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Dressmaking Fabric - Beginners Guide

If you're new to the world of Dressmaking it can be a bit of a daunting task choosing the right dressmaking fabric for your project. Here are a few tips to guide you through the maze to your perfect dress.

Beginners guide to Dressmaking Fabric

The Dressmaking Fabrics you'll be looking at will either be woven or knitted, and range from fabrics made from animal fibres like wool/silk, plant fibres such as cotton/linen or man-made fibres like nylon. You'll find that knitted fabrics are far more stretchy than woven ones.

Here is a brief list to help you decide what fabric you may need:

  • Cotton – This is the most adaptable fabric. Cotton comes in many different weights from light-weight to heavy canvas. It can be used for a wide variety of things such as often shirts, skirts, trousers, jeans and bags. Fabrics such as denim, moleskin and corduroy are generally made from cotton. Prices can vary but most cottons are very affordable especially for dressmaking.
  • Cotton jersey/knit – Knitted by machine from fine cotton thread this is what most t-shirts are made of. It’s stretchy and comfortable to wear, but a bit more difficult to work with.
    • Linen – Woven linen is pleasantly easy to sew with and comes in a wide range of of weights. It can tend to crease and is generally blended with cotton. Its main use is in making summer clothes. Linen does tend to be quite expensive.
    • Polyester and polycotton – This is a synthetic woven fabric. Polyester is generally light-weight and crease resistant. Polycottons are a blend of polyester and cotton. These fabrics are very affordable and fantastic for beginners to dressmaking.
  • Silk – A dressmaking fabric with a beautiful sheen to it. Very slippery, this woven fabric is often used for luxurious blouses and dresses. Silk can be quite expensive and is also very difficult to sew with.
  • Wool – Comes knitted or woven. Woollen fabrics are often made into suits, coats as well as posh skirts and trousers. Its fairly expensive and tends to need dry cleaning.

The best Dressmaking Fabrics for beginners

When you are a beginner it’s always a good idea to buy dressmaking fabric that is easy to sew and not too expensive. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, everyone ends up ruining some fabric at some point! To make the job as easy as possible look for:

  • Woven fabrics that will not slip or stretch too much when you sew it. This really means choosing cotton, linen or a cotton-linen blend. Avoid silk, rayon, shiny polyester and  jersey and other knitted fabrics.
  • Plain colours or small prints will allow you to piece your dress together without having to worry about an exact pattern match. Avoid stripes, checks and big patterns for the moment as they are more difficult to lay out.
  • Light- to medium-weight Dressmaking Fabrics. It's best to wait until you have more experience to tackle heavy-weight fabrics like denim as they are harder to manipulate. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of bumpy or ridged fabrics like corduroy for your first attempt at sewing.