I don’t hoard or save many things. Except fabric. I can’t help it, I have so much of it but I don’t always have the right piece. These days I am being a little stricter with myself and trying to work through some of the older stash items.
However I do want share with you all the places and ways I collect fabric. Where I get my fabric depends on my projects. However, these days I am less interested in commercially produced patterned fabric. Honestly I think they make my projects look really boring and dare I say generic!
In my work I am looking to create something one of kind.
People, I think, are often dissuaded from so-called difficult fabrics like organza or silk because they are not so easy to craft with. I don’t agree and think any fabric or textile has a use; it’s the trickiness of it that leads to discoveries.
Save your clothes! Any that have holes or rips that are not salvageable are great. I’ve use old shirts for embroidery and of course patchwork is a very traditional way of reusing clothes.
Bedding and other linens
Bed sheets from thrift stores or maybe some of your own are wonderful. You will get a lot of projects out of them. Plain ones can be used for embroidery, or you can dye them to create a unique fabric. They are also great as a layer if you are doing kantha quilting because they are a good size.
I use pillowcases too. I usually cut them into two flat pieces.
Basically, save anything including old grubby looking tea towels or napkins. Wash them and cut them into pieces or use them as a base to sew onto. By the time you’re done you won’t see that layer. Curtains are a great as well!
I am including a video below on using bleach make patterns on fabric. It’s a quick, economical way of breathing new life into plain fabric.
New or Vintage Fabrics
Ebay is my favorite place to get big lots of fabric scraps. For patchwork and applique projects I usually search for sari or kimono silks. There are plenty of vendors selling scraps and they often sell by weight. I also like to find canvas off cuts here too. Canvas is used by painters and is usually stretched onto a frame and then treated with a white paint called gesso. This is then ready for the artist to paint onto. Once the canvas is trimmed to the frame, there might be some scraps left that you can buy. Untreated canvas off cuts are lovely. They have a creamy color and can be quite thick making them a great base for fiber art, as well as embroidery projects. Make sure you consider shipping on this stuff though. I have been ready to buy fabric that is very reasonably priced only to find that the shipping pushed the total sky high.
Etsy has a growing number of people selling their own dyed fabric. I love these as they are unique and really beautiful. My preference is for natural dyed cottons and linens. Many vendors sell large pieces and small ones. Etsy is also great for solid fabrics too. Give yourself time to look through the listings rather than jumping at ones on the first page.
Friends and Other Projects
If you have friends who also like sewing, consider a fabric swap party. I have a dear friend who basically just wanted to get rid of a bunch of fabric scraps because she makes much bigger items than I do and the smaller off cuts she had were of no use to her. I ended up with a wonderful selection of new pieces that will last me ages.
Also, always save any scraps of fabric from your own wort. For the type of projects I do no piece is too small!
Where do you get your fabric? Share in the comments.