Fabric choices for a beginner


A great pattern coupled with suitable fabric makes a great project.

When I first picked up sewing, fabric choices were overwhelming. Even within the category of cotton, there are so many variations. I often get confused at my local fabric shop while choosing the correct fabric for my projects. Most often than not, I end up with gorgeous fabric only to realize that they are either too difficult to handle or a total misfit for the pattern I have in mind. Think knit fabric which can be a challenge for beginners!

While you can always get some fabric recommendation on store bought patterns, it may or may not entirely suit your style. I’ll say, to still look at it as a guide and work from there.

Let’s see, what I’ve learnt so far is that fabrics are either knitted or woven and that knitted fabrics are stretchier than woven ones. Like Jersey knit and Cotton.

These are some commonly used fabric:

Cotton – A woven fabric that comes in different weights. This fabric is very versatile and is perfect for dresses/shirts/ skirts.

Chiffon – This fabric is lightweight, a balanced plain woven fabric that is made from cotton, silk or synthetic fabric. This fabric is commonly used in evening wear as an overlay to give it elegance or it can also be found in blouses and ribbons.

Jersey – Jersey is a knit fabric that is made from wool, cotton and synthetic fibers. Single knitted jersey is commonly seen in t-shirts and double knitted jersey is heavier hence great for dresses or anything that needs a little more drape.

Linen – Blended with cotton, linen is a woven material. Linen tends to crease quite abit but because of it being lightweight and airy, it is perfect for slacks/shorts.

Silk – This woven fabric is soft, smooth and has a luxurious feel to it. Silk is seen to be used in Cheong Sams, lingeries and even blouses. Silk can be expensive.

Synthetic Fibers – Often seen as Nylon, Polyester, Spandax just to name a few can be extremely stretchable and it doesn’t crease easily. I suppose it can be quite good for a bodycon dress.

Wool – This fabric can be either knitted or woven. It is usually heavier in weight and besides having it as coats/jackets, it can be made into blankets or even baby swaddles.

My all time personal favourite is Cotton. It is extremely easy to deal with and is so airy and comfortable, perfect for this weather in Singapore! Should you be interested in making some dresses, I’ll suggest shirting cotton.

The prints on quilting cotton can be really cute, while I know of people who will sew garments with it, it is actually not as comfortable as pure cotton. So I’ll suggest using quilting cotton for other projects like cushion covers etc.

As a beginner trying out a new pattern, what I found to be very useful is to sew the patterns out of a muslin. Because muslin are generally very cheap, I wouldn’t feel a pinch should I mess up my sew. Having said that, I’m sometimes too lazy or impatient to test it out on a muslin.

Have fun exploring the world of fabrics!

1 thought on “Fabric choices for a beginner

  1. Pingback: Sew Many Books: Perfectly Fitted -- An Excellent Primer on Pattern Making

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