How To Choose The Fabric For Dressmaking Project

Choosing the fabric for dressmaking project can be difficult. There are so many options out there that it's hard to know where to start!

Here is a guide to help you choose your fabrics, depending on what type of dress you want to make.

The first thing you will need to do is decide between woven or knit fabrics (you can read more about these here in the blog).
Generally speaking, if the garment pattern has fitted seams like princess seams and armholes, then use a woven fabric; whereas if you don't mind an oversized fit, go for a knit fabric. If in doubt, make a muslin first.

Once you've decided on a woven or knit fabric, you'll need to make further decisions about the weight of your material.
Dressmaking fabrics are available in many different weights, flimsy fabrics being very thin and cheap, whilst heavy fabrics are thick and more expensive. 

Now you know your options regarding the weight of the fabric, it's time to consider what type of finish it will have.
Some common finishes are

  • Stretchy
  • Cotton lawn (which has a soft drape)
  • Crepe (which holds its shape)
  • Poplin (which is crisper than poplin)
  • Pique (similar to poplin but with horizontal ribs)
  • Taffeta (a firm fabric with a crisp finish).

For your dressmaking project, think about how often you will wear the garment. If it's just for special occasions then go for a nicer finish such as cotton lawn or pique; if it's an everyday item like jeans then go for something that is more hardwearing such as stretchy denim or stretch poplin.

Now you've chosen your weight and type of material, let's consider some examples:

Woven vs Knit Fabrics

Woven Fabric Suggestions:

Cotton Twill, Cotton Poplin, Cotton Sateen, Double Cloth (two layers of a woven fabric bonded together), Duchess Satin, Shantung.
Knit Fabric Suggestions: Jersey, French Terry, Stretch Poplin, French Terry Pique.

Weight of Fabric Example:

Lightweight Cotton Sateen vs Heavyweight Double Cloth

Finish for Dressmaking Fabrics Example:

Cotton Lawn or Taffeta vs Jersey or Stretchy Denim

Some Other Things To Think About When Choosing Your Dressmaking Fabric

If you want a dress with a nice drape and which falls well without being too clingy, go for a fabric with a soft finish such as cotton lawn or double cloth.
However, if you want your dress to be really body-conscious and tight-fitting then choose a stretchy fabric such as a jersey. Generally speaking though it's not advisable to use stretch fabrics unless the pattern has some built-in ease.

If you want an easy-to-sew project, go for a plain weave fabric with a fine or mid-weight. Avoid heavy fabrics as they are more difficult to sew with and may require more advanced skills!

Generally speaking, it is better to use lighter fabrics in warmer weather and heavier fabrics in colder months.
However, this isn't always the case; I've made summer dresses out of thin cotton poplin and winter coats out of wool bouclé! The choice is yours: experiment and finds what works best for you and your wardrobe.


Making clothes can seem like quite a daunting task when there are so many different materials available! Hopefully this guide will help point you in the right direction when choosing your fabrics for dressmaking. Remember the 'Golden Rule': make a muslin before cutting into your expensive fabric!

Please feel free to comment below with any questions you may have. I'm happy to help :)

Wishing you all the best in making beautiful clothes.

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