maake takes a look at which winter fabrics are most suitable for making dresses

What makes a textile perfect for a winter dress?

Warm fabric abounds, but finding the right winter dress fabric to sew with is not as simple. There’s so much you have to consider when choosing fabrics for dresses – the pattern, the drape and what garments you can layer the fabric with to keep warm. Think about all of these facts before choosing the right winter fabric.

Read our comprehensive guide on the best dress fabrics here, for all seasons. We also discuss floral fabric designs in detail in our floral fabric design guide.

Choosing winter fabrics


Consider the following when choosing your dressmaking fabric for cold-weather dresses:

  • Will the fabric be comfortable to wear in winter?
  • Does the fabric drape well?
  • Is the fabric soft to the touch? You want a winter dressmaking fabric that moves with your body.
  • Does the fabric breathe? Even if you’re wearing the fabric in winter, you want to be able to layer it with other fabrics to keep out the cold.
  • Consider the fabric pattern. Remember to choose a fabric that suits the style of the dress the dressmaker (or you) are making. If the winter fabric is textured, you need to choose an appropriate weight for the fabric (see below).
  • When you consider the weight of the fabric: Think about whether the fabric is too light or too heavy? This will affect how the fabric drapes on your body. Make sure it drapes well but still keeps you warm. Remember: fabric weight is measured in ounces per metre or square meter (gsm or g/m2) – the higher the gsm, the heavier the fabric.
  • Medium-weight fabric (237-305gsm) is great for winter sweater dresses and structured clothes. Heavyweight (305gsm) fabric is suitable for a very warm winter dress. 
  • Is the winter fabric sustainable? This is something we always consider at maake, and we hope that you are conscious of this as well. We also consider fabric certification when we choose a fabric. This tells us whether a fabric has been certified. Fabric can be certified safe for children to wear; the fabric can also get certification for being sustainable and 100% organic.

    The warmest dress fabrics to shop


    There are several warm winter fabrics you can consider for making dresses. Here’s a list of the most popular fabric manufacturers use for winter garments

    1. Wool: Wool fabric is incredibly warm fabric, but wool can be a little scratchy. This natural wool material usually comes from sheep. With its natural insulation (wool fibres have air pockets that insulate our bodies), wool is a popular cold-weather choice, especially Merino wool, which is less likely to irritate sensitive skins than other wool material. Wool is also a breathable and water-resistant fabric, which makes it ideal for cold, rainy UK days. More commonly used for sweaters, socks and scarves, woollen fabric, when blended, is an excellent fabric choice.
    2. Brushed wool is a mix of recycled wool and polyester fabrics. It’s great for a warmer item as the wool is soft, fluffy and comes in mid- to heavyweight fabric. This particular wool dressmaking fabric is warmer than cotton fabric, too. Some people believe cashmere fabric is warmer than wool; cashmere is a luxurious wool material that is also much more expensive. It’s a very soft and sumptuous fabric. This particular wool is usually used to make outerwear and accessories rather than used as a fabric for a dress. 
    1. Silk: Created by silkworms when forming cocoons, silk dressmaking fabric also insulates the body from the cold. Although it’s thinner and more lightweight than other warm fabric, it’s often used for layering. It’s warmer than cotton and also breathable. In addition, the fabric regulates the body’s temperature, making it warmer than many other fabrics.
    2. Cotton : There’s a debate around whether it is a good idea to use cotton as a warm fabric or not. Cotton is often used in very warm fabric blends – see all the details below.  As cotton fabric is very breathable, many people choose cotton fabrics in cold weather as well as in the warmer months. Cotton blend fabrics are especially popular as a middle layer of clothing. Cotton fabric is not only affordable, it’s also comfortable and soft and a popular fabric choice for those who have sensitive skin. The cotton is durable fabric and can be produced in heavy- and lightweight fabrics. As cotton fabrics absorb moisture, the fabric is not ideal to wear when it’s raining or snowing.  Cotton blends: These cotton blend fabrics are a combination of cotton and other fibers.
    3. Cotton blends work particularly well for dress fabrics. One of these cotton blends is Tencel Cotton Satin fabric, which is perfect for warmer items for smart occasions, Christmas included. The cotton blend fabric fibers are created using a satin weave which makes the fabric very luxurious and silky. The fabric also drapes extremely well.
    4. Cotton jersey fabric is perfect for a warm, casual, soft dress. This stretchy cotton jersey fabric is lightweight, an ideal knit fabric that you can wear every day. Printing on cotton jersey fabric is vibrant, too. And it’s far better to wear in winter than linen fabric.
    5. There are two very warm fabrics to consider for dresses. Both are cotton blend fabrics that are brushed cotton fleece fabrics and baby corduroy fabrics. Both are cosy and extremely warm fabrics and can be even warmer if you add a pair of leggings to your outfit. Brushed cotton fleece fabrics are considered a stretch cotton dress material, while baby corduroy fabric is a lightweight to middle-weight fabric that is better used for a more structured dress.
    6. Synthetic fabric: One such dressmaking fabric that we use to keep warm is polyester fabric. It’s often blended with cotton to provide heat installation in warm fabric. Acrylic fabric is another warm fabric. In fact, 100% acrylic fabric is warmer than cotton or woollen fabric on their own. Acrylic fabric is also soft and feels like wool, but this fabric has no breathability. If you blend woollen fabric and acrylic fabric together, you’ll have one of the warmest fabrics available. Acrylic fabric blends are often cheaper than natural fabrics, but these don’t breathe well.
    7. Spandex fabric: This is a great sports fabric to keep you warm when you exercise outdoors in the cold.

