric top five

My top five fabrics for clothing

I think about fabric a lot–probably more than is healthy or normal. I love how nice fabric looks and feels, and I love sewing clothes with it that I can wear over and over. I like looking at fabric just sitting on my shelf. It’s true, I am a hopeless FABRIC NERD.

fabric top five

When it comes to sewing clothing, I’ve tried just about every kind of fabric you can imagine; silk, rayon, knits, chambray, tulle, corduroy, you name it, I’ve tried it. The fabric I have the most experience with (hands down) is definitely quilting cotton, which I have tried on many occasions to beat into submission to produce clothing, with some successes and some failures (more on that later). But like many, I find myself drifting towards a special few types of fabric when it comes to sewing for myself. The following five types are my personal favorites, the ones I buy over and over, for things like the Washi Dress, clothes for Clementine, and blouses/top-type things. I’m ignoring the ginormous fabric category known as “quilting cottons” for now, partly because I think they really deserve a post of their own, and also because, though they do sew up nicely into certain kinds of garments, I still find myself, well, preferring these five instead when it comes to sewing tops and dresses.

You may notice that these fabrics aren’t necessarily the most traditional garment fabrics, but most of them are pretty widely available. I think the reason for this is that, like many of yours, most of my fabric purchases come mainly from the same online shops that typically sell quilting fabrics. I’ve also noticed that many of the garment fabrics that I grew up sewing with became pretty scarce when sewing went out for a spell (the Dark Years, when it was NOT COOL to sew your own clothing, so the only people who were sewing garments were the ladies making patchwork vests? Remember that? *shudders*). Obviously garment fabrics are still widely used by the ready-to-wear clothing industry, but they’re much harder to find by the yard in great variety unless you’re pretty savvy online or have access to shops like Mood or Britex in the bigger cities.

1. Double Gauze

This fabric is a double layer of gauze stitched together with tiny stitches to hold it in place and keep the two layers from sliding around. It has a loose weave and breathes well, making it really nice for summer dresses. And did I mention how soft it is? SO SOFT. My Aqua Washi is what I wear on days when I want to feel like I’m in my pajamas all day. No joke. One small downside: the loose weave can make it slightly more difficult to sew.

double gauze quad
Top: aqua WASHI dress, far far away top
Bottom: shirred sunsuit, princess and the pea dress

2. Voile / Lawn

I’m grouping these two types together because they are so similar in weight and behavior. Also: I understand that the “voiles” on the market now from Anna Maria Horner and Free Spirit and soon from Cloud 9 (KOI by Rashida Coleman-Hale will be the first collection to include voiles) are actually not true voiles, which are more loosely woven and sheer, but are indeed lawns passing for the fancier French-sounding substrate. (But since this is The Internet, as LeVar Burton would say–don’t take my word for it.) Why do I love these so much? Lawn/voile is really easy to sew as it is quite stable and doesn’t wobble around a ton like, say, silks or knits, but is still soft and floaty and lightweight enough to feel really comfortable. One small downside: it can be sheer, especially in lighter colors, so lining is often a must.

lawn voile quad
Top: green pleated top, pink maxi WASHI dress
Bottom: Liberty tie neck top, yellow voile top with white ric rac

3. Knits

It should come as no surprise to you that knits are high on the list of my favorites, since I’ve now posted two series of posts about knits (see them here). It just makes sense: if you are the type of person who loves to throw on a t-shirt every day (I am), why wouldn’t you sew with the fabric you wear the most? For kids, this is a no-brainer. My kids wear Flashback Tees almost every day.

knits quad
Top: Nani Iro knit top, whale tee for C
Bottom:teal knit top, fox tee for E

4. Rayon Challis

Rayon is what we were all sewing with back in the nineties. Now it’s baaaack, but it’s even better. This year, the highly-anticipated cotton rayon challis fabrics designed by Anna Maria Horner hit the market, and they are TO DIE FOR. If you haven’t already read Anna Maria’s fantastic posts about rayon challis, please read this onethis one and this one right now. I’ve sewn one top with it so far (not yet blogged), and I’m hooked. Drapey, silky, easy to sew, doesn’t fray a ton, washes like cotton…is this my Dream Fabric?? Maybe. My biggest problem with rayons currently is that the print selection is really pretty small. I also get the feeling that fabric shops that sell mainly quilting cotton as their bread and butter are hesitant to carry it, making it trickier to find online and in person. And so far, most of the prints on rayon recently have been — though lovely — a bit large for clothing; I think the smaller prints lend themselves better to garment sewing. Hello, manufacturers? Let’s see some more (small-scale) prints on rayon challis!!!

