Are you ready to make something, but aren’t sure what fabric type to choose? The fabric or material you sew with will affect the entirety of your project, so it’s important to consider what effects, limitations, and creative opportunities each one presents.
In this guide, we go over fabric choices, what projects they’re most suited for, so you can start creating!
Properties: Bamboo fabric is made from bamboo pulp fibre. Bamboo linen is particularly sustainable, too. It has great hydrophilic properties, excellent permeability, soft feel, and is great for dyeing!
Ideal for: Great for breathable clothing like socks and undergarments. Also perfect for summer shirts and shorts, and can be used for curtains.
Properties: A plain weave, lightweight fabric. It is semi-sheer and can be made from different fibres.
Ideal for: Lightweight garments, lingerie, bedding.
Properties: Brocade is a patterned fabric, where the pattern is woven into the fabric as opposed to being stitched on. It has low breathability and medium moisture wicking, medium heat resistance and low stretch.
Ideal for: You will normally see brocade in evening wear and couture fashion, but it can be used for home decor (curtains, upholstery and bed covers).
Properties: Canvas is a plain-weave fabric, known for being sturdy and durable thanks to being made out of heavy cotton yarn. It can even be mixed with synthetic fibres to make it water-resistant, and in some cases, even waterproof.
Ideal for: Bags, outdoor upholstery, hats.
Properties: A plain weave fabric that is easy to sew, making it the perfect beginner sewist's material. Perfect for lightweight and breathable garments.
Ideal for: Very versatile, loose-fitting tops, dresses and skirts. Pyjamas, kimonos and sportswear included.
Properties: A lightweight, plain-woven fabric with a slight shine. This fabric has a beautiful drape and can be woven from a variety of different fibres, including cotton, silk, nylon, and rayon.
Ideal for: Evening wear, lingerie, scarves, and scrunchies.
Properties: Looks like ribbed fabric, with vertical stripes and a nice textured feel. Considered a pile fabric. Usually on the heavier weight side.
Ideal for: Used for a variety of items. Most commonly used in upholstery, trousers and hats.
Properties: Cotton is a staple fabric made from natural fibres of cotton plants. It is spun into yarn that is woven to create a soft, durable fabric used for everyday garments.
Ideal for: Clothing, bags, scrunchies, patchwork. Can also be used for mock-ups for dressmaking.
Properties: Originally made from silk and worn to mourn the death of loved ones. Now made from cotton and wool and synthetic fibres. Quite versatile with a crinkled texture or wrinkled appearance.
Ideal for: Evening gowns, dresses, lining garments, suiting, and home decor.
Properties: Made from dense cotton fibres with a tight weave, low thread count with low stretch and high moisture wicking.
Ideal for: Commonly used in clothing, but can also be used for bags, hats, and home decor.
Properties: Lightweight, supple, smooth and soft. Prevents sagging and bagging in clothing. Resistant to deterioration by body oils, sweat, lotions, or detergents. Highly durable. Stretchy and recoils very easily.
Ideal for: Swimwear, exercise wear bodysuits, leotards, wetsuits, tights, socks, gloves, leggings.
Embellished fabric (sequins, beaded, glitter, etc)
Properties: Embellished fabrics each have a different type of weave and structure. The embellishments can be difficult to work with. You should have a firm knowledge of these fabrics before attempting to sew them.
Ideal for: Commonly used in couture garments such as dresses, pants and jackets. But can also be used in household items like pillow covers, lamp covers and curtains.
Properties: The acrylic/modacrylic are held in place by being knitted into a bias material. Faux fur is soft, resilient, durable, and warm.
Ideal for: Typically used to accent jackets, dresses, and slippers, or made into pillows, blankets, rugs, bags, and scrunchies.
Properties: Felt is a no-fray fabric due to the fibres being felted with water. Can be made from wool, mohair, cotton, rayon, fur and other synthetic fibres.
Ideal for: Hats, slippers, furniture. Kids toys, other household items.
Properties: Made with wool or hair, Soft to touch with a pile. Has great insulating properties.
Ideal for: Often used for warm clothing, such as vests, coats, gloves, blankets, and soft toys.
Properties: Tightly woven fabric that is hard-wearing and rain-resistant. It is durable and firm.
Ideal for: Commonly used to make suits, jackets, and over-garments. Can also be used to make some types of dresses, bags, and hats.
Properties: Historically used for curtains, it is a woven fabric made from a variety of fibres. Is used for more casual garments.
Ideal for: Mosquito netting, laundry bags, produce bags, thermal blankets, surgical dressings.
Properties: Is a type of crepe fabric that is typically made from pure silk, with a rougher texture than Chiffon. It can also be made from rayon, viscose, and polyester. Sheer, lightweight, and has a matte finish. Georgette is not as sheer as silk chiffon due to its tighter weave.
Ideal for: Evening wear, formal wear, blouses, Sarees.
Properties: Hemp is one of the most durable of all-natural textile fabrics. It is resistant to UV light, mould, and mildew, is highly absorbent, and has excellent thermo-regulating properties. An ideal fabric for all weathers.
Ideal for: Used for a variety of items. Most commonly used for clothing, shirts, shorts, summer dresses etc
Properties: Invented in Jersey in medieval times, Jersey material is a soft, stretchy, kit fabric that was originally made from wool. Today it is made from cotton and synthetic fibres, and is commonly used for in clothing manufacturing. Light-to-medium weight and is smooth with a slight single rib knit.
