Dressmaking Fabrics

Dressmaking fabric is a type of woven or knitted cloth made of animal, plant or man-made fibres and incorporating certain features that make it suitable for creating a dress. In fact, dressmaking materials come in many types, as dress varieties are almost endless.

When you are planning to make a dress, you might be driven by multiple ideas. Those can be many: some remarkable events you are preparing for, a season you are expecting, your passion for particular fabrics or fibres, or the styles of your favourite celebrities. No matter what reasons influence your decision, even if you prefer, say, electric blue silk satin to other types of silk weaves, you might be curious whether crepe, chiffon or luxury cotton fabrics have real advantages over satin you didn’t know about. In case you haven’t got a certain dress concept in your head yet, consider various fabric types to pick the option you desire most.

dressmaking fabric

How to make it right? The selection of an appropriate fabriс is a very captivating and important process, that’s why you need to take into account some general pieces of advice. The table 1 below will give you a brief overview of fabrics applied for various dress kinds.

Table 1. The basic properties of dressmaking fabrics

Fabric

Characteristics

Sewability

Suitable dress

silk chiffon

airy, sheer, slightly textured, pleasant to the touch

challenging

evening, prom, cocktail, bridal, bridesmaid, casual

silk satin

smooth, glossy, breathable, non-static, pleasant to the touch

challenging

evening, prom, bridal, bridesmaid

silk crepe

crinkled and puckered texture, soft hand, matt sheen, durable

easy

evening, prom, bridal, casual

silk crepe de chine

soft, breathable, rough and crispy surface

easy

evening, prom, casual

silk organza

thin, sheer, lightweight, crispy

moderate

evening, prom, cocktail, bridesmaid

silk jacquard

soft, opaque, voluminous, durable

moderate

evening, prom, cocktail, bridesmaid

silk tulle

airy, warm, durable, slightly stretchy

easy

bridal

cotton jacquard

soft, breathable, durable, moisture-absorbing

easy

evening, prom, cocktail

silk taffeta

stiff, smooth, water-repellent, prone to creasing, durable, rustling

moderate

evening, prom, cocktail, bridal, bridesmaid, little black

jersey

softness, colour retention, wrinkle-resistance

moderate

evening, prom, cocktail, bridesmaid, little black

silk georgette

matt, durable, slightly grainy

challenging

evening, prom, cocktail, bridesmaid

various types of lace

sheer, feminine, other features depend on a particular lace type

challenging

evening, prom, cocktail, bridal, little black (as an upper layer)

embroidered tulle

sheer, sparkling

challenging

evening, prom, bridal

velvet

soft, smooth, shimmering

moderate

evening, prom, cocktail, little black, bridesmaid

cotton tulle

sheer, coarse, soft, cool

challenging

bridal

cashmere

soft, airy, warm, hypoallergenic, absorbent

moderate

little black

worsted wool

soft, smooth, warm, lightweight, absorbent, durable

challenging

little black

cotton

absorbent, durable, safe to skin, not subjected to static electricity

easy

casual

linen

airy, breathable, absorbent, creasing, good for skin

easy

viscose

soft, absorbent, non-allergenic

moderate (can be slippery)

As follows from the table, certain fabrics enjoy the highest popularity no matter what particular type of dress we take. Other ones, such as wool or embroidered tulle, are more specific. Does it mean that if you want to create, say, a bridesmaid dress, all you need to do is just select one of the fabrics enlisted in the corresponding cell, pick your favourite colour, and Bob’s your uncle? Not exactly. When planning a dress, one needs to go through a certain checklist to assess several factors.

How to Select a Proper Dressmaking Fabric?

Here’s the checklist/questionnaire for you to go through before selecting a fabric:

1. The purpose of your dress. Where will you use it?

Answering this question will help you figure out lots of details. On this stage, you set certain frameworks of fabric selection, in terms of fabric style and the final purpose of your dress. Think of such properties as drape, stretch and durability. Just as Michelangelo Buonarotti, who created grand sculptures just by “chipping away at everything that doesn't fit the image”, you leave only that range of fabrics that meets the most essential requirements.

