The Scoop on Cotton Fabrics

For me, the best part of sewing is going to a fabric store and touching, looking at and then selecting my fabric needed for the project that I am planning. I have found over the years that some cotton fabrics have succumb to that new marketing of same old container but actually less product inside.

You use to always pick up your bolt of cotton fabric and it was 44″-45″ wide, however, now look closely because most of the time your cotton widths are now 42″-43″ wide.  Unfortunately, patterns still give yardage requirements for the 44″-45″ wide fabrics and depending upon your project, you might need to purchase more yardage than what is recommended.  It can be a little frustrating but knowing this fact, always check the end of the bolt to verify your fabric width size.

As a rule of thumb, if making clothing you might need to purchase about an extra 1/4 of a yard of your selected cotton fabric to insure you have enough for all your pattern pieces.  Before I cut out any pattern pieces, I always wash my cotton fabrics in cold water and place in the dryer at a medium temperature.  This way I feel I have reached the maximum shrinkage of that piece of fabric, especially if you are making children’s clothing because busy moms just want to through that item into the washer and dryer without any worries.  You really don’t want to spend the time and effort making a wonderful piece of clothing and wash/dry it and have it shrink a couple of inches.

Surprisingly, some cotton fabrics could shrink 2 – 3 inches after completing the washing and drying process.  That’s why I usually purchase a little extra to allow for the narrower width and possible shrinkage.  Nothing more upsetting than to find out you don’t have enough fabric when laying out your pattern pieces.  Even for quilting, because I solely use cotton fabric, I will buy a little extra for that same purpose of shrinkage and narrower fabric widths.

In rare instances, a 1/4 of yard extra might not be enough especially if you are using a one-way design fabric, which means all your pattern pieces need to go in the same direction.  Pattern design and size requirement of the finished item are specific measurements to look at when determining  your yardage needed.  Be sure to check with the individual who is cutting your fabric if you have any questions about the yardage requirements needed for your specific project.

I still LOVE to sew with cottons.  It makes up wonderfully in clothing, crafts, home deco projects and more.   There are many wonderful colors and designs available in cottons fabrics too.  Because it really has a great weave to it, you can just make a small clip and rip your  fabric to get a true straight of grain edge to work with.  Cottons are really a great fabric to work with too especially if you are a first-time sewer or helping a child sew a project.

You don’t just have to go to the big box fabric store either to purchase great cottons.  A couple of my favorite on-line fabric stores are fabric, thousands of bolts and fabric shack.  I still find it fun and amazing to be able to purchase fabric in my pjs!!!!


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