5. Cotton-linen sheeting

Finally, the lightweight cotton-linen blend fabrics called “sheetings” from Kokka of Japan are another of my favorite fabrics; they have a similar weight to quilting cottons, but I find them to be nicer and a bit drapier (is that even a word? I don’t know). Not quite as soft as the double gauzes or voiles, but I’ve really enjoyed wearing the clothes I’ve made with them, and you can’t beat the amazing prints from Melody Miller and Heather Ross printed on them in the past couple of years.

sheeting quad
Top: Charlie Dress for C, Green Snow White top
Bottom: Arrow Dress for Quilt Market, Ruby Star Washi Dress

Note: You can find most, if not all, of these fabrics in online fabric shops, including those that sponsor this blog; for those who are unfamiliar with shopping for fabric online, check out this post I wrote about shopping for knits online or this one: Rae’s Big List of Fabric Shops).

How much fabric should you buy?

After I posted gratuitous post-fabric-purchase photos the other day, Nancy wrote to ask me how I decide how much fabric to buy:

“Hi Rae, When you are looking at fabric and you may or may not have an idea in mind at the time for what you are going to use it for, how much of the fabric do you purchase? That is always the hardest decision for me b/c I don’t want to not have enough for when I decide what I’m going to use it for but then can you get too much? I was just wondering if you have a system that you use or a minimum yardage purchase, etc? Thanks. I’m loving the summersville prints.”

It’s a great question. So I thought it might be a good idea to share my “rules” for buying fabric with you, developed over many, many years of fabric purchasing, in hopes you’ll find them useful. I always chuckle inwardly a bit at the people who walk up to the cutting table with a pattern envelope in hand and ask for 2 3/8 yards of something. Newsflash, Everyone: It’s not going to kill you to pony up and buy that extra 1/8 of a yard and call it an even 2.5 so you have a little room for shrinkage/error!!!

Rae’s Fabric-Buying Rules:

– If no idea but have to have it, 1/2 yd
– If it could be a kids garment, 1 yd (small kids only)
– If it could be a short sleeved top for me, 1.5 yd
– If it could be a long sleeved top for me, 2 yd
– If it could be a skirt for me (fitted), 1.5 yd
– If it could be a skirt for me (longer/fuller), 2 yd
– If it could be a shirt for Mr Rae, 3 yd
– If it could be a dress for me, 3 yd

Those are my usual amounts…I usually regret not buying enough of something, but I still have way too much fabric. Go figure. I tend to “pat-on-the-back” buy after I sew something…case in point: I already bought more of the Washi tape print. Ack! (that link is from Instagram [madebyrae], by the way, where you can witness the gory play-by-play of my fabric purchases).

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And for a really, really fantastic post about how to estimate yardage for various types of garments, you really must check out my friend LiER’s post over on Ikatbag called “How I Estimate Yardage.” It comes complete with nifty diagrams, you will not be sorry I promise.

How much do you buy?

Rae shows you all of the cute fabric she just bought. Ack!

Warning: This post is pretty stream-of-consciousness. Brace yourselves.

I just had the most amazing weekend! I feel like I always say that every time I come back from somewheres, but man, Quilt Market was intense. Now to process all of it. I need to make a list of all the people I met so I can remember everyone and everything. SO COOL.

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I have about a bajillion pictures to upload and I’ll put those up on Flickr today, but for now I need to regroup and pull myself back together. For now I want to show you the fantastic stack of fabric that arrived while I was in Kansas City, from Fabricworm and show you what’s in my head for sewing projects in the next few months.

[Fabricworm is one of my sponsors. You can find all of these fabrics at Fabricworm and most if not all of the other fantastic fabric shops that sponsor this blog (move your eyes over to the sidebar). And see note (*) below]

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First up, these sweet and cute little elephants from Kokka. Maybe a new Toddler Backpack in the larger school-aged size for Elliot next fall? Did I tell you guys he’s going to Kindergarten this fall? Waaaaaah! Or maybe some O+S Sailboat Pants. Who knows.

