We all have that moment where we see some fabric and have to buy it because you can’t imagine your life without it, you don’t do this? Just me then. But if you are wanting to get into sewing and don’t know where to start with fabrics and projects here’s some tips to help you along the way.
If you are wanting to get into sewing and don’t know where to start or what to start with this is a quick fabric guide to give you a little background on some more popular used fabrics to help you get started. I will start off with a list of the different fabrics and their more popular or known for uses.
Most common and well known as it is a natural fabric and is widely used from clothing to household brands. Cotton is a medium weight fabric and doesn’t crease easily.
Flannel is a heavier weight fabric, more well known and used for winter/cold temperates. This fabric is most commonly used for shirts, jackets and trousers. Some items such as blankets and cushions have been used with the fabric and have worked well.
Wool comes in many different ways, it can be lightweight and heavy. Due to the different breed of sheep and the different textures of wool they each create, wool can be a very different fabric to use.
Linen is a medium weight fabric, the fabric conducts heat well and so is usually a good choice to choose to make summer clothing.
Satin comes in 2 weights, lightweight and heavyweight. This fabric similar to silk comes with a shiny shimmering appearance on one side.
Silk is a lightweight fabric, quite delicate and drapes very well. The fabric similar to Satin has a shiny shimmering appearance and is also commonly used as lining in garments as it adds luxury look and feel.
Denim is mostly known for the use of jeans and denim jackets. We all love a double denim look and love our jeans for the durability. Denim is a hard-wearing and heavy duty, it doesn’t fade easily and is easy to care for.
Cotton voile is a cotton based fabric that is lightweight and sheer. Usually used for blouses and shirts having a lovely drape and hang from the body.
Cotton jersey is commonly used for items needing comfort, stretch and give. Clothing is the most popular for t-shirts, joggers and loungewear and very commonly used for baby grows. The trick with this fabric is that with the stretch the fabric can often come out of place and move during sewing. Plenty of pins and tacking in place is helpful to keep the fabric from moving.
polyester and polycotton are both synthetic fabrics, poly cotton is a blend using polyester and cotton, it is cheap to buy. Polyester/ synthetic fabrics are hard wearing and crease free, this makes them popular to use in sewing projects.
There are plenty of places to find fabrics and source different materials. Here are some of the more common.
Bricks and Morter Stores
- Dunelm Mill- mostly caters to heavy weight fabrics for curtains, blinds and upholstery materials. They do stock accessories and equipment if you ever need more pins, new scissors or fastenings if you are ever passing.
- The Range- the rangedon’thave a great selection but worth keeping in mind if you are nearby or want something that is more unusual. They sell the wipe clean cloth material for table tops by the meter from a roll and also have some more fabrics but nothing too high end or specific.
- Hobbycraft- this is the most common and most popular high street chain available for crafters. This is thecraftersparadise, it sells pretty much anything you could need, from sewing section to knitting to paper crafts. The fabrics available are mostly cotton and have some wonderful prints available but you wouldn’t findvarietyof fabric choices.
- John Lewis- I knew John Lewis have a fabric department within their stores but not often explored the variety. This may change now as we have a brand new built one in the city centre.
I live near Leeds City Centre, this for me has an array of different local spots to chose fabric. We have a indoor market which houses 2 – 3 different fabric shops, one of which has now moved to a larger space of bricks and mortar on the outskirts of the market called B&M Fabrics. There is also another local store which houses everything more fabric, to knitting needles to haberdashery this one is called Samuel Taylors. I also have access to a few smaller stores in my local town of Wakefield. It is always a good thing to explore your local towns and befriend the stores that sell fabric, they will value you as a customer and means they may be more willing to help you choose fabrics or even source some for you if you can’t get far. I used B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market for years during my days at university and were always willing to help me out and go back to the wholesalers for me.
They offer a variety of printed fabrics designed by different companies, individuals and designers. They are great if you are looking for something more niche and bespoke.
They also have a bricks and mortar shop located in different spots around the UK, check out their website for more information but they also post out. They also offer discounts or free shipping onc orders over a certain amount, this will change from time to time.
Different sewing Projects and the fabrics to match them
As I learnt more about sewing and fabrics at university the more I learnt how different fabrics work better in certain projects, here is a small breakdown of some of the fabrics I have used for different projects to help you get started.
Clothing and dressmaking can be quite a wide range of fabrics, if you are experimenting with how different fabrics hang on the body or even pushing the boundaries to what clothing can be made of then there is definitely no rule.
- Dressmaking can be done with anything from polycotton, cotton and cotton voile to wool and more sturdy fabrics such as upholstery.
- Quilting and patchwork are traditionally used with quilting cotton or 100% cotton, in the past, I have used anything from cotton jersey from baby clothes to polycotton.
- Upholstery/ home furnishings, there are not many projects I have done with home furnishings but again, depending on what you are wanting to do the options are open. Traditionally use hard wearing fabrics and things that don’t have too much movement in them, you want to fabric to be thick and long lasting.
Remember there are no rules so if you do want to make a patchwork quilt from old socks or from towels just do it, but these are just some helpful tips if you don’t know where to start.
I hope this has been useful to help you get started on your sewing projects, head over to my starter kit post to find out what is essential to your sewing box.