Throughout textile history and its evolution, sewing has always been a significant part of it. From hand-stitched garments to modern-day machine-sewn clothing, the art of crafting different fabrics into wearable pieces has been a timeless tradition. Whether you’re a professional dressmaker or simply enjoy making trendy dresses for your toddler, this particular skill can be quite rewarding and fulfilling.
But at the heart of this creative process lies a crucial decision – choosing the right fabric. At first glance, it may seem like a simple task, but with the vast variety of fabrics available in the market today, it can quickly become overwhelming. Some have better drape, some have more stretch, and some are more durable than others. So how do you know which option is the most suitable for your sewing endeavours?
What Fabrics Are Best for Sewing?
Depending on the project at hand, different materials can provide various benefits and enhance the overall look, feel, and functionality of the dress. If you take a closer look at the assortment of fabrics online for dressmaking, you’ll notice a few popular choices that are commonly used for this craft, either individually or combined with other materials.
Brushed Cotton and Flannels
Starting off with a soft and cosy option, brushed cotton and flannels have been around for centuries. These fabrics have a brushed finish on one side that’s achieved through a mechanical process known as napping. This involves raising the fibres to create a soft, fuzzy texture that provides warmth and comfort, as well as a slightly heavier weight.
As such, they’re quite popular for making winter and fall dresses, especially for children. The brushed surface is gentle on the skin and doesn’t irritate or cause any discomfort. Additionally, these fabrics are relatively affordable thanks to their easy production method, which inherently means they’re more accessible to novice sewers.
One of the most well-known and widely used fabrics is denim. Originally made from cotton, this twill fabric has a strong diagonal weave that results in a sturdy and durable material. It’s undoubtedly the go-to option for making jeans, but it’s also suitable for creating dresses with a more casual and relaxed vibe. It doesn’t feel overly stiff and can be quite comfortable to wear, especially after a couple of washes.
This particular option is quite convenient for sewing due to its weight and considerable resistance to fraying. The thickness of denim can also help with concealing imperfections or adjusting the fit of a dress, which can ultimately save a lot of time and effort for the sewer. If you stumble upon stretch denim in an online fabric store, you might have even more versatility in terms of design and movement.
Double Gauze Cotton
Double gauze cotton is a delicate and light fabric made up of two thin layers of loosely woven cotton. These two layers are stitched together to create a delicate quilted look that is wonderfully soft to the touch. Because of this unusual design, the cloth is permeable and creates a cooling sensation, which may be rather refreshing in hot weather.
Moreover, this option comes with an adorable and unmistakable textured look, which definitely raises the bar in terms of style. Because of its delicate nature, it’s often used for making dresses with a flowy silhouette, like little A-line or maxi dresses. However, it may require a bit of extra care during the sewing process to prevent any pulling or puckering of the fabric.
Satin is a luxurious and elegant material that’s commonly associated with formal wear. Its smooth and glossy surface is achieved through a process called handwashing, where the fabric is treated with chemicals to create that signature matte finish. In terms of dressmaking, sandwashed satin is an excellent choice for creating garments with a sophisticated and feminine aesthetic, perfect for special occasions or events.
This option comes with a medium weight and falls beautifully, in addition to being quite easy to work with. However, it’s essential to note that satin can be a bit slippery and may require some experience and precision when handling it. It’s also relatively high maintenance, as it typically needs dry cleaning or handwashing only.
Linen is a natural fabric, derived from the flax plant through a labour-intensive process. It has an excellent reputation for being one of the most breathable and cooling materials available due to its highly absorbent and moisture-wicking properties. As such, it brings a lot of comfort and versatility to the world of dressmaking.
Linen can come in different weights, from lightweight options for summer dresses to heavier ones for more structured pieces. It’s also quite durable and has natural anti-bacterial properties, especially when left untreated. However, it can wrinkle and crease quite easily, which may not be ideal for some dress designs.
As the name suggests, drape fabrics are materials that have excellent draping properties. This means they can fall and flow smoothly, creating an effortless and graceful ensemble that ultimately enhances the overall appearance of a dress. These types of fabrics can be found in different weights and textures, from lightweight chiffon to more substantial velvet options.
If you want to add some movement and drama to your dress, drape fabrics can give you an edge in terms of design. However, they can be quite challenging to work with due to their fluidity and may require some experience or special techniques to achieve the desired result.
Wool and Fleece
Finally, we have wool and fleece, two materials that are highly praised for their warmth and softness. While they may not be the most common options for dressmaking, they can work surprisingly well in certain designs. Wool in particular has a flawless drape and is known for its temperature-regulating properties, both of which can be beneficial for making dresses during colder months.
Fleece, on the other hand, is a synthetic fabric composed of polyester that has a similar feel to wool. It’s not as soft or sumptuous, but it’s far more cheap and simple to maintain. While you may not think of these two possibilities while exploring textiles online, they are absolutely worth considering due to their distinctive qualities and look.
How Do You Know What Fabric to Use for a Dress?
Aside from the specific characteristics of each fabric mentioned above, there are a few key factors to consider when choosing the right material for your dress. These include stretchability and elasticity, two of the most crucial aspects of a fabric’s performance. Stretchy materials can wrap around the body and provide a snug and comfortable fit, allowing for more flexibility in movement. In contrast, non-stretch textiles can offer more structure and support but may require more precision in terms of measurements and fitting.
Additionally, you should look out for the weight and drapability of a fabric, as these qualities can greatly influence the overall look and feel of a dress. A lightweight material, like cotton or satin, can create a flowy and ethereal appearance, while heavier fabrics, such as denim or wool, can provide structure and definition. It’s essential to consider the style of dress you’re aiming for and choose a fabric that complements it accordingly.
Durability and resistance to fraying are also significant factors to keep in mind. Some fabrics may be more prone to wear and tear, especially if you plan on making a dress that will be worn frequently. While you may not want to compromise on a particular material’s qualities, they’re not always the most practical options in the long run.
Lastly, consider the care requirements and washing instructions of a fabric. Some materials may be more delicate and require special care, while others can withstand regular machine washing. If you’re making a dress for yourself or someone else, it’s crucial to know how to maintain its quality and appearance over time. This will ensure that your dress stays as beautiful and well-made as the day it was sewn.