Choosing the Right Fabric: 4 Questions To Ask Yourself

Visit any fabric store in Miami and they will quickly tell you that when choosing the right fabric for your project, you first have to figure out what your project is! Thankfully, once that is out of the way, there are plenty of options when it comes to Miami fabric stores. After figuring out your project, there are four questions you will need to ask yourself:

  1. What is my experience level in sewing?
  2. What/Who am I making this item for?
  3. Do I want a solid or patterned fabric?
  4. Where to buy fabric?

Here we will tackle each of these questions one by one and guide you along this process.

What Is My Experience Level In Sewing?

Everyone has to start somewhere – whether you have just purchased a new sewing machine or have been watching your mom or abuela sew your clothes for years and know the ins and outs of the biz, it is best to have a general idea of your skill level so that you can gauge where to start.

Choosing the right fabric based on ease of use:

Textiles are made from many materials, with four main sources: animal (wool, silk), plant (cotton, flax, jute, bamboo), mineral (asbestos, glass fiber), and synthetic (nylon, polyester, acrylic, rayon). The first three are natural, but here is what you really need to consider:

Easiest: Lightweight cotton with a close weave.

It is easy to sew, has a light fall, and is great for tops and dresses. Check the drape to make sure it is not too stiff. Heavy cotton is also a great option. Providing more shape, but still easy to sew, it can be a little on the stiffer side.

Be sure to take that into account, otherwise, it will stick out a lot in places you do not want it to when you are sewing it together. Also, keep in mind that cotton needs extra fabric, as it should be pre-shrunk prior to using it.

Moderate: Linen of varied weights.

Heavy linen falls nicely, feels luxurious and looks expensive. The best part is that you can leave the edges unfinished for a more rustic and bohemian vibe. If you are living in warm weather, it will keep you cool and it looks like high-end. The best fabrics in Miami are definitely linen.

Difficult: Silk, knits, stretchy material and types of denim.

Almost every fashionista has a silk blouse they love and want to attempt to emulate, but be forewarned – Silk can be tough for novices. You will likely find yourself tempted, with its lovely fall and gorgeous feel. Nevertheless, because of its slick texture – it makes it very hard to work with. Our advice is, do not start with silk.

Unless of course, you have the experience to back it up. Fabrics nearby or similar that you should also stay away from if you are a first-timer — anything knit and stretchy. It sounds like a good idea in theory, but without the proper experience, it can lead to a very frustrating first project.

Finally, as an extra add on – we suggest not starting out with Denim either. It is typically too thick, and you will usually need specific tools to be able to work with it, otherwise, you can damage your sewing machine.

Don’t forget!

Once you think you have selected the perfect fabric, don’t forget to check a few extra things: double-check the color and test the strength. Often the lighting in a store can make a color look different to how it looks in natural light, so always take the fabric into natural light (or near a window) prior to purchasing.

Pull the fabric between your fingers to test the stretch. Most fabrics will have an element of stretch, particularly when pulled on the cross (diagonal against the grain), and this will be useful to understand.

What/Who Am I Making This Item For?

Deciding the purpose of this item will help you figure out two things:

  1. The necessary strength of the fabric.
  2. How much fabric you will need.

If you are making something that will get a lot of use – like a sundress or shirt – you will want a fabric that you are able to wash frequently. For these types of garments, cotton or polyester is a good choice because they can hold up to a wash. Fabrics like silk or taffeta (like an evening gown) can be harder to wash but are not worn as often and thus do not need to be regularly washed.

Once you decide who/what you are making this item for, then you can measure (twice and cut once!) to determine how much fabric you will need. Typically, every Miami fabric shop will be able to assist you with measurements and quantities so never feel embarrassed to ask for help.

Do I Want A Solid Or Patterned Fabric?

This is heavily based on the type of garment or item you will create, and will determine how much fabric you will buy. When working with patterns, always keep in mind that not matching up patterns correctly when you are sewing your project can end up looking mismatched and messy. If you are up for the challenge and decide on a pattern, it is best to start out with larger patterns on your fabrics.

These are far easier to match up and give you a more wiggle room because they are not as elaborate. If you are not yet comfortable with matching up patterns yet, that is completely ok! There are plenty of clothing fabrics nearby in solid colors that will make your project just as beautiful.

Best Fabric For Dresses

The perfect dress starts with the perfect fabric, and when you make your own dress, you can choose exactly what fabric is best for you.

When it comes to evening gowns, think dreamy, elegant, ethereal, almost goddess-like fabrics like silk, satin, lace, organza, and chiffon; These fabrics have been used to make show-stopping evening dresses for years, and with their natural beauty, elegant drapes, and exquisite femininity. Here are some great choice fabrics for dresses, but see our whole couture line of fabrics here.

Velvet for gowns

Velvet is a gorgeous choice for a red carpet-worthy gown. The shine, the depth, the richness, the drama, all make this fabric perfect for a sexy, vampy, feminine dress.

Silk Chiffon fabric

Silk chiffon fabric is a popular choice for elegant and formal evening wear. Chiffon gets its unique handle from the twisted yarns in its construction. It is a mostly sheer fabric, which needs some practice to work with, thanks to its fine and thin nature. Nevertheless, it is worth it! Dresses made from chiffon look and feel so special and feminine.

Georgette fabric for gowns

Georgette is always a popular choice when it comes to making gowns and evening dresses. It holds up well to embroidery and applications, such as beads and sequins, although these should be kept light and to a minimum, so they don’t pull the fabric out of shape. Thanks to its springy nature, you can have a lot of fun creating flowing, feminine dresses.

Crepe fabric

Crepe is known for its crinkled, or pebbled texture. This effect gives the fabric a lot of character, and, combined with its soft handle and stunning drape, crepe is a much-loved fabric in the fashion world. Crepe is also easy to shape and work with, so when it comes to making your own dress, crepe is a great fabric to get started with.

Satin dresses for galas and balls

Satin is one of the most popular choices when it comes to formal evening wear. It is a chic and opulent fabric that has a wonderfully shiny face, which adds depth, movement, and drama. The light reflects, due to the floating yarns, and this lustrous appearance makes it ideal for events where you will be highly-photographed such as galas, balls, and private events.

Organza fabric

Organza is a distinct fabric that can give your dress a ‘princess’ quality. It can be layered to create a waterfall of cascading organza, which subtly catches the light and holds its shape well. Organza is also great for most silhouettes. It is versatile and mixes well with other fabrics, to create a unique final piece that can be made to look traditional or contemporary and it remains one of the best fabrics for evening gowns.

Neoprene dresses

Neoprene has been becoming increasingly popular in the fashion world, breaking conventions and creating new and exciting apparel. The challenge is to make it look as elegant as traditional fabrics while utilizing their contemporary characteristics. Design houses such as Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Yamamoto, Miu Miu, Alexander McQueen, and Fendi are creating stunning results with this innovative fabric.

Where To Buy Fabric?

Thankfully, there are many great options for designers of every budget. Of course, most online shops have information about the fabric available and multiple pictures, but if you do not have a lot of experience with the names of different types of fabrics online can be trickier.

We typically recommend buying fabric in person as it will help you see the drape and feel the texture. Even more advanced seamstresses might hurt for missing out on the chance to feel and see the fabric in-person before they buy.

Isa Couture Fabrics, a one-stop-shop Miami fabric store has experts available to answer all of your questionsand help you choose the best fabric for starting your project.

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