You walk into a big sewing fabric store, and are surrounded by beautiful
displays, fantastic prints, and glorious textures. And the store would
love it if you just started buying all the fabric you like,
But maybe you’re overwhelmed by so many choices. You have no idea why your pattern is calling for “lawn”, when what you would really like to use is cotton. Find out more about natural fibers and how fabric is made, and you'll soon feel confident in picking out the right fabric type for your project.
When you go to buy a car, do you just pick out a color?
Probably not. You’ll do a little basic fact finding about style, durability, manufacturer, and what kind of mileage you’ll get before plunking down your hard-earned cash.
Same with fabric. Every textile is made with different fibers – whether natural or man made. Every piece of material has a different drapeability, washability, and wearability. Some fabrics are eco-friendly, some might make you itch, others will wrinkle or need to be dry cleaned.
Here’s an overview of how fabrics are made, and the differences betwewen woven and knitted fabric.
Each natural fiber has different characteristics, and has been woven or knit by manufacturers to take advantage of those properties. Sometimes, synthetic fibers and finishes have been added to the natural fibers to create new fabrics.
To learn more about the origin and many uses of the natural fabrics in use around the world, you can click on the links below.
Find out more about cotton and its many names (denim, lawn, broadcloth.)
Not all wool itches, and it comes in many natural colors.
Find out more about linen and how to make it less wrinkly.
Learn more about silk, which originated in China.
Find out if bamboo is the next wonder fiber.
What is organic fabric, and how can you make your sewing more sustainable?
You could just start to buy expensive material and figure out what you like and don’t like by trial and error. Or, find out
which fabric is right for your next project.
Here's an introductory article on how sewing fabric is woven, and how it relates to the woven fabrics you see in the stores.