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The Fabric Selector by Dana Willard – Review

July 14, 2014

‘The Fabric Selector’ by Dana Willard is the second book kindly sent to me for review by Search Press, and what a book it is!  This is a compact reference book which provides information about a vast range of different fabric types, and about different notions, tools and trimmings.

The Fabric Selector by Dana Willard

The Fabric Selector by Dana Willard

This book is so useful, and so interesting, that I cannot part with it, so there is no giveaway this time.  It’s a keeper.  It is essential for a sewing enthusiast who likes to work with a wide range of fabrics, or at least who is interested in a wide range of fabrics.  It’s a really comprehensive guide and is well suited to a sewing geek like me.  I began to flick through the book and ended up almost reading it in full – I couldn’t help but be drawn in by fascinating facts and within ten minutes I learnt so much!

Here are a few (random) things I learnt in that ten minutes.  Maybe you readers already know these particular things, but I’ll bet there’s still plenty you could learn from this book if you bought it because it is crammed full of information!

  • In the section about fasteners, ‘hook and loop’ is listed.  I wondered what this was, and found out that it is more commonly known by its trademark name, ‘Velcro’ (p190)
  • We make ‘toiles’ or ‘muslins’, but we use neither ‘toile’ (a upholstery-weight white printed fabric with red or blue images of vintage farm scenes and people) nor ‘muslin’ (a lightweight gauze).  In the UK we use ‘Calico’ – a plain woven cotton fabric, but in the US, Calico is a printed fabric with very small flowers, stars or miniature shapes (p174).  Confusing, non?
  • Challis is pronounced ‘Shall-ee’ (p92).  I have a French degree and never even realised that so I hang my head in shame.
  • There’s such a thing as ‘Seersucker Thursday’: every June, US senators pay homage to the southern seersucker style by donning suits made from this lightweight summer fabric.  Known as ‘Seersucker Thursday’, the tradition started in 1966 when Senator Trent Lott from Mississippi wanted to bring some southern charm to the Senate (p44)
  • There is a difference between ‘interlock’ and ‘double knit’: Interlock is a double-sided fabric but not as thick and with more stretch (p141)

The book contains close-up photos of all the different types of fabrics, but of course it does fall down in comparison to books such as ‘Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book’ by Clive Hallett (which I own) due to its lack of tangible swatches.  However, the Clive Hallett book is currently listed on Amazon for £39, whereas the RRP for this book is only £12.99, and I really think that is an absolute steal given the wealth of information it contains.

An example of one of the pages in the book.

An example of one of the pages in the book.

The ‘Selecting Fabrics’ section is split into five parts: woven fabrics, knit fabrics, speciality fabrics, blended fabrics and patterned fabrics.  Each fabric type has a photograph, a description, a list of its properties, tips for working with it and tips for caring for it (laundering etc), plus the occasional ‘Did You Know…?’ or ‘Handy Hints’ bit of information.

The ‘Notions’ section contains a wealth of information about applique, lace, trims, ribbons, buttons, fasteners, buckles, elastic, zips and thread.  The ‘Tools’ section contains information on pattern and planning tools, marking tools, measuring tools, cutting tools, sewing tools, pressing tools, machine presser feet and machine needles.

Basically, I want to conclude that this book is amazing and you all need a copy of it THIS INSTANT.  Over and out.

  1. July 14, 2014 1:30 pm

    you should also check out Dana’s blog. It’s just wow!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      July 17, 2014 2:48 pm

      Oh thank you, I didn’t know about that!

  2. stitchedupsam permalink
    July 14, 2014 5:08 pm

    Ooh, this sounds great. I do love a good book about anything, so a good book about sewing certainly gets my vote. Luckily it’s not too long til my birthday, so this is going on the list!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      July 17, 2014 2:48 pm


  3. July 22, 2014 7:44 am

    Hello! I am new to sewing and just wanted to say I thought your review was really helpful – going on pop over to Amazon in a second and add it to my basket! Might be brave enough soon to actually have a go at making something, but in the meantime I love looking at what other people have made! Nicola x

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      July 22, 2014 8:12 am

      Thank you Nicola. I hope you find it useful.

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