Are you ready to expand your fabric repertoire? If you limit yourself to sewing with fabrics that you’ve used before, you’re bound to get bored! Challenge yourself to experiment with more types of fabric — here are some suggestions to extend your textile choice and create a whole new look in your wardrobe.
Photo via SunnyGal Studio
Love quilting cotton? Try cotton voile!
Quilting cottons are so appealing — they come in such a range of colors, themes and prints. However, most quilting cottons are not as suitable for sewing garments as fabrics that are manufactured specifically for garments. Quilting cottons are often a bit stiff, they tend to wrinkle and they lack the drape we want in clothing.
If you love cotton, then give cotton voile a try. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear in hot weather, and it comes in a wonderful range of prints. Blouses or floaty tunic tops in cotton voile are very popular now. Due to its lightweight nature, cotton voile is perfect for styles that have gathers but where you want to minimize bulk. It presses beautifully and even washes well. Be sure to preshrink, like any other cotton fabric.
Love ITY polyester knit? Try rayon jersey!
There are so many ITY jersey polyester knits to choose from and they do travel well. If you like garments sewn with ITY knits, give other jersey knits a try.
Both rayon jersey and bamboo jersey are made from plant fibers and have a more natural, breathable feel. These natural-fiber jerseys come in a wide array of prints, colors and even textures. They are also great travel items and wash easily. Pre-shrink before sewing; they can be machine washed and dried.
Love ponte knit? Try wool double-knit or wool crepe.
Ponte knits have become the workhorse of many women’s wardrobes — they are often easy to fit and wash well. Ponte fabrics do vary widely in quality, so if you have enjoyed sewing with ponte knits in the past, give wool double-knit a try.
Wool double knits have a very similar weight to a high-quality rayon-poly-lycra ponte knit but with a more luxurious result. Generally wool stands up to wear a bit better and is available in colors and even textures that you may not find in typical ponte knits.
Another fabric to try is wool jersey. It’s lighter than a double-knit wool and can be used for dresses or tops where you might be inclined to choose ponte.
A third wool option is wool crepe. Unlike other woven wools, the fibers are slightly crimped, giving it a different drape and a springy feeling. Wool crepe is a great choice when you want some warmth in a lightweight garment. While it doesn’t stretch like a knit, it has the benefit of shaping with steam during the construction like most other wool fabrics. Many high-end separates are sewn with wool crepe. I find the colors are beautiful and it sews up well — perhaps closest to a ponte of any of the wool fabrics.
Photo via SunnyGal Studio
Love rayon jersey? Try a silk knit!
If you are ready to try something really luscious, go with a silk knit. Silk knits generally have a lovely shimmer, so consider making a dressed-up version of your favorite knit T-shirt.
A silk knit will behave similarly to an ITY poly knit or rayon jersey. Take care when sewing, using the proper needle and testing stitching to become familiar with the fabric.
Love cotton poplin or shirting? Try a cotton-silk blend!
For a shirt or fit-and-flare dress with a different look and feel, try using a cotton-and-silk blend. These fabrics have a nice gleam and can be used in place of taffeta for some garments. Cotton-silk blends can be hard to find, so if you do see one, snap it up! They sew beautifully and give you the best of both cotton and silk for a shirt or top.
Love a polyester silky? Try a woven rayon!
Do you want something that mimics a printed silk but is not polyester? Lots of patterns call for a lightweight woven fabric with drape, and in this instance, a woven rayon is a great choice.
Woven rayons have lovely movement and are perfect for loose styles like a fowing maxi dress. They often are used in vintage styles. While they do wrinkle, woven rayons can be the perfect choice for a full-skirted look. You can often find these fabric in interesting color combinations and in batik or tropical prints (perfect for a Hawaiian-style design).