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.
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.
We make our clients feel fabulous by creating garments that fit and flatter your figure. DianaRose Custom Apparel is your source for custom made clothing in the Fraser Valley in beautiful British Columbia. With over 40 years experience as a dressmaker, Diana’s attention to detail is exceptional. For that special event, or an evening out, a hand-made garment that looks great and fits perfectly will boost your self confidence and make the event wonderfully memorable. Our goal is to bring a smile to our customers as they see themselves in the mirror because they feel fabulous about the way they look.
Follow this blog for hints and tips on all facets of dressmaking from fabric choice to finishing touches. We hope to take some of the mystery out of the art of dressmaking and inspire you to have your design ideas made into reality. You can contact us at www.dianarose.ca