How to pick the right fabric for your next sewing project

Cotton, chiffon, polyester or linen? Trying to decide which fabric is right for your sewing project can be maddening. Knowing which fabrics work best for which garment patterns seems to come instinctively to some people, but the rest of us may need a little help. The best way to approach the problem is to start by getting a basic understanding of why different fabric types work for different garments, but where do you start?

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Check your wardrobe

The best place to start is at home by looking at the clothes in your wardrobe. While many high street clothes are now made of cheaper synthetic materials, hopefully you still have some cotton and linen in there. What you might notice right away is that one type of material does not belong to one type of clothing; for example, jackets are not always made of linen and dresses are not always made of cotton. The way they fit and hang determines the fabric used.

Its all about the drape

Structured or fluid, close fitting or baggy? By answering these questions, you will soon see that each dressmaking fabric has different structural properties. This is an obvious observation, so we wont go into too much detail. As an example, linen is more rigid than silk.

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Next, you will need to examine the opaqueness of the fabric. Some fabrics available from stockists such as are completely opaque, while others lie in the spectrum between sheer and opaque. Hold the fabric up to the light and you can get a better understanding of its use. A sheer fabric can be used as a shirt over a camisole, but is obviously less suitable for trousers.

Soft and strong

Some fabrics, such as denim, are highly durable and therefore best suited to trousers and jackets. Others need to be handled very gently but make up for this delicacy with their beauty.

Does it suit you?

When considering which fabric to use, you should ask yourself whether the fabric fits your style and existing wardrobe. This is not to say that you should never diversify; however, if you spend good time and money making your own bespoke clothing, you should make sure you get to show the world your skills.

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