Do You Ever Get Overwhelmed by Fabric?

I am not sure if there is much that I love more than fabric. I adore to look at it, rub it between my fingers, feel the hand of the fabric, and dream what I will make with it. Put me in a fabric store, any kind, anywhere, and I will happily occupy myself for hours.

Sometimes a room of gorgeous designer fabric
is just too much!

When it comes to making fabric choices for myself personally, I am pretty fast and definite about what I want. There’s not much waffling that goes on.

But I also have a job where I have to make lots of decisions about fabrics. I regularly work with designers and have weeded my way through hundreds of fabric choices.

What looks good in person or, worse, in a digital swatch, may not play at all well in front of a camera on or the pages of a magazine. I have seen fabrics that would look great on someone walking down the street, but completely die in front of the camera. (The color black is one of the worst offenders here.) And then I have seen a so-so print spring to life when the camera turns its eye to it. So with so much hangs in the balance when helping to choose fabrics for projects. There are times when I just can’t decide.

I found myself in just such a position last week when I visited the Garment Center in New York City to search for fabrics for The Unnofficial Downton Abbey Sews issue that the Stitch team is producing. First of all, it’s not like the bar isn’t high enough already.  I mean, come on! It’s one of the most costume-rich series of all time.

So I’m feeling that pressure, along with the usual pressure of the overabundance of riches in the Garment Center. Store after store is filled with roll after roll of fabrics pressing against great glass windows and threatening to burst out into the streets in a flood of textiles.

I was able to buy some gorgeous yardage, thanks to expert sales help. But I came home that night and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep, fortunately not populated by scenes from my obsessive watching and re-watching of Downton Abbey episodes.

For lots and lots of luscious fabrics and projects to overwhelm you, check out the Vintage Quilt Revival book in the Sew Daily Shop.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by fabric? I would love to know!

Happy stitching!







Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sewing Fabric & Fabric Basics

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

13 thoughts on “Do You Ever Get Overwhelmed by Fabric?

  1. In my younger years (I’m 72 now and don’t sew so much but still interested), I sewed my entire wardrobe. I was always and often overwhelmed by fabrics on a bolt. I could never seem to visualize the fabric in the completed fashion pattern of my choice. I always wished there had been some salesperson who could’ve helped me. It was always a guessing game. Sometimes I won and sometimes I lost. By the way I always and forever used the Vogue patterns as they were so “fashion forward” (we’re talking about the late 50’s and 60’s here) and I loved all their techniques which called for a whole lot of hand sewing. Never did much like the Simplicity or Butterick patterns as they were so “pedestrian” in my view. Just my thoughts here. Always enjoy your emails as well. Happy sewing to everyone!

  2. Yes, I think I get “double” overwhelmed….my sewing room, which is the extra bedroom and rather small, is already taken up with the storage of all that I feel I could not do without.
    Now that I am bulging at the seams with fabric, I thought I would plan to do the projects that I purchased it for…, there is a good idea wouldn’t you think? I also sew for myself and alter those things that will be good for wearing again for a different occasion………all of this said, I am still now creating and still am bulging, but at least contemplating…that is good.
    Betty Lucas

  3. I have sewn garments since I was 6 (starting with Barbie clothes of course) and haven’t ever that I can recall been overwhelmed by fabric. I also have sewn dance costumes for girls ranging from 2 to 22 with no problems. The only time I do get a little overwhelmed is if I am trying to decide on fabric for a quilt. That overwhelms me for some odd reason. I think it’s because of the many choices in prints that you put together and that doesn’t co-exist with my garment sewing. Garment sewing is much easier (2 or 3 fabric choices that go together and you are done), and I love to garment sew, seeing a flat length of fabric come to life with my own hands. Quilting takes more thought in the fabric selection. Garment sewing is easy because I can look at a bolt of fabric and “see” the garment already made. I know how it will look before I ever cut into the fabric. That is so much fun, just to walk through the store and pick fabric because it jumps out at me. I haven’t made it to the Garment District yet (I live in AZ) but some day. It’s on my bucket list. 🙂

  4. I’ve been to the garment district ONCE. I was so overwhelmed in Mood I walked out with nothing! I found one fabric that really called to me, and another lady put her hand on the bolt at the same time Though she promised to leave me 2 yards at the cutting table – she took everything left on the bolt.
    Then I bought way too much at Spandex House. So, I either walk away with nothing or buy too much as a result of being overwhelmed!

