I recently made a knit dress that I loved – the style was perfectly “me”, it fit great and I felt great wearing it. So great, in fact, that I’ve worn it 3 or 4 times in the past month, including yesterday to the office. But to my horror, I noticed the back and right side were pilling already, and those little balls were just from everyday wear, as I hadn’t even washed it yet! The worst part was, the fabric I used was one that I’d seen lots of sewers rave over so I thought I’d be okay!
If you spend all that time getting the fit perfect and creating the garment of your dreams, then your time deserves a fabric that will stand up to the test of time. So how do you know if your fabric will be worthy of your masterpiece?
Look at fiber content – I’ve learned from experience that natural fabrics like cotton, wool, linen, silk, and bamboo feel so much nicer to me than synthetics like polyester and lycra. The latter definitely have a place in sportswear, but natural fibers tend to hold up better to everyday wear in my experience. If you’re not sure what your fabric is made of, a quick burn test can usually narrow it down.
Look at weight – some online fabric stores list the weight of the fabric in gsm, but other times you just need to infer to from hand and drape whether it’s suitable for your project. I once tried to use babywale corduroy to make trousers even though it was far too lightweight and was intended for shirts. The end result was that the corduroy rubbed away in the thighs in a matter of months! So a lightweight fabric might be great for a drapey blouse, but not so great for a jacket or coat!
Cheap fabrics are great for muslins – if you’ve already got some “what was I thinking?” fabrics in your stash, don’t throw them away! They’ve still got great uses for practice garments since they don’t have to stand up to repeated wearings or even leave the house!
There’s always a chance you’ll be caught out like I was with my knit, but if you follow this advice, you’ll hopefully be well on your way to fabric harmony!
Photo: onebyjude under Creative Commons