Garment Fabrics 101: Beginner-Friendly for Your Sewing Adventure

Mar 19 2024
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I’ve always dreamed of becoming a sewer one day. Both of my Grandmas were excellent seamstresses which was extremely common back when they were my age. My aunt and Mom were also incredible at sewing, tailoring whole dress suits for themselves not to mention skirts and blouses as well. I’ve only gotten so far now as upholstering furniture but, one day, I sure would like to try quilting!

Upholstered coffee table in our living room. When I picked up this coffee at an estate sale years ago I knew I wanted to upholster the top
(This is a collaborative post, for more information about our compensation please read our disclosure policy)

Not only is sewing a fun and rewarding hobby, but it also offers numerous opportunities to make things for your home or yourself. This is why so many people take it up as a hobby.

However, there are a few things you should be aware of before you embark on your sewing journey. One of them is that the fabric you choose will have a big influence on how your project turns out. The print and colour of the fabric might be what novices focus on, particularly, if the design is eye-catching. But, if the material is difficult to sew, you risk sabotaging your project before you even get started.

Some fabrics are more forgiving than others, meaning they are easier to cut, sew and press. As a beginner, these are the types of fabrics you should look for.

Which Qualities Make a Fabric Beginner-Friendly?

Not Too Thin, Not Too Thick

When shopping for your garment fabrics, the golden rule is to go for lightweight, tightly woven fabrics that are crisp and stable. A fabric with these qualities will be easier to manoeuvre in the machine.

Thin materials are prone to stretching when handled excessively and thicker materials require greater attention during stitching since the fabric and pattern pieces are more prone to getting caught between the machine’s foot and the needle.

Minimal to No Stretch

The material should be easy to cut and shouldn’t move around too much while handling it. Flexible fabrics can be easily overstretched during sewing, causing them to sag (rather than drape gracefully) and become more prone to tears.

Doesn’t Require Pattern-matching

When exploring the various designs, patterns and colours of fabrics available, chances are you will encounter some linear prints or patterns. Be careful with them because they demand meticulous matching. Try to stick to solid plains or randomised print – this will save you a lot of time and headaches.

What Are the Best Fabrics for Beginner Sewers?

Cotton

When you’re a novice, cotton is the easiest fabric to work with. Cotton is not only simple, but it is also very forgiving, so you can make many mistakes and fix them without having a noticeable effect on the outcome.

This is also a versatile fabric that comes in different weights, so it can be used for both simple and complex tasks. It can be used to make bags, rugs, pillow covers, shirts, pants, and skirts. These projects have simple patterns that make it easy to move the fabric around.

Additionally, cotton is affordable and simple to clean. But it needs to be prewashed before it is used to keep it from shrinking.

Muslin

Muslin is another fabric that beginners can easily work with. It’s a plain-woven cotton fabric that’s popular among amateur sewers. It’s also quite versatile, so you can use it for anything, from coarse to delicate.

Muslin is a great fabric choice for sewing projects such as blouses, dresses, quilts, upholstery, washers, blankets and a range of other clothing. It’s also frequently used as a practice cloth by experienced sewers before sewing projects with more expensive textiles.

Muslin is affordable and allows you to be creative and produce a variety of projects.

Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic woven fabric that is lightweight and crease-resistant. These qualities make it the perfect fabric for beginners to make a range of projects. The fact that polyester doesn’t absorb moisture and is a synthetic material also makes it stain-resistant. Polyester is a good fabric for making pants, shirts, hats, jackets, bedsheets and upholstered furniture.

It is also a great solution for when an affordable alternative to natural fabric is required. This means you can use it a lot for sewing practice before moving to thicker and more expensive fabrics.

Linen

Linen is another fabric that beginners find easy to work with. It’s also a forgiving fabric, making it easier to sew and cut than heavier materials.

 

Its durability and breathability make it a popular fabric for sewing. Made from the fibres of the flax plant, lines come in a range of weights, from lightweight to heavyweight. Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of sewing projects, from clothing to home decor. Depending on the degree of support your garment requires, consider using sewn-interfacings like silk organza, muslin or self-fabric.

Flannel

Flannel is a nice choice for sewing clothes since it is cosy and soft. It’s usually composed of cotton, wool, or synthetic fibres and it’s easy to work with and quite forgiving. This is because, unlike certain textiles, it does not slip or slide around.

It may be used for a variety of sewing tasks, such as clothes, accessories, and home decor, and it also successfully hides flaws. Before sewing with it, all you will need to do is wash and dry it. To aid in preventing shrinkage, this is crucial. You might also wish to use a rotary cutter and a mat to get precise, clean cuts. Use a serger or zigzag stitch on the edges to help stop the flannel from fraying.

Lyocell

Similar to silk, Lyocell is a lot easier to work with when using a sewing machine. Although it is a sort of rayon fabric that is heavy and drapey it’s still easy to work with. Even if it feels silky and slick, it will not slip all over the place.

Lyocell is a durable material that is also wrinkle-resistant and that can be washed with a machine. However, it’s also more expensive than many other fabrics.

Light-Weight Denin

Versatile and durable, denin is generally used to make jackets, pants and bags. But denin can also be used to make lighter-weight items like shirts, skirts, and gowns.

Lightweight denim is often constructed of 100% cotton fibres and has a lower thread count than heavier-weight denim. This makes it easier to sew with and forgiving. But you’ll need to select the appropriate needle and thread when working with it. A universal needle in the 80/12 or 90/14 size is recommended, coupled with cotton or polyester thread. You’ll also have to prewash the fabric to avoid shrinkage and fading.

Upholstered coffee table in our living room. When I picked up this coffee at an estate sale years ago I knew I wanted to upholster the top
(This is a collaborative post, for more information about our compensation please read our disclosure policy)

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