Fabric Overview – Sewing Basics

Fabric Overview – Sewing Basics


If you’ve ever walked into a fabric store,
then you know the fabric options can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting into sewing. But let’s break it down so fabric shopping
will be less intimidating. I’m going to be covering three main areas:
-Content versus Type -Common Fabric Types and Uses
And lastly -How do you know which fabric to use
First let’s talk about fabric content and type because sometimes it’s used interchangeably. Fabric Content is what the fabric is made
from, whether it’s natural fibers like silk, linen or cotton OR manufactured fibers like
Polyester, Nylon, or Acetate Fabric Type is the actual name of the fabric,
such as Organza, Corduroy, or Flannel. Why is this important? Because it can be confusing if you say something
like I’m looking for 100% cotton fabric. There are a lot of fabric types that are 100%
cotton but they’re different, and not always interchangeable. For example, you can get 100% cotton knit
fabric, 100% cotton quilting fabric and 100% cotton home decorating fabric. Let’s take this fabric as an example. The fabric type is Chiffon. The fabric content is Polyester. This type of fabric can also come in silk
so if I was searching for it, I would say I’m looking for silk chiffon or I’m looking
for polyester chiffon. Fabric in a fabric store generally falls into
three main categories –Craft
–Apparel and –Home Decorating
What fabric types will you typically find in the craft section? Quilter’s Cotton, both solid and prints These fabrics are mainly used for quilting
and craft projects like doll clothes, purses, table runners, etc. Typically this fabric is 100% woven cotton,
is washable and has a large variety of prints and designs. Beginners are often drawn to these fabrics
because of the cute prints and may wonder if they could make clothes from them. Sure! You can do whatever you want, just realize
this fabric doesn’t have an ideal drape suitable for most garments and may hang a
little stiff. On a side note, Flannel and Fleece may also
be found in this section. These types of fabrics are a cross-over and
can be used in craft and quilting and also for sewing clothes. Next let’s talk about Apparel Fabrics, which
has the largest variety of fabric types. These fabrics are used for making garments. Casual Apparel Fabric examples would be:
Knit, denim, shirting, poplin, and linen. The fabric content is usually cotton or a
cotton blend. Typically, they’re machine washable and
easy to work with. Formal Apparel Fabric examples would be:
Satin, Chiffon, Velvet, Brocade, Crepe, and Silk The fabric content may be natural or manufactured
fibers and you’ll want to check the care instructions because many may be dry clean
only. Also, these fabrics are usually tricker to
work with, so not recommended for beginners. Our last category is Home Decorating Fabric. Fabric examples will be: upholstery, outdoor
fabric like duck cloth, or may have the general name of home decorating fabric. The fabric content may also be 100% cotton
or a cotton blend but it’s usually a heavier fabric and may also be dry clean only. These fabrics are mainly used for drapery,
pillows, and reupholstering furniture. So how do you know which fabric you should
use for your project? First pick the category of your project. Is it craft, apparel, or home decorating. If you can answer this, you’ll at least
get in the right vicinity of the fabric store. If you’re using a pattern, look on the envelope
and it should list fabric type recommendations to help narrow your choice even more. If you’re still unsure. Ask a store employee. It’s usually more helpful if you tell them
what you’re making as opposed to saying you’re looking for cotton fabric. Also, feel free to get creative! You’re not bound to a fabric department. Making an elaborate Renaissance costume? Look in the home decorating department. You’ll never know where you’ll find your
perfect fabric. If you’re curious about a particular type
of fabric, click on the link in the description to be taken to all the videos we have on specific
fabrics for tips and tricks to working with them. Don’t see the fabric type, you want to learn
more about? Leave us a comment below and let us know. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please subscribe and click the bell icon to
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17 Replies to “Fabric Overview – Sewing Basics”

  1. Any chance you could do a video on making nylon garden flags? I love to use them but can't always find what I'm looking for.

  2. Quilt fabrics that are 100% cotton can be desirable for children's sportswear/playwear, especially if you are using VINTAGE patterns from the mid 20th century. Note well that the "vintage" patterns that are remakes/upgrades/revamps of original patterns from the mid-20th century MAY have alterations to the "Recommended Fabrics" portion of the pattern envelope that may include knit options. When in doubt, ask a salesclerk from the sewing department…I repeat, FROM THE SEWING DEPARTMENT. In places like JoAnn's Fabrics and Crafts, clerical personnel who are NOT in the sewing department will generally give you a blank look if you ask questions about fabric. In the few last years, I've noticed that, not only is JoAnn's Fabrics and Crafts selling lower-quality fabrics at much higher prices, but they are also hiring clerical personnel who rarely have any real knowledge about sewing and who tend to roll their eyes when asked a question. I cannot tell you how many times I, a customer, have had to help out a newbie customer in the sewing department or how many times I have left the store in disgust after waiting for a clerk to show up to unlock a notions hook (who STILL to this day likely hasn't shown up to help) or because the checkout line originated at the registers and wound its way to the back of the store with two clerks on the registers. Calling corporate does NOTHING. That store is a disgrace.

  3. light weight stretch knit!!!!!! (akin to what might be used to make a night gown) I have been sewing for YEARS – have used all the right thread/needle/tension/and feet on several different sewing machines and I still have to resort to adding "paper" under the foot like stabilizer because it never sews good – tips??? I have seen so many just zip thru their knits like it was easy and their machines were made in heaven … I'm jealous lol

  4. Thanks for breaking it down. It makes alot of sense now. What I notice is almost everything now in apparel or clothing – has some percent of spandex/lycra. Is there a certain percentage of spandex/lycra which I should always use a double needle?

  5. If you do another pattern walkthrough I'd like to suggest McCall's M7493. Thanks for all your help already. Great videos!

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