Hello readers! In today’s post, I’ll talk about some of my favorite online suppliers for shirtmaking fabric and notions. Everyone loves to shop for fabric online, right?
In this section, we’ll look at a variety of online fabric stores at different price points. Note that when I’m doing online shopping, my focus is usually on getting the highest quality for the best price, which isn’t necessarily always the cheapest option. However, we’ll look at a few inexpensive fabric sources, too.
We’ll start our fabric store tour at the high end: Emma One Sock. If you’re looking for quality cotton that you’ll love wearing and don’t mind paying for that quality, Emma One Sock is your store. There’s a decent variety of price points here, varying from nice-quality poplin shirting at $14/yard up to Liberty of London cotton lawns nearing $40/yard. Linda from EOS also carries a lovely Egyptian pima cotton in a variety of colors.
fabric.com is a reliable source for name-brand fabrics. Are you looking for that Robert Kaufman chambray that so many sewing bloggers have been using for shirts and shirtdresses? It’s nearly always available on fabric.com. The prices here are competitive, and shipping is free on orders over $50.
If you’re looking for a fantastic deal on shirting fabric, check fabricmartfabrics.com regularly. This store is a “jobber,” meaning that they take on excess stock and sell it for a great deal. They also run frequent sales, so keep an eye out for those, too. They fairly regularly get in shipments of cotton shirtings and flannels, so if there isn’t much stock when you first check, check again in a few days.
A “hidden gem” source of shirting fabrics is Farmhouse Fabrics. They carry a nice selection of high quality cottons, usually at very competitive prices–often cheaper than comparable fabrics are sold elsewhere.
Michael’s Fabrics doesn’t have the most up-to-date website, but that’s not the draw here. What is the draw is to get onto their email list and get notified about their email-announced sales. Michael’s carries very high-end designer fabrics, and a few times a year, they have sales for 50% off of everything. But the really special thing about Michael’s is once or twice a year, they offer bundles of Zegna shirting for under $10/yard. No, you don’t get to choose the cuts in these bundles, but Zegna cotton is to-die-for, and the colors/patterns in these bundles are always neutral. I’m not a big bundle person, in general, but the Zegna bundles from Michael’s are wonderful.
Japanese cottons are great for shirts and blouses. Lightweight and high-quality, these cottons are a dream to both sew and wear. Based out of Tokyo, Miss Matatabi is probably the most accessible source for a wide variety of Japanese cottons. You can find the usual suspects here, like Kokka and Nano Iro, along with a lot of lesser-known brands. Even with shipping from Japan, prices are reasonable for the quality of the fabric.
If you’re going to spend the time to fit and sew your own shirts, you’ll want to use quality interfacing on your cuffs, collars, and bands/facings. Quality interfacing will help ensure that your shirt lasts through multiple washings without the fabric separating from the interfacing or the interfacing bubbling. (I avoid working with Pellon interfacing available from JoAnn’s and other big-box craft stores unless I absolutely have to use it.)
Hands-down, my favorite interfacing to work with (and pretty much the only fusible interfacing that I’ll work with) is the interfacing developed by professional shirtmaker Pam Erny at Fashion Sewing Supply. She has a wide variety of weights and colors, for both knit and woven fabrics. You do not need to pre-shrink Pam’s interfacing–just follow her instructions for use. She has several interfacing products that she’s developed specifically for shirt collars, cuffs, and bands, too: Shirtmaking interfacings.
If you don’t have access to Pam Erny’s interfacing, the interfacing offered by Palmer Pletsch is also a really nice choice. Like Pam’s interfacing, the P-P interfacing is available in a variety of different weights, including one product designed specifically for waistbands.
B. Black and Sons has been around in the Los Angeles area for over 80 years. Family owned and operated, this store focuses on quality tailoring supplies. They carry a number of specialized interfacings for both suit and shirtmaking. While you can order online from their website, if you’re ever in the LA area, their brick-and-mortar store is definitely worth a visit, especially if you have an interest in high quality woolens or cotton shirting.
I called out interfacing separately from the rest of the shirtmaking notions that I’ll be discussing because I feel that using good interfacing is really important to getting a good result. For the rest of the notions and suppliers that I’ll be talking about, the “name brand” is less important, but you’ll want to have some of these items in your sewing arsenal.
Buttons: Sure, you can just pick up cards of buttons at JoAnn’s (and I certainly do that sometimes), but if you’re looking for more unique buttons for your shirts, Pam at Fashion Sewing Supply carries some very interesting designer options.
Pressing Tools: When you start browsing down the rabbit hole of pressing tools, sometimes it seems like there’s an overwhelming number of gadgets available. If I had to choose just two pressing tools to own, they would be a pressing ham and a sleeve board.
Pressing Ham: A pressing ham is invaluable in getting nice-looking bust darts and princess seams because you’ll be pressing them over a curve that’s similar to the curves on your body. You’ll notice an apparent improvement in fit right away once you start using a ham. You can buy a ham at most sewing notion suppliers, such as Wawak and Nancy’s Notions.
Sleeve Board: A sleeve board is basically a narrow ironing board that gives you an easy way to press sleeve and pant seams or other seams with narrow openings. Like a pressing ham, sleeve boards can be purchased from most online sewing notion suppliers, such as Wawak and Nancy’s Notions.
Collar-Turning Clamp: Fashion Sewing Supply sells a collar-turning clamp to help you turn corners and get nice, crisp collar points.
Buttonhole cutter and Fray Check: I’ve found that the best way to consistently get nice buttonholes is to dab a drop or two of Fray Check onto the uncut buttonhole (after stitching) and then use a buttonhole cutter to actually cut open the buttonhole. Both of these notions are available at most sewing shops, including the big box craft stores.
I’ve listed some of my favorite fabric, notions, and suppliers for shirtmaking. What about your favorites? Are there any must-haves or hidden gems that I missed? Feel free to give a shout-out to your own favorites in the Comments section!