Little Rain Cloud

I was just reading a post in one of the FB groups about which fabric to buy for a dress. This particular time, the poster was at a big box craft shop with the initials HL looking at plaid fabrics. As it has been a while since I wandered any of the big box craft stores, I was curious what the prices currently are.

So, I decided to look….

A nice gray plaid “homespun cotton at HL is $6.99 when not on sale. Normally, I would recommend buying 7 yards of 45” wide fabric for a basic dress, with coat sleeves and no self trim. Given the tendency of “homespun” fabric to shrink, an extra yard is advisable. This would make 8 yards for $55.92 plus tax. Not bad. You will also need a lining fabric for the bodic, hem facing, hem tape if possible, narrow cord for piping, and closures. You will want to wash and dry a couple times before cutting.

Hoping over virtually to a big box craft store with the initials JF, I also see plaid cotton called “homespun.” Here it is $8.99 a yard. With the same considerations for shrinkage, 8 yards for a basic dress, again with coat sleeves and no trim, would cost $71.92. This too should be prepared and dried a couple times before cutting.

Out of curiosity, I want to compare this the the Family Heirloom Weavers Fabrics sold by smaller merchants such at The Button Baron. Their light and medium weight cottons are similar in weight to mass produced homespun but have a more stable weave in my opinion. Their cotton fabric runs 57 inches wide pre-shrunk. After washing this shrinks to 54″ generally. This fabric is $12 a yard for the cotton. (I see now cotton/wool blends are also available.) With this wider width, a basic dress, again with coat sleeves and no self trim, can be made for $60.00.

This places the “per dress” cost of a length of Family Heirloom Weavers fabric in between the costs of lengths from common big box craft stores.

I do not intend to persuade readers in one direction or the other in their choices. I simply want you to be aware of the options available to us.


My experience with mass produced home spun:

Long ago and not so far away….. College student me picked out a plaid fabric from our local craft/fabric store. It was 100% cotton in a small, symmetrical plaid. I thought it was a decent choice. I think I may have even prewashed it, once. I was determined to hand sew an entire dress. I did, every inch inside and out. I was proud of my dress. I even put “hem tape” on it. I don’t recall whether I wore it for an event or wore it for work (then at a museum.) Either way, I wore it hard enough I needed to wash it. It shrunk. And I mean it Shrunk. Luckily, I knew enough back then to run all the fabric in the same direction. This meant the fabric mostly shrunk in length rather than width. The waist sat a good three to four finger spans above my waist while the hem rose to just below my calf. I estimate I lost a good 4 to 5 inches per yard in length. That works out to be 28 to 35 inches in the dress length.

Published in: on April 5, 2022 at 2:10 pm  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Add that’s the FHW is a better product, a more useful weight, will be more colorfast, have less shrinkage and piling…and is of documented pattern. Hands down, a win if I ever needed any more fabric for that period.


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