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This may not look like much but these are solid cotton lawns from Robert Kaufman; I have summer tops or dresses in mind. Can you imagine a cream colored top with red blanket stitching all around the edges? Or black with some bright flowers embroidered around the neck? That’s what I’m talkin about.

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Next up. Gypsy Caravan by Amy Butler. This collection of fabric is single-handedly responsible for bringing me back to sewing 6 or 7 years ago, which is exactly what I told Amy Butler when I met her this past weekend. When I start thinking of the implications of that statement I get a little emotional. And by the way she is so sweet. So anyway, Gypsy Caravan has just been re-released so of course I had to get more (and yes, I still have some of the original collection).

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Summersville by Lulu Summers. So hot right now.

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The entire collection of Happy Drawing by Ed Emberley from Cloud 9. Dying of cute. Need I say more?

There are so many new fabrics I am crazy for right now. For now I’m trying to just start with the ones I have immediate plans or ideas about. Are you ga-ga for something in particular lately? I love to talk fabric. And fabric trends. It’s craziness.

*Some of you know this already but the biggest reason I have sponsors is to pay for the fabric and supplies I use to make my projects and patterns; as you might imagine, fabric has become a pretty big “business expense” for this blog. I pay the normal price for my fabric (ie. not wholesale) and shop online for most of it, going through the shops that are on the sidebar of this blog first. For ALL of my sponsors, even those who are not fabric/supply shops, I make absolutely certain that they are someone who I want to support and can stand behind in terms of quality and awesomeness. The same is NOT true, incidentally, of the three long google ads over thar.

Rae talks about shopping for knit fabrics online

After the tee-making-frenzy settled down around here last week, I found myself with a dwindling, pathetic little knit fabric stash. A problem that is quickly remedied, I say!!! There is little I approach so enthusiastically as fabric shopping. I’ve talked already about my proclivity towards using thrifted knits, and while I am always a fan of the upcycled garment, thrifting has some obvious limitations that purchasing knits can overcome (yardage being the main one). Unfortunately for me, the only fabric shop within an hour’s drive that carries knits is Joann, and my experiences with their knits has been pretty bad — of the maybe 10-15 jersey knits I have ever purchased there, all but two ended up super-pilly. I do want to mention though that I really do like a bunch of their other apparel fabrics, and their lightweight baby wale cord I use for kids’ pants is especially nice…all that to say: I know I make snarky comments about them sometimes but I’m not a TOTAL Joann-hater.

So for me shopping for knits almost always means online, and knits can be a little harder than other fabrics to end up with what you were expecting if you aren’t buying it in person. Though I have been known to rant on occasion about the difficulty of finding good (quality) knits online, I don’t think it’s a total lost cause. You just have to know what to look for. But before I go any further, I want to state my core belief when it comes to fabric shopping:

It is a waste of time and money to make handmade things with cheap fabric. (Repeat after me)

I do not deny that there are plenty of online shops selling cheap (and by “cheap” I mean poor quality, not necessarily inexpensive) jersey with bajillions of novelty prints, and while the prices are enticing, I value my time too much to sew with fabric that will pill up immediately with the first wear. I’d rather spend a little bit more on fabric that I know will last (and if it’s safer for my kids and the earth, even better). If that makes me a “Fabric Snob,” I guess I just have to accept that, but even if, scratch that, ESPECIALLY if you’re on a budget, it seems like you should be even more wary of super-cheap stuff. It’s easy to justify the purchase at the time, but if it doesn’t hold up, it’s a waste of money and your time, and it doesn’t make sense in the long run. If you can find low prices on high quality fabric, great! It’s just harder to tell the difference when you’re shopping from a computer screen.

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So here are my rules for knit fabric shopping online:

Pay attention to the TYPE of knit
The first rule is know what you’re getting, so read the item description to make sure you know exactly what type of knit it is. Jersey and interlock are a good place to start if you’re new to knits, but if I had to recommend just one I would say go for the jersey. It’s not quite as easy to sew with as interlock because it’s often a little more stretchy, but I tend to like the fit and finished product more when I make it with jersey. You can also leave rolled or raw edges on jersey unsewn, so the hemming goes much quicker, if you’re into the “raw” look (SORRY Grandma G – I know you hate those raw edges!! :P). Also, is it cotton? wool? silk? Polyester? These things make a difference in where and how it can be worn and washed.