Ideal for: Clothing and household items, sweaters, bed sheets, and headbands.
Properties: A very delicate fabric made from yarn or thread, characterised by open-weave designs and patterns. Was originally made from silk and linen, but today cotton thread and synthetic are used.
Ideal for: A decorative fabric used to embellish and accent clothing and home decor.
Properties: Medium, crisp fabric due to the higher thread count. Has a fine finish but is still somewhat sheer, similar to chiffon.
Ideal for: Summer clothes, shirts, blouses and strappy tops. Can also be used for trousers.
Properties: Leather is any fabric that is made from animal hides or skins, with differing results. Cowhide is the most popular. It is a durable, wrinkle-resistant fabric that takes on different looks and feels based on the type of animal, grade, and treatment.
Ideal for: More often used in handbags and jackets, but can be used to make wallets, shoes, hair accessories etc.
Properties: Made from flax, Linen is an extremely strong, lightweight fabric. It is an incredibly absorbent and breathable fabric.
Ideal for: Commonly used for towels, bedsheets, napkins, inner lining of jackets, summer dresses.
Properties: Muslin fabric is a plain woven, light fabric, usually made with cotton fibre. The high thread count and loose weave make it a soft, flexible, airy fabric.
Ideal for: Perfect for mock-ups and practising pattern making, as well as baby wraps and swaddles.
Properties: Net fabric is a mesh fabric, created in different weights. Characterised by the small holes within the fabric. Will more often be stiff. Often compared to tulle.
Ideal for: Most often used in costumes, hats, and petticoats.
Properties: Lightweight, sheer, plain-woven fabric that was originally made from silk. Synthetic fibres are slightly more durable, but the fabric is very delicate and prone to frays and tears.
Ideal for: Very popular for wedding gowns and evening wear due to its shimmery and translucent quality.
Properties: Incredibly strong fabric, usually moisture resistant. Can be coarse and is a non-biodegradable fabric. polyester fabric technically dries very quickly and is wrinkle-resistant.
Ideal for: Has lots of different uses. Clothing is the most popular, but can also be used for bags and household items.
Properties: A very soft, cool and breathable fabric with good absorbent properties. A very versatile fabric, with the same comfort properties as natural fibres. Good for use in humid weather.
Ideal for: Apparel industry - shirts, blouses, dresses, jackets, lingerie, scarves, hats, and socks. Bedsheets, blankets, upholstery.
Properties: One of the three major textile weaves. It is a shiny fabric with a lovely drape. Characterised by a lustrous surface on one side and duller on the other.
Ideal for: Mostly used in formal and evening wear, pyjamas and accessories - eye masks, scarves etc.
Properties: Natural fibre produced by silkworms. Known for its shine and softness, very durable with a gorgeous drape.
Ideal for: Formal attire, bedding, accessories (eye masks).
Properties: Also known as Lycra or elastane, it is a synthetic fibre characterised by extreme elasticity. Spandex is blended with several types of fibres to add stretch.
Ideal for: Dancewear, activewear, jeans, hosiery.
Properties: High-quality form of leather with a soft/fuzzy finish, made from the underside of animal hides. Characterised by its smooth surface and soft touch. Suede is a pliable leather and can be moulded very easily to make garments.
Ideal for: Commonly used to make jackets, purses, and shoes. Can be used to make household items, dresses, and pants.
Properties: Is a crisp, plain-woven fabric made most often from silk, commonly used in costume making. It can also be woven with polyester, nylon, or acetate, and typically has a shiny appearance.
Ideal for: Popular lining fabric, as well as evening wear and home decor.
Properties: This fabric is made with uncut loops and no nap to the fabric. Medium to heavyweight.
Ideal for: Used for towels, robes, makeup removers, kitchen cloths.
Properties: Lightweight with a sheer net-like or patterned structure. Easy to dye. It is a delicate fabric used for finishing. Fibres are woven together in a hexagonal mesh.
Ideal for: Ideal for dance costumes, bridal gowns/veils, petticoats, and structure in undergarments.
Properties: A rough, woven fabric that resembles other woollen fabrics such as homespun. Extremely warm, hard-wearing fabric that is thick and stiff. Often woven using different coloured threads to achieve dynamic patterns and colours.
Ideal for: Popular for suiting and jackets, now becoming common as hats, bags, and mini skirts.
Properties: One of the three major types of textile weaves. It is made in a diagonal rib pattern, with a distinct, often darker coloured front side, and lighter back. Twill has a high thread count which means the fabric is opaque, thick, and durable. Rarely printed on.
Ideal for: Used for denim, chinos, upholstery and bed linens.
Properties: A soft, luxurious fabric. It has a beautiful drape, a unique soft and shiny appearance, and can be made from materials such as cotton, linen, wool, and more.
Ideal for: Popular for evening wear, formal dresses and special occasion dresses. Also used in home decor, curtains, pillows and soft toys.
Properties: Fabric made from either natural or manufactured fibres. A semi-crisp fabric similar to Lawn but not as sheer.
Ideal for: Curtains, blouses, dresses, nightgowns and lingerie.
Properties: Wool is a flexible, elastic and resilient fabric. Great for making durable and wrinkle-resistant products. Wool also has natural UV protection and antibacterial properties.
Ideal for: Outerwear, socks, pants, hats and bags.