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How to Buy Fabric (Terminology & Shopping Tips!) | WITHWENDY

Transcript

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weather, cooler weather and also
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formal
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events. And finally I’ll go through some of my personal tips when it comes to walking into a fabric store and walking out with what
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you need. First, how fabric is classified. Most fabric can be categorized in two ways.
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It’s either woven or it’s knit.
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When it’s woven, the threads have been interlocked like this. Think of like a basket weave,
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but shrunk down into your fabric size.
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Therefore in woven fabrics the property is that you’re using it for is that it retains its shape.
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It doesn’t have a lot of stretch and because it doesn’t have a lot of stretch
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It’s easier to sew with that makes woven fabric a great starting point for beginners because it’s less likely to move under the machine while
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you’re sewing. Then the other way fabric can be made is knit.
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So think of some huge
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cable knit sweater.
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All the yarns are weaving in and out to create it and that weaving motion is what makes knit fabrics stretchy and flexible. When you’re
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using knit, you’re using it because you like the way it stretches and moves.
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But also because it stretches and moves it can sometimes be
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harder to sew with. Depending on what it is that you want to sew. You’re going to want to use a woven fabric or a
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knit fabric and most of the time it depends on whether you want it to be non stretchy
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or stretchy. Before I move on to the different
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materials that fabric can be made of, all fabric can have a right side and a wrong side. The right side is usually the side
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that was intended to show the outside world.
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It’s where the colors are brighter, the threads are cleaner. With woven fabric and knit fabric sometimes it can be obvious, sometimes they can be
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the same. Ultimately if you’re sewing the clothing you can just look at the fabric yourself and decide which side you want to show the
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outside and if you can’t tell the difference,
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I’m just gonna tell you now, you don’t need to stress about it because if you can’t tell I don’t think a lot of other
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people can tell either. Okay, the next way fabric can be classified is the material that makes up its fibers.
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There’s three types of materials that fabric can be made from. It can be natural, synthetic, or semi synthetic.
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Natural fibers are
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harvested
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and then woven or knit into fabric. You’ve probably heard of these fibers before. The more common ones in fashion are cotton,
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linen, silk, wool, cashmere and hemp. When it comes to synthetic fibers, these are ones that are completely chemically manufactured,
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there are way more
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different types of these because basically if you invented a new way to chemically
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manufacture fabric you can patent it and call it whatever you like. But the common ones that you’ll find are nylon, acrylic,
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polyester and spandex. And lastly, there are these semi synthetic ones. This includes
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rayon, lyocell, these materials are basically wood pulp, sometimes bamboo. It’s been modified into a
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cellulose based fiber which has been woven or knit into a fabric. For the exact same physical properties,
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natural fiber is usually the one that’s the most expensive, but the synthetic ones have really been made to imitate all of them.
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So when it comes to choosing between them I find a lot of it depends on where you stand
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ethically or what your preference is for how it feels and what it’s made of. Since synthetic fibers are less biodegradable,
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sometimes you can make a
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biodegradability argument for using natural fibers. At the same time some natural fibers have to be harvested from animals and people who are sensitive to
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the use of animals to make our clothing, they would prefer to use synthetic fibers. When you’re shopping for clothes,
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you don’t always get to make these choices because the clothing has already been made for you.
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But if you’re the one buying the material it’s good to think about what it is that you’re buying and whether you stand for how
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it became the fabric that is before you. Okay we’ve covered a lot of fabric terminology. Now
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I’m going to go through the different types of fabric that you usually use for warmer weather, cooler weather and formal occasions.
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I’ll show you as I go, some projects that I’ve made in the past that use these different
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materials, so that you can see the differences.
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There’s a couple of fabrics that you’ll commonly be looking for when you’re looking to make clothes for warmer weather.
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Typically it’s cotton, rayon, chambray, some knits, silk and linen. Cotton is really lightweight. It can range from being
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sheer to totally opaque. If it’s really thin, it can be soft,
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but if it’s heavier cotton, it can be more stiff. If you wanted to make a button-up shirt, a stiffer,
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pleated kind of summer dress, those are instances where cotton might be useful. The next one is rayon. Rayon is really smooth,
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it’s lightweight, and it can come in some really bright colors and prints.
