Tips,Tricks and Inspiration for Creative Success
Blog by Sher
Yay you! I see you found the pattern you wanted and it's time to shop for the fabric. Let's review the back of the pattern for what you will need.
Wait, what? What's "medium weight woven" mean? What kind of Crepe or Satin? Stay with me and I'll point out which fabrics have similar qualities, such as the "hand", weight and blends. These days, so many fabrics are blends of natural and synthetic fibers - it can be quite confusing!
Sorting Out the Confusion
First, sort out what fabric construction is required -Knit, Woven, Non-Woven?
Fibers are natural source and foundation of fabric. Yarn is made from fibers, then either knit or woven into cloth (fabric).
Drape is how the fabric lays - stiff or soft? Think of curtains, this helps.
Hand is how the fabric feels on the skin - soft, smooth, rough, slippery, etc.
Woven fabrics are tight and form a strong cloth. They are interlaced by crossing yarns over one another. There are several types of weaves - I'll save those for another time.
Knits bring hundreds of yarns together either by twisting or looping together resulting in a loose, soft cloth with a generous stretch (some 4 way stretch). Again, there are several types of knit of which most will be covered in a different post.
Newer fabrics are non-woven. These have been made by bonding or felting fibers together. Examples of non-woven are surgical masks, gowns and gloves, sport wear, faux fabrics, packing materials, industrial fabrics and more.
Fabrics & Characteristics
Satin is a primary fabric used in wedding or other formal attire. Satin is named for the type of weave, not actually the name of the fabric. Satin is made from wool, polyester, cotton and silk. Not all satin has a shiny surface - it's common to confuse "Sateen" with Satin - Sateen is the result of weaving cotton to a dull sheen. There are several fabrics made in a satin weave: Charmeuse, Double Faced, Slipper, Sultan, Polyester, and more.
"Crepe" , commonly misused as the name for one type of fabric, correctly describes many kinds of fabrics-cotton, silk, rayon, synthetics and blends-that have a crinkle, crimped or grained surface. For example, Crepe de chine has a slightly crinkly surface created with highly twisted fibers. It comes in three weights: 2 ply: appropriate for blouses and lingerie; 3 ply: appropriate for fuller pants and dresses; and 4 ply: the highest quality and best for dress pants and jackets. Crepe back Satin is another that is suitable for blouses, dresses and curtains. This fabric has a matte shine on one side and rough, slub like on the other.
Tulle is confused with Netting. They are different, but not by much. Tulle is a hexagon shaped mesh, generally soft (unless starched). Tulle is used for bridal veils, overlays and inserts. Net is square, open mesh with a larger pattern. It is also known as "bobbinet" and ranges from sheer to heavy in weight. Net is used for millinery, petticoats, underlinings, costumes and more. *Images below are credited to Harrington Fabric & Lace Co, UK* http://www.harrington-fabric-and-lace.co.uk/prod/lace-net/plain-net-tulle.html
Three other fabrics confused with one another are Voile, Organdy and Organza. Each are a thin, lightweight plain weave fabric, made from cotton, silk, nylon and polyester (blends). Voile has a soft hand and is commonly used in curtains but used for apparel as well. Organdy and Organza are similar, however, they are stiff in hand and present a sheer appearance.
Bamboo, Hemp and Linen are mistakenly identified between each other. Each fabric is made from natural fibers, and create a strong, sustainable cloth. Hemp can be spun and woven to appear like Linen. Bamboo and Hemp have high wicking properties and are popular for use in cloth diapering.
Muslin and Gauze are frequently mistaken in name. Muslin is a medium weight, plain weave, opaque fabric, and Gauze is a sheer open weave. Both are woven from cotton and suitable for apparel.
Comfortable, stretch, breathes well, dressy and casual, wrinkle resistant - all describe knit fabrics. The favorite t-shirts we wear to the most comfortable of undergarments, knit fabrics are a giant in the fabric industry.
A slim few of the most commonly confused knits (the term knit is mistakenly used to describe all knits) are presented here. Of course, a knit fabric can be easy to identify, but knowing which type it is and the weight will save your dollars and stress level for ordering online. There are three types of knits most commonly used:
" Non-woven fabric is a fabric-like material made from long fibers, bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment. The term is used in the textile manufacturing industry to denote fabrics, such as felt, which are neither woven nor knitted."
Nylon, first produced in 1938, the first completely synthetic fiber developed. Known for its high strength and excellent resilience, nylon has superior abrasion resistance and high flexibility.
Polyester is a manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.
Spandex (now called Lycra or Lycra Spandex) was introduced in 1958. Spandex is a synthetic fiber made of at least 85% polymer polyurethane. Spandex is made from several chemicals that are known sensitizers.
Acetate a manufactured fiber formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acetic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.
Whew! That was alot of info in a short space, right? What fabrics confuse you in name or characteristics? What's your favorite to sew with? Whatever fabrics your projects bring you to, I wish you success and inspiration with them, and all you do - today and always!