I compromised my basic fabric beliefs and standards this week….and got burned by the decision!  First let me say that I do, in fact, love Jo-Ann Fabrics.  For fleece.  And terry cloth.  And batting.  And notions.  And those coupons are quite enticing, aren’t they?  But for good quality quilting fabric? Mmm….maybe not so much.  Here’s why:

Even though I’m not much of a football fan, I live in the heart of Steelers country and was convinced to make a little pillowcase dress from Steelers fabric.  Not a big, deal but I knew that I’d be more likely to find local sports fabric at my local Jo-Ann Fabrics store, and besides, I wanted to see the colors in person to coordinate a pretty feminine fabric to offset the sports theme.  And I managed to be largely successful in my attempt, except when it came to finding the fabric.

(these photos were taken with my phone, so they aren’t great quality and I apologize)


I prewashed both fabrics and the color held fast pretty well.  What didn’t hold?  The shape.  The football fabric wasn’t too bad, though both felt rather rough after washing and drying.  But the damask fabric was a nightmare.  Either it twisted and became misshapen very badly in the process or it had been very, very badly printed in the first place.  Let me show you what I mean.


I needed to make sure that the print on the fabric was cut straight because it would have been very noticeable on the bottom band of the dress.  But look at what happened to the edge of the fabric if I lined up the print!  Disgraceful!  It was nearly impossible to manage.  I wasn’t sure what would happen if I tried to ignore the fact that the print was traveling uphill but I knew what I needed and didn’t have a choice.

If you could see the dress in person you would see that the threads in the damask fabric do not run straight at all, even thought the print does.

And the other thing that happened that I wish I had taken a photo of occurred when I realized that I forgot to sew the band wrong sides together to create the french seam and had to use my seam ripper to take it apart.  The cut edge of the fabric unraveled terribly!  It was so frayed by the time I had finished that I had to shorten the band by cutting off the edge to start over.  I’ve made lots of sewing mistakes and my seam ripper and I are good friends, but I have never had this much of a mess!

In the end I had a mediocre result and wasn’t ecstatic about the dress at all.  It turned out kinda cute, pretty much the way I imagined, but it was so much more difficult of a project that I had anticipated simply because of the fabric.

So you see that list of fabric shop sponsors along the side of the page?  THEIR FABRICS ARE SOOO WORTH THE PRICE AND DELIVERY TIME!!

Most of you already knew this, so I’m just preaching to the choir.  Some of you may be like me, and have been tempted.  DON’T BE!  And some of you may have only ever used less than quality fabric and have no idea of the wonderful world of real quality fabric that awaits you!

sewsimplefabric etsy2



5 Responses to Why fabric compromises may not be worth it

  1. Rosie says:

    Oh yes, the lure of ‘cheap’ fabric is very tempting at times ~ but almost always a disaster! I remember my sister bought the fabric (from JoAnn’s)for me to make her a pocketbook ~ no problem ~ no prewashing ~ heavily interfaced ~ bag not meant to be washed ~ worked well …. skip to a couple months down the road and I thought I’d prewash it and add it to a patchwork skirt creation. SyFy Disaster Movie!!! The colors all ran into one another and I immediately threw it all away. So sad because I hate to throw fabric away, but it was not salvageable at all ~ you have to be very, very careful with your fabric dollars!
    Rosie´s last blog post ..sunset collection

  2. Valerie says:

    Oh I’m in a love/hate relationship with JoAnn’s. The majority of their fabric leaves something to be desired … even their premium quilting fabric is not as nice as what a quilt shop has to offer. I do love their coupons, tho, and what’s not to like about a 99 cent pattern sale? It’s like anything else … you have to shop around! Adorable dress, BTW!

  3. Christie,

    Thank you for writing about this in such an accessible and practical way.

    There are numerous scenarios where fabric will be printed on low quality greige goods (often referred to as ‘grey’ goods since that’s the pronunciation).

    Greige goods vary widely in quality. When a manufacturer prints a sample run they print it on the lowest quality greige goods available. The base cloth itself is generally loose weave, has a low thread count, and is poor quality. It’s a test of the run. Once color is adjusted and the pattern calibrated the base cloth is swapped to a higher quality greige good for the final printing.

    Well, no one is going to just throw away the test runs! Those goods are sold to outlets like Jo-Anns that can move the fabric at a low price. Basically, you get what you pay for when buying these fabrics.

    Jo-Anns is hit and miss. They will also purchase high-quality fabrics from sources that need to offload the goods (a great deal for the consumer). They also produce their own licensed designs on whatever quality fabric they choose to print it on. They clearly print the Denyse Schmidt licensed prints on a higher quality base cloth and charge for it accordingly.

    I don’t want to infer that everything they sell is inferior because it is not. When buying fabric from a source like Jo-Ann’s the buyer needs to understand there’s a wide range of quality and be alert to why it is priced the way it is.

    The picture you share is a classic example of a test run where the pattern was not correctly positioned – a sample run on low quality greige goods.

    The dress is adorable! :)

  4. I remember buying some flannel for a backing at JoAnns. When I tried to rip it for straightness it went at an angle and scared me. I ended up cutting it and putting it on a baby quilt backing but no more. I do buy some DS fabric once in awhile but now it’s just notions. I’ve learned my lesson too.
    Judy Blinkenberg´s last blog post ..Almost Done

  5. Kelly says:

    I wish my customers all thought like this! We get comments all the time comparing us to Joann’s or Walmart or amazon. Not fair. We stock high quality fabrics AND have to get them overseas! I appreciate people who recognize the difference!