Why Fabric Matters When You Make Clothes
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 the clothing is made from the wrong fabric, it will not do justice to the design and will look like a disaster.
Picture this: you have an awesome idea, you make the sketch, and you turn it into a sewing pattern. The next step is to make it, but in order to do that you need the fabric. This the part where things start to get interesting. Read on to find out how to make fabric shopping easier!
Choosing the Right Fabric for Your Clothing
Be excited to go fabric shopping! Prepare yourself mentally, and enter the store with a picture of your design in your mind (or hand), aware of the colors you want and a really specific idea of how you want the final garment to look.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number and types of fabrics available on display, but if you start your fabric expedition with these factors in mind, it will simplify your time spent choosing your fabric:
1. Consider the Fabric Weight
The weight of a fabric is measured in GSM (grams per square meter) 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. Measuring the fabric 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
2. Examine the 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 with this term. Drape is often confused with weight, but they are two different factors that affect how garments look.
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.
Here is a chart that shows some fabrics defined by their weight and drape:
3. Test the 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%.
Now, it's time to go shopping and practice what you learned!