Oh, what a difficult question. And that's still something that can go wrong. Matching fabric and garment takes experience and comes with time. Don't forget, making mistakes is part of the learning process. Make sure you takes notes for next time!
If in doubt, and you are using a pattern, read the instructions. All patterns come with fabric suggestions. Trust these, the pattern has most likely been tested. So this is your first starting point. But what happens if you are out and about and you see a fabric you love, and not sure what to make from it. Continue reading to learn more about fabrics and their perfect match.
Let's start with skirts:
Depending on the type of skirt, skirts can be made in cotton lawns as well as wool. Look at the style of skirt, swishy skirts and ruffles require soft and lightweight fabrics. If you are just starting out stick to lightweight cotton fabrics, such as cotton lawn and voile. Cotton lawns come in pretty prints - most Liberty fabrics are Cotton Lawns and oh are they gorgeous and the fabrics are soft but easy to sew with. If you are feeling adventurous or have more experience, try yourself on a rayon. Crepe weaves will be easier to sew due to their texture than plain weaves. Rayon and Silk fabrics make gorgeous soft gathers and look amazing!
What about a more fitted skirt, like a pencil skirt? A pencil skirt is of course a lot snugglier fitted around your body and here, you want to use a fabric that has structure and also a little give. Stretch Cotton fabrics are great for pencil skirts. You could also use Ponte Roma. It is a jersey fabric with a lot more stretch (elastane) than Stretch Cottons.
Or how about a pleated skirt? Medium-weight cotton and wool fabrics hold pleats extremely well.
So you can see it really depends what type of skirt you are thinking to make from it. Skirts come in all shapes and length, and the wrong fabric can break the look here.
Ready to sew some blouses and shirts?
Blouses require soft and light-weight fabrics such as rayon crepe, cotton lawn, chiffon, georgette and silk to achieve a blousy and airy top. Shirts look fantastic in light to medium-weight fabrics; think cotton lawn, poplin and seersucker as well as linen. If you would like a softer look for your shirt, you can also choose similar fabrics like a blouse. The other way around, it most likely wouldn't work.
Below you can see the same shirt pattern sewn once with a buttery soft rayon (light blue fabric) and another time in a Cotton Viscose blend (gingham fabric). Both shirts drape differently and it also effected the fit. The Cotton Viscose blend has a lot less give and is a little tight around my back hence I often only wear it open with a top underneath.
Twirl in your new favourite dress
Dresses, just like skirts, are very versatile when it comes to fabric and depending on the style and look you'd like to achieve. A more fitted dress require medium-weight fabrics with some stretch, like Stretch Cottons. The Betty Dress, from our Dressmaking 3, has a fitted bodice and works fantastic in our Stretch Cotton fabrics - we have made quite a few.
If you are making a dress that needs drape, then light weight fabrics like crepes and challis (plain weave) are very suitable.
For the most comfort, you can even make dresses in Jersey fabric. Jersey fabrics, like Viscose Jersey, also have a lot of drape so you can achieve a similar look with ultimate comfort. Think: t-shirt dress! Just keep in mind, if you pattern requires woven fabric, you could make it in a knit fabric and will have to size down but a knit garment cannot be made in a woven fabric.
Below are two old pictures of dresses I made quite a few years ago. It is the same dress pattern but once made in wool and the other one made in rayon fabrics. Some patterns can be quite versatile, not all patterns have such a wide range of fabrics to be used like the Ultimate Shift Dress from Sew Over It. I guess the design is simple, and therefore making it versatile for a lot of fabrics. I have also made this pattern in a linen, cotton and even mixed the front as rayon and back as viscose jersey.
What about lining fabrics?
Often lining fabrics are made of polyester so you can easily slip in and out of jackets, or your skirts don't get stuck to your tights. If you don't like polyester, you can also use rayon and cotton fabrics. Latter might cling to your tights or make it more difficult to get into your jacket, just something to keep in mind (I am speaking from experience here). For a jacket, you can also mix and match your lining fabrics: make the front and back in cotton fabrics, and sleeves in rayon for easily get in and out.
Are you sewing for kids?
All cotton fabrics are great for kids. Often baby clothes are made of cotton double gauze because it is so soft, just like a cloud. Knit fabrics, like jerseys, are also fantastic for kids. Often you can find great prints for Jersey fabrics. You can make leggings, t-shirts, skirt, dresses and more from knit fabrics. When sewing for kids you can pretty much use any natural fibre, try and stay away from synthetic fabrics.
What's your favourite fabric to sew with? Do you have any questions to a particular fabric? Let us know, and we are happy to help.