What does it all mean? Reading the bolt

Reading the Bolt

Thanks to the lovely ladies at my local JoAnn’s for letting me take pictures.

When shopping for fabric, after something grabs my attention I touch it, if it feels good the next thing I do is read the bolt. There is a lot of information there and knowing what parts matter to your project and your budget will help you decipher all that information.
First, there are three things required by law that must be on the bolt:
1. Country of origin
2. Fiber content
3. Washing instructions
The other things listed on the end of the bolt are usually:
4. The price
5. The name of the maker or designer
6. The fabric type
7. Style or design name.
8. Fabric weight

For me personally, the price is always the first thing I check, I have champagne taste and a beer budget most of the time. The next thing I check is the washing instructions. I hate messing with dry cleaning, it often means the fabric is too fragile to tolerate common detergents. Because I know fibers well, I know when I can fudge that and hand wash instead, but that’s something I’ve learned from a lot of trial and error over the years. If you aren’t a Master of Delicate Laundry, obey the washing instructions.
Fabric names aren’t too important if you are making one thing for yourself, but I have been in situations sewing for theater or other large groups where we had to buy whole bolts from numerous stores because we needed somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 yards total (most bolts are only 15 yards to start). Knowing the fabric was called “Upsy Daisy” made life way easier when calling all over town.

bolt end

In this first example, there is no maker name because it’s a “JoAnn’s exclusive”, but the fabric design name is there “wandering spirit” and the fabric type “stretch silky”. In this specific case, that is a general description as opposed to a formal weave name.


In the second example here, we have fabric weights. See the one is “5 oz.” and the other “10 oz.”. So what does this mean? One square yard of this fabric weighs that much. So, logically the 10 oz. denim is going to be denser and thicker fabric than the 5 oz. tencil. It will be tougher to make a rolled hem, but it will hold up to rougher use. The top one would be fine for a blouse or a summer dress, the bottom one for a duffle bag. Going to a store and handling these things side by side helps when you shop online, because nearly every online retailer lists the weights.


This example gives the formal weave name.

Okay, are you ready? lets shop!

lets shop

( Not my car, just an enthusiastic sewist who hit the sale with vigor!)


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November 24, 2015 · 8:40 pm

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