Feathers Flights // Sewing Blog: My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With

5.22.2017

My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With

I feel like I've learned a lot about fabrics in the last couple of years. I have been sewing for a long time, and I've made lots of mistakes. I've made clothing that didn't fit right. I've used fabric that was too light for an item or too heavy for an item. I still make mistakes or don't think items all the way through, but the important thing is that I've learned from my mistakes. Along the way I've learned my shape and measurements, I've learned which silhouettes I like, and which fabrics I like to sew with. I feel like I've gotten pretty picky with my fabrics, and maybe they cost more, but I'm not buying as much and each item lasts much longer. Also, there are polyester or synthetic versions of all of these fabrics, but personally I choose not to wear polyester because I get so uncomfortable.
If you don't sew a lot, these are still good fabrics to look for when purchasing a RTW item. There are affiliate links in this post, thank you for understanding and supporting me!
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
1. Rayon Challis
I have actually only made one item out of rayon challis*, but I loved working with it so much I bought 3 more cuts. It's a woven that's really easy to work with and isn't too slippery, it is opaque, drapey and cool for when it's hot. I have made a woven tee, and I plan to make two tunics out of rayon challis. Rayon challis works well for drapey tops, drapey dresses, and drapey skirts.
I love this watercolor rayon challis* and there are tons of floral rayon challis* fabrics to choose from.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
2. Cotton Lycra Jersey
I have sewn with so many different cotton lycra* fabrics. I can't even count how many items I have made using cotton lycra. Some is definitely better quality than others, and I like to get 8 oz or more so that it's easier to work with and not transparent. Cotton lycra works really well for fitted tees, fitted skirts, and thin leggings. I even use remnants to make underwear for my kids. My favorite is solid cotton lycra*. My solids always get way chosen and worn way more than any prints. Cotton spandex is also one of the easiest knits to sew with.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
3. Woven Tencel or Lyocell
I have actually only used Tencel* once, I made my denim joggers from it; but I have purchased a tencel utility jacket and thrifted a tencel button down. Once I touched and sewed with tencel, I only want to touch and sew with tencel. I literally can spot it from across the room because of the slight shimmer it has and the way it moves. Tencel is similar in drape and hand to rayon challis, but it's much stronger. I've also noticed that tencel fabric I purchased was stronger than purchased tencel RTW items. There also lyocell* which is the un-trademarked version of Tencel. I haven't noticed a huge difference between the two, but I have been able to compare very much.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
4. Rayon Spandex Jersey
There are lots of loose, drapey styles that are popular right now, and lots of new patterns to reflect this. The best and most inexpensive fabric to use is rayon spandex jersey*. I have only ordered a couple of rayon spandex cuts, and I would be careful about weight and quality. Rayon spandex is a little bit trickier to sew with since it's so lightweight, but after some practice you can sew with it. I like to use rayon spandex for drapey tops, drapey tunics, and drapey dresses. Rayon is made from wood pulp, and there's also  bamboo rayon spandex* which is bamboo. It's more expensive, but easier to sew with and rarely transparent. It feels like really fancy fabric, and it holds up better to wear than regular rayon.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
5. French Terry
French terry* is a warm, soft, comfortable to wear, and easy to sew fabric. It's great for hoodies, sweatshirts, and shirts. It's my favorite for winter items. French terry has a wide range of stretch and a wide range of weight so be careful when looking online. I bought one once and it was more like a transparent rayon spandex, but then I've sewn with one that had almost no stretch and a thick weight.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
6. Linen
This might seem silly but I think linen* is one of the most luxurious fabrics. If you dry clean it, it keeps it's special almost shiny coating. If you wash it it gets softer and softer with wear. I know people hate linen because it wrinkles so easily, which it does; but the wrinkles look luxurious to me. It's a great summer fabric. (I often swoon when I see a man wearing a linen summer suit.) I like linen for structured but not too fitted tops and jackets, and summer pants and skirts. It doesn't do well when it's really fitted because the fabric can tear easily. I've been eyeing this cotton linen stripe in sky* for awhile. Wouldn't it make the most amazing jacket?
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
fitted linen cheyenne tunic
7. Chambray
Chambray* is a lightweight woven that has white yarn in the weft and colored yarn in the warp making it a subtle multi-colored fabric. It's perfect for tops and lightweight skirts. I like it because it's such a great basic neutral. Since it has subtle color differences you can see the texture, but it reads like a solid. I have purchased this union dots indigo chambray* which is woven to have the white yarn peek out like dots. I love it and wear it all the time.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
8. Quilting Cotton (For little girls' dresses!)
I never recommend quilting cotton for clothing since it's so stiff. The only garments I recommend it for are fitted button downs, bows, boys' button downs, and little girls' dresses. I'm currently making two girls' dresses using this Triangle Quilting Cotton* and this Floral Quilting Cotton*. Quilting cotton is really easy to sew with and comes in all kinds of colors and prints. It's really inspiring to walk through rows of quilting cotton.
My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With
What are your favorite fabrics to sew with?

4 comments:

  1. You have recommended the A-Z fabric book, and I really want to get that!
    I wish we could have a touch and blog post thing going on. I would love to know what tencel feels like. Guess I need to go to the fabric store!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been eyeing that same linen, but to make a fit and flare dress with horizontal stripes on the bodice and vertical on the skirt.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post! I think I have to agree with almost everyone of these.

    ReplyDelete

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