There are TONS of different types of fabrics out there, and sometimes it’s hard to choose just the right thing for a certain project. Bella Sunshine Designs has a wide variety of different patterns designed for woven fabric, and sometimes the choices can be overwhelming. This post will attempt to help shed some light on the differences between some of the most commonly used woven fabrics used in garment sewing to help make your choices a little easier!
Cotton or Quilting Cotton
This is the most common, and typically least expensive, of the woven fabrics. You can purchase it in plain solid colors or with pretty prints on it. For the most part, it is good for everyday wear clothing. It will wrinkle, but it is iron safe at higher temperatures and typically easier to care for. Almost all of BSD’s woven designs can be made using this type of woven fabric.
The weave of a linen is a little looser than the cotton and it tends to have a nicer drape to it. It makes really great summer wear because of its lightweight nature and breathe-ability. It is most commonly found in solid colors, although, if you look hard enough, you can occasionally find a print or a solid with some metallic threads worked in which is great for adding interest and sparkle to a clothing piece. The Paradise Island Shift Dress by BSD is actually quite nice in a linen.
This is a heavier fabric and tends to be on the thicker side. It is GREAT for winter wear such as coats and pants. Some of it can be kind of itchy, but there are a lot of non-itchy varieties as well, you just have to test them by feel to find your favorites! (This is a GREAT fabric choice for Gabriella’s Winter Coat pattern!)
Denim can be tricky. It is often (but not always) blue and comes in a wide variety of shades and weights/thicknesses. It’s perfect for mid-weight jackets, shorts, pants, skirts, jumpers… all kinds of things! Just make sure you take care with the fabric thickness part to ensure your machine can handle it. And always make sure you have the proper (denim) needle!
Silk is known for many things. It’s one of the strongest natural fabrics known, it’s soft, it’s lustrous and it often speaks to luxury. It also makes for some of the most beautiful and comfortable clothing you can wear. While a silk care regimen doesn’t often lend itself to children’s clothing often, it does make very nice special occasion wear for children or semi-dressy to full out formal wear for adults. One thing to note is you will definitely want fresh needles of the sharps variety when sewing with silk fabric.
Like silk, this is a very great option for special occasion wear and costuming because of its sheen. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of pins or clips on hand, though, because this, like the rest of the second half of this list, tends to be slippery while sewing, leading to much careful seam ripping if it isn’t properly pinned when you start!
Chiffon can be made with many different types of material from cotton to silk to polyester, but it is always a lightweight sheer fabric with an almost heavenly drape. It is often used in formal wear and ladies blouses but is also quite nice as an overlay to children’s dresses as well. Can you just imagine a Felicity with a pretty printed chiffon over a brightly colored solid lining fabric? Talk about darling! Also another fabric you’ll definitely want fresh sharps on hand for to prevent runs in the fabric, due to its more delicate nature.
Last, but certainly not least. This fabric will make an instant impression. It does come in knit (stretchy) and woven (not stretchy) versions, so take care to be sure you have the right one when purchasing. I have made many a holiday dress with velvet. It’s not only soft and beautiful, but it also tends to be warm (and I live where it gets cold). Another great use for velvet is to make cloaks and gowns for things like Renaissance faires. It goes well with the period and keeps you warm on those crisp fall days!
Those are the most common woven fabrics by our count, but if there are others you’d like to learn more about, please let us know! We can answer questions now, or make another post in the future with different wovens included…. because there are SO many more! And be sure to check out our post on which needle you should choose depending on your fabric type! Also, please join us in our Facebook group to get inspiration, ask questions and share your creations! We’d LOVE to hear from you!
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