CHOOSING AND BUYING FABRICS
IT’S IMPORTANT TO CHOOSE the correct fabric for your pattern. Most patterns give suggested fabric types that will work best with the style of garment. Use this to guide you as some patterns need more drape, body or structure than others.
Fabric can be made from natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and silk or synthetic fibres such as acetate, acrylic, nylon, polyester, rayon and viscose. All these fabric come in different weights, or thicknesses, which suit different garments.
Lightweight fabrics are ideal for lingerie, nightwear and summer clothing, and include cheesecloth, chiffon, crepe-de-chine, georgette, lawn, muslin, organdie, organza and voile.
Medium-weight fabrics, which work for dresses, shirts, trousers and childrenswear, include calico, cotton, crepe, dupion, linen, poplin and finer wool.
Heavy-weight fabrics are used for garments or projects needing more strength, like coats, jackets, winter wear and bags. Canvas, corduroy, denim, tweeds, velvet and wool are all in this category.
Some patterns require fabrics that are quite fluid and have a good drape to make them hang properly, such as a circle skirt or blouse. Synthetic or synthetic mix fabrics such as rayon, challis, chiffon or lightweight jersey have a better drape to them.
Stretch and knit fabrics such as jersey and lycra are virtually crease free and comfortable to wear. They can be bought in a variety of thicknesses and qualities depending on their use but are ideal for sportswear and casual clothing.
Interfacing gives an extra layer of support to your fabric – for example, to stiffen facings and collars. Choose an interfacing that’s slightly lighter than your main fabric, and if you’re using a fusible (iron-on) option then always test it on a scrap of the fabric first as it can melt if the iron is too hot.
Interfacing is available in different weights and as an iron-on (fusible) or sew-in version. With fusible interfacing, press the shiny side to the wrong side of your fabric. Tack sew-in interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric pieces around the edges.
If you’re buying fabric off a roll (or bolt) then you’ll usually buy it by the metre. This is only the length of the fabric you’re buying – the width depends on the width of the roll. Fabrics are sold in standard widths, which vary according to their purpose – for example, dressmaking or quilting fabric generally comes in standard widths of 112cm (44in) or 150cm (60in). Curtain or soft furnishing fabric is normally 137cm (54in) wide and is really useful for bags and aprons as it’s thicker and stronger than dressmaking fabrics. The fabric requirements on the pattern instructions will tell you what length of fabric to buy, usually with two width choices. Some patterns, such as large circle skirts, can only be cut from the wider fabrics.