Friday, January 29, 2010

FFL's Guide to Fabric Shopping

There are certain activities that can be done at any time, but when the conditions are just right: Perfection. Skiing is one of those activities. A picnic is another. And the one I'm thinking about now, in preparation for Zimman's Customer Appreciation Sale this Sunday, is shopping for fabric.

Maybe these guidelines are going to make me sound crazy. But hey, it's what I've picked up from personal experience and maybe you can relate. Maybe you even have your own tips to add to the list. Please do!

Here goes (Note: I peppered the list with photos of textiles that I've been enjoying lately. They don't have anything to do with the actual guidelines):

1) Know your needs. Not specifics in terms of color or print, but in terms of projects. I get so overwhelmed when I get to the store that half of my plans quickly exit my brain. It helps me to make a list of what I have going on.

2) Bring fabric and paint samples from your current projects/rooms. Pictures too, if applicable. I've started bringing fabric samples from pretty much every room in my house (umm, all four of them!). That way, if I encounter a fabric that screams "bedroom pillow," I can do a quick check to make sure the fabric truly fits.

3) I study photos of my favorite rooms before I go. I don't bring them with me, because I don't want to feel limited and like I have to copy them exactly. But looking at my favorite rooms helps my decor ideals stay top of mind, and that's a good condition to be in when you're looking at hundreds of bolts (or swatches) of fabric.

4) Dress carefully. For me, wearing a brightly colored sweater will influence the colors and patterns I'm drawn to. Like if I was shopping for fabrics in the light blue and gray families, I wouldn't wear green. I would see clashing colors everytime I held out my arm, and it would affect how I feel about the selection. This works in the reverse, too. If a red T-shirt casually tossed on the bed inspires me to find a red fabric for a new pillow, I might just wear that very red shirt to the fabric store. Do you see what I'm saying?

5) Here's my fifth and final tip: NO HANGNAILS! That should be a guideline for everyday life, but it should be doubly enforced while shopping for fabric. Choosing fabric is often just as much about the feel as it is about the look, and who can say a fabric feels nice when it has pulled a hangnail? So yes, I'm saying that I recommend a good manicure before fabric shopping. In a neutral color, of course.

Have you seen this lady? She holds the world record for the longest fingernails. Thirty-four inches of gross, times 10. (I just noticed her rings. I wonder how she puts them on? Someone must help her with that. Ew.)


Anonymous said...

I have to say - that picture is disgusting! I can't even imagine living with those. Anyway~one of my very favorite past times is to linger around the fabric stores. I could for hours. It amuses my husband but I remind him it's like he and the Bass Pro Shop. :) Hancocks here has rows and rows of upholstery fabric for $4/yard. I bought some (a lot) just in case I learn how to make a slipcover for the perfect wingback chair I know I'm going to find the next time I'm thrifting!

Mom-of-Bean said...

oh oh, pick me, pick me, I so want to go with you to the fabric store, hangnails and all...I love fabric's been too long...I'm salivating and typing...ugh...that's almost as nasty as that lady with the claws...

Julie said...

Sarah, $4/yard is so good! There is another fabric store even closer to my house that has a discount aisle with bolts that are $2/yard!! It's where the fabric on my chair slipcovers came from. I love finding good deals like that. A wingback chair sounds like fun!
Geraldine, you've got to see this place! It's so good!

Haven and Home said...

I love looking at fabric, but that comes with the job. That photo is scaring me.

Anonymous said...

I have one question: how does she wipe?? Maybe she has a mop by the toilet bowl just for that, huh?

Julie said...

Anonymous, you can conduct that research! That's one google search I'm not willing to attempt.

日月神教-任我行 said...