Pay attention to WEIGHT
Make sure you know if you’re getting something heavy, medium, or lightweight. The medium-weight stuff usually works well for tops, and maybe even skirts, but heavy weight knit would be nicer for pants. And you don’t want to buy something that’s tissue thin if you’re trying to make a skirt (or maybe you do?? Not judgin’). Many online shops will even list the weight (usually in the US that’s in oz/linear yard or oz/square yard), which isn’t the most useful on it’s own BUT could be if you just need to compare one knit to another, or to one you’ve already purchased. And if the weight isn’t listed, just ask; the shop owner can easily get that information for you. If you buy a swatch (see below), the weight is often given on the swatch sticker.

Pay attention to WIDTH
Remember that most knits come in widths of 54-60″ so you’re automatically getting roughly 30-50% more fabric per yard than on the more common 42/44″ width which is more typical for quilting cottons and apparel fabrics. If you’d pay $10 a yard for quilting cotton, that’s equivalent to $13-$15/yard for a wider knit fabric. And for that price, you can get some REALLY nice knit. Something to keep in mind. But also be careful; double-layer knits can sometimes be quite a bit narrower, like 30,” so you’ll need to buy more. And then some knits are also sold tubular (which is how they were made on the knitting machine), so when you cut them open they’ll be twice as wide.

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Ask for a SWATCH
You would be amazed at how many shops will gladly provide swatches, even if they don’t advertise it. I just got a bunch of cotton knit swatches (shown above) from Near Sea Naturals (UPDATE: Near Sea Naturals is now Organic Cotton Plus) a few months ago (great shop — they have really high quality organic knits, and one of my goals this year is to purchase more earth-friendly fabric), and it really helped me figure out which colors and weights I want to get. Especially when I’m paying more per yard, it’s really nice to know that the quality matches the price before I commit. Aren’t they pretty? These are really amazing to the touch too.

Remember the manufacturers you like
If you like one knit from a particular manufacturer, buying it in another color/pattern is a safe bet. Example: I really liked some of the Patty Young knits from Michael Miller that were available recently; I ordered a 1/2 yard of a striped knit to try it out and it was super soft and held up well over time. So I ordered some solids as well, and they were predictably similar. I feel I can be fairly certain that if I can find knits I like from MM, they’ll be of similar quality. Shops that sell knit fabric are getting smart and including the manufacturer in the listing, which really helps.

Look at other people’s stuff
I always try to pay attention when I see something in a Flickr pool (like the Celebrate the BOY pool, for example) made with a knit I like. Most people who have a blog will share the pattern they used and where they found the fabric. I’ve found so many great places this way that I never knew about!

OK, so those are my rules, I hope they give you a place to start when buying knits. Do you have any other tips for shopping for knits online?

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Brenda at Pink Castle (disclaimer: a sponsor of this blog at the time of writing) recently added a small selection of solid knits to her shop, so I thought I’d show you the pile of knit fabrics I recently bought from her. She also happens to live about 10 minutes from me, so swinging by her place to pick up fabric is really super convenient. And also therefore DANGEROUS. Not in the physical-danger sort of way (Brenda is not a ninja. At least that I know of), just dangerous in the if-this-continues-I-might-need-to-add-on-to-the-house sort of way).

I bought two different types, the pile shown above is jerseys, as you can maybe see by the “curl” along the edges, and that one that looks white is actually a very pale cloud blue. The weight is nice and light, perfect for a top or t-shirt or leggings for Clementine. These jerseys are the Laguna Solids from Robert Kaufman.

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The second set here is 1×1 rib knit from Free Spirit. Also great for shirts and tees, but also works really nicely for cuffs and neckbands (like on the skinny tees). Since it resembles the weight and stretch of many of my “stretch tees,” I might try making a tee for myself out of that deep emerald/turquoise color. It’s so pretty. Can you see the “ribs” in the photo below?

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I can’t wait to cut into these and show you what becomes of them! Especially since I have sewing for ME on the brain, hneh-hneh.

