The best fabric for making clothing: maake's top 5 fabric choices
Savvy sewers know which fabric to use to create different types of products, but the rest of us often need a little fabric help. Here’s all the information you need when buying the best fabric for sewing clothes.
If you look at YouTube or TV videos of models walking the runway, you’ll notice exactly how the fabric drapes across their body as they move.
When you’re about to create clothes, that’s the type of data you need, so that the garment embraces the body in the most flattering way possible.
Of course, when you look on any website to choose dressmaking fabrics for sewing clothes, there isn’t a gorgeous model sashaying down the runway, twisting and turning in various directions to give you a good idea of what the fabric does to the body as the model moves. So maake is here to assist you with your dress materials.
Here’s the ultimate guide to the different plain fabric you can choose, depending on the type of garment you want to create on your sewing machine, or have made for you.
maake’s choice: the 5 best dressmaking fabrics for making clothes
If you’re sewing patterns for your business, or for a special occasion, you can’t afford to make a fabric mistake. So we’ve put together a definitive list of fabrics, a patchwork of 5 of our favourite choices of plain base fabrics that we recommend designers use for sewing patterns for clothes.
1. Stretch jersey fabric
This medium weight, super soft polyester jersey fabric is ideal for activewear, leisurewear (T-shirts) and kids’ clothes. Use this dressmaking fabric to create items that hug the body, are comfortable, breathable and easy to wear.
The garment must be made of versatile fabric, fabrics that will take you to the gym and home again, be cosy enough to wear while lazing on the couch, gossiping with a friend at a coffee bar, or just lounging around in the garden.
Stretch jersey fabric has a four-way stretch, so you can pull it in any direction you choose and it will spring back to shape every time. This smooth textured knitted fabric is easy to sew and doesn’t fray. The fabric also washes beautifully.
Colours print vibrantly and strong on the fabrics white base. The fabrics print face and backing are identical. These fabrics are also EN71-3 certified safe for children.
If sewing a garment from stretch jersey fabric, we recommend using a jersey or stretch needle for these fabrics.
2. Georgette fabric
Ideal for fashionable apparel and blouses, this sheer polyester dressmaking fabric has an excellent structure and is ideal for pairing with other fabric and utilised as an overlay. We often make sarongs and sheer tops out of this fabric. So if you’re sewing beach resort wear, this fabric should be your number one choice.
Georgette fabric has a distinctive grainy, sandy texture. When we print on this fabric, this will add depth. Because it’s so sheer, you may need to line the fabric, depending on the type of garment you’re making.
This gorgeous fabric has a white polyester base which means that when you dye the fabric, it prints vibrant colours. Prints will be visible on the reverse of the fabric, although the colour will be lighter and not as vibrant.
As a bonus, this particular fabric works fantastically when pleated. Using this dress fabric as lining for a skirt or dress can create a super luxurious finish, sewing your designs stand out from the crowd.
3. Massey crepe fabric
The perfect choice for a flowing dress, body suit or maxi dress materials, Massey Crepe is a poly elastane dressmaking fabric with a fabulous drape and a smooth, silky crepe feel. This fabric is extremely popular with design houses who use it to create luxurious clothes, scarves and accessories.
The fabric is incredibly lightweight and has a smooth texture and a matte finish. The reverse side of the fabric is matte white and just as smooth as the front.
This quality fabric’s white base prints beautiful, vibrant colours. You can check the prints on the reverse of the fabric, but they are not as bright and much lighter.
4. Duchess satin fabric
This opulent, lustrous satin fabric is ideal for smart wear. It’s a popular choice for a wedding dress, evening gown, bomber jacket and other luxury clothes like a special occasion dress.
This woven fabric does not stretch. It has a smooth, dense surface and a light sheen, which gives the fabric that luxurious feel. The fabric’s great quality and crisp structure make it very easy to work with, and it has really excellent body.
Duchess satin fabric has a white optic base that prints vibrant colours.
Important: Take note of these facts if you’re going to print on any of the above 4 polyester plain base fabrics:
maake’s polyester fabric printing is completely sustainable. We utilise no water in the fabric printing process. All of the inks we use in the process we use to print on fabrics meet Oeko-tex requirements and pass EN71-3 certification.
5. Organic satin fabric
This luxurious fabric is an organic version of maake’s satin fabric. We make clothes, bed linen, homeware and accessories from this fabric. We recommend the fabric for a shirt, blouse and dress.
