Fabric. If I were stranded on a desert {deserted?} island and could only have 5 tools to decorate my tree house, fabric would be one of the chosen tools.

We’ve talked about where to shop for fabric and many of you are asking how to know what fabric to buy for certain projects. An entire blog could be dedicated to this subject, there are so many things to do with fabric and so many seductive and utilitarian fabrics available. I’m sure if you started a blog like that you could write for years without running out of things to talk about.

I struggled with writing this post because part of me feels like people would like a list of rules and regulations for fabric buying. And I really don’t believe in many rules and regulations when it comes to decorating. Nesting and making your home beautiful combines something creative with something personal and who needs rules for that? For every rule there is an equal and opposite exception where someone not only broke the rule, but did so with style and gusto.

Balance the no rules philosophy with the fact that some things truly don’t look all that great together or work out all that well and we are stuck right in the center of decorating tension. Which isn’t all that bad of a place to be. All you need to do is balance some general guidelines with trial and error and personal opinion and you can come up with a stunning result.

Amy Butler

So if you supply the trial and error, creativity and personal opinion, I’ll supply some general, random thoughts and guidelines regarding fabric. The following are not rules.

What to Take When Fabric Shopping:

1. TAKE YOUR TIME! this is highly important. There is no rush. Southern Living is not showing up at your door tomorrow and if they are, girl, you had better hurry!

2. Take your fabric file, it will assist you in coordinating existing fabrics

3. Take a friend she can giggle with you and be moral support

4. Take away swatches. Don’t leave the fabric store without fabric samples to look at in the room where you want to use them. Label each swatch with masking tape {if the store doesn’t do this for you} and write the store name and cost per yard.

Our local store has remnants labeled, they are all 50% off the marked price, a great deal

What to look for

1. For window mistreatments, you want 54 inch wide decorator’s fabric. If you are doing long drapes you don’t want a heavy upholstery grade fabric that won’t hang well. Pull out the fabric on the bolt out a few feet and grab it in your fist and hold it up and see how it drapes. If it’s super stiff, it’s not going to look all that great on your windows. On the other hand if it’s extremely thin, it could look cheap if not lined. Look at premade drapes and take note of the kinds of fabrics used.

2. For recovering dining room chairs you want a thicker fabric. Stay away from silk it will get stained and worn fast. Look for a little thicker fabric and remember, solid colors will show dirt quicker than a pattern.

3. If you sew and want to line your drapes, consider using a twin sheet. For my duvet cover, I used a coordinating sheet for the back and fabric on the front. That saved me some money and time.

my bedskirt

4. My usual limit on fabric is $7 per yard. We have so many great fabric stores in our area that I have figured out it’s worth the wait for me to look around until I find something in my price range. Most of my mistreatments were $5-7 per yard, my duvet cover was $8 per yard, the bedskirt was a splurge at $30 per yard and I even temporarily lost my mind and spent $45 for 3/4 of a yard of french knotted silk. I’m sure if I would have been patient I could have found something comparable for less. But I admit, I adore the fabric. If there is a really expensive fabric that you are in love with, buy a small amount and use it on a pillow or table topper, runner or even a lampshade.

my expensive french knot worth every penny

If you are looking for small yardages of luscious coordinating fabric, try out Fresh Squeezed Fabrics and search their fabric bundles. This would be great for a fabric canvas, pillow, ragamuffin garland and various other projects that take small amounts of fabric.

Want to read more about fabric? Guide to Choosing Decorator Fabric.

Remember if you are making mistreatments, keep your yardage price low. If you end up spending $30 per yard and say you will need 3 yards per panel for one window you would spend $180. You would be better off buying from Half Price Drapes or Ballard Designs. Mistreatments are best done when you find super inexpensive fabric or fabric that you already have.

Want more guidelines to decorate by? Read The Best Decorating Advice Ever at The Inspired Room. And if you missed this weekend’s Bird Watching, be sure to scroll down, there are some great projects this week.

What are your fabric tips?