  5. Everytime I walk into a fabric store,my brain goes into overdrive of the many projects I could sew. Walking down each isle, I have to touch everything because I love the feel of good silks, wools and cottons. Now that my sewing room is so full, I don’t dare go into a fabric store for fear of buying another yard that won’t fit in my room. My greatest fear is “regular” fabric stores will close and only “quilting” shops stay open(I live in the midwest-far from the Garment Center).

  6. Yes, yes…I, too, have been overwhelmed by fabric! This is an affliction from which I’ve suffered for decades, reaping both the upside & the downside (or should I say the right side & the wrong side?). I first experienced the euphoric upside as a small child accompanying my mom to the fabric store. The bundles, bolts, & aisles all beckoned & cried my name with the promise of endless creative possibilities! In a word, it was, & continues to be, OVERWHELMING! When did I first come to terms with the downside of this affliction…hmm, it wasn’t when friends who helped me move complained about the amount of fabric, but could it have been when I had to purchase new storage devices & rearrange the furniture? I’ve come to acknowledge that not all of my precious fabric will be actualized as a sewn item, & that perhaps my proclivities as a fabric maven outstrip my habits as a seamstress (think philately vs. letter writing). Naturally, I dream about all the fabulous creations I’ll sew from my fabric stash, but sometimes just evaluating it gives rise to creative paralysis. In a word, it can be OVERWHELMING! Sew on, everyone!
    –Cheri Stuller from Portland, OR

  7. Yes, I get overwhelmed by fabric. I used work in a fine fabric store and acquired lots of gorgeous fabrics- many that I no longer need in my current casual dress retirement. I get overwhelmed and have fear of making that first cut– committing to a specific fabric! My new year’s resolution is to use what I have and give myself permission to cut into those gorgeous silks!

  8. I get extremely overwhelmed when shopping for fabric. Now that I am on a very limited budget, it’s even harder. I can walk in knowing exactly what I need for a project and then ALL the fabric, everywhere, takes me to looking at all the different patterns, fabric content and a hundred more project ideas race through my head. There are times I just leave without buying anything. And there are times I think of a new project because I find material that I just have to have. The original project I walked into the store for is long forgotten. Yes I LOVE fabric, and the more fabric around me the more overwhelmed I get…just like taking a kid into Toys R Us.

    It’s nice to know that you too get overwhelmed. Thank you for sharing. I don’t feel so bad now. Rasz

  9. My weakness is the remnant table. I purchase something because it is on sale, not because I have a plan for it. Now I am looking for patterns to “fit” the lovely lengths of fabric in my stash!

  10. What you said, ditto for me! Sometimes I think I am addicted to fabric, I love it so much…..My family have given up on my weakness, and aid and abet me in my constant searching for yet more to add to my (small) shop sized stash. All they ask is that I sort out where to send it when I pass away. LOL.

  11. I have spent the last month working on de-stashing my 35+ years of fabric collecting. Last week I invited all of my sewing friends and the local ASG members to come over and “shop”! I set out a basket and told everyone that it was up to them to contribute what they wanted……
    It was quite an emotional and cathartic experience!
    Now I am ready for the next phase of my life
    I will most certainly continue to sew, but I will NOT be tempted to buy “just because”
    And when my husband and I move south letter this year, it won’t take an entire moving truck for my fabric!

  12. I have been in love with fabric since I was about 11 years old and completed my first 4-H sewing project. I recently donated many boxes of fabric to a ladies quilting group at a local church and to a ladies group that makes teddy bears for children in a local hospital. Although that lifted a weight off of my shoulders, I still have many boxes to sort through. I love to go to quilting stores and feel the bolts of interesting colors and prints. I don’t always buy fabric but I love to look!

  13. I have been in love with fabric since I was about 11 years old and completed my first 4-H sewing project. I recently donated many boxes of fabric to a ladies quilting group at a local church and to a ladies group that makes teddy bears for children in a local hospital. Although that lifted a weight off of my shoulders, I still have many boxes to sort through. I love to go to quilting stores and feel the bolts of interesting colors and prints. I don’t always buy fabric but I love to look!