How to choose the best fabric for summer dress patterns: a detailed fabrics guide
The warm weather has arrived so we have selected the best fabric for summer dress patterns.
Follow maake’s expert tips on how to choose good fabric for fabric summer dress patterns when dressmaking.
Cool. Floaty. Dreamlike. A dress that embraces the skin in a soft summer breeze. That's what we dream about. The same applies to dresses.
Simple dresses are a lot more complicated than they look. It’s not just the design of the dress, which changes according to the latest trends. It’s all about the best fabric for warm weather sewing patterns. Which is why maake has come up with a definitive guide to the good summer dress fabric material for warm weather – with a little help from our expert team.
Sure, fashion plays a part in choosing frock fabric. But let’s not forget about function. The fabric has to work, to drape properly, skim over the skin without making you feel over-dressed and over-heated.
So, here’s a comprehensive guide to choosing the right fabric when you decide on warm weather sewing patterns for dressmaking, whether you want to make an everyday garment that you slip on when you wake up in the morning, or red carpet outfits you had specially designed for a very important event.
What to look for when choosing the best fabrics
Summer dresses need to float softly over the body, to skim over your skin so you feel free, not hot and sweaty. They need to keep you feeling cool throughout the day, without withering in the heat themselves. They must be lightweight, airy, breathable cool fabrics, items that feel almost as if you aren’t wearing anything at all.
This is the reason why so many people choose fabric made out of high quality natural fibres like cotton, wool and linen. Some blends of natural and synthetic fibres also work well. We will discuss these later. However, when it comes to natural fibres, what is the most popular warm weather fabric for frocks? Wool isn’t a good choice as this is extremely warm, ideal for winter, but there are some excellent natural fabrics you can choose for hot weather. Sure, a fabric like silk is warmer than most other natural material, but it’s cool in the hot months, rather than warm, like wool.
When it comes to the best fabric for hot weather sewing patterns that are natural, there are three – cotton, linen and silk. Natural fibres are cooler because they are soft, natural and lightweight (they shouldn’t weigh more than 100g per square metre – GSM) and they absorb moisture. Wool is a great choice, but only for winter garments.
For some more inspiration, take a look at our informative go-to guide on The Coolest Material for Summer, which offers our top choices.
Consider these points when choosing your dress fabricHowever, the way you weave this fabric will change the way it breathes. If one has woven it tightly, it won’t breathe as well as a loosely woven silk. Consider this before you choose silk for warm weather garments.
- You can also apply a natural blend: Manufacturers create rayonfrom a mix of cellulose fibers and synthetic ones. However, it’s cool to the touch and breathable. In the same way, factories make viscose from chemically processed wood pulp. This cloth is also cool, comfortable to wear and breathable.
- Look at how the fabric's weave and the type of yarn: Look for loose weaves and fine fibres, as these offer the most breathable fabrics for summer, ones that will keep you cool in the heat.
- Choose colours carefully: Cool, soft colours will keep you cooler than warm ones. You see, light colors reflect the heat and the light, whilst darker colours don’t.
- Don’t make it too tight: The looser the dress, the more the air will circulate around your body, keeping you cool and comfortable. So choose soft, drapey silhouettes instead of form-fitting ones.
Top summer fabrics – cotton, linen and more
Here we give you the list of those fabrics that are excellent for dresses:
Nothing beats cool cotton frocks, and this is one of the first fabrics that immediately comes to mind when making this item of clothing. Cotton is excellent fabric for sewing, as it’s so easy to work with. It’s also stunning for designing as you can emblazon a magnificent pattern on it that prints vibrantly and clearly.
It’s cool in warmer weather and comes in a variety of weaves and textures, too.
There are more advantages to this versatile natural fabric: it’s extremely absorbent, simple to wash and look after, long-lasting, and delicate on the skin.
Summer cotton fabric includes fabrics of different weights, including batiste, denim/chambray (these fabrics are heavier, although chambray is lighter than denim), lawn, muslin, cotton poplin, seersucker and voile. All of these fabrics are perfect for summer fabrics dresses, 100 cotton and lightweight.
