Dealing with fabrics
“There is an endless selection of fabrics.” This seems to be the most appropriate introduction to this topic.
That’s good news, as it means that somewhere there you can find a perfect fabric for your project. On the other hand, with so many choices available, choosing an appropriate fabric might feel like a mission impossible. We are going to share with you our experiences, observations and best practices when it comes to using fabrics in dressmaking.
Like the true romantics search for pure love, the passionate sewers are ever on the hunt for the perfect combination of a pattern, a fabric and … themselves. All these elements need to be put together into a garment and that is a fascinating, creative challenge. You are the designer, the sewer, the fitter and the finisher in one.
But do not lose your heart. Be aware that in the ready-to-wear industry each garment is put into a test in several fabrics before making the selection of the best one that will be used in the production line. Believe it or not, but over time you will develop the sixth sense to match the garment style with the fabric texture to create a harmonious whole. This sense will benefit from your experience and an understanding of the structure, origin and qualities of fabrics.
The most valuable tip that we can give you is to pay attention to the suitability of the fabric for the pattern design. Think about what you are going to make exactly and what kind of fabric will be the most appropriate. See below some examples presenting this all-important principle.
If this is still too abstract, try the other way round. Think about fabrics that will definitely not work with a given design and make your choices by eliminations. For instance, a crisp fabric will never create soft fold lines and fluid fabric should not be crisply tailored. No matter what you do, you cannot change the qualities of the fabric.
Example 1. This model features artfully folded pleats. You need a fabric that creates nice, soft folds. Checking how the knit fabric drops is crucial here as this defines the visual effect. Using punta di roma knit would result in folds with bulk.
Example 2. This model is perfect for a stable, medium-thick knit as it keeps the shape and it thick enough to prevent the underwear from showing up and keeping the A-shape of the skirt. Punta di roma/milano, sweatshirt knits, stable cotton and polyester mixes would be a good choice. Using a knit with a significant drape would result in a floppy, shapeless dress. However, you could still make a quite nice top from such a knit using the upper part of this pattern.
Example 3. Traditional men’s shirt calls for a typical shirt cotton fabric and would also look great when sewn from a thin denim. Such fabrics guarantee achieving crisp folds and sharp collar points. Using appropriate interfacings is a key success factor here Interfacing . Sewing this model from a poor quality woven cotton fabric or polyester fabric would result in a rather disappointing result.
As you can see the characteristics of a fabric are not limited to the visual ones. What matters even more than the presentation is how the fabric performs: how it drapes, folds and flows with lines of a design. If you make a bad fabric choice the end result of your sewing project may suffer from that. But no worries, in our Full Sewing Guides you will always find some good advise on the fabric choice for a given model.