Dressmaking for Complete Beginners - Best Fabrics for a first time project

When it comes to fabrics that are suitable for making your own clothes and garments, the choice is huge! This is great, and really exciting but it can seem like a mine field when you first start dressmaking - sometimes too much choice is overwhelming and not a good thing.

In this blog post, which complements my other blog post on choosing a sewing pattern for a first time garment project, I want to narrow down that choice and focus on the best type of fabrics to choose for beginner dressmakers.

You can see the different fabrics up close and hear me chat about them in my latest Youtube video and find examples of them linked below.

Fabric properties - Woven vs stretch fabrics

Generally speaking, woven fabrics are easier to work with when you are still a beginner. There are some exceptions to that rule, but for the sewing patterns I recommended in my corresponding beginner patterns blog post, it’s all about the woven fabrics so stick with that for now!

Fabric composition - What should the fabric be made from?

As well as the type of fabric, knowing what the fabric is made from, or the ‘fiber content’ as it is often referred to, can make a difference to how easy the fabric is to work with.

Fibers like cotton and linen, or a mix of both cotton and linen is a good choice for beginner dressmakers as they are stable, won’t stretch or shift out of place and they also press well with the iron and stay in position. This makes techniques like hemming much easier!

Fabrics that are polyester or a mix of polyester with other fibers don’t take a crease as well, which can make them harder to sew with.

Fabric type/name - What is the fabric actually called?

There are lots of terms and names to describe different fabrics, you can check out our glossary of fabric types in this link for a more detailed list.

For beginner dressmakers the types of fabrics that are the easiest to work with are cotton lawn, cotton poplin, medium weight cotton (sometimes called quilting cotton), chambray, denim, corduroy, canvas, cotton twill, cotton flannel/brushed cotton, linen, ramie.

Best fabric for beginners for PJ bottoms/gathered waist trousers

If you are actually going to wear your trousers to bed, then picking a lightweight softer fabric will be more comfortable. Cotton Lawn, cotton poplin, cotton flannel/brushed cotton are all great choices.

If you are looking to make some nice summery trousers to wear in the day then linen, ramie, chambray or light weight denim are good choices.

Best fabric for beginners for simple tops

For simple tops, like the patterns suggested in my patterns for beginners blog post (linked below) cotton lawn, chambray, lightweight linen and ramie and light weight denim are good options.

Best fabric for beginners for simple skirts

For simple skirts, a fabric with a bit more structure that is thicker is best. For example, cotton twill, corduroy, denim, heavier weight linen and ramie.

For a list of sewing patterns that pair with all of these fabrics, check out my post on the Best Sewing Patterns for beginner dressmakers linked below!


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