3 Key Points to choose the Right Fabric

Posted by MakersValley on 7/20/17 4:12 PM

In Working with Your Manufacturer, Democratize Manufacturing

The most important component of a garment is its fabric. It doesn't matter how well crafted the seams of the garment are, if it’s made from the wrong fabric, it will not do justice to the design and will end up looking like a disaster.

Picture this: you have an awesome idea, you make the sketch, and turn it into a pattern. The next step is to make it, but in order to do so you need the fabric; this the part where things start to get interesting.  Keep reading to find out how to make fabric shopping easier!


It's time to go fabric shopping!!!

You are so excited to go fabric shopping. You prepare yourself mentally and enter the store with a picture of your design in your mind, the colors you want and a really specific idea of how you want the final garment to look. But then it happens, you look up and you see the millions of fabric options they have on the shelves. You start to get confused and feel like you are lost at sea and you can’t breathe. At that exact moment, you realize that you don’t know the difference between the fabrics. You may be familiar with some names, but still that's not enough.

There is a lot of variety to choose from and you don't know which fabric is the the right one for your design.  If this is the case, keep reading and the next time you go fabric shopping it will be a completely different experience.

There are many deciding factors when choosing a fabric, because you have to choose the material according to what you want the garment to look like.


3 key points to choose the right fabric

Fabric Weight

The weight of a fabric is measured in GSM (grams per square metre) and it defines how heavy or light a fabric is.  Don't worry, you don't have to measure the fabric's weight at the store; you can feel the weight of the fabric by the thickness it has when you touch it, it will feel either light or heavy.

Measuring the fabic weight is a way of measuring the thickness of the material, and differentiating between light-weight, medium-weight or heavy-weight fabric.

Here are some fabrics defined by their category (these categories may change depending on how the fabric is treated; dyeing and printing can affect the fabric weight)

 Fabric weight Chart

Capture.pngsource: www.offsetwarehouse.com

Fabric Drape

The drape determines how the fabric flows. In other words, stiff fabrics have less drape, and fluid fabrics have more drape. Easy! But be careful wih this term, drape is often confused with weight, but they are two different factors that affect how the garment ends up looking.

A fabric with more drape will make the skirt float away from your body, contrary to a fabric with a soft drape which will make it fold close to your body. For example, if you want a flowy skirt,  you should pick a thin and well-draping fabric, but if you want a more structured skirt, choose a stiff and thick fabric.  I know this may sound weird at first, but don’t worry, with time you will get the hang of it!

Here is a chart that shows some fabrics defined by their weight and drape:


source: www.colettepatterns.com

Fabric Stretch

Stretch is how much your fabric stretches.  Fabrics have different elasticity (ability of textile fibers to “bounce back” when they are stretched). When you are choosing a fabric with stretch, you have to be sure that it works for your pattern, because it can change how the final product fits the body.

To measure the stretch of a fabric, stretch  5” of fabric over a ruler, holding one end on the zero mark and stretching the other until you feel resistance and then divide that number by the original length of the fabric. For example: if your fabric stretches to 7.5″, it stretched 2.5″ past the original length. This is 50% stretch.

Calculation: 2.5 (amount it stretched) / 5 (original length) = .5 x 100 = 50%. 

clothhabit.comstretch-percent-ruler.pngsource: www.clothhabit.com

So now you know the 3 basic factors that will help you choose the right fabric, so now it's time to go shopping and start practicing what you learned here!

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