Yesterday we talked about a few fabrics to buy that are great for making clothes! So what is the big deal about getting the right fabric? Why can’t we just buy any fabric that we like? There are a few different characteristics of fabric that we need to understand in order to pair it with the right pattern.
Fabric drape is the ability of the fabric to flow nicely and fall evenly or gracefully. Tightly woven fabrics will not drape as well as loosely woven fabric. To test the drape of a fabric, hold the corner and see how the material falls. Does the fabric stiffly hang, or does it hang freely? Some fabric will hang nicely on the bias (tested by holding the corner) but not on the straight of the grain. The straight of the grain is what most patterns are cut from, so it is important for it to hang nicely this way too. To test to see if it will hang nicely on the grain, gather the top into large gathers. Notice if the fabric fights the gathers and if they are stiff. If it does it won’t have very good drape. If the gathers are soft and flowy, it will most likely have good drape! Drape is important for easy fitting garments or anything flowy. If you use a fabric that doesn’t drape well, the finished garment will not turn out as intended.
The weight of a fabric needs to be examined when buying fabric for a pattern. Fabric weights range from lightweight to heavyweight. Lightweight fabrics are normally used for shirts, where heavy weight fabrics are used for outer garments. Different type’s of garments require different weights of fabric to fit properly or hang right. Determine what weight is best for your pattern before buying fabric.
This characteristic is for knits. You want a good stretch recovery so your garment doesn’t get all stretched out and hang funny. It is especially important for close fitting garments like fitted T shirts, swimwear, or leggings. Knits with added spandex or lycra often times will have a good stretch recovery and will go back to the original size nicely. Whereas 100% cotton often does not have as good of stretch recovery. To test this, simply stretch your material and notice if it bounces back nicely or stays slightly stretched. Fabric with good stretch recovery will normally retain their shape in under 15 seconds.
This is also a characteristic for knits. Knits come in either 2 way stretch, or 4 way stretch. Two way stretch, stretches from side to side with little to no stretch up and down. Four way stretch stretches both vertically and horizontally. Leggings or swimwear are great examples of garments that work best in a 4 way stretch knit.
When you are buying fabric online, it is sometimes harder to get exactly what you want since you can’t touch it and see it. But online stores usually do great at letting you know the weight and stretch direction. Just take time to read the descriptions before buying! Also searching for some of the fabrics we talked about yesterday when you are shopping online, will usually yield you great results!
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