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How do you know which fabric you want to use for each new item?

1 Apr 2019

This is how I do it.... I ask the following questions 

1. What do I want to make? What is it for? Home, work, special occasion?

2. Does the  dressmaking fabric need to stretch or drape, stick out, be durable or just pretty? What properties does the fabric need?

3. What colour/print/ design do I want /like/ need to match what I currently have?

4. What other fabrics or clothes will I wear with it? 


Think about what you have in your wardrobe.... What garments do you wear on each part of the body?

I tend to wear knitted, stretchy tops and woven bottoms... this is how I feel comfy. I'm not used to wearing shirts and blouses and feel at my best in a tee shirt or jumper with either a pair of jeans, trousers and occasionally a skirt . This allows me to stretch freely over the cutting table as easily as sitting at the sewing machine.

Think about what you feel comfortable in... is it a formal blouse and trousers or skirt or a stretchy dress? Do you like jackets and trousers or are you a jeans person? We are all different and are used to wearing different clothing for different occasions, like work, shopping and going out for a meal or to a club.

What are you planning this item for? Casual everyday clothing, work or occasion. Maybe you want to make a dressing up outfit for a fancy dress party or for the kids party that they are going to.


This will affect the decisions you will make.

Take a pair of trousers for example 

1. Tailored trousers - I would choose a wool/wool mix, structured fabric. 

2. Drapery wider trousers - woven viscose, linen, soft flowing fabric that hangs in folds. This may be to go on holiday, wear around the house etc.

3. Leggings - stretch jerseys, for best shape use fabric with lycra/elastane 

4. Yoga or slouch pants - soft drapy Jersey fabric, possibly with viscose for extra drape. 

How do I know this? 

Over the years of making, wearing, creating new garments, you build up your own experiences, know what you like, and don't like. You can do this too. I will write more on fabric types and other helpful information in future blogs.

Fabric types:

These are defined by various factors and can be found in a wide combination of these factors. 

1. Fibre composition

* natural fibres like cotton and linen and wool

* man-made fibres like polyester, nylon, acrylic etc. 

* regenerated fibres, like viscose. 

2. Method of manufacture 

* woven (made on a loom with warp and weft fibres) 

*weft kniited fabric made by hand (knitting needles at the ready), or by machine. 

* warp knitted, made by machine. 

*  felted fibres

3. Finishing treatments

* washes to make them softer, or firmer, or waterproof etc. 

For example understanding that each part of these 3 characteristics gives the fabric its properties can help you choose your fabric wisely from your local fabric stores online or instore.