How to choose your garment fabric

16 Nov.,2021

Choosing the incorrect fabric can make sewing and fitting clothes difficult or impossible altogether. So if someone tells me to use youth fabric or cotton fabric, you better believe I'm using cotton fabric! Therefore, in order to make the right choice, you must first understand what the fabric name means.

 

Choosing the incorrect fabric can make sewing and fitting clothes difficult or impossible altogether. So if someone tells me to use youth fabric or cotton fabric, you better believe I'm using cotton fabric! Therefore, in order to make the right choice, you must first understand what the fabric name means.

 

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Lace/chiffon/tulle

These are soft, sheer fabrics that are usually covered with a satin lining for evening wear. They can also be used unlined as a sheer detail for garments or jackets, etc. Tulle can also be used to make blister layers, but don't confuse it with cheaper nylon nets, which are used to make stiffer petticoats and add volume. If you are looking for these, you will most likely wear them for the occasion.

 

Chambray/Cotton types

These are usually cotton fabrics that are not too thick and not stretchy. These are suitable for items such as shirts and dresses that have some structure because they are not particularly flowy and therefore do not skim the body. chambray is just a cotton that is a woven blend of white and another color. These are usually interchangeable with satin (usually a cotton with a smooth and shiny finish, not to be confused with satin) linen/linen types or bubble yarn (an uneven plaid/striped cotton).

So basically, if you are told to use any of these fabrics, you are looking at a cotton or linen fabric, or even a blend that feels like cotton or linen, but it should be non-stretch and relatively stiff. These are probably the easiest types of fabrics to sew, so they are perfect for beginner projects.

 

Taffeta/Dupion  

Taffeta is a smooth woven fabric with a crisp surface and dupion is usually a stiff bamboo silk, but synthetic versions are also available. If your pattern calls for these or something similar, then it really calls for a relatively light, stiff, non-stretch fabric. These types of fabrics are mainly used for structured garments because they hold their shape well and look great in long dresses.

 

Jersey

Jersey refers to any knit fabric with stretch that comes in a variety of weights, from lightweight viscose knits that usually have a fine drape to heavier cotton sweatshirt-style knits. Fortunately, your dress style will indicate which type of sweatshirt you need - some sweatshirts stretch more and go in more directions than others. 

 

Ponte Roma

This is a reversible knit type of jersey, which means that for our purposes, it's usually slightly heavier and less drapey than other jerseys. This makes it easier to sew than most jerseys, while still having good stretch for more structured garments.

 

Tweed

Tweed is a tightly woven fabric that can often be interchanged with a lightweight wool blend. These fabrics are great for suits and pants. If you want to imagine how they feel, think back to your school pants or skirts.

 

Denim/twill

Twill is a fabric that is woven in a certain way so that the finished fabric has a diagonal surface and a smooth reverse side. Denim is basically a twill fabric made from cotton, usually a classic indigo color, but there are many versions. Look for patterns in these types of fabrics usually for utility style garments or garments with sturdy construction, such as jumpsuits or jeans where these fabrics really fit.

 

Scuba

Scuba or neoprene is still a reversible knit fabric, although much heavier and with a smoother surface than Roman bridge, it can be used for sportswear but is increasingly used for evening wear because it has good structure and holds its shape.

 

Crepe / Charmeuse Type

Crepe is now a term covering all fabrics that are light to medium weight and have good flow and drape. crepe usually has a slightly indented texture. charmeuse is a lighter, similar fabric with a smooth finish. Crepe is probably the most versatile fabric used in tops, dresses and any garment that requires drape and flow, even in certain trouser patterns.

 

Satin/Duchess/Crepe Back Satin

Satin usually has good flow and is mainly used for evening wear. A satin finish means that the fabric is woven in a certain way that gives a smooth and shiny surface. Crepe Satin Back Satin as the name implies is a satin back with a crepe finish on the front that provides beautiful weight and drape and allows you to use both matte and shiny finishes in one garment.

 

The types listed above are the most common types you will see. If your pattern requires a fabric not listed above, the most important thing is to understand how the garment falls and drapes and match it to the correct fabric style. In fact, the reverse is also true. If you fall in love with a fabric before you choose a pattern, then look at how it looks and feels. How does it fall? Does it stretch? Is it stiff? Does it need a lining? Once you know the fabric properties, you can choose the right project.