7 Tips for Choosing Fabrics

Choosing the right fabric is the first step in creating a great sewing project.  I have been asked many times “how do know which fabric will work?”  There are many answers and sometimes it simply comes down to experience. I have made some great mistakes in my early sewing career and the biggest one was using cheap fabric. The result was a garment I didn’t want to wear and to put that much work into something that hangs “like a dish rag” as my grandmother put it, was frustrating in the extreme.  Shop around by all means, but choose carefully and be sure the fabric suits the project.  Here are some tips to consider when shopping:

1-      Read the pattern envelope for suggestions.

2-      Go to a reputable fabric store and ask knowledgeable sales staff

3-      Avoid on-line shopping until you really know fabrics, their names, weights and descriptions

4-      Unroll the bolt of fabric to see how it drapes over your body or hangs from your arm

5-      Touch the fabric; rub it between your fingers to get the feel of it. This is called the “Hand”. If your skin is sensitive like mine gently pull the fabric across the inside of your wrist to see if it is “scratchy”.

6-      Squeeze a corner tightly in your hand to see how it creases and take into consideration how much you like ironing before buying. For example, sewing with linen is a dream, taking care of it can be a pain.

7-      Make sure the care of the fabric matches the use of your project; you don’t want to make an apron out of a “dry clean only” fabric!

Good luck with your project! Watch for more blogs on this topic on this site.

2 thoughts on “7 Tips for Choosing Fabrics

    • All woven fabrics have a bias. The exact bias is 45° from the selvage. If you hold a woven fabric by one corner and pull gently the bias is where the fabric stretches the most. It is important to be aware of the grain of the fabric because if you cut the pattern off the grain your garment will not hang properly. The straight of grain is parallel with the selvage. This is true with all fabric whether knits or woven. Ever had a T-shirt that after it was washed the seams twisted around your body? It was cut “off the grain”. Woven fabrics will “relax” along the bias. For example a circle skirt that has not been allowed to hang for a few days before hemming will end up with an uneven hem. It will be longer where the bias has “relaxed” and the right length where the seams and straight grains are. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking. I will go into more depth in a future blog.

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