2. In what season will you use it?

At first glance, the answer to this question is obvious: when it’s warm outside, we should put on cotton or linen dresses, and when it’s cold, worsted wool is the surefire option. At the same time, winter gives a fantastic opportunity to display your refined taste with such luxury fabrics as alpaca, cashmere and even silk! Sewing aficionados will spot the difference between cashmere, alpaca and worsted wool right away, while others might not be so savvy. These noble wool types are generally warmer, softer and lighter than much more popular merino wool. Just what you need to make a luxury statement!

Fabric texture matters as well. When selecting an option for a colder season, you might find it hard to choose between smooth worsted or fluffier woolen wool fabric, since both types are so attractive. And while woolen wool may feel supercozy, remember that it's prone to pilling.

As for silk, this fabric can be worn all year round, especially if your location is between the 50th parallels. The secret of its universality is in the outstanding length of silk fibre, which can reach up to one mile (1609.344 metres)! That length allows for very tight weaves, such as satin, making silk very effective in retaining body heat. In summer time, silk performs as a sweat absorber, thus offering you a unique cooling effect when sweat evaporates.

3. What will your dress design look like?

The more complex your desired dress design is, the softer and thinner your selected fabric should be. If you plan to add many folds, drapes and ruffles, go for silk chiffon or silk crepe fabrics. For a bodycon dress, select a cloth containing elastane. If the peculiarities of your figure are not exactly what you want to showcase, go for taffeta.

dressmaking fabric

4. Colour and prints.

Dresses with lots of décor such as folds, pockets or trims look particularly stunning in a solid fabric. If you fancy the combination of single tone colours, use it for evening and cocktail outfits.

When it comes to casual dresses for dates and leisure activities, they look best with graphical, floral and botanical patterns. Don’t forget about the legendary Paisley one, which appears to be timeless. Also known as ‘buta’ on the East, it has been a hallmark of Italian brand Etro since the early 1980s.

If you like a check pattern, remember that small and medium ones fit any shape, while larger checks are ideal on tall and slender women.

Your summer outfit should be more colourful, while autumn and winter ones look better in more constrained colours.

5. Does it fit your body constitution?

Sadly enough, not any dressmaking fabric looks equally fine on all women. However, it doesn’t mean that people of certain shape cannot look elegant. All you need to do is just select the right texture, colours and prints, as there are lots of them! For example, such textured fabrics as tweed or boucle can be completely out of place for women with a frail figure, as it requires medium weight materials. Skinny ladies will never go wrong with satin, lustrous or leather fabrics, because they visually add to your shape and make it rounder. Shorter women should avoid large patterns and go monochrome instead, while the taller ones… Well, you might want it be presented in a clear and informative layout, right? We have created the following table to anticipate any of your questions on that matter.

Table 2. Fabric selection tips for different body types

Women’s body type

Pieces of advice on dressmaking fabric selection

tall

  • opt for long maxi skirts and beware of high hemline;
  • use various patterns, feel free to use larger ones;
  • avoid monochromatic fabric designs;
  • go for hourglass designs with a high waist or a waist cinching belt;
  • skirts that fall above the knee.

short

  • go monochrome with few colour variations;
  • consider buttoned shirt dresses;
  • vertical lines will make you look elongated, while the horizontal ones are best avoided;
  • complement your dress with an open straight jacket or a cardigan;
  • V-line tops make your look visually taller.

skinny

  • fabrics with horizontal stripes will work perfectly;
  • choose stiff fabrics such as organdy or taffeta;
  • think of pairing your dress with slightly loose but fitting clothes;
  • don’t use clingy fabrics;
  • beware of baggy designs;
  • avoid being dressed completely black.

heavy

  • just as those with a skinny shape, don’t opt for clingy fabrics that will accentuate your figure flaws;
  • many colours are your another no-no;
  • darker shades are more preferable than lighter ones;
  • if you fancy vertical lines, then go for them! Your figure welcomes such prints;
  • make a long skirt to elongate your legs.

