Now that you are getting set up to start sewing professionally, you need to handle all aspects of sewing with a more professional approach. And organising the usage of your fabric is a part of it. Organising the way you use fabric not only makes it easier to work, but also saves you useless extra expense. Let’s face it, fabric IS going to be the largest recurring expense for your sewing business.
Fabric is inspiring. Buying fabric is exciting. The urge to pick up new & beautiful cloth every time you come across it can be irresistible. However, you need to listen to the practical side of your mind. What we want to be doing is utilizing every fabric we buy in the most efficient manner.
Keep in mind what you need & distinguish it from impulsive buying. So whenever you buy fabric, try & do it with a plan in mind. This, of course, does not mean that all your purchase has to be pre-determined.
We would never advise going to your favorite fabric shop or browsing online & not getting inspired to buy. That would be committing a grave injustice! Buy, by all means, but do so with a plan in mind. As long as you can see yourself utilizing the fabric you buy for current & forthcoming projects, it’s all good!
When you go to the fabric store for a particular requirement, stick to the plan as much as possible. Here are some useful tips to manage your fabric inventory better.
Make a Plan
Think about how you plan things out when you go shopping for other items you require. For example, grocery shopping. You make a list of all the things you need (at least, we hope you do!), you take stock of what things you need right away, as well as in the near foreseeable future, you take stock of the existing inventory & you often develop that list over the course of a few days as new requirements keep manifesting.
Do the same when going shopping for fabric. Figure out what you need. If you are shopping for fabric for a specific project, do the math before you buy. How much fabric & accessories you need for that project multiplied by the number of items you intend to make, including zippers, buttons, thread, ribbons, etc.
A good way to manage fabric is not just about exercising control over your purchase. It’s also about ensuring that you have what you need WHEN you need it, without having to run to the store. This means building a stash. All basics that you often require should be bought in advance for future use.
Use What You Buy
This is a great fabric management tactic. However, not everyone can practice it. This practice works the best when you can channelize the idea behind purchasing a particular fabric. For example, you see a fabric you love & decide to make a “spring collection” out of it. You can create a range of items, big & small, till the entire yardage is exhausted. But like I said, this is not always possible to achieve at all times & is difficult for many to manage at all.
The good news is that fabric can always be stored & used another time for something else. Just don’t let it become a habit or pretty soon your shelves will start filling up with leftover fabric. Which brings us to our next fabric management trick, using up leftover fabrics.
Mix & Match
Whenever you find your fabric shelves overflowing, it’s time to take a creative appraisal of the situation. It’s a fact that you can create special crafts, and maybe even a special niche, by mixing & matching colours & textures. By figuring out great ways to combine the fabric you have, you can create some very interesting & very novel items.
Buying Enough for Inspiration
You need to feel inspired & creative to deliver your best work. What better way to get new ideas than to let the fabric you love inspire you? Let’s face it, we love fabric. And we devour it in our favourite colours & patterns. It makes perfect sense to have a stock of fabric in your sew shop that inspires you to make great projects.
This is particularly helpful if you make a particular craft often. For example, you make bags. You know that you are going to use fabric for lining or leather for embellishments. Similarly, you might be using favourite solids or patterns for your projects.
Someone who quilts will want to keep a stash of certain patterns & prints. All in all, it is a great idea having a stash of your favorite & useful fabrics right where you can see them & get inspired everyday.
Watch Out for Deals & Offers
One more time, be smart about what you buy. It’s great to get offers on fabric you need & some money. It’s not so great to spend money or fabric you did not really need first because it was on a deal. Deals & offers come secondary to a planned approach.
Fabric quality is also very important. It is excusable to compromise a bit on quality of the fabric when you are sewing for fun. But it’s not acceptable when you are sewing to sell. First of all, if you get everything right, you should be able to charge a good price for the things you sew WHILE providing great quality to the customer. So cheaper fabric should be secondary to quality. People can spot bad fabric, especially the handmade item aficionados.
However, even if you can manage to sell poorer quality at a low price, do not do it. That’s not the reputation you want for your business. A practice like that will do you more harm than good in the long run. We can assure you of that.
With that said, “online” is one of the best places to look for deals, including the famous e-commerce sides like eBay, Amazon, Etsy & Craigslist.
But, once again, getting a cheaper deal on fabric is secondary to getting the right fabric for your project.