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Two years ago, just before I began this blog, I went to the Vogue Fabrics Warehouse sale. I went alone. A dangerous few hours. There were rolls and bolts on sale and basically, it’s the warehouse, they had everything. To keep a long and largely unspoken of story short, let’s just say I went nuts with the purchase.

I bought a roll of black mid-weight woven fabric, a roll of white twill, a roll of turquoise poly taffeta and the left overs of a roll of the vintage yellow poly charmeuse that I made into my Snow White skirt, though I had a lot leftover. On top of that, I bought a bolt of garment interfacing and a bolt of muslin. I’m not gonna tell you how much I spent in those few hours but you can probably guess if you know how much yardage comes on a roll normally.

Over the next two years, I had what I needed to learn about those fabrics. I like them and it was a great way to get to know those particular ones well. I highly recommend buying a roll or bolt of a staple fabric to get some hands-on learning.

I tried a bunch of different patterns with my fabric and learned a lot about drape and cut and how much they affect the look of a dress. The way I looked at it, there was no way I was going to be able to go take a bunch of classes so I made my sewing room a classroom and these rolls my materials.

I don’t think you need to go spend a small fortune on rolls, but at least give yourself the gift of either a bolt of a weave you use a lot in a solid color you love or a bolt of muslin. Why a solid color? In my opinion, you can see what you need to work on when you go for the solids. The prints are awesome but it’s harder to see what I need to learn to do better.

If you love thrift shopping, you can pick up old sheets to do your test garments with but, after making muslins with prints, I recommend a solid color. When I tested a coat pattern last year, I hated it, but I really do wonder if it was the prints within the muslin that made me hate it. There are tons of other fabrics you can use as muslin fabric. You just don’t want to spend a bunch of money on acquiring it so you don’t feel bad if it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time. I have made a ton of muslins that never made it to final garments for one reason or another. I’m glad I did it that way. I’ve also wasted fabric, trying to skip the muslin stage. I just can’t do that anymore.

Some suggestions for cheap muslin:

Fabric.com’s sale section

FabricMart’s Dollar Days and $1.99 section

What are your favorite muslin fabrics?