As this type of fabric can crease, a cotton/polyester mix often works well. Is polyester good for summer? Yes, even 100% polyester can work (see maake’s choice for hot weather fabrics below).
Another favorite, this fabric is a little heavier and stronger than cotton, and a little more expensive, too. You see, factories make this fabric out of flax, and this is expensive to grow. However, this fabric is more sustainable than cotton. The flax plant needs very little water to grow as well as hardly any pesticides.
Linen’s texture is coarser than cotton and the textile has a lower thread count, too. It’s also a lot cooler and dries really fast.
If you take the liberty to walk into a linen dress shop, you’ll find that 100% linen is expensive, but well worth it. A linen midi dress or linen maxi dress will be cool, comfortable to wear, long-wearing and extremely breathable. Like cotton, this fabric is soft on the skin, making it hypoallergenic, and easy to wash and look after.
This fabric creases easily, but over time you’ll find it creases less as it gets softer after each wash. However, some designers ingeniously incorporate this characteristic into their linen creations. Also, factories weave linen fabrics more tightly so that they don't crease. Otherwise it’s an excellent idea to choose a cotton/linen blend that won’t continue to crease as much.
One of these linen blends is hemp, a mix of cotton and linen that is breathable, cool and comfortable to wear.
Here’s a tip: Don’t tumble dry frocks made from this fabric; rather steam or iron them.
Luxurious, delicate and extremely soft, silk is another natural fiber. Manufacturers harvest it from the cocoons created by silkworms and it is very breathable in the heat. It’s also very quick to dry. Many people consider silk to be too warm for summer, like wool. But this natural fabric can be perfect for hot days.
Because it’s such a sumptuous, light fabric, we often use silk to sew wedding gowns and other formal garments. Silk doesn’t absorb moisture well, so it can leave sweat marks. Choose loosely woven silks that breathe better for warm weather garments. This way, you’ll land up with a gorgeous, lightweight frock that is a little on the fragile side but looks and feels amazing.
This breathable, lightweight fabric is a blend of cotton and natural cellulose, which is a substance factories process chemically to create fibres. They originally created it to resemble silk; it's also less expensive.
Because of its thin fibres, rayon is extremely breathable, cool and comfortable. You need to have it dry cleaned. Otherwise, hand wash it carefully in cold water, or it will shrink.
Is viscose good for summer? Yes, it is. This textile has various names depending on the brand such as Lyocell or Tencel. Manufacturers take wood pulp through a chemical process to create the viscose fibres.
Although it’s not a traditional natural fabric, people find it very comfortable to wear. It also breathes well and is silky with a beautiful drape, so we often use it as lightweight summer fabric. Is poly viscose good for summer? This polyester blend is also super for warm weather garments.
Viscose also prints vivid colours.
Polyester blends and rPET
Polyester is a synthetic fibre we make out of plastic. However, we often blend it with other more natural fibres to create fabrics that are summer-friendly and ideal for frocks.
As we're always updating technology, polyester has changed along the way. We now manufacture it so that it's cool, water resistant and dries faster. In fact, these days we often use the fabric for activewear and for warm weather clothes, frocks included.
Another important point: A more sustainable option to polyester is rPET, recycled polyester, which requires less water and energy to make than regular polyester.
Don't shop these hot fabrics
As a rule, most synthetic fabrics, including those made of nylon and acrylic, are not cool or comfortable to don in the heat. In fact, these fabrics hold the heat and don’t breathe.
Of course, when we blend synthetic fabrics with natural fibres, they are more likely to be cool and we often use them for warm weather garments and footwear. For example, we regularly use nylon to make athletic shoes because it’s so hard-wearing.
One caveat is that as synthetic fabrics tend to be stronger than natural bases, you can utilise more open weave or knit patterns to allow air to breathe. Nearly all activewear including running jerseys are polyester- or nylon-based as they do not absorb water and actually wick it away from the body, giving a cool effect as it disperses more easily in the surrounding air.
Our favorite summer dress designs and colours
The hottest trends and ideas to consider when creating warm weather frocks.