6. Are you skilled enough to work with this fabric?

By this point, you might have already narrowed down the circle of the most desired fabrics. However, if your chosen cloth is one of those challenging to sew, consider turning to professionals. If you are not much experienced in sewing, the rule of thumb is to get started with cotton fabrics, as they are some of the easiest for an amateur dressmaker. Make sure they feature neither stripe nor chequered prints, because you'll be required to match them — a tiresome task for those working on their first dress, isn’t it?

100% cotton can be applied for anything, while staying comfortable, durable, and easy to care.

You can also go for such natural fabrics as linen or cotton-linen blend. What you want to avoid at the start of your sewing path is choosing stretchy, slippery, heavy, rigid or bumpy fabrics no matter how tempting they might look.

As you progress in dressmaking, dare to create more complex outfits out of any desired fabrics.

dressmaking fabric

7. How much fabric do you need?

Again, if you delegate the sewing process to atelier, this should bother you only in financial terms — the professionals will make exact measurements. In case you work on your own, consider such factors as those listed in the table 3:

Table 3. Recommendations on selecting a proper fabric length

Factor

Comment

Dress design

Sleeves, collars, ruches, flounces, frills, peplums, wedges and other asymmetric decorative elements require 0.2-0.3 cm more. If such details are planned to be volumetric, you may need to allocate even more fabric for them.

Consider whether your dress will have a waist cutting line or whether it will be a one-piece type. When the bottom is sewn separately, there is no point in buying two lengths of material for the top, leave more for the skirt part instead.

Fabric characteristics

In case of patterned fabrics, the final length of your fabric can increase more than half a metre in order to match the pattern. There’s no good in hoping that in your particular case the mismatch will be invisible — in fact, it is visible, and all your investments will be definitely paid off...

Your shape

This point is quite tricky. If your figure is close to a classic one, you can make standard measurements and encounter no problems when sewing. Just take one fabric length and add 20-30 cm to finish cuts and hem. Some women have disproportional wider hips and narrower shoulders, which means less fabric is needed for a top and much more for a skirt. In such situations, it is recommended to buy fabrics for two measurements plus extra to finish hem and cuts.

Trimmings and Buttons Do Matter

Why do we mention trimmings in the context of fabrics? The point is, all those trims, zippers, clasps and buttons can strongly affect your fabric selection. The era of online shopping has given you a vast range of decorative items, very often designed remarkably enough to bring the dominant accents to your look. What can really steal the eye from your dress?

  1. Delicate French trims with intricate floral patterns. Lace trims are some of the most elegant ones, as their typical selection comprises such types as Chantilly, corded, Lyon, guipure and macrame. No less impressive are the trims embellished with ostrich feathers, fringe, flower appliques, gimp braids and Swarovski rhinestones.

  2. Exquisite decollete embellishments with a romantic vintage touch.

  3. Patches embroidered with glittering beads, bugles or crystals and coming in abstract botanical, animalistic, 3D, and lots of other shapes.

  4. Ribbons. They are just created to complement your look with an amazing charm and make a particularly perfect match with solid fabrics.

  5. Buttons. Even sewn onto quite a mediocre dress, they perform as an extremely powerful tool to make a show-stopping effect. Their selection is endless, as you can choose between various shapes, sizes, styles and materials. What comes to your mind when you see such names as rhinestone button, glass button, mother of pearl button, cameo button, or bead button? Some of them simply make a perfect match to your well-thought outfit, adding new accents. But sometimes when you see a button, you want it so badly that you're ready to make it a centerpiece of your outfit. Imagine large buttons (3.5-4 cm and more) with luxury Swarovski setting, delicate engraving or cabochons. As a rule, the more luxurious the button is, the less exclusive your fabric should be.

There are literally thousands of trimmings. Some of them can be just a beautiful adornment, while others rock your imagination and influence the way you select fabrics.

General Sewing Tips

If you are planning to buy online dressmaking fabrics, the selection process can be very time-costly. This process captivates, that’s why the rule of thumb is to take your time and get the most of it.

