Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Beginner's Series: Fabric

So, you want to go out and buy fabric for the dress?

Ok, great.  So you walk into the fabric store and have a panic attack because of all the different kinds of fabric and you don't know which one to buy!  So, I wanted to write this post just for making this dress.  BUT!  If you are just starting to sew, one of the things I recommend to you is to go to a bunch of different fabric stores and touch all the fabric you can.  This is the only way you will be able to start differentiate between a challis and a chiffon; a damask and a jacquard; a lawn and a voile.  Or, you can do what I did, scout online sales and buy cheap fabric and work with it.  This is how I discovered my love of lawn.  I just loveses lawn. 


for this dress, I recommend using a cotton (especially if it's your first dress!).  It's easy to work with and easy to wear.  But, just saying cotton doesn't tell you anything.

Quilting Cotton:
*le sigh* no matter what I say, I will be saying something wrong here.  Some people are anti-quilting cotton (to use when making garments).  Other people think quilting cotton is the best thing!  My personal preference is to not use quilting cotton because 1) I can never make a professional looking garment with quilting cottons 2) I don't like how heavy it is in the summer 3) and I don't like the scratchy feel.  That being said, quilting cotton is a great place to start for beginners and those prints just pull me in!  As a warning, if you are going to use quilting cotton, I would advise against the shawl collar.  You can try it; it could work.  But, quilting cotton is pretty stiff.

Some ideas: Rainbow chevrons, records, I may have to get this fabric to match my glasses, photography dress, don't like bright prints? how about a pirate dress?, you know I love me some floral, fancy some sushi?, cherries?, or what about a nautical dress?

So, those are just random fabrics pulled up on Hart's fabric. 

Cotton Lawn:
I just love lawn.  Seriously, I could make me entire wardrobe out of it and be happy...cold during the winter, but happy. Next year for my birthday, I am going to get 3 yards of liberty.  I think this dress would look beautiful in this lawn, no?  Hmmmm....did you hear that?  Oh that's just my husband having a heart attack upon seeing the price tag of that one!  It is beautiful, but $47 a yard is a bit much.

So, cotton lawn provides a lot of prints, but is lightweight and breathable for the summers here on the northern hemisphere.  The only catch with lawn, is that you need to make sure that it is not see through!  If you buy it, bring it home and then realize that it's see through, don't panic.  Hop online, buy some batiste and underline it.  Don't know how to underline?  Stay tuned, I'll show you :)

Some ideas: alternative to the libertyretro asian lawn, more floral, yellow floral, ok, ok I have a slight obsession with floral lawns! 

Seersucker is pretty amazing stuff.  It hides wrinkles (see Mom, I listen to you!) and it hides puckered seams!  It's also super lightweight and pretty much perfect for summer.

Some ideas: gingham seersucker, striped seersucker, I can't find any more online, but sometimes Joanns has some pretty cool seersucker.

Swiss Dot:
You have probably seen swiss dot before.  Swiss dot is essentially a cotton lawn with little embroidered dots all over it.  It's like cotton lawn with chicken pox.  One thing to keep in mind, make sure that if your fabric is see through, grab some lightweight cotton to underline the pieces with!

Here is an example of what it looks like.  I can't really find too much on the interwebs right this second.

Have somewhere fancy to go?  This dress would look great in a brocade.  Brocade really isn't too difficult to work with either.  I do have some pretty black brocade, however if I use it for this, you guys wont be able to see too much. 

Some ideas: this is super pretty, if I had a complexion other than "pasty white" I would buy this fabric in a heart beat :), love the dark colors on this one!

Sateen is on the heavier side of cotton.  I personally love sateen, I haven't sewn with it too much though.  I have a 3 yard piece in my stash and I don't know if I will ever use it.  It's just so pretty. Sateen is not very drapey at all, so the pleats on this dress would stand out a little more than if you use swiss dot or lawn.

Some ideas: Green/Purple floral print,

Well, anyways.  I hope that gives you guys some ideas. 

Things you should keep in mind when buying fabric:
1) If this is your first big project, stay away from anything slippery, silky, or shiny (other than sateen).   Sateen isn't super shiny, but don't go and get satin or silk/silk-type.  Trust me, do yourself a favor and stick with easy right now.

2) Ask yourself what you want the dress to look like.  If you want it light, go with a light weight fabric (swiss dot, lawn).  If you want it to have a little more body, go with a medium weight (sateen, brocade, some lawn). Pick up the bolt of fabric and unroll a couple feet.  Is the fabric stiff?  Is the fabric light and airy?

3) Ask yourself what collar you are going to use.  A light airy voile (similar to a lawn, but less crisp) will not react well if you try to make the structured stand collar, but it would look nice as a shawl collar.  A medium weight sateen would look good with both collars, but the shawl collar will be stiff.

4) Don't buy knit fabric.  Seriously, just don't do it.  Knits are easy to work with, but you would have to adjust this pattern.  

5) Remember the pleats in the dress.  A lighter weight fabric will kind of disguise the pleats, while a medium weight fabric will make them stand out a little more.  Does this make sense??

6) Check the opacity of your fabric BEFORE you leave the store.  That way you will know that you need a voile, batiste, or a lawn to underline with.


  1. I think this is a great post. The only thing I would add is try to check if the fabric frays a lot at the fabric store . Fabrics that fray like crazy can be a lot more work. I just bought a few meters of some unknown fibre content but it looked a bit like suede. Anyway, it fell to pieces in the dryer and I will be vacuuming out the dryer tonight....UGh!

  2. definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the web
    Top Ten Web Hosting Reviews