Learn about the best fabric for dressmaking. Are you confused by all the fabric names on the back of your pattern envelope? Choosing the best fabrics for sewing clothing can make a huge difference in your final product. Most patterns will list a few suitable types of fabric to make it easier for you to decide but here are a few definitions to help you on your way.
Fabric for Dressmaking
Here are some of the most common fabric for dressmaking that you will come across. Most fabric shops are filled with hundreds or even thousands of fabrics but most fall into these simple categories.
Cotton is a natural fiber that is one of the most used fabric for dressmaking. It can be used alone or blended with man-made fibers to reduce the cotton and decrease the amount of wrinkled in the fabric. Cotton comes in endless weights but most clothing is sewn in a light to medium weight.
Voile is lightweight cotton that is slightly sheer. It generally drapes well and is soft and cool to wear. The Kaftan dress and top sewing pattern is perfect for Voile.
There are so many beautiful quilting cotton on the market today. They are great for using in children’s clothing patterns. Make sure you get light to medium weight ones. They are a little stiffer than regular cotton so choose a suitable pattern where you do not need drape.
Further Reading: Sewing Cotton
Calico is a plain-woven fabric generally in a neutral off-white color. It is usually cheap and is often used for testing patterns and sewing a muslin. I use Calico for doll making such as the Milly doll sewing pattern. Calico can have a more open weave so if you are planning to sew items other than testers, use a tightly woven one. Due to being a natural fabric, it is prone to shrinkage.
Chambray looks like a light-colored, thinner denim and is generally a little stiff. It makes nice shirts and skirts where you require a little body. I used chambray for this Paisley Skirt.
Further Reading: Sewing Denim
Corduroy has a pile with cords running down the fabric. These cords can be different thicknesses giving different looks and thicknesses of fabric. It usually has a good body to it and makes nice skirts and dresses where the silhouette is simple with not much gathering. I used a fine corduroy for the Lucy Dress. It is also great for clutch sewing patterns.
Denim is generally heavier in weight and has very little drape. It is great for simple skirts with no gathering and is often used for jeans of course.
Further Reading: Sewing Denim
Flannelette has a warm feel due to its fluffy surface. It is often used in pants and sleepwear. If you are making children’s clothing, make sure you get one which is non-flammable.
Knit is a general term used for stretchy fabrics. Fibers such as cotton or polyester are often blended with Lycra to give extra stretch. There are numerous different types of knits with different thicknesses and stretch factors.
Fleece is fluffy on both sides and is usually 100% polyester. It is popular for cozy lounge wear, tracksuits and ponchos. The edges don't fray so it is a great Winter fabric for beginners to sew.
Further Reading: Sewing Fleece
Rayon is one of my favorite fabrics for women's clothing as it is lightweight and drapes beautifully making it flattering on all shapes and sizes.
Further Reading: What is rayon/Sewing rayon
Silk comes in many types and is made by weaving strands produced by the silkworm. It usually has a lovely drape but can be a little harder for beginners to sew.
Further Reading: How to sew silk
Wool and wool blend fabrics make lovely Winter clothing items particularly jackets, dresses and skirts. Choose something that is not too thick for your machine to handle.
Further Reading: Sewing wool fabric
Fabrics for Dressmaking - In Conclusion
Here are some examples from my sewing patterns.
- 1. Quilting Fabric used for Isabella Romper Sewing Pattern
- 2. Calico used for the FREE Capelet Sewing Pattern
- 3. Corduroy used for the Anke Dress sewing pattern
- 4. Chambray used for the Paisley Skirt sewing pattern
- 5. Knit used for the Elise Dress sewing pattern
- CHIFFON – Sewing Chiffon
- BATIK – What is Batik
- CANVAS – Sewing Canvas
- COTTON – Sewing Cotton
- DENIM – Sewing Denim
- FELT – Sewing Felt
- FUR – Sewing Fur
- KNITS – How to Sew Stretch Fabric
- INTERFACING – Types of Interfacing
- LACE – How to Sew Lace
- LEATHER – Sewing Leather
- RAYON – Sewing Rayon
- SHEER – Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- SILK – How to Sew Silk
- THICK – Sewing Thick Fabrics
- VELVET Sewing Velvet
- WOOL – Sewing Wool
- FLEECE – Sewing Fleece