Your First Dressmaking Project – 5 Tips to Choose the Right Fabric

by | Aug 30, 2021

When your just starting out with your first dressmaking project, it can be overwhelming to choose the right fabric for your garment.

If you’re coming to Sewing School (5 week dressmaking course) these tips will help you pick a fabric for your project. If you need help choosing a pattern to make – Read this Post.

The choice can be completely overwhelming when you haven’t yet built your fabric knowledge and understanding. It’s hard to know where to start.

Here are my 5 tips that will help you choose your fabric for your first dressmaking project.

Go to a Real Fabric Shop

If at all possible, go into a real fabric shop. The staff there will usually have heaps of dressmaking experience and should be more than happy to give you advice and recommendations. Buying fabric is a tactile experience and you can’t beat actually stroking and touching the fabric to help you understand if it will work for your project.

As you become more confident and experienced with your fabric choices, you will be able to make more educated guesses when shopping online. Most online fabric retailers will offer a sample service where you can order a small sample to see/feel at home and help you make your decision.

Don’t ignore the Pattern Fabric Suggestions

Designers draft their patterns with specific fabrics in mind. The fabric suggestions provided will help you make better fabric choices.

But often they can be quite vague or very specific or use American terminology. This can be confusing and frustrating when you are a beginner sewist.

Extract the parts of it you do understand. For example is it designed for a knitted or woven fabric? Stiff or floaty? Light, medium or heavy weight?

Avoid Plain Fabrics Especially Black

Fabrics with a small random repeating pattern, such as a ditsy floral or an animal print, are much more forgiving than plain fabrics. This sort of patterned fabric will disguise any small tucks or puckers that would stand out on a plain fabric.

It is really difficult to see back stitches on black fabric. If you need to unpick any stitches (Which you will – it is a part of sewing!) then it is a nightmare on your eyes.

Another tricky thing to avoid is fabric where it’s hard to tell the right or wrong side. When both sides look the same it is easy to accidently make two left sleeves, for example. It is however easily avoided by marking the wrong side as soon as you have cut your fabric.

Avoid Checks, Stripes and Obvious Repeating Patterns

This is not just for your first dressmaking project – I would avoid until you are a bit more experienced. Mismatched patterns will not make your project look as good as it could. Pattern or stripe matching is not hard. It just takes a bit more thought. And there are enough new things for you to be thinking about when you are just starting out.

Choose a Fabric that does What it’s Told

By this I mean that it is stable and doesn’t more about a lot when you work with it. You don’t want something that will slip about or stretch out of shape. You want a fabric that will press (iron) crisply and will hold those pressed creases well.

A simple cotton poplin is an ideal first fabric. This is a fabric that is easy to handle and will behave itself.

Start to Build your Own Fabric Library

Download my free printable here to start to build up your fabric knowledge.

Keep fabric samples in a binder with notes on fabric composition and other properties of the fabric. This will be useful to refer back to when making future fabric choices.

Find out more about know to use the Know your Fabrics Printable here.

Love & Stitches

Alison xx

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