How to Choose Fabrics (Shopping Tips!) | Day 10 of 30 Day Challenge

How to Choose Fabrics (Shopping Tips!) | Day 10 of 30 Day Challenge

Hi, It’s Jess! Today's tutorial is all about how to choose fabrics for different sewing projects! With a wide range of fabrics available in stores and online, it can be difficult to choose a good fit for your project and understand the differences. 

A great place to start is to look at the back of the pattern you’ve chosen to make. Usually the pattern will suggest the type of fabric best suited for the project but it still can be overwhelming to make a decision, or perhaps you’ve fallen in love with a fabric and want to use it instead. 

Some fabrics may be tempting to use because of the designs or texture, but keep in mind their durability and weight. Often, it’s the fabric and interfacing selection that can make or break a project. 

First I’m going to talk about types of fabrics, then the types of fibers fabrics are made from, the weight and drape of the fabric, and lastly some shopping tips for how to buy fabric. Watch the video below, PLUS I've created a free printable below so you can have all this information with you when you need it.


There are three main types of fabrics based on their construction which are wovens, knits, and nonwovens. 

  1. Woven fabrics are made by weaving individual threads together and the edges will fray when it’s cut. Woven fabric doesn’t have a lot of stretch which makes it a great option for beginners because it's less likely to move and stretch while you’re sewing! Some examples include cotton, canvas, linen, denim, and flannel. 
  2. Knits are soft, stretchy, and flexible fabrics such as jersey and spandex which do not fray when they are cut. 
  3. Non-woven fabrics are materials that are made of bonded or felted fibers and will not fray. Examples include cork fabric, faux leather, vinyl and kraft tex. 

Of course I’m just touching on the very broad terms and there’s certainly many different types of fabrics within each main category, but if you know the three basics, you can always expand further if that’s something you’re interested in. 

Each type of fabric has its own characteristics such as breathability, comfort, weight, drape, care, shrinkage, absorbency, and heat resistance. 


The next thing to consider when buying fabric is the material that makes up its fibers. The three types of materials are natural, synthetic and semi synthetic. Natural fibers are harvested and turned into fabric. Synthetic fibers are manufactured and completely man-made. And you may have guessed it that semi synthetic fibers are a blend of both natural and synthetic. 

So when it comes to deciding which type of material to choose, it’s up to you based on how you feel ethically, if you have any allergies to certain fibers, the actual feel of the fabric and the end results you want.  


Now let’s talk about weight and drape. Weight is the thickness and density of the fabric and the drape is how the fabric hangs. Consider how durable your project needs to be, the amount of interfacing and stabilizer used in the pattern, and how much thickness your machine can handle sewing through. Actually touching the fabric is a huge help in designing whether or not it will work for your project, so shopping local is always best. 


And lastly I want to talk about some shopping tips! 

  1. First I want to explain how fabric is sold. In most stores, fabric is sold by the yard or meter. Sometimes higher end fabrics are sold by the inch or even the square inch. Keep in mind that different types of fabric are sold in various standard widths, and you’ll be purchasing the length you need. So for example, if the fabric you’re interested in purchasing is 42” wide and you decide to purchase 1 yard long, you’ll end up with a piece that is 42” by 36”. 
  2. The next tip is to read the end of the bolt for information about fibers and potential shrinkage. You may have to purchase additional yardage to account for any shrinkage of the fabric.
  3. Next, pay attention to the direction of the print. Depending on your pattern, you may have to buy extra fabric to fit all of the pieces you’re planning on cutting or make sure the design is facing the correct direction.

This was a load of information, but don’t worry, I’ve created a free printable for you to have on hand so when you go shopping for fabrics, you don’t need to stress. 

I hope you enjoyed this video, and if you haven’t subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet, make sure you do so you won't miss out on any future videos! And, if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this video, it’s to not feel overwhelmed by shopping for fabric! Don’t be afraid to find a clerk to help guide you through the store, or even ask a friend to go along with you for support and extra opinions! 

Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you soon! Bye!

30 Day Sewing Challenge Schedule

Follow along each day, or watch the segments that interest you the most. Enjoy!

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