Experienced crafters know that fabric is the heart and soul of any sewing project. And they also know that it is the fabric itself that can make or break a project. Beginners may not yet be aware that all fabrics are not in fact, created equal to the task or craft they are about to make. Choosing fabrics when you are a beginner can be headache-inducing, but with experience, time, and a decent guide, it can be a lot easier to pick the right material for what you are aiming to do.
We’ll get you started on the basics of what fabrics works best with what kind of crafts to hopefully save you from frustrating or unfinished projects in the future!
BasicsThese are the very basics, aimed at the beginner who is just stepping foot into fabric crafts.
- Select your project. Whether you find yourself inspired by something online, a pattern you want to try, something you already own, or an idea, choose a project to focus on first.
- Do research. Before you start ordering fabric, do a little research about the craft you want to make. Go window shopping, look around, read some how-to’s and instructions from different sources to get a feel for the project and what fabrics others may be using.
- Check the drape. If you’re able to finally go shopping in person for the fabric, always unroll it a few yards and check how it hangs. The hang also called the ‘drape,’ is a crucial element to learn about in terms of how a piece of fabric will look, whether that fabric is for a garment, a craft, or a project.
- Check the width. Fabric commonly comes in two or three widths, 60 inches (150cm) or 45 inches (112.5cm) the most common of the three. The width of the fabric will determine exactly how much you will need to buy to create your craft.
- Test the stretch. Take hold of the fabric between fingers and give it a gentle tug across. Most fabrics have an element of stretching to them and it’s useful for you to understand and take into account.
- Last but never least, after all the above, buy the fabric. Make sure you buy enough for your craft.
Different Fabrics and the CraftsLet’s dive into some of the most common fabrics paired with their most common crafts.
Cotton. 100% cotton fabrics (that will probably shrink if you do not pre-wash them first) are going to be the most common and plentiful at many stores online and in person. Cotton has a mind-boggling array of weaves, colors, and patterns. Cotton is a popular choice for crafts or projects like bags, aprons, quilts, accent pillows, and many crafts for around the house.
Duck, Canvas, and Denim. These are your heavier and thicker fabrics and are much sturdier than cotton. Because they are thicker and more durable, they’re often used in projects and crafts that are for an outdoor item or things that need to be tougher and have more weight to them. These fabrics can be used for: throw pillows, outdoor cushions, tote bags, and crafts that need a fabric that can last long and withstand use.
Fleece, Minky, and Plush. These fabrics are super soft and very cozy and a go-to choice for all things blankets, pajamas, and babies. They run on the more expensive side and may pill a bit after washing. These are still perfect for baby, toddler crafts, blankets, and stuffed animals.
Silk, Tulle, and Satin. These smooth, slinky fabrics will be found often in projects such as creating dresses, silk pillowcases to protect hair, and are often associated with fancier crafts. This fabric is not often recommended for a beginner due to how slippery they are to handle. These are often called ‘special occasion,’ fabrics too. Most common are dresses, pillowcases, and clothing.
Jersey Knits. This type of fabric is both soft and stretchy, and you might be familiar with them already by owning several t-shirts made from it. It is a little harder to sew with because of the stretching, but not too difficult that a newcomer couldn’t try. They come in wider sizes than a typical bolt. Common crafts and projects that can be made from this are shirts, hats, headbands, fabric flowers, and apparel.
These don’t cover every fabric and every craft of course. There’s so much out there to learn and to share! But these are excellent fabrics best with crafts for those new to sewing or those refreshing skills that have gotten rusty. Following this simple guide should help ensure your new project has the right type of material that will work best for you.