7 Ideas For Overcoming Fabric Shortage.

Dear Readers, today’s post is about a challenging shortage of cloth, which turned into an exercise in pattern placement and piecing together.


Pattern Vogue 9112 designed by Marcy Tilton has elements which concerned me a little, but the end result was so picturesque that I bought the pattern. You know, that moment of identifying with the young, tall  and slender model – which is usually my downfall, but I was determined to make it work for me. Don’t judge…..

This post is about tips and tricks for dealing with fabric shortage. Later, a review about the actual pattern. Yep, I’m making it again – with some changes.

The recommended yardage for size Large is 3 ¼ yards. I had just 2 yards of suitable fabric for a “muslin” and I was determined to refrain from digging in the fabric stash for a different material – let alone buy more. The cotton/linen from Joann’s, had just enough crispness to suit the style. It was also reasonably cheap, and best of all, I owned it already. If this turns out fabulous, I plan to pull out other fabric.

One can usually make adjustments without too much effort, when the fabric shortage is just a few inches. But doing without a whole yard? Well, I pulled it off. There are other sewing enthusiasts and professionals who have made beautiful clothing with less than the recommended amount of fabric. My admiration for them knows no bounds.

  1. First up, fit adjustments. I have to reduce the waist length in every pattern by an inch. That gave me a whole inch in fabric length; and, just one inch can take you far. You can see below where I folded up the front and two back pieces at the waist marking. The other length adjustment was hemming it about 2 1/2″ higher but I did that as a last construction step so the hem adjustment did not factor in dealing with fabric shortage.

paper layout

2. If you’re in the habit of cutting off the selvages, as was taught in the old school sewing classes, DON’T. Keep the selvages. In this case, I could move one back pattern piece enough that the selvage ended up in the center back seam. In the photo below, you can see the center back aligned with the selvage at top right. Note: all pattern pieces in this design are cut individually on a single layer fabric as shown in the pattern guidesheet; Except for the pockets, for which we needed four of the same pattern piece.


3. Lay out the pattern pieces as close as possible, sometimes with no fabric visible between the paper.


4. Lay out certain pattern pieces off the recommended grain, if it does not affect the fit or look of the design too much. But consider it carefully. In this case, I laid out piece #7 on the bias (not a true bias, but enough). Can you locate it in the photo above?  It ended up giving up some room for other pieces, and gave a subtle, quirky look to the lower back. This design has a whimsical, out-of-the-box look anyway.

5. You can piece certain pattern pieces together from random areas of “freed up” fabric (aka scraps).  I pieced together one of the four pocket pieces. I considered eliminating the pockets altogether, but did not because: a) it did not make any difference in the layout. b) I kind of like the “hands in the pocket” look of the cover model. (See intro paragraph, heh.)

piecing pocket

6. The other pattern piece which had to have a seam down the center is the collar. The seam was placed in the center back, and it looks intentional.

7. The third pieced elements were the neck and armhole facings, which were really strips of bias. I used the scraps below to piece together the bias facing,


8. I considered using a contrast fabric to alleviate the shortage. This design has many opportunities for fabulous color blocking, but I was now wholly into the challenge of doing without enough fabric. It turned out to be kind of fun to think of it as zero waste project.

So, this is what I’m left with. With all these tiny scraps, it’s time to take up quilting.

 scraps selvage

Also, my selvage collection has now officially started. Selvage projects, here I come!

While I’m not yet sure about how this look works for me, I think the fabric shortage ideas above definitely keep away snide comments like: “psst, she must have run out of fabric.”

After the above suggestions, I advise that you check out twistedangel Studio’s methodical post about dealing with fabric shortage.

Finally, it’s always fun to see the designer of the pattern work out variations on the same pattern, away from the pattern company. Here’s designer Marcy Tilton showing us how she worked through adding sleeves and length to her design.

Got any more ideas for dealing with fabric shortage? Please share!!


4 thoughts on “7 Ideas For Overcoming Fabric Shortage.

  1. Good tips! I would try to eliminate facings and shorten length. Sleeves use a lot of fabric and they can be omitted or altered to be minimal.
    I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on the pattern. It looks a bit avant garde with the inset panels and the asymmetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I often cut facings or pockets in plain or contrasting fabrics, trouser hems can also disappear if you use a wide hem tape instead. Piecing together bits can work, either if it looks intentional in a design like this one, or if you have a busy enough pattern, and pattern match really well, you can hide the joins.

    Liked by 1 person

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