choosing the right fabrics for your project

Testing your Fabric

So you’ve designed this fantastic pattern to start making your next favorite item and you’ve found the perfect fabric to go with it. But wait – is this fabric going to work or are you headed for disaster and the dream project being flung out the nearest window? (Hey, it happens)

Have you tested the fabric?  You should, and here’s why.

Every fabric behaves differently in a garment so its important to test any new designs in the fabric as well as testing new fabrics with existing designs. Making a sample in the chosen fabric is always the smart thing to do as it could save you from a costly  mistake later down the track.  It would be better for you to discover if a fabric misbehaves after washing rather than your customer!

Once you’ve made a sample you should be checking for

  • drape – is the garment hanging as you expected. Are pleats sitting straight, are frills too stiff or too floppy? How about the gathering fullness – too much or not enough?
  • fit – if the fabric has stretch, is it too much or not enough? Does the garment have enough ease of movement (this is when a live model will come in handy.)
  • weight – is the fabric weight the right match for the design? A knit with 4-way stretch, for example, is going to stretch in length as well as width so be mindful if you’re making a long garment as it will stretch the longer it sits on a hanger. Is it going to be comfortable to wear?
  • print suitability – if you’re using a large floral print, is it going to be wasted on a design with small panels and lots of seams? In other words, are the seams going to interrupt the pattern and be distracting?
  • fabric content – is your choice of fabric going to match the intended use of the item? It wouldn’t be sensible to start making children’s play shorts in something that would require dry-cleaning for example. A cotton or something easy wash and wear would be a smarter choice.
  • fabric combinations -take care when using a combination of fabrics. For example the ribbing you used on the last t-shirt may sit differently to the new ribbing you’ve just bought. Adjustments to your ribbing pattern may be needed in this case.

After a while you’ll gain experience with more and more different types of fabrics and will be able to judge more easily how fabrics behave.

Here are some good resources on fabric types and suitable uses if you want any further reading.




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