second hand fabric

What to look for when buying fabric second hand

Second hand fabric is mostly unused fabric, but it probably sat in someone’s stash for a long time, so there may be some stains, holes, or just a weird shape. If It can be damaged or problematic, why would you bother with it, you ask? Well, you’ll find second hand fabrics of different sizes, weights, fibres, prints, style and age, that you can’t buy anywhere else. Certainly not for that price and as a bonus, you provide support to your community.

For instance, I was looking for a rayon fabric, to sew up a summer skirt. Rayon fabric in a local craft store cost AU$19-25 per metre, I needed 2-3 metres. I found rayon second hand in The Sewing Basket Balmain, 2.5 metres in one piece for AU$20. Mission accomplished, money saved and it went to a good cause👍

Maybe you would be interested to read about where to find cheap sewing supplies.

You can’t buy more or less

The piece of the fabric in your hands is usually the only piece you can buy. Normally, there are no more metres on the roll or no manufacturer to order from. Have a specific project in mind because you can’t buy more or less as they sell.

I can’t stress this enough, spread your fabric and examine it from both sides. Once, I assumed that the fabric is in one piece, but guess what, It wasn’t and I realised that too late. Learn from my mistakes.

The shortage of the certain fabrics, prints and styles is an opportunity to make unique things in small quantities. Who doesn’t like one of a kind things?

Read more about fabric scrap management and scrap busting ideas.

Stains, holes and damaged spots 

  • Spread out all the fabric and look for yellowing ends and folds, stains from food
  • Sometimes fabric is not quite right from the manufacturing process, so check for a weaving errors and print mistakes
  • Moths like to feed exclusively on animal fibres, especially wool, silk, fur, feathers, felt or leather.

When you spot these ”errors” on the second hand fabric prior to buying, it prevents the disappointment at home, plus you can try to negotiate the price down little bit more.

Prewash your fabric to get rid of the stains, chemicals, odour and colour run.

Make it work

Stains, holes or printing damage don’t stop you from making something beautiful. You can still use the second hand fabric for your project.

Before you start cutting, circle the spots you need to avoid with a contrasting colour fabric marker. Lay down all your pattern pieces and decide the best cutting layout, around those circled spots. Cut on a single layer.

Stains, holes or error in the fabric that can’t be removed, can be an opportunity to personalise your project. Explore visible mending, appliqué, iron on patches, machine or hand stitched embroidery!

Don’t be sad if you can’t use the fabric for the project you originally bought it for. This sometimes happens. Take it as a creative opportunity to come up with the another, more suitable project for that specific piece of fabric.

I hope that you are encouraged to support second hand market and make one-of-a-kind creations!

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