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It’s been made to be pretty breathable, and it’s also a bit more delicate of a fabric. On dresses,
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you’ll use it for something that has a lot of movement and for shirts.
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It’s very soft so it falls and drapes on you in a gentle way. For chambray,
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this is like if you were trying to strike a point between light cotton and denim. It’s pretty smooth,
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it’s lightweight,
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but it’s a little bit stiffer. Dress shirts can be made of chambray and since it’s stiffer and a bit more durable you could also
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use it for a pair of shorts. Knit fabric, out of all of these probably has the broadest
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range of light to heavy weight. Its main feature
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is that it has stretch and in most cases with knit, it covers a wide
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range of natural and synthetic fibers. When you’re making tank tops or any dresses that are more fitted, knit is the route you want to
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go because it’s going to follow the curves of your body. And then there’s silk. Silk is very lightweight
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and it’s pretty delicate.
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Sometimes depending on how it’s made, it can have a shimmery and a dull side, and it tends to be a bit slippery, too.
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So it’s a slightly more challenging fabric for beginners. But silk just naturally has a very luxurious look to it
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so it’s really nice in dresses and shirts.
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And it’s super breathable, which makes it a great fabric for summer. Finally the last summer fabric that I use often is linen. Linen is
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a bit more medium weight, it’s very very breathable, but it wrinkles super easily. You can make dresses, shirts shorts,
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but
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linen is not going to give you that crispy look that chambray or cotton could. Those are the ones that I use the most. Some
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of those fabrics can transition into
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the winter time. But the winter does bring around a couple more heavier fabrics that I can talk about. Denim, flannel, fleece,
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wool, faux fur, real fur and leather. Denim you’re probably already familiar with if you own a pair of jeans,
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but it’s a bit more heavyweight. There is not a lot of drape or stretch to it.
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The only reason skinny jeans are able to fit
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well is because it’s been mixed with some spandex. Flannel is a little bit more lightweight
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but it’s very soft and insulating so it’s perfect for pajamas or any kind of comfy clothes. Fleece is another one that
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specifically is used for its insulating properties. It’s in the medium heavy weight range.
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It’s almost always made of polyester
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and it’s really great for hoodies and sweaters, any kind of those
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campus crewneck type of things, they’re often fleece. Next is wool, which has a
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pretty broad range for light to heavy weight, but in all cases, it’s pretty insulating but still not a fabric
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that’s used much for warmer weather.
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It’s very durable
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and you can see it in a thinner form in things like suits all the way to something really thick like what they use for
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pea coats or jackets. Between faux fur and real fur, faux fur is a little bit less insulating,
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it doesn’t last quite as long as real fur.
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They’re both very heavyweight and
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usually used as an
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accent type of piece on winter wear. It could be the entire coat or it could be part of the trim. And in most
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cases, faux fur is also much less expensive to buy than real fur. Finally the last winter fabric that comes up a lot in fashion
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is leather. Leather is typically pretty heavyweight.
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It’s a bit more challenging to work with because once you sew through leather, those holes are there forever
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so you can’t make any mistakes. I’ve used it before to make jackets
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but you can also obviously use it to make bags and other
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durable pieces. The last kind of category where a lot of fabrics sit is in the more formal
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type of clothing. Here you’ll find your tulle,
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crinoline, chiffon, satin, lace and velvet. Tulle and crinoline are both a form of
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netting. Tulle is a lot more soft and densely netted. Crinoline a bit more generous and very stiff. Tulle is used to be
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decorative in the accents. Crinoline is usually hiding underneath to provide more structure. Chiffon is a very lightweight,
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very sheer fabric. It flows really easily. If you get silk chiffon it can be pretty expensive and on the other end
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there’s polyester chiffon
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which is a lot more affordable.
