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This is one of the most common questions we’re asked!
The most common fabric or material I personally use for my key fobs and other ITH projects is marine vinyl from my local JoAnn. It’s inexpensive (when purchased with a coupon! and remember you only need a small cut for small projects), easily accessible, and my store has a good selection of colors – off the top of my head, they carry black, french vanilla (ivory, good for Caucasian skin tone), royal blue, aqua, lime, brown, yellow, red, pink. Different locations may also carry different fabrics great fun to use in the hoop, like faux leather, suede, and real leather “scrap bags.” They also carry blackboard vinyl, which many of us enjoy using for the “backing” of our key fobs because it’s inexpensive and rigid.
My local Walmart carries some pretty cool selections in their fabric department, but we’ve heard from fans all over the United States that their stores’ selections vary greatly – if they have fabric at all. Mine has some really cool fabrics in the little home decor rack that they call “faux leather.” Honestly, as a creative person at heart, I love trying anything out. I buy remnants for a few bucks all the time with absolutely NO idea if they’ll work or not. If you’re out shopping for fabrics for your ITH projects, keep in mind that different stores and employees may call the fabrics different things. Vinyl, marine vinyl, leather, suede are all terms I’ve heard used. In some places, if you ask for “vinyl” they’ll only know of the clear kind that we use for ID badge holders.
For harder-to-find colors and glitter sheets of vinyl and canvas-like fabric, we still like MiKri World best.
I’ve even found vinyl on Amazon, just by doing a quick search. Marine vinyl, upholstery vinyl, embroidery vinyl, are all terms I’ve used when doing a random Google search. Just be sure not to get the kinds of vinyl that people are using with their craft cutting machines! (Unless that’s what you want!)
Over the past couple of weeks, Designs by Little Bee has conducted a Beta test of sorts for non-fraying fabric sheets, to rave reviews! We sourced and ordered samples for over six months to find the best products to offer our customers – products that we know work well with our amazing designs. Reviews and feedback are in and we’ve set up our products to sell in the supplies section of our website. Please read the description for each sheet of fabric before you purchase. Let’s explain the two different types, that we call “faux leather” and “vinyl.” Faux leather is a matte, thicker, more rigid vinyl that is slightly textured. It’s perfect for projects that do well with a stiffer material like passport or notebook covers or ITH bookmarks. The backing is soft, but not fuzzy. These are the types of fabric that people may use for an upholstery project, like a stool seat. Vinyl is what we call our soft, flexible, buttery, shiny fabric sheet. It is incredible for projects like ITH bookmarks, small applique pieces, lip balm holders, or zipper bags that turn like a dream. If you’re stuck on using flexible vinyl, but need a more firm result, try backing it with JoAnn’s blackboard fabric to give it stiffness.
Here is an example of a project made with the faux leather sheet (the stiffer material):
And here is an in the hoop slide bookmark that I made with the softer vinyl sheet. I backed it with JoAnn’s blackboard fabric to add rigidity.
The important thing to remember is that different textures and types of our favorite non-fraying fabrics, from marine vinyl to leather to felt, will all work great for different projects. The key is to think about the use of the project and what kind of fabric you want to try. Something thinner as a lining? Something that won’t “stick” to the lip balm? A rigid fabric for a notebook case? Choose the fabric accordingly. And think about how you can adapt to use a fabric that didn’t work well with the first project you tried. Stay creative!