      Buy these! Fashion fabric that works

      1. Fleece fabric: There are several different types of fleece fabrics including a warm natural fabric made from sheep, which is lightweight and very soft. This fabric is a little heavyweight for a dress, though. However, this fabric is not water-resistant, so you need to add another layer of clothing on top to keep out the rain or snow. If you choose fleece fabrics that aren’t natural, the fabric is usually produced from polyester fibres. These are very warm types of fabric and they dry fast, so you can use the fabric even when it’s damp. These fabrics are also inexpensive.
      1. Leather fabric: Usually chosen for jackets, coats, pants and skirts, this natural fabric also comes in a faux fabric. Leather and faux leather fabric is very hard-wearing, and gets better with age.
      2. Fur and faux fur fabric: More and more people choose faux fur fabric instead of natural fur fabric to keep warm in the cold. However, although you may add a touch of faux fur fabric to adorn your dress, but it’s unlikely you’d make an entire dress out of this fabric. 
      3. Down: Feathers insulate beautifully, but these are very expensive as they come from ducks and geese. These are usually only used for jackets, coats – and gorgeous duvets, of course!
      4. Hemp fabric: This sustainable fabric is a great insulator and is also perfect for sensitive skin as it’s gentle. Hemp fabric is also breathable, antimicrobial and antibacterial. The fabric is usually used to make a jacket, not a dress.
      5. Spandex fabric: This fabric stretches very well. It’s considered the best sports fabric to keep you warm when exercising outdoors in the cold months.

      Why you should layer clothing in winter

      To get really warm when you’re outside in winter, it’s best to layer your clothing. Then, when you’re inside, you can peel off outerwear (jackets, coats, hats scarves, etc) and still feel warm with just a gorgeous slinky outfit on.

      The best way to layer clothing


      You need just 3 layers (no more) for cold weather clothing – and choose your fabric for each layer carefully. Each layer has its own important task:

      • Bottom layer: This particular item of clothing will keep you dry and sweat-free. It’s usually manufactured from light, breathable fabric.
      • Middle layer: Your insulating layer traps heat inside your clothing without making you overheat. Fleece is ideal for this layer as it keeps in the heat but doesn’t make you sweat. Cotton is also great, if you are going to choose a floaty cotton sheath underneath.
      • Top layer: This is usually a warm cardigan, jacket or coat. As it’s your outer garment, it needs to protect you from the elements (snow, wind and/or rain). Choose a down top layer, or go for hemp or corduroy fabric to keep you warm and dry. Alternatively use faux fur fabric.

