Fall For Cotton – shopping modern fabrics

August 22, 2013

When shopping for your Fall For Cotton fabric, it doesn’t matter what the fabric looks like, what type it is, or where it’s from, as long as it’s 100% cotton. There are countless places you can buy your fabric from (Denver Fabrics, and are having sales right now!) but you want to watch out for a few things as far as fiber content.


I am not ashamed to admit that I shop at Jo-Ann Fabrics ALL the time. It’s the only fabric shop in my area and I usually find everything I need there (not to mention there’s always a sale!). When shopping for fabric in a store, be sure to check the fabric bolts for the fabric content. Here’s a prime example of things to keep an eye on:


This cotton blend fabric was literally just three bolts down from the 100% cotton shirting that I bought for my project. Just because these fabrics are all listed as “cotton shirting” doesn’t mean that they all contain the same amount of cotton, even though they were all on the same shelf. Different fiber content means different ways to wash and care for your fabric, so it’s important to take note of that too.

Many discount fabric shops (like Walmart) get fabric remnants from unknown sources, so there won’t be any straight answer as to what the fiber is. The bolt might even say something like “undetermined fiber content”.


I’m all for buying discounted fabric, but the whole “undetermined” content is a little fishy to me. It could be fabric spun from the hair of orphan mermaid children for all we know. Okay, okay, I realize that’s really creepy and highly unlikely, but you get the idea. Check your fiber content! If it’s not obvious that it’s 100% cotton, then it’s probably not the best choice for this sewalong.


There are many benefits to sewing vintage looks with modern fabric. The main one for me is wash-ability and general durability. I’m lazy. I don’t have time to wash vintage dresses by hand. I like to be able to throw my dresses in the washing machine and not have to worry about them. That’s why I love using modern and reproduction cottons for most of my garments, including my favorite Marian Martin dress.

My favorite vintage inspired cotton fabric is Denyse Schmidt’s line from Jo-Ann Fabrics. These “quilting weight” cottons have a higher thread count, so the price reflects that, but it’s worth the purchase. (I’ll save the quilting weight debate for another post!)


There are tons of fabrics out there that aren’t marketed as reproduction fabrics, or even vintage inspired, but they are! So how do you know if a fabric is vintage inspired? Well, it involves some research and training your eye. One of my favorite things to do is log on to and study the fabrics in their archive of Sears and Roebuck catalogs. Take a look at the 1940’s fabric The Sew Weekly posted about from those same Sears catalogs. That’s the kind of stuff you have to study. Your vintage inspired fabric search will get so much easier when you know what you’re looking for!

If you want a modern made reproduction fabric, but you want someone to do the era guesswork for you, then check out They have one of the largest selections I’ve seen online. I haven’t purchased anything from their site yet, but I definitely will in the future. Awesome stuff!

Be sure to check out Tasha’s post on shopping vintage fabrics! What kind of fabric are you using for your project?