In Bags & Accessories, Sewing, Tips & techniques

audition swatches


When you decide on a new sewing project, how do you choose what fabrics you’ll use?

I start by finding out what the recommended fabrics are, usually specified on the back cover or the product listing of the pattern. In the case of the Caitlyn Handbag, above, lighter weight fabric, such as a quilting cotton is suitable.

Next I think about who is going to use the bag and for what occasion. Is it an everyday bag that needs to go with everything? A statement piece that will be eye-catching and colorful? Or maybe I already have some fabric in my stash that I had planned for a bag but was waiting on the right pattern.

My favorite part is auditioning fabrics. I like to lay them out and imagine how different fabrics might work together. It’s helpful to look at them proportionately, so I’ll place smaller swatches of accents on top of a bigger piece of the main fabric.

When I’m having trouble, one trick I use is the camera on my phone. I lay out each selection I have in mind, then take a photo. Then it’s easy to swipe between shots or look at all of them at once. Taking a photo sort of flattens everything into the same plane, allowing the eye to more clearly see value and proportion.

How do you choose fabrics? If you have any tips, please share them in the comments.

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