Frugal Refashion Tip 2: Fabric’s Hunt!

  • Serger Pepper - Refashion Frugal Tip - Fabric's Hunt

Here’s week 2 for my Sunday’s Frugal Refashion Tip! Check also last week episode: it’s all in details!

Serger Pepper - Frugal Refashion Tip - Fabric's Hunt

When you’re chosing a garment to be refashioned, you need to have a slightly different approach than if you were chosing a new fabric from the roll.

One of the benefits from repurposing fabric from pre-loved clothes is that there’s no need of pre-shrink them (but I’d suggest you to wash them anyway) or to check for color discard.

The other major plus of shopping for fabrics between ready-to-wear is that you can have access to gorgeous prints and fabulous fabric contents without spending too much and often the quality is so much better than the correspondent fabric bought by-the-yard (unless you can afford those terrific online shops, I bet you know which ones I mean).
But (yes, it’s not that simple, there’s a “but”) you need to educate yourself choosing the right pre-loved clothes, and I’m here to give you some (I hope good) hints!
If you’re lucky, you can check fiber content label to see the exact composition but, often, the garment has been washed so many times that its useful label fade out or has been cut out from the previous owner.

So, how to know what kind of fabric you’re going to shop?

Enter scientist mode:

If you can isolate a single thread’s head (maybe on seam allowances you can see one), you can do a thread test (use a magnifier, if you can), breaking the thread and observing tails:

– If it’s cotton, you can expect it will easily break, with irregular fluffy heads;

Wool thread is easy to break and ends in curly waves;

Linen is easy to recognise because “pops” breaking, leaving pointy irregular tails.

Check also those Wikipedia pages, to learn something new about fabrics:

List of textile fibres  and  List of fabric names

Here are my best fugal refashion tips for shopping for thrifted fabric:

  • First of all, in most cases I would certainly stay away from all those artificial fibers (polyester, acrylics, nylon…), better choose a natural one (cotton, linen, silk, wool…).
  • The only situations where I would search for synthetics is if I want to sew a swimsuit or a raincoat… but for general clothing purpose better go natural!
  • Often acrylics and polyesters, smells bad because they react with some people perspiration molecules…. and sometimes this can’t be washed away! Better leave to the thrifty shop a top smelling bad!
  • Note if the fabric has some elastic content: search for XXXL elastic corduroy pants, they are my favorite source of this kind of fabric, going really low-cost (and elastic corduroy can be really costly, on the shop): just check for threadbare spots (like on back or on knees zones) while you’re in the thrifty shop to avoid bad surprises at home!

Today’s task:

There’s no better way to recognize different kind of fabrics and their fiber content than touching fabrics you already know what are made of and take note of their characteristics… you’ll learn from direct experience!

Go and touch at least three garments in your closet, compare them, then read their fiber content label…

I know you can do it!

If you’d like to go more in-depth, take a look to this document (from Arts Council England)I’ve found asking Uncle Google… really interesting!
And those two nice guides from eBay:

How to Test for Fabric content

Buying Fabric Guide

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About the Author:

Hi there! I love sewing, creating my own patterns and refashioning pre-loved clothes... If you love the same things, why not be friends? See you on Pinterest http://Pinterest.com/MammaNene

4 Comments

  1. Magda E. April 16, 2014 at 17:12 - Reply

    I’ve been enjoying reading all your tips!!! You rock it!

    • Mamma Nene April 17, 2014 at 12:18 - Reply

      Thanks Magda… I’m enjoying writing them too LOL

  2. Laura April 20, 2014 at 14:06 - Reply

    Thanks for the fibre guide! One of my fabric checks in the op shop is the ‘crush test’ – crush a handful of fabric in your fist. If it holds the creases perfectly straightaway, good chance of a high linen or cotton content. No creases means its probably polyester!

    • Mamma Nene April 20, 2014 at 18:02 - Reply

      Nice tip, thanks Laura!
      Halfway between the two there is cotton-lycra blend, one of my favorites…

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