We have already compiled an extensive Definitive Summer Colours Fabric Guide for you, which lists how to choose the best colours that will withstand the test of time and keep you cool in the warmer months. To give you a heads up on inspiration before reading our comprehensive guide, check out the Pantone Summer Colour choices below:
- Fiery Red: Super-charged red tone with an energetic intensity.
- Beetroot Purple: Bold fuchsia shade.
- Classic Green: Nourishing green hue.
- Crystal Rose: Clear, modern romantic rose pink.
- Tangelo: Tangy, tasty orange.
- Peach Pink: Warm, nurturing peach tone.
- Empire Yellow: luminescent, joyful colour.
- Love Bird: A lively, exotic green.
When it comes to design, there’s a treasure trove of gorgeous designs to choose this summer. Diagonals, ripples and waves, stripes and polka dots all came out to play, in vibrant colours that contrasted rather than matched.
Other patterns to consider? Animal print is big, as are brand logos and florals, including poppies and gorgeous embroidered hand-crafted buds. Tiny checks showed up, too, and tie-dye returned for another round of magic. Look out for scribbles, and colour blocking, which is also very popular right now.
Shop maake's choices of the best sewing material
There are so many gorgeous cool, comfy fabrics you can choose from maake’s exclusive range of fabric for sewing summer patterns for 2023. These include fabric for sewing summer trousers, evening gowns and frocks. Add to favourites to your list before you shop:
This 100% polyester fabric is popular for fashion items, frocks included, because it has a good structure. It’s slightly thicker than our georgette fabric and is excellent for pairing with other fabrics as an overlay. Chiffon has a slightly grained, sandy texture, which adds an extra effect when printed.
As it’s very sheer you may need to line the garment before wearing it. Its lightweight structure allows it to breathe and is excellent for frocks, blouses, beach sarongs and more floaty items.
Is crepe fabric good for summer? This polyester/elastane mix textile certainly is. It’s similar to crepe de chine. We often use this textile to make luxury dresses as it has an excellent drape and smooth, silky print face.
Crepe is extremely lightweight with a smooth texture and a matte finish. Colours print vibrantly on this white polyester base.
Extremely lightweight, this 100% polyester fabric is an excellent alternative to natural silk. We use it for numerous luxury garments, including frocks.
The material doesn’t crease and has an excellent drape and smooth, silky print face with a subtle sheen. As it’s a little sheer, coloured prints could need a lining. You will achieve vibrant printed colours on this white polyester fabric base.
This 100% cotton textile is our most versatile and cost effective fabric. A simple plain woven cotton with a mid-weight of around 155 gsm, its excellent for easy-to-make A line dresses, skirts, dresses and accessories.
With excellent sewability and a little body, it is suitable for beginners and advanced machinists and is an ideal fabric to work with.
Created from 93% GOTS cotton and 7% elastane, this lightweight cotton jersey fabric as a four-way stretch, so you can pull it in any direction. Often used for T-shirts and dresses, this smooth textured knit fabric is great for sewing and doesn’t fray.
This 100% GOTS natural cotton weave fabric is the organic equivalent of maake’s satin material. It’s soft and luxurious with a smooth print face, and has a lovely body for sewing more structured garment constructions.
As it’s a stable textile, it’s great for sewing and easy to work with. As the edges tend to fray, finish it off with a bindng or overlock stitch. Colours print bold and bright.
Extremely lightweight (in fact, the lightest fabric in our wide range), this textile has a slight sheen and is good for voluminous shapes. Its tight plain weave gives it a smooth, sleek surface and the stiff drape is ideal for crisp, shapely designs.
TThis popular cotton fabric features a floaty, elegant drape. It has a smooth surface and is extremely lightweight. It’s translucent, so you may need to make a lining for it.
Printing on summer dresses with maake
Feel free to take a look at our excellent selection of fabrics when you're looking for the best fabrics for summer patterns. All of our fabrics are printed in one of the most eco-friendly ways possible, using Digital Pigment inks. We use no water in our printing process. This method also uses around 95% less energy than traditional screen printing. Our pigment inks meet GOTS 6.0 and Oeko-tex Class 1 requirements. Check out our go-to guide on Textile Certifications here.