It has been said that fabric is to sewers what food is to chefs. That being said, sewing enthusiasts consider fabric the greatest source of inspiration. At Fabricville, we have the largest selection in the country, warehoused and readily available for immediate use. Seeking and collecting fabric has been known to be an irresistible urge and hobby with the promise of so many creative possibilities, whether it is to make garments, home decor items or to be used in crafting and quilting. Fabrics come in two main categories: made from natural fibres or from man-made material.
Natural fibres used in fabrics
- The most versatile and popular natural fabric is cotton. Cotton is most often used for baby and adult garments for its soothing and soft qualities. It lets the skin “breathe” making it the most versatile for all seasons. In the summer, cotton keeps the body cool and in the it keeps it warm. It is the basic fibre used in socks, garments and bed sheets. Cotton can be dyed in any color and are machine washable.
- Linen is also considered a versatile fabric. A popular choice for apparel and home decor for warmer climates. Although it wrinkles easily, it gives a timeless and effortless look. Linen is most often recommended for sensitive skin and although more expensive than most cottons, its comfort is worth the cost for those suffering from skin issues.
- Silk is considered the strongest of natural fibres. It is however, not as versatile as other natural fibres.
- Wool is the warmest of natural fibres and creates the ideal wicking fabric. It is derived from sheep, goats and rabbits, does not wrinkle and is very resistant to wear and tear. It can however be itchy against the skin. It is widely used in carpets, blankets, garments and . Dry cleaning is recommended for wool.
- Leather is soft, firm and comfortable in most temperatures and is used for clothing, shoes, bags and other accessories.
- Jute fabric is durable and used in manufacturing of carpets, bags and industrial products.
Man-made fibres used in fabrics
- With a visual and physical similarities to silk, acetate is not nearly as strong as the real thing, but infinitely more affordable. Acetate fibres are used to create satin, taffeta, and linings.
- Acrylic is very lightweight, soft and warm. It can be manufactured to resemble the look and feel of cotton and wool fabrics.The added advantage is that these fabrics hold their shape longer, resist wrinkles and dry quickly.
- Nylon is exceptionally strong, elastic and resistant to abrasion, making it a great fibre to be blended with natural fibres or other synthetic fibres.
- Spandex is an extremely elastic fibre that can stretch to over 500% without breaking and still return to its original shape. This fibre is often blended with other fibres to lend elasticity to knits, denim, or even suiting fabrics.
- Polyester comes in many weights and finishes, it is wrinkle resistant and both soft and strong. It can be blended with other fibres or used to create a 100% polyester fabric. It can be worn and washed without fading or losing its shape. As a petroleum-based fibre polyester is not an environmentally friendly choice, but many new polyester fabrics are being made from recycled soft drink bottles therefore diminishing the use of raw materials and reducing landfill waste.
- Rayon also known as viscose is soft and absorbent and drapes well, but is prone to shrinkage and wrinkling although can be treated to lessen these problems.
Selecting a fabric
It is important to determine the use of the item that you are sewing before selecting the fabric. There are many different types with pros and cons for each. It is therefore important to choose wisely. Often times, when using a pattern, the instructions will indicate what type of fabric is suitable for that project. There are also experts online and in fabric stores who can assist you in selecting the appropriate material for your project taking into account your sewing ability and experience. Fabric is made to experiment with and as you gain a better understanding of the different uses, care and maintenance, you will gain more confidence with each selection.
For more information about fabric characteristics and care, visit our Fabrics 101 section.