crafts · outfits · Sewing

SSS days 26 and 27: lessons in cheap fabric

I have always been cheap (thrifty, I like to say.)  It’s really hard for me to convince myself that it’s worth paying more for something, despite ample evidence that buying the cheap version only leads to frequent replacements.  I’m not going to necessarily say that fabric has to be expensive – after all, there are certainly bargains to be had!  And fabric at the chain stores isn’t necessarily cheap – have you seen the prices for the shoddy looking wools and silk they carry?   But quality (not price!) does matter.  And though there are exceptions (I think some of the knits are fine) the fabrics that are made for the chain stores are not nice.   Witness: the last 2 days of my self-stitched challenge.

Day 26

Pants: Vogue 8604, blogged here

Sweater: Vintage (leopard print!)

Belt: Merona

Shoes: Sofft

When I made these pants I wasn’t looking to spend much; they were the first pair of pants I had made, and I was convinced they were going to be a disaster.  Plus, I don’t have anywhere to shop locally besides chains, and I didn’t feel like waiting on an order.  This lightweight denim came from Joann, and I bought it with a coupon.  The results, after 6 months of wear?  They have faded considerably (seriously, look at the photos in the linked post!)  And – worst of all – they have managed to shrink several inches in length, despite 2 prewashing cycles on hot.    I can only wear them with flats now, but I don’t really like them with flats (wide legs need the balancing effect of heels, or they can look a little dumpy.)  I only pulled them out because I was desperate for pants, but I suspect they will be retired soon.

Day 27

Cardigan: Simplicity 2417, blogged here

Dress: Vogue 1137, blogged here

Tights: Forever 21 cable knit tights

Shoes: Sofft

Belt: Calvin Klein

On the other hand, this dress was made from nice quality fabric, and it’s holding up great!  I also lined it in bemberg rayon – a more expensive choice than poly linings, but so worth it.  Lately I’ve been using china silk (the real silk kind) as well, because it’s not really that expensive either.  Sometimes I try to cheap out by not lining something, but that is a mistake.  Yes, it does condemn me to drycleaning, but I could not wear this dress with tights without a lining.  And it wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable.  I can’t say the quality of the cardigan fabric yet, but it does feel very nice – I bought it on discount, and it feels nicer than what it cost.

I really like this outfit – I like the combination of the dotted cardigan and floral dress (mixed prints is a big trend this year.)  I have discovered that I love wearing belts over sweaters like this (though I still am not a huge fans of belts at the waist.)  And – it’s actually cold enough for tights today (ok, it’s in the 60s, which may be stretching it, but I’ll take what I’ve got!)

What got me off on the tangent about fabric quality?  I bought some flannel at Hancock’s, hoping to make myself a bathrobe (I have wished I had a more stylish one lately.)  I prewashed it 3 times (because it is flannel, and flannel shrinks like mad… this is what all the books recommend.)  This is the result:

It actually looks worse than the photo, but you can see the pilling.  Seriously, this stuff looks like the state my flannel pajamas get to when I throw them away!  I am not making a robe out of this… ugh.  Can you imagine how bad the pilling would get?  It was so cheap, I don’t even think it’s worth going back and complaining, but I’ve learned my lesson… only nice flannels.

What have your experiences been like with the fabric chains?  I have had a few nice experiences as well, but the bad ones do tend to stick in your mind… and with nowhere else to shop, I get frustrated really quickly.  Most of my fabric does come from the internet, but sometimes you just want to shop in person, you know?