I love to buy fabrics. Most of the times I’m happy just getting lost in the shop and imaginig what would I do with this or that. Unfortunately I can’t afford (by time and money) all the fabrics I would like but always, the fabrics I choose have the same chararteristics and that’s what we’re going to see now to help get the best fabrics to make your own accessories.
Normally and, leaving apart aesthetic aspects, I have a particular preference for non fray fabrics.
One of the most common non fray fabric is faux leather (also known as synthetic teather). You’ll find it in a several finishes (plain, matt, rough, metallic, high bright, pretending animal skin, …), thicknesses and quality but what you have to keep always in mind is its composition.
Talking with non technical words, synthetic leather are composed by two parts: the right side (plastic) and the wrong side (support fabric). Note if the color in both sides is similar (sometimes it’s better for some projects: a non linned bag, a necklace, 3 dimension details, …) but, mainly, if the fabric in the wrong side is too slim or elastic, because in that case the leather might finish broken and peeling off.
Other similar material is faux suede. Sometimes it frays easier than faux leather (depending its composition), but overall it’s a good option to use in diy accessories. Its soft and velvety finish is really nice, though you have to keep in mind that if it becomes dirty, it’s harder to clean than leather (faux or not). Note aswell it may end peeling off too depending where is it and the use it has.
Also by its softness and bright colors we can choose velvet. The better one (high quality. 100% cotton) frays easily (look at the navy blue sample in the first picture) and must be dry cleaned, but there are other affordable variations (in all senses) that work fine. Synthetic velvets commonly used to home linen (courtains, pillows, …) are always a good option because are thicker and more resistant.
Overall, if the cloth is rigid enough, it will be a good sign. Look in other shop departments too: waterproof fabric, neoprene, plastic, rubber, cork (with a fabric base, to avoid problems), outdoor fabric, sequins, glitter … what your imagination tells you.
I’m not an expert working with real leather and suede, so I leave them to some concrete details and straps. I have no doubt they’re the best material to make accessories, all over the years it has been the main supply for fashion accessories industry so don’t hesitate to work with them if you are looking for a long lasting and proffessional item.