Here’s the situation: You need some fabric for a project that’s been on your mind. So you go shopping and pick out a fabric you like. Now you have a decision:
Should you buy extra fabric or stick with what the directions recommend?
Believe it or not, there are times when you should buy more fabric than the pattern or project calls for.
10 Reasons to Buy Extra Fabric
1. When the Fabric Info DOESN’T Say It’s Preshrunk
The fabric info should be on the end of a bolt or roll if you’re buying it in a store. If you’re buying online, a description should be given with the image of the fabric.
Regardless of where you buy it, if you don’t know the fabric was preshrunk, you want to buy a little extra.
Many fabrics don’t shrink after you put them through the washer and dryer but it’s better to be safe than sorry and regret it later.
You definitely don’t want to finish a project only to have it shrink once you wash and dry it.
2. If the Material is 100% Cotton
Unless the fabric info says specifically the 100% cotton fabric has been prewashed, buy a little extra. Even then, I would err on the side of caution and probably buy extra anyway. 100% cotton is notorious for shrinking.
3. The Fabric Needs to be Squared
If the fabric was rolled on the bolt crooked, you may need to square it up before you cut the fabric for your project.
When you square up fabric, you always lose a little. It just makes sense to buy a little more than is called for.
4. To Account for Human Error
You never know how straight the cut will be off the bolt. In a perfect world, the fabric would be cut at a right angle to the selvages.
I’ve gotten home before and noticed cuts that aren’t straight. More often than not when the cut is angled, I’m left with slightly less than what I asked for.
5. You’re New to Rotary Cutting
If you’ve never cut with a rotary cutter and ruler, it can be a little intimidating.
There are many lines on both the cutting mat and ruler that have to be lined up not only with each other but with the edges of the fabric. It can be a little scary to make the cuts when you’re first learning.
If you have a little extra fabric, your beginning rotary cutting experiences will be more enjoyable.
6. You Need a lot of Yards
When your project requires many yards, it may not be possible for you to inspect all the fabric as it’s being cut from the bolt or roll. In fact, if you buy online you won’t see the fabric at all until it’s delivered to your door.
Things happen during manufacturing and other parts of the process from production to delivery that could make small (or large) parts of the fabric flawed. It could be a faded spot, a pulled thread, or a clump of threads that got tangled during weaving.
If you need a lot of yardage, buying some extra leaves you something to work with if a flaw is discovered.
7. The Fabric has been Discontinued
If you buy fabric from a warehouse or bargain place, there’s a good chance it’s been discontinued and is no longer being manufactured. That means all that is available is what is left. You better grab a little more while you can.
8. You Fall in Love
The fabric calls your name and you LOVE it! You know you’ll want to use it in more than one project but don’t know exactly what that project will be.
It’s a horrible feeling when you come across a project that you just KNOW the fabric you love is perfect for, but all you have left are scraps from the first project and you didn’t by any extra. So, go ahead, buy a little more if you love the fabric.
9. Only a Little Left on the Bolt
After you get the amount of fabric you need, you notice there’s less than a yard of fabric left on the bolt. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can get the remaining amount at a discount.
10. It’s on Sale
Some sale prices are too good to pass up. If you find fabric that appeals to you and it’s offered at a great sale price, sometimes it makes sense to purchase extra.
How Much Extra Fabric to Buy
For reasons 1-4 on the list above, anywhere from an 1/8 of a yard to a 1/4 yard is plenty. This amount will give you enough extra to account for shrinkage and squaring up the edges.
If you’re new to rotary cutting, it’s a good idea to purchase anywhere from 1/4 yard to 1/2 a yard. This’ll give you enough extra for peace of mind. So if you make a couple cutting mistakes you’ll still have enough for your project.
For reasons 6-10 on the list above, the answer on how much extra fabric to buy is…it depends. You need to go with a gut feeling. Make a decision on an amount and see how that makes you feel. If you feel a little wishy-washy, consider a different amount.
Storytime: There have been a couple of different times when I saw some fabric and had no project in mind. I just loved the fabric and had to make a decision on how much to buy. I wasn’t sure if I would make a quilt or use it for something else. So, I bought several yards of each.
Some of those fabrics I’ve used and some I’m still waiting for them to tell me what they want to be. When they finally talk to me, I know I’ll have enough.
Is Having Extra Fabric Really a Big Deal?
There are actually times when it makes sense to buy more fabric than the directions on a pattern or project recommend.
The 10 reasons I’ve given have all been something I’ve personally experienced.
I can’t say in every situation I actually bought a little extra fabric. However, when I didn’t buy extra, I definitely wished I had! I’ve found myself more than once in a situation when I didn’t have enough or I was getting really close to running out of fabric before the project was done.
Now, I almost always buy a little extra regardless of the project. The feeling of not having enough fabric is not one I like to experience.
Hello, I'm Nicki!
Having a creative outlet is a necessity. My goal is to educate and inspire others in sewing-related projects that are fun, functional, or both. Sign up to receive notice when new posts have been published.