Which comes first? The fabric or the pattern?

I got to thinking this weekend. Is it the pattern that dictates the fabric, or does the fabric call out for a pattern? I have slowly accumulated a list, no, a MASSIVE list of garments that I want to sew, yet, with no fabric stores nearby I find it difficult to acquire what I need.

My only problem with online fabric, is that there is SO much choice. If I had all the time in the world, I would spend hours and hours scouring online stores for what I need, but sadly my time is very limited with the kidlets beneath my feet. I end up a bit like a deer in the headlights and so overwhelmed with options that I sigh and turn away from the computer, fabric-less. (I have to note here, I have the same problem when I go into M&S for food. So much choice, what to do?).

The reason I’m thinking about this is that I am lucky enough to be getting a quick trip to London in 2 wks. Of course I’ve managed to squeeze time for a morning visit to Goldhawk road, as unfortunately the budget doesn’t stretch to Liberty (although if I have time, I might go in there for a bit of fabric porn). Looking around at some of the amazing sewing bloggers out there, I just wondered whether you all accumulate the fabric with something in mind, or if the pattern comes first?

I’d love to hear what others do, especially those with ready access to fabric stores. Do you buy specific lengths for specific items, or do you let the pattern dictate your fabric choices?

Oh and if anyone has any tips on how to streamline my online fabric shopping, that would be great too!

Happy 2014 to you all – I have a good feeling about this year.

10 thoughts on “Which comes first? The fabric or the pattern?

  1. Hi mate :-)
    Prepare yourself to be dazzled and overwhelmed at Goldhawk Road!
    I would go with some idea of what you want to make so you have some focus, ie ‘I need 2m for a Renfrew’ or ‘2m of floral cotton for a dress’ otherwise you will buy stuff but perhaps not the right amounts etc.
    With online shopping I focus on one or two shops that I know have quality stuff (I can buy plenty in town so I only order things I can’t buy locally – ie wool or knits)and good delivery service.
    I do buy fabric that I fall in love with buy only for specific things ie, I’ll buy floral cotton for a dress, 2m shirting for an archer, 1m for a knit top. It’s too easy just to buy – if you can picture the end make when you look at a fabric you probably never will.
    Have fun.

  2. I’m a pattern first kind of girl, but I’m in a similar situation in that I’m far from any decent fabric shops. I have bought fabric online, but I was strict with myself and had a fabric in mind to buy for a specific project, I seem to have a growing pile of patterns, which would back up my opening statement!! Good luck with the shopping!

  3. I am most often “pattern first”. However, sometimes I lose interest in a pattern and then I’m left with orphan fabric. I’m not really keen on buying fabric online, I want to feel the fabric first (even so, I have made many fabric errors), but luckily I have a few fabric stores nearby. I’m with the others, make a gameplan (I do this just for visiting my regular fabric store).

  4. Pingback: Inspiration Process | Crafting my own style

  5. I guess you will have finished your London trip by now, so hopefully you got lots of nice stuff?
    I’m really in no position to give advice because I buy fabric ALL the time, both online and in shops (and I’ll be in London in April – Goldhawk Road here I come. Shame I’m flying Ryan air…).
    Normally I buy fabric and a pattern will follow at some point. However, I saw a fabric the other day that immediately called out for a particular pattern, so I am going to make a garment that I never thougth I would used a fabric that I would never have thought of using. Fancy that, ey…

    • Thanks Chris. Yeah I had a great fabric trip to goldhawk and met some lovely ladies in the process!
      Managed to score a bundle of stuff, couple of bits for everyday items and some gorgeous fabric for special dresses, so I have a few projects to keep me busy!
      Def. taking a bigger bag and budget next time I’m in London though (and not flying Ryan air carry on!)

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