Have you ever eaten a BLT in August (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich) with a juicy, fresh tomato picked that very same day from your garden? Delicious. What about eating one in February with a grocery store-bought mealy tomato of questionable origin? Tasteless. A complete insult to the bacon.
My point? No accomplished chef on the planet can make a New England store-bought February tomato taste good. It's impossible.
The same principle applies to fabric. The most-skilled seamstress can't possibly make a quality bag or dress out of cheap fabric.
Don't misunderstand--cheap and inexpensive are two very different things. I have found excellent high-quality fabric at a discounted price (Cloud9 organic cotton for $1.99/yard!). And you can pay $50/yard for horrible home decorator fabric if you aren't careful.
Price does not always indicate quality. By cheap fabric I mean poor quality. Set yourself up for success by choosing quality fabric that is well-suited to your project.
So how do you choose what fabric to buy? You have to touch it. How does it feel in your hand? How does it drape when it's hanging on the bolt? When you hold it up to the light, can you easily see through it? For a sheer fabric, this is good, for quilting cotton, this is terrible.
When you become familiar with certain fabric designers, you will get to know the type of cotton their fabric is always printed on, and can then rely on choosing things online. But--the best way to chose your fabric is to investigate in person. Visit your local Quilt Shop in addition to the big box stores. The small shop may not have as large a selection, but they are sure to know their stock really well.
Does that wool feel like it should when you imagine it as a winter dress? Does the cotton batik flow enough that your daughter will be happily twirling in her new sundress? Is the cotton sturdy enough for a couch cushion that will see a lot of wear and tear? Is the linen lightweight enough to allow your skin to breathe on a humid August day when wearing it as a beach coverup? Will the denim hold its shape as the shoulder strap of your new handbag?
You deserve to use quality materials so that all of your hard work is fully displayed in your finished project. It's so discouraging to sew for hours and end up with a final product that is lackluster.
Here's to many many August-tomato BLT-worthy sewing projects!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.