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This series of posts is all about empowering you to sew with knits. Now go sew some knits!!! See more right here

Judge Deborah talks about shopping for fabric online

Since I posted about where I buy my fabric earlier this year, I’ve had a number of requests for hints and tips on shopping for fabric online. Even if you don’t shop for fabric online, I’m sure you can understand the dilemma: how on earth can you figure out what something is going to be like if you can’t see it up close?? And the honest truth is, it really is better to be able to feel and see fabric in person before purchasing it, but that isn’t necessarily an option for most of us. Learning how to shop online for fabric is something many of us just have to do (or would really like to figure out how to do!) so I’m pleased that my friend and Spring Top Sewalong Judge Deborah of Whipstitch has agreed to offer some of her wisdom on the subject for us today. As owner of Whipstitch Fabrics and a long-time fabric connoisseur, I figured she’d be excellent for the job! Deborah has been watching our Spring Top Sewalong closely as she’s one of our judges, and she’s picked out a few of the tops from this year and last year’s contests to illustrate her tips on selecting fabric. So much fun!!!

 via Quilter’s Buzz

Deborah is the owner of Whipstitch (online fabric shop, brick and mortar shop in Atlanta, online sewing courses) and author of Stitch by Stitch, a book I happily reviewed last fall. Whipstitch is currently one of our sponsors and Deborah was featured here earlier this year during our Celebrate the Boy event with her awesome Snack Bandolier tutorial. Thanks for putting this together for us Deborah!

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Also from the Tips and Tricks Department…
My friend Chris at Pickup Some Creativity hosts an ongoing series called Sewing 101 that I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to. There’s some great posts in the series which you can see all of right here. I put together a list of my top time-saving sewing tips over on her blog, so click over to Pickup Some Creativity to see them. Thanks for featuring me Chris!

Rae’s Big List of Fabric Shops

After last week’s post where I may or may not have slightly bashed one of the major fabric chains (What can I say? Sometimes I grumpy-post. So here’s my official apology: Sorry JoAnn. I figure we’re cool anyway since I ended up at your store again a mere two days later..), I felt I should sit down and talk a little bit about purchasing fabric online and elsewhere. I’m guessing that many of you are in the same place I am: I don’t have a good fabric shop nearby (in a cruel twist of fate I somehow ended up living in a weird Fabric Black Hole where all the good fabric shops are at least a half hour’s drive in any direction), so most of the time when I need supplies, I shop at a chain *gasp*. And you know what? Their needles, thread, elastic and other notions are perfectly fine and about once I month I end up at JoAnn just because I need some interfacing or something I didn’t have the forethought to purchase elsewhere. And it turns out they DO carry SOME good quality fabrics, you just need to be able to suppress the violent urges you get when you have to stand in line at first the cutting counter and then the checkout for forty minutes. Seriously, the wait time makes me want to hurt someone, and I am not proud to admit that on more than one occasion I have stormed out, leaving my package of snaps behind (I would never do this with cut fabric). But this, this, and these were all made with very nice fabric procured at JoAnn, so it’s not really fair for me to be negative about them. It’s a little bit of a crapshoot though, you know? Sorry to be crass, but “crapshoot” just seems like the best way to describe it.

I have a strong preference for supporting fabric sellers who make it clear that quality is a priority, so I usually wait until I’m in Seattle or West Michigan visiting my parents to buy fabric and supplies, especially when I need fleece, knits or other fabrics that tend to be easier to purchase in person. But it’s nice to see any fabric in person, even quilting weight cotton (which is probably the most basic of fabrics; easy to sew, easy to predict what it will feel like).


BRICK AND MORTAR
I will always have a preference for Brick and Mortar shops. Here are the ones I have shopped at personally, have reliable friends who shop there, or know the owners and feel I can safely vouch for their quality. Many of these stores also have online shops (those links are listed further down the page). Feel free to weigh in with your favorites in the comments section. I also noticed that Dana is hoping to put together a Big List at some point so you can add yours over there too, and I know there must be other more comprehensive lists online, although honestly I haven’t found one I really use.

Michigan and Midwest:
Fields Fabrics / West Michigan (also online, limited selection)
Material Girls / Dearborn, MI (also online)
Haberman Fabrics / Royal Oak, MI
Guildcrafters Quilt Shop / Berkley MI
Ann Arbor Sewing Center / Ann Arbor, MI
Lake Street Mercantile / South Lyon, MI
Crafty Planet / Minneapolis, MN (also online)
Treadle Yard Goods* / St Paul, MN
Shiisa Quilts / Bloomington, IN (also online)
*added by popular demand

New England
Alewives Fabrics / Maine (also online)
Nido Fabrics / Vermont (also online)

South
Whipstich Fabrics / Atlanta (also online)

West
Birch Fabrics (home of Fabricworm online) / Paso Robles, California
Britex Fabrics / San Francisco
Pacific Fabrics and Crafts / Washington (also online, limited selection)
Undercover Quilts / Seattle

ONLINE
Due to my unfortunate fabric-free locale, I end up purchasing the majority of my fabric online. When I discovered online fabric shopping, there was a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to purchase fabrics without touching them, but now I’ve got a pretty good system worked out. Turns out if you stick to a few basic rules (I’ll post my guidelines for fabric shopping online soon), the outcome can be pretty great. Of course, it may take a little trial and error to figure it out, but I think I can say that I now shop online for fabrics with confidence.