Organic satin fabric is extremely sumptuous and soft to the touch. It’s a satin weave fabric with a smooth print face that is easy to sew and work with.
The edges of the fabric often fray, so we recommend you finish with a binding or overlock stitch.
When printed, organic satin fabrics matte finish features bold colours.
We print fabrics digitally
maake prints all of its cotton fabric in one of the most eco-friendly ways possible, using Digital Pigment inks. We use no water in our cotton fabric printing process, and the method uses around 95% less energy than traditional screen printing. The inks used to colour the fabrics and patterns are certified and meet GOTS 6.0 requirements.
Deciding on fabric? Expand your material options
Now you have an idea of our best dressmaking fabric for sewing fashionable clothes. Perhaps you would like to learn some more about choosing the right fabric to suit you.
Let’s get down to basics… We manufacture fabric in two ways – we either knit or weave each fabric. Please find below a more detailed guide to the different fabric types we offer.
What is woven fabric? Here's the definition
We make this fabric using a weaving process that usually involves a loom. We call the thread that goes down the length of the fabric, ‘a warp’. There's also a ‘weft’ which goes across the fabric.
The warp and the weft interlace on the loom at right angles to each other to create the fabric.
You can use numerous different types of fibre for woven fabric, anything from natural cotton and silk fabric to recycled and man-made polyester fabric (Click here for more info on woven fabric).
We can also knit those very same fabrics together.
The definition of knitted fabrics
Knitted fabric is very different to the woven varieties, for one specific reason: woven fabric is created using several warp yarns or threads that are tightly inter-woven, whereas one makes knitted fabric using one continuous thread.
This is much like using a single ball of wool in hand knitting. You make knitted fabric by creating interlocking loops on an industrial knitting machine.
Remember: you can use any yarn or thread for sewing either knitted or woven fabric – not just wool for knitted fabric, for example. The process you use would either be weaving or knitting, but the fibres you use could be identical, such as wool, cotton, linen or polyester.
Which are the best materials for sewing clothes? Knitted or woven fabric?
Let's take a detailed look and compare the two types of fabric. And check out our informative blog, How to choose the right fabric for your product here.
Knitted fabric is comfortable and warm in winter. The fabric also doesn’t generally crease. This is why knitted fabrics are a popular choice for men’s and women’s clothes.
Circular (tubular) knitted fabric has a more flexible, unstructured texture and is most typically used for fashion garments. We also often use this fabric for form-fitting clothes, like sportswear. And we use these fabrics for comfort items like T-shirts, sweatshirts and loungewear.
Manufacturers often incorporate lycra into knitted fabric to give 2-way or 4-way stretch. They also use lycra to give the fabric more stretch and recovery, especially for performance fabric.
Knitted fabric can also incorporate loopback and fleecy effects to give a different feel and properties.
Usually, knitted fabric is less stable dimensionally. This is because of the nature of knitted fabric. We often sell this type of fabric by the kilo rather than the meter as it stretches and relaxes under different conditions (in other words, the fabric gets narrower and longer or vice-versa).
Warp knitted fabric tends to be much more structured and therefore more suitable for applications requiring uniformity and stability, such as flags, upholstery fabric or webbing.
Woven fabric is usually much smoother than knitted fabric, and is also wrinkle resistant. Due to the woven nature, the fabric is typically more stable than circular knitted fabric such as jersey or fleece fabric. Because they are uniform, we often use woven fabrics to make tailored apparel or items that need structural stability.
Woven fabric can still have a comfort stretch; we achieve this by either adding a small amount of elastane to the weave (usually on the weft across the fabric) or adding it within the weave itself – this is known as mechanical stretch.
Which fabrics are best for sewing clothes? Natural or synthetic?
Natural fabrics are those fabrics manufactured from natural fibres. These fabrics include cotton, linen, silk, wool, velvet, flannel and denim. We use a chemical process to make synthetic fabrics. Examples of this type of fabric include nylon, acrylic, polyester, lycra and fleece. There are also numerous other fabrics we manufacture by using a blend of both man-made and natural fibres.
Cotton is the most popular choice
- Cotton: This type of fabric is comfortable, cool, easy to clean and hypoallergenic, so even people with sensitive skin can wear it. It’s a versatile fabric that drapes well and doesn’t cling. Although you can get cotton fabric in various weights or brushed, you’ll find that we mostly make apparel from light to medium-weight fabric, even when quilting.
