Hold Out for the Finer Things in Life

Hold Out for the Finer Things in Life


Do you know good fabric when you see it?

Do you settle? 

A few of us were chatting last week about the poor quality of fabric and workmanship in so much of ready-to-wear lately.  We realized that there are many people who have never experienced the joy of touching and wearing a fine fabric. People who don’t sew are not exposed to quality fabric in the retail stores unless they frequent designer level shops. Those of us who sew are fortunate to have exposure to fine fabrics, especially customers of SBDF 🙂


Dominique Fine Cotton
Dominique Fine Cotton

As we all know too well, the discounters and even mid-range apparel manufacturers are using very inferior goods to keep the pricing down (a constant demand from consumers).  Sometimes a garment has great hanger appeal, but when reality strikes after the first wearing or wash, customers are surprised.  This is particularly noticeable with synthetics where quick construction techniques allow for a stylish “look”, but seams fray and finishes wash off, leaving the customer in rags rather than riches.

We are so fortunate here at SB to be surrounded by quality fabrications…would that I could sew up my wardrobe like I used to!!! Ah, the time!  But we know a good fabric when we see it, touch it or work with it.  How can we help our customers have the same experience?


We do our best to bring you the fabric in images that speak to the “hand”.  Colleen does a fabulous job with close shots.


Coolidge Wool/Cashmere
Coolidge Wool/Cashmere


With our Roll Out videos on YouTube we try to simulate the experience of seeing the fabric laid out in front of you. We’ve developed the “fluff” maneuver to show a light fabric and how it floats.

Cora-Digitally printed silk chiffon
Cora-Digitally printed silk chiffon

Watch Cora here.


Of course, when we write our copy, we put on our customer hat.  How would I describe this to a person who is not standing next to me.  Look for adjectives and adverbs that address hand, stability, and drape. Read the recommended garment types for further clarification.

Beach House
Beach House

SBO13-056 Beach House  Whether you have one or wish you did, this print will get you in the mood for the beach house vacation.  The toned down printed stripe features a wide array of beach town colors including watermelon, teal, peach, lemon, floral pink, accented with rows of black and white.  The stripes are printed across the yardage in varying widths that narrow unexpectedly.  The overall effect is of a rippled colored sand. The creamy hand of this substantial jersey knit makes it all the more enticing. Originally milled for Melissa Masse.  Great for full-length dress, tunic top or tee tops in all styles.  60 in (C) $14.00/yd.


I’ve always thought of our swatching service as a teaching tool as well as a marketing tool.  When our mail order subscribers receive their swatches, we know that not every fabric we send will suit every customer. Of course, there are those who call and order straight down the line from a particular collection, but typically our customers find the fabrics that are best for their wardrobe and pocketbook, leaving the others for another day. But they can still learn from the swatches they pass over for purchase. Touching the fabric, reading the description, and memorizing the characteristics is like building a library of fabric knowledge. Now we don’t suggest that you get the swatches just as a learning tool, that would be costly for you and for us, but we do suggest, once you own the swatches, that you make them work for you.


Go through each mailer with resources at the ready.  As you read our copy and handle the swatch, you can research more about that particular fiber and weave.  Eventually you will have information stockpiled in your head when you view a  fabric online.  Learning the basic characteristics will help you make a choice without a swatch.

Some of our favorite sources

Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide
Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide


Julie Parker's All About Series
Julie Parker’s All About Series



Remember, the swatches aren’t sacred, they are meant to be tested in every way.  You can stitch a seam, make a buttonhole, interface and line, wash and dry…all with our 2 in. x 2.75 in. swatch.  What a bonus!


If you have questions about the performance of a particular fiber, feel free to email us and we’ll do our best to answer you.  We are not textile scientists and make no claims on the accuracy of the information we dispense, but we are fabric aficionados and between us have over 100 years of experience.  We are happy to share!




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