When you decide to learn how to sew, one of the first things that you’ll learn about are the different fabric types, along with the types of fabric textures that can truly affect which one you choose to use for each project.
Most sewing instructions will provide you with suggestions on what type of fabric to use but when you have different options, it’s a lot easier to choose something unique and personalized in the end.
Fortunately, you have dozens of fabric types and textures to choose from so getting the perfect look in the end should be very simple for you.
First Things First
If you’re similar to most people, you won’t just choose your fabric on how it looks. You’ll also choose it based on how it feels in your hands; in other words, you’ll consider the texture of the fabric. Many projects will have instructions that specify the exact type and texture of your fabric but if they do not, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding fabric that suits the project perfectly.
Talking about the texture of a fabric means talking about the materials used to make the fabric and the formulas used to make the fabrics in the right percentages. For instance, different materials and formulas include the fiber, the yarn used, the knitting techniques, weaving techniques, and the final touch, among other things. You can get fabric in 100% cotton or cotton with blends of another fabric, for example.
When we talk about the texture of the fabric, we are also talking about how the fabric feels in the end and that feel depends a lot on the combination of materials and formulas used to get the combination you’re looking for.
If you’re wondering why all of this is important, consider this: whether you’re working on a piece of clothing or something that will be used to decorate a piece of furniture, the final look is always the result of the fibers, yarn, etc., which is why you should always spend time choosing the right type of fabric for your project.
Types of Fabric Textures
Before we go any further, let’s talk about the main textures used in various fabrics; in other words, the fibers being used for the fabrics. They are as follows:
Cotton is by far the most common fiber for all types of clothing and other projects. This is because it is soft yet strong and very flexible. In fact, when you’re creating pajamas, shirts and blouses, and even underwear, there is nothing better to use than cotton.
Why? Because cotton is high in quality and comfort yet is very inexpensive most of the time. In addition, it is easy to mix cotton with other fabrics to give it a little more durability; usually, these other fabrics are those that are more rugged and a lot heavier than cotton.
Here are some of the pros and cons of choosing cotton fabric for your project:
- It has natural fibers
- It is breathable
- It is hypoallergenic
- When it gets hot, it will burn but not melt altogether
- It holds moisture longer
- It is prone to shrinking
Silk fibers are smooth and more durable than many people believe; of course, it’s soft and comfortable feel is what people tend to love about it most. Silk is a natural fiber and rather expensive when it isn’t combined with other fibers, which is why you see far more silk blends than you do all-silk items.
Think about silk bed sheets or silk blouses that are 100% silk and not a blend. Once you discover the price, you’ll understand why most items do not contain 100% silk fibers because these are always more expensive than the blends.
Is silk worth the cost? Most people answer that question with a resounding “yes.” If you’d like to discover some of the pros and cons of silk fabric, here they are:
- It is incredibly smooth and soft
- It is free of chemicals and contains only natural “ingredients”
- It is extremely hypoallergenic
- It is very pricey and can be unaffordable for many
- It is very difficult to care for and keep clean
When you think about clothing that is made with sophistication and a sense of style, it’s easy to think about tweed. This fabric is considered exclusive even though it has been around for more than one hundred years.
Tweed is soft and flexible but still very durable. It is also resistant to moisture, water, and dirt. When clothing manufacturers use different threads for this type of fabric, the item made ends up being even more unique and attractive.
Below are some advantages and disadvantages to using tweed fabric:
- It is breathable because it absorbs and releases moisture quickly
- It doesn’t need washing very often
- It is very warm because it acts as an insulator
- It can shrink if washed improperly
- It must be dry-cleaned only
Wool is used all over the world during the winter months because it is so warm and insulating. The texture of wool is soft and comfortable, and it is used in everything from socks to gloves, blankets, and winter garments.
Most people love the feel of wool against their skin but some people don’t respond well to it and it feels itchy and scratchy to them. A lot of this depends on the type of wool used and if it’s blended in with other fibers and fabrics.
Some of the advantages and disadvantages to wool fabric include:
- It is resistant to wrinkles
- It dyes extremely well
- It is comfortable and durable
- Heat and moisture will shrink it
- It gets weaker when it is wet
Texture Is Important
In many ways, the texture of a piece of fabric is more important than what it’s made out of, which is why so many people consider this characteristic before anything else. If you’re not convinced how important a fabric’s texture is, consider the following:
- Types of fabric textures can be associated with certain ideas, feelings, nostalgia, and a lot of other things.
- Hospitals always aim for soft sheets so the patients will feel better, thanks to the texture.
- Textures of fabrics can give off a “masculine” or “feminine” style; e.g., velvet is construed as a feminine material while leather is construed as male.
- Textures such as Lycra and denim evoke a sense of energy and vitality.
- Satin, silk, and lace textures evoke a sense of familiarity.
- Textures such as tweed and fleece evoke a warm and relaxing feeling.
- We look at the visual texture of a fabric when deciding which fabric to buy.
- What would baby blankets be if they weren’t soft, smooth, and puffy?
- When was the last time you remembered the bed in a hotel room for the design? No, you remember it for the way it feels.
When you’re starting on a new sewing project, the texture of the fabric is going to help you determine which fabric to use, which is why it is so important to touch and feel the fabric in your hands before making your final decision.
Fabrics can look one way in an online store and feel completely different once you get a hold of them so if you’re ordering your fabric online, make sure that it’s something you’ve worked with in the past so you know exactly what you’re buying.
Whether you like something smooth or rough, thick or thin, brightly colored or in neutral tones, solid-colored or print, you can find the type of texture you’re looking for, thanks to everything that is now available.
The season and your personal preferences and taste will likely be the final deciding factors; after all, who wants to wear a cotton skirt in the middle of January? But whatever your tastes dictate that you choose, you can easily find it every time, especially if you shop online.
There are lots of textures available when it comes to the fabric you choose for your next sewing project. All types of fabric textures can be found in both brick-and-mortar and online fabric stores. If you’re not sure which fabric type to choose, the experts at either of these stores can help you decide. The instructions that come with your sewing project often recommend a fabric type so you should always start there when deciding which fabric to choose.
Type and texture are also two different things, but the way the fabric feels is likely the first thing you’ll consider when shopping for fabric. It’s also the first thing most people look for when shopping for clothes in a retail store, which tells you how important it is.
Fortunately, even if you know nothing about fabrics and textures, you can do a little due diligence online before you get started so that in the end, your sewing project turns out just right every time.