We use a lot of water and chemicals to manufacture regular cotton fabric, so we consider organic cotton more sustainable, as we grow and manufacture the fabric with no pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Both recycled and organic cotton fabric have the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification, which not only covers the fabric from growth to actual product, but includes ethics and workers’ rights, too.
All the other options
- Denim: This is a type of cotton fabric that is extremely fashionable and hard wearing. We use denim fabrics to make jeans, jackets, skirts and other items. The fabric fades beautifully.
- Linen is a lightweight natural fabric made from the flax plant that is similar to cotton fabric. We make this natural fabric from fibres from the flax plant. It’s ideal for summer clothes, as it’s very breathable, cool and crisp. This fabric is also great for more casual items. However, it does crease easily and you need to wash it with care.
- Silkis a very smooth, lustrous fabric manufactured out of the silk produced by the silkworm that eats mulberry leaves. This light and silky fabric is sumptuous and flows beautifully. Silk fabrics are also known for its excellent drape. People love using silk fabric for apparel as it tends to be warm in winter and cool in the summer time.
- Rayonis a lightweight fabric, although heavier than cotton fabric. We manufacture this fabric from cellulose. You can also blend it with man-made fibres.
This fabric drapes very well. It’s comfy, soft and smooth and known for its similarity to other natural fabrics like linen, wool and silk. It’s ideal for hot and humid weather. However, it's advisable to only dry clean this fabric.
Especially for winter
- Woolfibres make warm, cosy, breathable winter items like sweaters. We make wool fabric from goat or sheep hair. If you have sensitive skin, you may find wool fabric a little scratchy. Wool fabrics are popular because it doesn’t lose its shape. Wool fabric is also very long-lasting. Remember: not all wool fabric is knitted. You can also have woven wool fabric, like flannel and tweed. Then there’s ponte, a thick, double knit fabric that is produced on knitting machines.
Mohair is a luxuriously soft, warm wool fabric manufactured from Angora goats. We use this wool fabric to create expensive apparel such as scarves, sweaters and shawls.
- Nylonis extremely strong fabric and it’s easy to wash. It looks and feels a little similar to silk. This fabric is also relatively inexpensive. In the early 20th century we used to make nylon stockings out of nylon fabric. These days we use the fabric to make parachutes, swimwear and other applications that require high durability.
- Lycra is a flexible, stretchy fabric that we often utilise to make activewear. Manufacturers combine lycra with polyester, cotton, nylon and other fibres to give the fabric stretch and recovery. This fabric hugs the body, is comfortable and easy to move in. We also make form-fitting apparel out of lycra fabric. If we blend it with polyester, the fabric stretches extremely well.
- Polyesterfabric comes in numerous iterations. It is the most popular fabric in the world – one of the reasons for this is its excellent drape. Recycled polyester, for instance, is known for its sustainability because we make it out of plastic bottles ( Learn more here ). By using this more sustainable polyester fabric, you are choosing a fabric that has been made in a more environmentally friendly way.
We use this fabric for a wide range of clothes, as it’s comfortable and easy to wash. This fabric is a popular choice for dressmaking as it looks very luxurious. Polyester fabric dyes easily, resulting in vibrant colours which don’t fade. It’s soft, hard wearing and breathes well.
It’s a fact: you don’t need to use a dressmaking fabric made of a 100% natural fibre to get the effect you want. We often make apparel fabric out of a blend of different fibres, either natural or synthetic fibres or a mix of both. It depends on what you’re looking for in a fabric when you make an item.
By blending different fibres together to make dressmaking fabric, you can ensure that you get exactly what you want for a particular garment, whether it’s durable, breathable, crease-resistant or a combination of all of those characteristics.
Which is better? Natural or synthetic?
- Natural fabrics: These fabrics are soft and easy to wash. However, with constant use they get thin and sometimes shred or tear.
- Synthetic fabrics: These fabrics are very hard-wearing, wash well and dry quickly, making them ideal for activewear. Some people are allergic to this type of fabric, as we often manufacture synthetic material using a chemical process.
The next step on your fabrics journey: design and colour
Once you’ve chosen one of our 5 top types of plain fabric for sewing clothes, or another choice of fabric, it’s time to print on the fabric.
maake makes the process so simple:
If you want to create your own fabric design,
Upload Your Design here