Croft Mill Sewing Fabrics Sewing Tips

How Much Fabric Do I Need…?

If you are new to sewing, trying to work out how much fabric you might need can be a daunting affair – even with the pattern guide to help you work it out. However, if you have been sewing for some time you can face another cloth conundrum… What to do with all the left over bits? If you’ve got less length but more width, can you still make that pattern? Now, although that last problem sounds a bit like a maths challenge from school, I promise I won’t throw any blackboard rubbers at you if you don’t know the answer.

For ease, we’ve split this blog post into sections  – with clear headers, so if you’re in a rush feel free to skim over bits if they aren’t relevant to you.

How to Produce an Outfit with the Minimal Amount of Fabric

Ok. An outfit is probably pushing it, making a dress, a top or a skirt is probably more realistic. Either way, hopefully these tips will help you create something from the left overs in your fabric stash.

  • If you are making a top or dress with straps, opt for spaghetti straps (altering the pattern if need be) to get the most out of your piece of fabric.
  • If you have a metre or so of fabric that is of a coating/jacketing weight a cape can be a stylish and simple project. Extra tip: If you have some colourful lighter weight fabric left, it can be used as a lovely lining for your cape, adding a bit of interest/detail.
  • A longer straight skirt, pencil skirt or A-line skirt can often be made from as little as 1 metre depending on the width of the cloth.
  • Roughly 1 metre of fabric can also make a shorter semi-circle skirt (again depending on width.)
  • The following patterns are perfect for the odd lengths of fabric you have lying around…


Simplicity 4070

simplicity 4070 pattern

Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2178

simplicity 2178

Lisette 2059

lisette 2059

Lisette 2060 – (just don’t include the sleeves, if your fabric is slightly short)

Lisette 2060


Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1873 (though this pattern will depend on your dress size)

simplicity 1873

Lisette 2209 (If you don’t mind shortening the skirt)

lisette 2209

Polly Top by By Hand London – This was suggested by @singsewspecial on Twitter – and you can download it free HERE.

Polly by hand london

When we asked our Facebook followers, they also came up with some brilliant suggestions, including sun hats, gift bags, babies panties and Simplicity 2346, New Look 6838 top, Burda 8347. (you can join us on Facebook here)


Got 45 inch Cotton? Make a…


I don’t know about you, but here at Croft Mill we always end up with odd bits of 45inch wide cotton sat on the shelf. For some reason a lot of sewers avoid 45 inch cottons, while its true a lot of 45inch cottons were intended for crafting, many can be used in dressmaking. If you are worried your 45inch cotton is slightly stiff, use it in a pattern that would need a fabric with more body or structure (like an A-line skirt.) In fact most 45 inch cottons can look brilliant in even the simplest of patterns due to the wide range of patterns and colours available.


These two patterns would be perfect for any 45inch wide cottons:

Serendipity Studio 123  – Bebe Dress

bebe dress

Burda Style Jenny Variation C: Skirt with Suspenders #6058

jenny c variation skirt

In fact, Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons and The Great British Sewing Bee fame has made this exact skirt (sans suspenders) in a 45inch wide cotton. View it here.


Working With Wider Cottons

If you are working with a cotton that is more than 45inch wide, you will in general need less meterage than for a shorter width fabric.

This said, it is important to think about the pattern repeat, wider cottons often have larger scale patterns – if the pattern is abstract or less defined you may be able to get away without pattern matching to exactly. For a defined pattern, such as floral or stripes you may need to buy more than you intend to use just so you have enough of the pattern repeat to use in pattern matching.

If you are not used to buying fabrics of varying types, this blog post by Sewing Machine Success has some useful tips.


How Much Does it Cost to Make a Washi Dress?

 washi dress

We chose this pattern by Made-by-Rae, because it seems it’s the pattern on everyone’s lips. Or should that be backs? Either way, here is a rough guide to how much it would cost in fabric to make up this pattern.

Here’s the official guide for how much fabric is required.

washi dress yardage

So if you were to make a XS – Medium size dress, out of one of our poplins; the fabric would cost you £17.37.

Now, how many times can you say you got a complete outfit for less than £18.00?


*If you are using a wider plain fabric, or wider fabric that has a less defined pattern don’t forget you may be able to use less of it in length – just use your judgement and think about how you will lay out the pattern pieces.







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  • Reply
    26/08/2015 at 12:29 PM

    this pattern is another that uses smaller pieces

    • Reply
      26/08/2015 at 1:30 PM

      Thanks for that Denise, I’ll have to have a look at it 🙂

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