A Sewers Guide To Fabrics

A Sewers Guide To Fabrics

So you’ve got your sewing machine all set up and ready, your pattern is right there ready and waiting, but the question is, have you got the right fabric? Perhaps you’re new to sewing having just picked up a beginners sewing machine, or maybe you’re creating a product that’s completely new to you. It can sometimes be difficult to know which fabric is best to use for what.

If you’ve ever finished a product and realised you’ve used the wrong fabric, you’ll know how frustrating it can be. You may have discovered that something isn’t as breathable as you thought or it’s full of wrinkles that don’t want to iron out. Hopefully, with this guide to fabrics, you’ll never choose wrong again (fingers crossed!) and have a better knowledge of what is best used where!


Cotton can be used for a whole bunch of products as is often favoured by beginners due to how easy it is to work with. The natural fiber is easy to wash, absorbent and can be used to make a whole range of things from clothes to upholstery. It’s also very easy to cut, meaning that it’s hard to make mistakes with. However, be mindful that cotton is prone to shrinking - especially on the first wash! Consider pre-shrinking it before you begin to avoid making a piece that may be too small after washing.


Linen is also a sewing machine friendly material and is often used for garments in the industry because of it’s cool, light properties. Although like cotton is is best pre-washed first, light linen is relatively user friendly and can even be embroidered on if you have the skill. Despite it being a fabric that wrinkles easy it makes for a great choice for spring/summer clothes. Just make sure to finish those seams as it has a tendency to ravel!


Polyester is widely used when creating sportswear because of its durable and wrinkle-proof nature. It is often very form-fitting but can also be clingy if it isn’t a polyester-cotton blend. If you’re looking for an absorbent fabric, polyester may not be the right choice!


A lot of people think of wool as thick and hard to work with, but that isn’t necessarily always the case and it does, in fact, matter on the quality of the wool you purchase. It is possible to make comfortable garments or pieces of upholstery with wool, but it may take some investing. It is much like cotton in the fact that it is breathable and absorbent, however it is much more insulating so perfect for creating warmer pieces of clothing. 


Silk is usually a material left to the more advanced sewists. Not only is it commonly more expensive but can be easily damaged beyond fixing so extreme care is needed when working with this particular fabric. Silk is a beautiful, yet temperamental fabric and can also be expensive in its upkeep. Washing regularly will often cause the item to lose its shape so dry cleaning is often recommended.


Sewing with denim can be very appealing as it’s often desirable to make the best fitting jeans for yourself, but sew away with caution! Denim is a fabric that must be pre-treated before using to help avoid bleeding and shrinking. However, denim can be a super exciting fabric to work with and often looks great with embroidery on it as an added extra customisation. Embroidery machines can help with this.

Now that you know what fabrics are like, you can choose the best one to suit your next project. Will you be making some socks or a skirt? Maybe a new jean denim skirt?

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