When I first started sewing, I struggled with fabrics. For once, I couldnt find the fabrics the patterns asked for and on the other hand, I couldn't find prints I liked.
Fabrics in Malaysia are beautiful but it also meant that the fabrics are catered to the local market. I loved looking at the local ladies but it wasn't something I wanted to wear. Another key factor was, and still is, quality.
Coming back to my first sewing & fabric steps, I started off with fabrics from Daiso (for those who don't know, it is a Japanese Euro/ Pound or Dollar shop). In Malaysia, they carry small pieces of cloth and I made a lot of bags and zipper pouches with these fabrics. These cloths are fairly inexpensive, some the quality wasn't great and others - I am still using the bags for my groceries. I also remember making my first skirt from of these cloths. The skirt had a wide elastic and was pretty much a large rectangle. I hadn't finished the seams or pre-washed the fabric, so after one wash the fabric frayed and I didn't fit in it anymore :)
The pre-washing I learned in the first 6-10 months of my sewing journey. When you buy fabric, you kind of want to start right away without pre-washing your fabric but trust me, taking the time to wash is important unless you decide to dry-clean these garments. Since we moved back to Dubai, that's what I have been doing, in particular with my Rayon garments. Even washing Rayon once, my garments still shrank after the following wash cycles. So any dresses I am actually giving to the dry-cleaner - they are also better in ironing than I am.
While travelling through South East Asia, I managed to visit a lot of fabric shops. I stroked a lot of fabrics, you can check out any shops I visits in this blog post in case you ever travel there yourself.
Another 'learn the hard way' moment was Chiffon. Oh I found this gorgeous chiffon in Kuala Lumpur in rich green turquoise with florals - so beautiful (and expensive). I had the intention to make a shift dress. I had made one before and I enjoyed wearing it. But while cutting the fabric, it shifted and somehow I ended up with a dress to large in all areas and I got frustrated and till date it hangs in my 'rack of shame' - these are all unfinished projects I put aside due to either wrong fabric choices or confusing pattern instructions. Now having more experience, I might consider saving it soon.
When I braved myself to ordering online, I went through a lot of trial and error - and till date I have fabrics in my stash which were part of this period and haven't been used (yet). Sometimes I would hear about a fabric in a YouTube video or see it on Instagram from a fellow sewist, and wanted to know what the fabric feels like. But I believe it was a good way of getting to know different fabrics. I learnt how these fabrics felt as well as what prints & colours suited me best.
A great inexpensive way is ready-to-wear (RTW) shops sale sections. Occasionally I look at plus size items at the sale section in RTW shops. You can find some great designs there and just buy two plus size pieces and refashion these into something new. I made some of my sample pieces for my sewing classes out of refashioned clothes.
My favourite fabric is definitely cotton lawn. It is still light for a hot day here in Dubai but also easy to work with. It irons great and feels very nice to wear.
Cotton Lawn is a lightweight, breathable fabric with a smooth texture. Lawn is designed using fine, high-thread-count yarns, which results in a silky, untextured feel. This fabric is perfect for lightweight tops, dresses, and skirts that are perfect for spring and summer.
What is your favourite fabric and why? How has your fabric journey been?
As part of my sewing classes, I like to explain a bit more about the fabrics my students are using. Since this wasn't part of my sewing journey, I feel sharing my experience will help beginners to get more confident with their fabric shopping.
See below some of my favourite fabrics which are still in my stash and some sewn-up garments which are in a very frequent rotation. When looking at my fabrics, you will notice I love bright colours and floral prints. Sewing has enabled me to step out of my comfort zone and wear what I like.
On the left hand side of the main blog page, you can filter all my fabric hauls; or click here.
Thanks for hanging out with me. Happy Sewing!