Bottom weight, Suit weight, Light weight etc. What do they all mean? I found it easiest to understand by going to The Bay and handling the garments in their boutique sections to get a “feel” for the weights used in their garments. For example, a good pair of pants will be made of a heavier material than a dress. The pants need the weight to hang properly. They are made of a “bottom weight” fabric. When making pants you want the fabric to stand up to being sat in all day, it needs to hold a crease, it needs to be heavy enough that our bumps and wrinkles are not evident and strong enough to hold in our tummies. Denim is a good example of Bottom Weight.
Suit weight has strength in the weave and some body to hold its shape. Perfect for skirts, tailored dresses and blazers, it also used for lined pants. Suit weight fabrics are a little finer than the typical “bottom weight” as the expectation is that the finished garment will be lined giving it extra strength. Gabardine and wool crepe are typical suit weights.
Light weight covers a wide range of uses. A light weight cotton will perform very differently than a light weight silk. Generally, you will want this weight for tops and summer dresses. It will drape softly, and be picked up by the wind.
Before choosing your fabric, read the back of the pattern envelope for the designer’s suggestions. A quality clothing store may have a garment in a similar style and you can check out the feel of that fabric to help you choose the right one for your project. And as always, ask the staff at your local fabric store. My website has a list of some of my favourite stores in the Greater Vancouver Area http://www.dianarose.ca/links.html. I’d love to hear your comments.