4 Tips When You Don’t Have Enough Fabric For Your Sewing Project

Corded Petticoat
Different fabric on the hem of my historical peasant skirt

If you don’t have enough fabric for a sewing project you have in mind, you can still make it work: Below are my 4 favorite tried-and-true methods when you don’t have enough fabric for your sewing project.

1. Rotate Your Pattern Pieces 180°C

When your fabric has no visible nap or print, you can save fabric by rotating your pattern pieces 180 degrees. This means that your pattern pieces are still all aligned with the lengthwise or crosswise grain of the fabric. But some of your pattern pieces are upside down. So, for example, if you’re cutting a panel skirt, you orientate the first panel with the hem on the right side of the fabric, then the next panel with the waist on the right side of the fabric and so on.

I do this all the time to save fabric. Especially, when I use plain-weave cotton fabric. But also when I make a coat with expensive fabrics like wool broadcloth without a too visible nap.

Short Edwardian Cotton Dress
Short Edwardian cotton dress made from one vintage cotton bed sheet!

2. Fabric Piecing

Fabric piecing is historically accurate. So if you make historical clothing, this even adds to the historical accuracy of your garment. But you can also use fabric piecing for your modern makes! 😉 So if just a small part is missing when you cut out your pattern pieces, e.g. at the hem, simply add a small piece of fabric in the same direction and join it with a seam.

Related: 34 Types of Seams

DIY Unboned Recycled Denim Corset Bodice
Fabric piecing on my modern 18th century recycled denim stays

I often piece fabric together on my makes because I usually have only a limited amount of fabric: either because I refashion a piece of clothing or I just have a small piece of fabric, e.g. a vintage bed sheet. For example, my 18th century linen jacket is heavily pieced together because it was a short 1980s dress before! 😉 And I also didn’t have enough fabric for my 1910s plaid wool skirt so there’s also invisible fabric piecing at the hem.

Related: 1910s Plaid Wool Skirt & 18th Century Blue Linen Jacket

Edwardian Green Artificial Silk Petticoat Hem Facing Dust Ruffle
Different fabric as hem facing on one of my Edwardian petticoats

3. Use A Different Fabric For The Hem & Facings

Historically, hem facings, bodice & skirt linings and neck & armhole facings were often made with different fabrics than the dress fabric. So just use a scrap piece of fabric from your stash for the facings.

Jeans To Skirt Refashion
Different fabric inside the pleats of my refashioned denim skirt

4. Patchwork

Patchwork and color block garments are trending. So if you don’t have enough fabric for your sewing project, just use a similar or even a contrasting fabric. You can either use the different fabric at the neck, cuffs and hem for a more harmonious look. Or make a completely patched or quilted together garment!

Men's Shirt To Vintage Blouse Refashion
Different fabric at the sleeves of my men’s shirt-turned-Edwardian blouse

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