Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Making the Most of Fabric Remnants

Custom window treatments can be pricey.  Even making your own can add up when you tend to like expensive fabric, like me!  I don't think I've ever purchased decorator fabric at full price, because you can always wait for a sale, a coupon, or my favorite:  shop fabric outlets.  If you don't have a specific fabric in mind, but you know what color scheme you want, fabric outlet shopping is for you.  I thought I would share with you a few tips on how I choose fabric remnants and how to make the most out of them. 

1. Look through every remnant at the store.  This can be time-consuming, but it's great for inspiration, sometimes the fabrics get mixed up (our store has them sorted by color, but there's usually at least one in the wrong spot), and you might change your mind on the colors when you spot something great. 

2. Have a general idea of how you will use the fabric.  I don't follow the rule that I need to know exactly what the fabric will be for, but I try not to buy big pieces of remnant fabrics that might just sit in my closet forever.  

3. Know basic fabric requirements for sewing projects.  This is important because you might find a great remnant but it's only 2 yards and you want to use it for a duvet cover.  Sorry, but that won't be enough!  You can usually google 'fabric requirement for _______' and some great sites will come up with your answer.  Most of the time the fabric outlet will also have a chart in the store that you can use, so be sure to ask them if you get stuck.  

4. Be willing to purchase additional fabric from another retailer if you need more.  You're still saving money in the end if only some of your fabric is purchased as a remnant.  I ended up doing this with the drapes in my dining room, which you can read about here.  

5. Look at the yardage amount on the remnant piece, and even open it up to check for its validity.  Usually each piece will be marked correctly, but what you may not know from that marking is the width of the fabric.  

I made this last mistake when I purchased some gorgeous P. Kaufmann fabric for $4/yard.  It looked like I was getting a total of 5 yards, but one was actually less than had been marked.  When I finally decided that I wanted to use this fabric for drapes, there wasn't enough.  So, what to do?  

I decided to make up my own type of drapery panel (which is the main point of this post).  Using the color swatch on the fabric,

I chose a neutral color and purchased linen apparel fabric from Joann's, enough to add to my main fabric so that I could make two drapery panels.  My first attempt to create my own drape turned out pretty bad (that was pre-blogging, so I don't have a picture); in fact, my husband and mother-in-law said it looked like I had made a mistake.  I'm so grateful for honest input!  So, my mother-in-law helped me to think through it a bit more and come up with a plan that would work.  This is how they ended up:

I'm really pleased with them and I love the fact that it's designer fabric, which retails for $26/yard, the colors are perfect in this room, and we designed them!  Thanks, Mom!

Do you have any remnant fabrics laying around?  What do you plan to do with them?  I'd love to hear!


  1. Those are some great tips! I love how the drapes turned out!

  2. Lauren this is a great post. Custom drapes are expensive. Labor, lining and fabric add up quickly and most homeowners have on average 10 windows in there home. But it does depend on where you live. I live in Nashville now and believe it or not, custom drapes are more expensive here then they were out west. One window here could pay for five out west. Crazy!

  3. I have so many remnant fabrics lying around from when I lived in SC and had access to fabric outlet stores. I'm so glad I have them on hand because I've been using them for my house all over the place: shower curtain, drapes, rocking chair upholstery, chair upholstery...the list is endless. It's the only way I can justify buying fabric! I just can't find a good fabric outlet out here in oklahoma. :-( I mainly browse the remnant sections of Hancocks and JoAnn's. Loved your tips...lots of good ideas!

  4. Love the curtains. I didn't know there were such things as fabric outlets. I'm notorious for buying my own fabric because I'm a perfectionist (read: picky) and never can find what suits me pre made. Fabric outlets would be amazing. I'm going to have to google some near me!

  5. Love them, Love them, Love them! Great job!

    Tiffany {Living Savvy}


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