Making your own clothing can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Designing a dress, choosing a fabric, and then watching it all come to life is amazing. One of the most important considerations when preparing for making the garment is choosing the right fabric.
One of the great things about printed fabrics is that there are thousands of designs to choose from a wide range of fabrics. Whether you’re looking for a printed poly crepe or a printed moss crepe, there’s sure to be something out there for you.
Choosing the right printed fabric for your project is crucial and because of the sheer range of textiles on the market, getting it right is not always easy. Here are three key things to keep in mind when you’re out there choosing your printed fabrics:
1. Think About Fabric Weight Carefully
When you’re at the stage of designing a garment to wear, you have to also be aware of how heavy you want it to be. Every type of fabric has a weight whether measured in gsm or ounces. This determines how heavy the printed fabric is and should be a key consideration in the making of your garment. How heavy do you want it to be? Do you want it to flow or do you want it to have some weight to it?
The thickness of the fabric defines how heavy it is and is usually rated in terms of light, medium, and heavy weight. Here are some examples of fabrics and their weights:
- Light-weight fabrics: chiffon, taffeta, voile, organza, and single jersey
- Medium-weight fabrics: sateen, velvet, cambric, interlock jersey, and chambray
- Heavy-weight fabrics: denim, twill, hessian, and wool felt
If you’ve found the perfect print for your garment but the weight isn’t what you want, what should you do? This is where you really have to make a judgment call. Is it more important to have the right print pattern or is it more important to have the right weight and feel?
2.Choose The Right Fabric Drape For Your Garment
The drape of the fabric is about how easily it flows. Does it feel stiff or does it flow fluidly and easily? This might sound as if it’s all about the weight of the fabric but the two are different in garment making circles. A heavy fabric, for example, can still flow while a light fabric can still be stiff.
If you want to have a dress that will flow in fluid motions outwards from your body, you’ll need to choose a fabric with more drape. If the garment you have in mind is to have more structure and you want it to cling more closely to your body, then you’ll need to buy a fabric with more stiffness and less drape.
Here are some examples of fabric types and their drapes:
- More drape with light weight: printed chiffon, printed georgette, silk crepe
- Stiff fabrics with heavier weight: denim, brocade, sateen
3. Try Out the Fabric Stretch
Choosing the right fabric is all about identifying exactly what factors you what in your dress. This is where you really have to have a final vision for your garment. Of course, you could also just experiment with different printed fabrics and go for it!
Weight and drape are important, related variables that determine how a fabric feels and moves but how much the fabric stretches is also important. The elastic qualities of a fabric work with drape and weight to determine the feel of a fabric.
In the simplest terms, the stretch is all about how much a fabric stretches and how much elasticity it has. Why is this important, you may ask? Here’s what you need to know: a stretchy printed fabric will distort the pattern when it’s being worn whereas a fabric that has very little or no stretch will not distort the pattern. So how do you want it to look? Are you going to be happy with a garment that clings to your body with great elasticity but also distorts the pattern around your curves? The stretch of a fabric also defines how the garment will sit when you’re wearing it and how it feels.
Making the Right Choice
It might seem as though there are lots of things to consider when buying printed fabrics for your next dressmaking project but the reality is that three things define the character of a fabric: weight, drape, and stretch.
Whether you’re just wanting a simple printed cotton or a flowing printed rayon fabric for your next skirt, you need to think about those three variables. These will determine the feel and character of your garment.