So here’s a list of the places I’ve purchased fabric from online that are super. [UPDATED: I’m also adding some shops that got an overwhelming number of mentions in the comments: Pink Chalk and Hawthorne; I trust if so many of you vouch for them they are fantastic!] Since I started blogging, I’ve also developed relationships with online fabric store owners (some of whom have been or are currently sponsors; I do a giveaway, they send me fabric) and have been a contributor/board member for Sew Mama Sew (I do a tutorial, they send me fabric) and those shops are phenomenal too! I’m also re-listing the online stores that I’ve shopped at from the list above so they’re all together:

Above All Fabric
Alewives
Aunt Bea’s (who just announced she is closing, waaaah!!! but be sure to check out her great sale!)
Charmstitch
Crafty Planet
Fabric.com (this one seems less independently-owned, more commercial-y to me, but I’ve bought bamboo knits there)
Fabric Bar (whose website seems to be on the fritz, can anyone help?)
Fabric Depot (also has a huge brick and mortar store in Portland which I regretably have never had the pleasure of visiting)
Fabricworm
Hawthorne Threads
Material Girls
Nido 
Phat Fabrics
Pink Chalk Fabrics 
Quilt Home
Sew Mama Sew
Shiisa Quilts
Superbuzzy
Whipstitch 

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention True Up, a website completely dedicated to fabric that posts a crazy huge list of online fabric sales every weekend, so if you’re into the deal-hunting, that’s a good site to follow.

OK, so there you go, I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone so I’ll update as needed. I’m quite the prolific online fabric shopper but even I have only brushed the surface here, so tell me your online favorites!

I think I might have a problem

I visited Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington Indiana last weekend as part of my life-goal of visiting every brick and mortar quilt shop in the continental USA before I die (kidding. sortof…) and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Owner Janet has stocked her shop with fabrics and sewing patterns by some of my favorite designers (Oliver+S, Figgy’s, Craft Apple).  I ended up walking out with this:

Those mermaids by Heather Ross? DIED when I saw those. And the Anna Maria Horner? Can’t ever have enough of that. And the Jay McCarroll prints?  I happen to have it on good authority that there will be another Boy Month coming up in February.

So here’s the question I struggle with personally: at what point does buying fabric stop being a normal thing and venture into problem territory (specifically a Fabric Addiction)? I’ve met plenty of people who laugh about how their closet is jam packed with fabric or not being able to shut their sewing room door but it always seems relatively harmless. I myself have enough fabric to last me at least a year (two?) if all I ever did was sew. But is this healthy? It makes me feel better to compare myself to the extreme: Deborah over at Whipstitch used to buy up fabric by the bolt for her personal stash. But at least she started a fabric shop to offload some of it and divert attention from the fact that she is a Certifiable Fabric Nutcase (Love you Deborah!!!). Where does that leave me?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.  I’ve tried making rules for myself but it might help me to have a better definition of True Fabric Addiction. Is it having too much fabric to fit in a dresser?  Your sewing closet?  More fabric than you can sew up in a year? Your lifetime?  Finding that small rodents have begun to nest in your stash? I need answers. And from the looks of my sewing room, sooner would be better than later. I don’t want to end up on a Dateline special.

So how much fabric do you have? Do you have rules for yourself to prevent yourself from going off the deep end?

Notice how that fabric is neatly serged? I learned that awesome tip from Lindsay at The Cottage Home; I can’t believe how nicely everything washed up with just a little extra time spent serging the edges before washing.  No more tangly mess in the dryer. If you’re wondering how I could have gotten this far in sewing without knowing this and are just now realizing how daft I really am, please just smile and nod.

You can find Shiisa Quilts on facebook right here.  And guess what, yours truly finally figured out how to make a Made By Rae FB page too *does little victory dance* so you can follow me there if you want.