Fibres and Fabrics
I'll focus on fabrics sold for garment making, craft projects and to a lesser degree ones used for home furnishings.
"There's so many different fabrics, I don't know what to buy!"
"What's the difference between cotton and poplin?"
Learning about the many fabrics available to us is really hard & learnt from experience. Handling fabric is best, but for many people the only option is to buy online, I find that really difficult so always get samples...if you do that then KEEP them! I'll come back to this later. Lets start by getting to grips with the difference between FIBRE &FABRIC
FABRIC: This is the finished piece of cloth. Not all fabric has a definitive name & the same fabric often comes in different weights/thicknesses & can be made from different fibres
FIBRE: This is what the fabric is made from. Cotton, wool, polyester, viscose, bamboo are all fibres & can be mixed together. They can be 100% natural, 100% synthetic(oil based plastic) or regenerated cellulose, a natural resource treated chemically(often called cellulosic fibres). To learn more about cellulosic fibres like viscose, bamboo and Tencel use the link below,
Ready to wear clothes have to have the fibre content listed on the garment labels, however this doesn't tell us what the fabric is called.
Buying fabric online is difficult if we don't know the name of what we're looking for.
Understanding fabrics is probably one of the hardest things about making clothes, there are seemingly limitless choices. I was lucky to grow up when going to town to buy fabric was as common as going to the supermarket today. There were a myriad of shops, department stores and market stalls selling cloth. I learnt about fabrics from my mum, some wonderful teachers and by just getting into the shops experiencing colours and textures.
I know I'm lucky to live in the East Midlands where we have independent fabric shops, market stalls and shops where the fabric is bought in from the manufacturing sector. We still have some high quality garment factories as well.
Click on the links under the chart to find more information about different fibres as well as my A-Z of fabrics.
Click on the picture to discover how to identify the different way woven fabrics are made. These weaves are sometimes used as the name of a fabric like satin, twill, herringbone.
Make your own Fabric Fact File
Download my template by clicking on the image.
Why not make your own fabric file. Large samples are best as you can handle them to get an idea of how they feel, drape, whether they crease, stretch etc. Include as much information as possible,
- Name if possible
- Fibre content
- Is it knitted, woven, bonded, crinkle, crepe. Include as much detail as you can
- How to wash & care for it
- Types of garment it's used for.
- Price, Silk & Polyester Dupion will have very different prices.
- Seam, hem & edge finishes
Collect your fabrics from anywhere & everywhere! You don't have to like the colour or design, it's the type of fabric that's important!
- Samples/fabrics bought online. Copy any info from the website
- Fabric you buy in a shop. Take a pic of the label. Same if you can get a sample(samples cost money as they have to deduct that length from their next sale)
- Your families clothes that are past their life time, cut a sample & care label before sending to a charity shop for rags.
- Charity shop finds for upcycling with the care label.
- Join forces with your sewing buddies to share your fabric offcuts.