This guide aims to help you get to grips with the basics of fabric, looking the different types of material you could incorporate into your stitch projects, all the way through to what specialist precuts are manufactured and how they could benefit you.
The fabulous thing about fabric is that it's widely accessible in many different colours, patterns and designs, but have you considered what material will be best suited to the project you'd like to undertake? Cotton seems to be the most common material used in stitchcraft - but what else can you expect to find? Here, we take a look at the different materials you could base your sewing projects on, describing their qualities.
Light, thin and soft, cotton is a relatively cheap material so is often used for a multitude of different textile projects. Cotton is an ideal material for patchwork projects and creating lightweight garments, such as button-up shirts, dresses, socks, t-shirts, bed sheets and much more, however it may not be well-suited for more heavy-duty stitch crafting.
Denim is a strong, sturdy material traditionally made from cotton warp yarn and a white cotton filling yarn. These two yarns are finely interwoven to create a complex twill weave, strengthening the material. Although it's primarily used to create jeans, jackets, dresses and dungarees, denim can also be used to make accessories and even cover furniture for a non-conventional home décor style.
A strong material made from either natural fibres like wool, or synthetic fibres like acrylic, felt is constructed by matting and pressing fibres together to form a whole piece. Varying in thickness, density and softness, felt doesn't fray when cut so is often used in quick and easy craft projects, such as making decorations to hang around the home, teddies, quirky hats, or used in kids craft.
Fleece is lightweight, strong and soft, constructed to almost mimic the properties of wool. Made from a type of polyester with synthetic fibres, fleece is generally an inexpensive material that's capable of insulating heat, so is the ideal material for creating jackets, hats, jumpers and throw blankets.
Polyester fabrics generally have less of a 'natural' feel in comparison to cotton or wool, however they are somewhat favoured by sewers due to their durability, fantastic colour retention, wrinkle/shrink-resistance and how inexpensive they are. Polyester is commonly used for larger projects such as home décor, shirts, trousers, jackets and more.
As it's a semi-synthetic fibre, rayon is an extremely versatile material that's often used to substitute natural fibres in clothing. Although soft, comfortable, smooth and absorbent, rayon has an extremely low elastic recovery and fails at insulating heat, so is best used when sewing garments to wear in hotter weather.
Satin has a soft, even, glossy texture, reflecting light for a luxurious look. It's usually constructed by floating warp yarns over weft yarns, thus creating a very high lustre that's perfect for creating lavish bed sheets and furnishings. This materials is commonly used in apparel, and is especially ideal for lingerie, sleepwear, scarves, and even ties!
A natural protein fibre, silk is constructed primarily from the cocoons of the larvae of Mulberry Silkworms. Unlike many synthetic fibres, silk has a soft, smooth and non-slip texture. Although it's one of the strongest natural fibres, it has low elasticity and can lose strength over time. The beautiful lustre makes it ideal for shirts, ties, suits, formal dresses, lingerie, robes, bedding and much more.
Made from either natural or synthetic fibres, velvet is a woven fabric with a dense pile that has a unique and distinctive, smooth, soft feel to it. As it has a luxurious texture and sumptuous appearance, velvet was traditionally used to make opulent wall hangings and royal robes. However today, it's more commonly used to create clothing, cushions, home décor items, and to line storage boxes.