How can I find pretty fabric online?
June 10, 2011 12:59 AM   Subscribe

How can I find the fabric that was used to make a dress being sold in a high street store? It's light blue with a pattern of a white cat playing with yarn.

I saw this dress recently, but I like the dress much less than the fabric. A friend has offered to teach me to sew and I'd love to use it if at all possible. Googling things like "cat with yarn print fabric" just seems to be returning quilting fabrics. Any ideas (or links to similar fabric) much appreciated!
posted by bibliophibianj to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You can often use quilting fabric for a dress - it's medium weight cotton typically, and will suit quite a lot of patterns. If you have a sewing shop near you or a friend with patterns (or choose the pattern online, then google reviews with the specific number), you can check if the fabric will work with that dress.

Commercial fashion is typically not from fabric available to consumers. It's designed and made in bulk for manufacturing. If you absolutely must have that pattern, you could recreate it in

Try googling "vintage reproduction fabric" with your fabric description. My experience with fabric shops on and offline has been that they will give you as much info as possible and are very helpful to polite and curious questions.
posted by viggorlijah at 4:09 AM on June 10, 2011

Check out You can design and print your own fabric, or purchase some that has already been created by other people.
posted by jenny76 at 7:08 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heather Ross has some prints that might be similarly whimsical. She sells on Spoonflower as well, so there's that. One downside -- they are expensive. Spoonflower in general is an expensive site for beginning sewers. I agree somewhat with viggorlijah that quilting fabric can be a good resource for new sewers, but it can also make projects look like they were sewn by a beginner. Chose your scale and pattern carefully.

Lots of times the specific fabric you desire will not be available for general public purchasing -- much of it is sourced through wholesalers and fabric mills. If you live in NYC or LA or perhaps London (guessing from you use of "high street"), you might have some luck in going to the garment district and trolling the stores there. They often have pieces from wholesalers. If you want to know about LA stores, please mail me.

Finally, one option (if you are in love with the print and can't let it go) is to buy the dress in the largest size possible and use your newfound sewing skills to refashion it into something you love.
posted by mrfuga0 at 8:39 AM on June 10, 2011

Just popping in to say that a first sewing project is usually not the best for using beloved or expensive fabric. Work with your friend on learning to sew on simple projects with cheap and easy materials and then move up to something trickier. Once you have skills and a pattern that you feel you'll be successful with, find that perfect fabric (spoonflower is a great suggestion) and go for it!
posted by annaramma at 10:20 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with mrfuga0 about using caution when using quilting prints for garments. Even higher-quality quilting fabrics seldom have the kind of drape you want for most apparel. (Aprons, pillows, and sun hats, though? Yes. And aprons and pillows are excellent beginner projects.)

My local super-cheap-ass remnant store sometimes gets designer fabrics. If there's anything approaching a garment district or city center fabric clearance store, that might be the place to go. As a bonus, at least in the States, you can frequently find better-quality fabric at lower prices than you might find elsewhere. (The downside is that they don't have much selection, so if you've got your heart set on a particular thing, they probably won't have it.)
posted by pie ninja at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2011

I don't know if it helps, but I think I've seen dresses made of that fabric all over markets in London (Camden for sure and maybe Spitalfields). It might be the same dress being sold in multiple places rather than multiple dresses made of the same fabric, though. I also don't think the people running the stalls selling the dresses would take very kindly to people asking about their supply chain.
posted by MadamM at 5:23 PM on June 10, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, all. MadamM, I've seen the same fabric used on a couple of different dresses as well, which is why I was hoping I might be able to just find the fabric. I will have a look at Spoonflower for something similar for a later sewing project.
posted by bibliophibianj at 1:20 AM on June 11, 2011

ReproDepot, when they come back from the summer, might have what you're looking for. It sounds very familiar.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:43 AM on June 16, 2011

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