Choosing the right fabric to create your clothes can be tough. Finding the right fabric is the first step in your garment sewing process. To help you along your way, here are 5 tips for buying the best clothing fabrics.
First, you’ll want to choose what kind of clothing fabric you prefer, and this falls into two major categories. First, natural fiber fabrics. Cotton, hemp, and linen are examples of natural fabrics. Natural fabrics are soft, absorbent, and generally easy to care for. For sensitive skin, natural fibers are often preferred. Unfortunately, natural fibers are also more likely to tear.
Second, synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester, and rayon are durable and resistant to the wear and tear of wearing apparel over and over. These fabrics tend to try quickly; this makes them perfect for athletic clothes. Synthetic fabrics are not ideal for people with hypersensitive skin. Some synthetic fabrics don’t breathe well, either. It depends on the types of materials used.
Our suggestion is to start off with cotton fabric if this is your first garment sewing project. Cotton is less finicky than other fabrics. Let’s discuss why:
Cotton isn’t just one type of fabric. There are at least 100 different kinds of clothing fabrics made of cotton. If you’re looking for fabric with comfort in mind, look for knitted and woven cottons. They breathe, feel good even when it’s hot, and best of all it’s easy to sew. If you’re about to embark on your first garment sewing project, we highly suggest using cotton. The key disadvantage to this inexpensive fabric is that it’s more likely to wrinkle than synthetic fabrics. Here are other benefits to cotton:
For conscientious makers, make sure you’re sure about where your animal-based clothing fabrics are coming from. Leather, wool, silk, cashmere, and angora are examples of animal-sourced fabrics. So, before jumping into buying these types of fabrics, do some research. Also, animal-based fabrics are not considered vegan. All of these fabrics have different benefits when making apparel (and some downsides too). For example, wool is strong, breathable, and water resistant. However, it can be itchy, requires special care, and can shrink with relative ease.
As we’ve said before, every fabric has its own special characteristics. You can search for fabrics online based on your desired outcome. Do you want something easy to sew with and flattering? Then cotton might be right for you. If you want something breathable, sustainable, and that softens over time, hemp might be the best material for the job. For projects that need to be stretchy but keep their shape, Lycra or Spandex may be appropriate.
As you get better at sewing and working with different clothing fabrics, you’ll eventually venture into blended fabric territory. Blended fabrics are two or more fabrics woven together to get the benefits of each. However, blends are often more difficult to work with. Yet, they create some stunning pieces. When working from patterns, be sure to always check what the pattern maker suggests for fabric types. Using the wrong fabric can completely ruin your garment. Common fabric pairings include nylon/wool, linen/cotton, linen/rayon, polyester/cotton, and so many more!
At Canvas, ETC, we love working with our customers to find the right fabrics for their sewing projects. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media to ask questions and share your projects! We can’t wait to see what you create with clothing fabrics.