Needle & thREAD

needle and thREAD

This morning, Katie and I made a disheartening discovery in the sewing room. She has outgrown my fabric stash. That is, nearly none of the fabric I have stashed was cut in lengths long enough to work for her fall clothes. Furthermore, she’s outgrown all but one of my Oliver + S patterns. I had the one pattern that fits traced and ready to go, but she couldn’t find two fabrics that would work for her.

Fabric shelf

So, did what we all do in times of sewing distress. I got on Facebook and asked for advice. There, Jennifer suggested the Lisette patterns. I have one of those in her (gulp—really?) size. Jen mentioned that she had a similar, but different pattern and a very similarly sized daughter. We decided to go for it together. Sew along! A couple other friends are joining us. It’s all very informal. I don’t even have fabric yet.


I’m sewing this one. Jen is sewing this one.


My friend Kathy has asked me about choosing fabric. Since Katie and I had some fabric shopping to do this morning, I kept Kathy in mind and tried to take note of my steps. In dase you’re wondering, here’s my fabric shopping strategy:


I spent a whole lot of time on sewing blogs back when I first started to sew. I got a sene of different designers and what to expect. Those are my go-tos when I’m looking for something new. They’re also where I check in periodically to see what’s new. All those blogs used to be safely bookmarked on my Google Reader. No more. I don’t read online much at all these days, so I’m sort of out of practice but I’m going to try to reconstruct the list. Here’s a brief list and I’m certain I’m excluding someone.


Heather Bailey

Anna Maria Horner

Bari J

Joanna Figueroa

Camille Roskelley

Kate Spain

Leisl Gibson

Amy Butler


That list is what is represented on my shelves.


Sometimes, the designers have shops and I buy there. Anna Maria Horner is one I usually purchase in her shop, because I love her ribbons and patterns and other goodies and I’ll buy those at the same time.


I have hit some great Heather Bailey sales.  Anna Maria Horner is on my very short regular blog reading list even when I’m not shopping fabric.


Outside of designers shops, or when I want to buy from more than one designer, my first stop is the Fat Quarter Shop. There are two reasons for this. (1) They are blog sponsors and no other fabric store wanted a spot here. I like to dance with the one who brung me. (2) They have incredibly excellent customer service. From answering questions to notifying when something is in to packaging to cutting to just plain getting it right—they’re top notch.


Other places I go:


Hawthorne Threads: I like that they offer coordinating color suggestions—nice design feature. I feel like their selection is different from the Fat Quarter Shop.


Pink Chalk Fabrics: Another with topnotch customer service and good sales/bargains.


A word about They have a design wall feature where you can browse and pin fabrics to a wall so that you can see how they all go together. It’s a great feature. They have the worst customer service ever and after countless wrong orders, I won’t go back. Though their prices are better, the mistakes end up being costly.



The designers listed above usually put out a collection of fabrics, maybe in two different colorways, once or twice a year. The prints are intended to coordinate with each other. Frequently, I’ll find that a designer’s style conveys across collections, too. For instance, I stashed some Heather Bailey back when Karoline was  a baby seven years ago. It’s sitting on my ironing board with what’s left from Katie’s Heather Bailey Easter dress a year and a half ago and I am certain the two will find themselves together on a garment this fall.


Usually, I just play with this, sometimes obsessively. I’ll go to the Fat Quarter Shop and fill my cart and delete and add and delete and add until I have combinations I like. Usually, if I’m shopping to stash fabric (to take advantage of a sale), I buy in 1 yard lengths. I’m rethinking that as the girls grow. This is all a huge learning process for me.


I’ve learned the hard way to never let a fabric line get more than six months old while I wait for a sale. I’ve missed some good ones biding my time.


Kathy, I hope this helps a little. At least, it might provide a starting place for your own rabbit trail through sewing blogs.


This week, I’ve been tracing and cutting and measuring and ordering. It’s been a ridiculously stressful week and this morning, when Katie handed me her pointe shoes to sew and I felt my heart rate drop as I threaded the machine, I promised myself that I will make time for myself in the sewing room today. I’ll update as I go on Instagram.


Not much reading happening, outside of necessary reads for my kids. But the time of year and the state of my heart have directed towards the bookshelf, where I’ve stored a gift from Tripp Curtis. Barbara’s last book. I couldn’t read it when he sent it.


Now, though, I would love to have these conversations with her and I’m grateful that her words are here with us even when she no longer is.  So Raising God First Kids in a Me First World is my slow read these days.


So tell me: what are you reading? What are you sewing? And how do you shop for fabric? Surely, we can all help Kathy come up with a strategy.

And one more thing? I wrote this post last night in soccer parking lot. There's no wi-fi there, so that left a lot of linking to do this morning. Now that I've finished linking, I'm looking at my mail and my Facebook messages. Both Elizabeth DeHority and Shawn Kuykendell are in urgent need of prayer today. Please light a candle with us?