In Spring For Cotton

SFC – Fabric Resources

Today I wanted to share a list of different fabrics to be looking for when shopping for your Spring For Cotton project. In order to play by the rules of the sewing challenge, you’ll need to pick a fabric that’s 100% cotton. Even under such restrictions, there are still countless choices out there!

How do you know if your fabric is 100% cotton? Well most fabrics will tell you what the fiber content is on the top of the bolt if you’re buying it from a store. When shopping online, look for fiber contents listed in the fabric’s description. For fabrics that are vintage or don’t come on a bolt, you can do a “burn test” to try and decipher what it’s made of. I’m not going to quiz anyone on their fiber content so please don’t burn yourself up, or worse, attempting to prove that it’s 100% cotton! But if you’re curious on how to conduct a Burn Test, here’s a great video and reference chart from Threads Magazine.

When you’ve worked with fabric long enough, you can do a pretty good job of judging fiber content by feel, especially when it comes to natural fibers. If you’re certain your unknown fabric feels like 100% cotton, I’ll believe you 🙂

Without further ado, here are some general references and inspirations for fabric shopping!


Vintage Inspired Fabrics are some of the most loved fabrics in my stash because they’re the perfect blend of modern and yesteryear. Here are a few of my favorite fabric designers known for their vintage influence: Melody Miller, Jessica Jones, Elizabeth Olwen, Eloise Renouf, Charlie Harper, Cosmo Textiles, Heather Bailey, Michael Miller, Alexander Henry, Kathy Hall, and the list goes on and on! A few of these designers are new, so not all of their collections will be available during the Spring For Cotton time frame, but I still wanted to list them as inspiration for the challenge.


Vintage Reproduction Fabrics are made using modern equipment and design tools, but are based directly off of existing vintage/antique prints. Some designers known for this are Denyse Schmidt, American Jane, Penny Rose, Darlene Zimmerman, Molly B’s Studio, and Judie Rothermel.  I’m going to add Liberty of London to this category because they’ve been producing, and reproducing, classic prints since practically forever!


True Vintage Fabrics can be difficult to find, but when you do it’s like striking solid gold. The prints are phenomenal, and I know I’ve said this before, but to hold a little piece of history in your hands is pretty incredible. Etsy and eBay will probably be your best bets for tracking down vintage fabrics, but thrift stores and estate sales can prove promising as well. A quick Google search for “vintage cotton fabric” also brings up some good results. Tasha wrote an excellent post series about vintage fabric shopping for the Fall For Cotton sew-along! You can find Part One, and Part Two, on her blog.


Basic Cotton Fabrics are a really easy and safe way to go when planning your project. I say “safe” because there’s almost nothing more classic than basics like gingham, seersucker, or even a plain ol’ solid. Those fabrics work for just about every decade! If your goal is to create a vintage inspired garment that still works for your everyday life, using a basic fabric is a great option. Look for solids or basic cotton prints like polka-dots and stripes. Also consider cotton fabrics types like, seersucker, clip dot, denim, chambray, lawn, voile, corduroy, shirting, plaids, gingham, shot cotton, flannel, gauze, eyelet, poplin, sateen, batiste, twill, velveteen, canvas, etc etc. There really is so much choice, even when limiting yourself to 100% cottons! …maybe even too much choice, haha!


What about notions, trims, and linings? I’m not going to send around the sewing police to inspect your sewing projects, but since this is indeed a sewing challenge, try to find as many 100% cotton components as you possibly can. Cotton lawn and batiste can be used for dress linings, and cotton thread is really wonderful stuff! I think an all cotton zipper might be pushing it, and many trims are cotton/polyester blends nowadays, which is okay. Don’t stress, this sew-along should be fun, but do challenge yourself and get creative when you’re able 😉

My favorite places to buy fabrics: Hawthorne Threads,, Fabricworm, Organic Cotton Plus, and Jo-Ann Fabrics – Feel free to leave a comment and link to your favorites as well, especially for our friends who don’t live in the US!

It might also be worth checking out two posts from the Fall For Cotton sewing challenge (here and here) for more reading on vintage and vintage inspired cotton fabrics.

Don’t forget to post your inspirations and project plans in the Spring For Cotton Flickr Group! I’ve started a Spring For Cotton Pinterest board for more resources as well.

Hmmm…. now what on Earth am I going to make?!


  • Muv aka Lizzie Lenard

    PS. If you are in Britain there are some really nice cotton poplins here, and delivery is pretty quick:-

  • Muv aka Lizzie Lenard

    Hello Rochelle,

    Here are some other ways of checking whether a fabric is cotton:-

    1. Dampen the material and rub the back of your thumbnail across it. If it puts your teeth on edge, it contains synthetic fibres.

    2. Pull out a fibre and bite on it, grinding your teeth a bit. If it doesn’t break up easily and puts your teeth on edge, it isn’t cotton. If it breaks up fairly easily and it wouldn’t trouble you too much to go ahead and eat it, it’s cotton.

    3. Dampen it and iron it on a fairly hot heat. If it gives off a chemical smell, it contains synthetic fibres. If the iron is too hot and you melt the material, it most definitely isn’t cotton.

    Number 2 is the only test you can sneakily try in the shop before buying.

  • I have some great vintage fabrics, but I’m not sure if they are truly 100% cotton, and I’m not willing to burn test any of it either.