Desperate to find your dreamy evening gown fabric, don’t forget about lining too. As a rule, the length of lining equals the length of your one-piece dress or that of the cut-off models. However, if your hem features folds, the lining consumption will be the same as of the main fabric. There’s no lining required on the sleeves or on the wide and long skirts. If you are planning to create a summer dress, think of selecting the fabrics that can substitute lining.

Another small piece of wisdom concerns fabric preparation before you start working on it. “Why on earth should I prepare it, that’s just a fabric!”, you may ask. As long as you are going to create a dress from scratch, you should stick to the measurements taken. Some fabrics, such as various types of cotton and linen, are likely to shrink. You would probably agree that it is safer to let your fabric change its dimensions while “that’s just a fabric”, rather than already sewn into a dress? Always pretreat your fabrics and iron them when dry as you would iron a ready garment. This way you'll be able to assess size corrections if any.

Sewing is a creative process that can bring you lots of joy. When you are just starting to make your first dress, having high quality instruments is no less important than Europe’s most luxury dressmaking fabrics. Sharp and ergonomic scissors, a powerful sewing machine with a specialist foot, tone-on-tone threads and everything you need for decorating your dress are those tiny things that still contribute to your joy of the creation process.

Fabric is what sets the tone for your dress, while a dress is what defines your entire look. Hence, fabric is what largely expresses your style. Think twice before buying this or that cloth, as besides expecting the moments of splendour when you will be blazing in your dress, you need to match your new outfit with other pieces from your wardrobe. Which shoes and which type of outerwear will you wear with this dress? Make sure you answer these questions not to regret your choice.

dressmaking fabrics

The Main Trends 2018

This season, the most expected fabrics are cotton, linen, silk, and velvet, as well as tweed, poplin and sequined fabrics. Many of these popular fabrics are applied in a new way. Take velvet, for example. In 2018, you can feel bold enough to combine this fabric with organza, fur or feathers.

The main colours of the year are red, green, purple, yellow, and pink. In the spring/summer season, the palette is expected to be about lilac, lime, crimson and sky-blue tinges.

The colour combinations set the mood for vividness and playfulness: think pink and orange, pink and blue, red and purple.

When it comes to the most trendy prints, here’s the list:

  1. floral,
  2. animalistic (including predatory prints),
  3. ethnic,
  4. geometric,
  5. 3D,
  6. striped, and
  7. chequered.

The prints are expected to be small, delicate and contrast (red and black, black and white).

The fashion trends 2018 welcome embroidered fabrics, such as covered with sequins and nacre beads. Fashion designers use sequined fabrics for straight floor-length, detachable or bulky dresses, as well as for inserts on a dress. This season, such decor can either cover the whole surface or be applied with a certain distance between the sequins.

Dressmaking Fabric Collection at Tissura

What makes an evening dress a precious outfit for a woman? At first glance, it is about the beauty of the fabrics and trimmings, and the complexity of design. However, the value of an evening dress extends a bit further than a dress itself and roots in psychology. Ladies tend to cherish this sort of clothing as it gives them a chance to escape from the mundane mess and express a particular grace, charming femininity. That symbolic value grows higher if your evening dress is created out of European fabrics by such iconic brands as Jakob Schlaepfer, Forster Rohner, Aldo Bianchi, Ruffo Coli, HOH and others.

Tissura is the online shop where you can buy dressmaking fabrics favoured by the leading fashion houses. Coming in regular collections, they let you take the most of the latest fashion trends and enjoy the cutting-edge approaches to design. What you see in the table below is just a selection of some materials intended to make a general impression of our collection.

Click on the button to see the whole assortment.

dressmaking fabric

Silk crepe de chine fabric, 168 € (197 US$) per one running metre;

dressmaking fabric

Embroidered tulle fabric, 737 € (781 US$) per one running metre;

dressmaking fabric

Exclusive embroidered lace fabric, 949 € (1,166 US$) per one running metre;

Guipure lace

Guipure lace fabric, 312 € (348 US$) per one running metre.

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