If you’re starting a new sewing project, or if you’re new to sewing altogether, it can seem a bit overwhelming deciding which type of fabric to use. There are many different types of fabric, and each one has its own form and function.
Things to consider when choosing fabric:
- Appropriate for what you’re sewing
- Will fabric shrink
- Is fabric comfortable
- Is fabric too expensive
Ultimately, the fabric that you should use for sewing depends on what you’re sewing, as well as on your personal preference. In this article, we’ll outline the different types of fabrics that are common so you can decide which fabric to use for sewing.
Factors Involved in Deciding Which Fabric to Use for Sewing
There are a lot of different characteristics of fabric – much more than simply the feel and look of the material. There are many factors that you will need to take into consideration when choosing a fabric.
One of the first things to consider is whether your material is natural or synthetic, or if it’s some combination of both.
- Natural fabrics – cotton, silk, etc. – are generally better for the skin and are great for making clothes. Some people find natural fabrics to be more ethical and sustainable.
- Synthetic fabrics – polyester, nylon, etc. – are made through some sort of non-natural manufacturing process. Some people find these fabrics to be just as effective as natural fabrics.
Once you have decided upon whether you would prefer your material to be natural or synthetic, you can further decide upon which fabric to use for sewing. Things to consider include:
The first and most obvious thing will be to make sure that the fabric you want to use suits the project that you’re going to be making.
If you’re not sure what sort of materials are the most appropriate for the project that you’re working on, then consider some of the following.
Some fabrics shrink more than others, and while it’s pretty much a guarantee that most fabrics will shrink at least a little bit, some of them will shrink much more than others.
Natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool, and silk, tend to shrink quite a bit. This is one of the reasons that synthetic materials have become so popular for making clothing.
Another thing to consider is the comfort of the material that you’ll be using – that is, how it feels when it comes into contact with your skin. It’s also important to consider who will be wearing the garment.
Silk and cotton tend to be very comfortable, but they can easily shrink. Some people may find wool to be an itchy fabric and may not enjoy wearing it.
It’s also important to make sure that the fabric you choose has the grain in the right direction, in accordance with the design. If the grain isn’t proper, the garment will be rather uncomfortable.
Some fabrics are much more expensive than others. Silk, for example, may be one of the most comfortable fabrics but it comes with a high price tag. More affordable materials, such as cotton, may not be as comfortable or durable.
Different Materials for Different Projects
This is a list of some of the most common materials used for sewing projects.
Cotton is possibly the most commonly used type of fabric for making clothes, at least in the Western world. Cotton is a form of woven fabric and can easily be found in a variety of different colors.
Cotton is very easy to sew and work with, which makes it an ideal fabric for someone who is just learning how to sew. However, veterans and experienced sewers often choose to continue working with cotton simply because of its simplicity and versatility.
Cotton is breathable and comfortable and can be used to make a variety of things ranging from blankets to T-shirts to bed sheets.
Silk is another important fabric. Silk is very smooth and has a pleasant feel, making it an attractive option for making things like bed sheets and pajamas or dresses. Silk is considered a relatively high-class fabric, and as such is often quite expensive.
Silk with a high thread count is generally more durable and comfortable than silk with low thread counts. The latter fall apart much easier, and need to be kept in cool, dry places.
Silk can often be tough to work with and can carry a lot of static. Silk is not the best material for a beginning sewer to use.
Fleeces and Flannels
Fleeces and flannels are great materials for beginners. They are a bit thicker than the average material, but they are easy to cut and can be stitched quite easily. You generally won’t need a special needle for working with flannels.
Flannels and fleeces can be used to make warm jackets and overcoats, sweaters, pants, and household items like blankets.
Linen is an ideal fabric for making bed sheets, pillowcases, and the like. Linen is similar to cotton, but often considered more elegant. It can be used to make clothes, but it may not be as ‘pretty’ as some other fabrics.
Linen tends to wrinkle a lot, which makes it less appealing for clothing and also less ideal for beginning fabrics.
Satin is like silk in its appearance and feel. Satin is a much more affordable material that can create things of a similar appearance. Pajamas, wedding clothes, and other occasion wear items can be made very well with satin.
Unfortunately, sewing with satin can be tough. It can be hard to make nice seams, and as such, only experienced sewers should try to work with satin.
Polyester is one of the most popular synthetic materials for sewing. It is easy to work with, stretches enough, and is resistant to things like mildew and moths. It is also tremendously easy to wash and take care of.
Video - How to Buy Fabric
Choosing the proper fabric is important for ensuring that your sewing project turns out good. This article has outlined some of the most popular fabrics for sewing and provided you with criteria that you can use to decide which fabric to use for sewing.