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Satin is the glossy fabric that you’ll often see on wedding dresses or prom dresses. It can range from light to heavyweight,
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but its main feature is its glossiness. Lace is typically silk or cotton threads that have been purposefully
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patterned into all sorts of flowering embellishing shapes. That’s one of the main reasons
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why lace is expensive because it’s much more difficult to manufacture. And finally, velvet. Velvet is pretty medium heavyweight.
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I would not recommend wearing it for summer. It’s insulating and it’s usually purchased because it’s shimmery. Those are the typical
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fabrics that I’m looking for whenever I go in with a sewing project. Within each of them
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there are even more terms to break down. Different categories and types of prints that you’re looking for but usually those
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categories will help me to conceptualize what it is that I want and once I get there
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I’ll see within that category if they have what I need.
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Which brings me to the last thing: a couple of shopping tips to help make this whole thing a little bit less stressful.
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First, there is: How to buy
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fabric. In most stores, fabric is sold by the yard or by the meter. You can always ask the person who’s cutting the fabric how
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wide it is on the roll because what you’re trying to define is how
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long you’re going to be buying. Say the fabric is sixty inches wide and you decide to buy one yard, you’re going to end up
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with a rectangle that is 60 inches by one yard.
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And it doesn’t have to be whole yards or whole meters. If you want one and a half yards, one and a quarter yards just
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ask them how narrow they’re willing to break down the yard or meter. When you’re buying your fabric,
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there’s a couple of things you want to look out for. One is shrinkage.
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Especially with natural fibers, some of them shrink after you wash it. You may have to buy extra, pre-wash the fabric,
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and then sew with it. Flannel, for example can shrink 10 to 20 percent of its original size.
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So sometimes you have to buy much more of it than you need. The next thing to look for is the direction of the print.
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If there’s a certain design on it
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and it matters to you that all of that design shows
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facing the right direction on your clothing, then you might have to buy more fabric to fit all the parts that you’re planning on cutting
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out. And lastly, of course, you should think about whether you’re buying this fabric for it to be durable or for it to be biodegradable,
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and how it’s going to impact the environment. For example in fast fashion,
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there are a lot of synthetic fibers that they use that are not meant to last and that’s why it’s called fast fashion.
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You’re supposed to go through it and then throw it in the garbage. Therefore cheaper, lower quality fabrics.
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They lose shape, they lose color, they age faster
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and they tend to be a little bit less biodegradable because they are synthetically manufactured.
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I think it’s good to think about how long you want to wear the clothes, how much it matters to you and make a decision
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that is good for you
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and also the world around you. My final tips are just to sum up everything because I don’t know if you can even remember all
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of this in one go. This is my approach whenever I’m shopping for fabric. First I do my research.
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I make sure I have lots of photos on my phone and then I go into the store
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and I just find a person and ask for help.
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I show them the pictures, ask them where to find the fabric to make the thing that is in the picture.
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Then I always make sure that I feel all of the fabric.
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I check if it feels nice, if it drapes nice, if it’s see-through.
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Getting to touch and interact with the fabric in person is going to be a huge help in deciding whether or not you like it. When
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it comes to how much I order, whenever I’m in doubt
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I just order two yards because with two yards you can pretty much make any standard sewing project.
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And if you’re a beginner to all of this,
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it’s way less stressful
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if you start out with less
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expensive fabrics. That way if you make a mistake you won’t stress out too much that you paid a lot of money for the fabric
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and you are willing to embrace that this is a learning process. The first time I bought more expensive silk,
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I think I just sat around staring at it for at least two weeks because I’m so scared to touch it and ruin it. That’s
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the gist of my fabric shopping tips.
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I hope it’s helpful for you
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and make shopping a little bit less overwhelming. If you like this video
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let me know and you can also find me on Instagram.
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It’s @withwendy. And lastly if you want to see more of my fashion sewing tips you can subscribe. I upload new videos
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every Wednesday and Saturday. And there’s the subscribe button for you. I guess I’ll see you guys next time. Bye.

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