      Inspiration corner

      Shop our best winter fabric

      Check out maake’s website for these fabulous cold-weather fabrics, then add to cart:

      • Organic Satin Fabric: 100% GOTS organic cotton fabric that is smooth and luxurious. Organic and lightweight, this cotton satin weave fabric is ideal for elegant clothing. It’s luxurious, soft to the touch with a smooth print face and a light sheen. This cotton fabric is easy to work and sew with, although the edges may fray, so it’s preferable to finish with a binding or overlock stitch. This natural cotton fabric has a matte finish that prints stunning bold colours.
      • Duchess Satin Fabric: 100% polyester medium-weight fabric ideal for eveningwear and a luxury special occasion frock (think Christmas). This luxurious, lustrous fabric is non-stretch, a woven fabric with a smooth surface and light sheen. The fabric is crisp to the touch and easy to work with. The fabric’s optic white base prints vibrant colours.
      • Massey Crepe Fabric: Polyester/elastane blend fabric with a luxurious feel and superb drape. The fabric’s lustrous, smooth surface is popular with fashion houses for creating luxurious fabrics , accessories and scarves. This fabric has a slight stretch and sleek texture, making it an elegant choice. The fabric also boasts a matte finish. The reverse side of the fabric is matte white and just as smooth. You can see the prints on the reverse of the fabric, but they appear lighter and not as bright. The white base of this fabric prints vibrant shades.
      • Light Twill Fabric: 100% lightweight cotton fabric that drapes beautifully. It has a tight diagonal twill weave which is evident on its print face; this makes the final printed cotton fabric extremely appealing. It’s a great twill cotton fabric to use, preferable to viscose twill fabric.

        Printing with maake

        We print on all of our cotton fabrics mentioned above in the most sustainable way possible. We also use eco-friendly Digital Pigment inks to print on cotton. This cotton fabric print process requires no water. It also uses around 95% less energy than traditional screen printing on cotton fabric.

        The polyester blend fabrics mentioned above are printed by maake using no water at all. All the inks we use to print on these fabrics meet Oeko-Tex requirements and pass EN71-3 certification.

        Warm colour choices

        Everything goes when it comes to colour for a warm dress, so choose the shades you love and mix them up with a great fabric pattern – see our inspiration below and add these to your mood board. Before you start choosing a fabric, be sure to read our informative guide on how colour affects our emotions.

        Some warm fabric colour inspiration to get you going:

        • Black
        • Brown shades
        • Burgundy
        • Cobalt Blue
        • Cream
        • Crimson
        • Dark purple
        • Emerald
        • Grey
        • Lilac 
        • Ruby red
        • White

          Design and pattern inspiration 

          Here’s a choice of stunning fabric patterns to add to your cart and print on your dressmaking fabrics at maake:

          • Argyle print fabric: This diamond-shaped fabric pattern is classic and gorgeous. Perfect for any fabric.


              • Animal print fabric: We can never get enough of these fabric prints, and in the cold months these fabrics offer a touch of warmth. Right now, tiger print fabric, especially if the fabric design is black and white, is very popular. 
              • Black and white fabric: Chess, herringbone, houndstooth... the list of patterns is endless. This makes an elegant fabric and colour design choice that looks stunning on a dress.

                • Dots on fabric: Timeless and whimsical, polka dots are always on trend, no matter what colour or size you use on the fabric.

                     Striped fabric: These make another stylish fabric pattern choice. Actually, it’s been around for a while and always looks fabulous.


              • Tartain plaid fabric: Ever-stylish patterned plaid fabric is often used for suits but can be equally gorgeous when used as dress fabrics.


              What’s next?

              Browse our fabric design library before you start dressmaking for winter fabrics .

              If you prefer,

              Create your own winter dressmaking fabric design

              Don't forget:

              Order your fabric Sample Book here!

              You must check out samples of the fabrics you’re considering to see how they look when we print on them, so order your book of sample fabric swatches here!

              Check out our fabulous fabric selection!