Shopping for fabrics can be a little intimidating, there’s so many different types of fabrics out there. We’ve put together this guide to try and help you get a better understanding of fabrics, their uses and how to choose the right fabric for your next sewing project.
What do I need to know about my Fabric before, during and after sewing?
- If you’re not sure what to buy - ask for help!
- Buy extra fabric to allow for shrinkage and pattern placement
- Pre-wash your fabric to allow for shrinkage we usually recommend an extra 0.5m
- Read the care instructions provided on our website for your chosen fabric
- Pressing while you sew can help tame the fabric and give a more professional finish
What’s the easiest fabric to start with?
Why are knits, silky and stretchy fabrics harder for beginners to sew?
These are more challenging to sew with because they can slip and stretch under the needle causing your stitches to come out wonky! It takes a little while to get used to the tension and feeding the fabric through the machine, so we recommend non-stretch and non-slip fabrics to begin with. Once you’ve got a feel for your machine and sewing, challenge yourself with some beginners knits such as Bengaline, ITY Knit, Cotton Jersey and Ponte.
When choosing a Knit Fabric, some people like to know the stretch percentage and how well the fabric recovers, if this is not listed on the product page, feel free to message us on Social Media or Email us. We are also happy to take a quick video of the fabric.
How do I read descriptions of Fabric online?
Weight - This describes the general weight of the fabric. There are three categories: Light, Medium and Heavy. This indicator gives you a rough estimate of the weight and its best suited sewing applications. Often particular styles of clothing are better suited to one of the categories for example, if you want a flowy summer dress you would use a light weight fabric, for a warm comfortable trouser you would likely use a medium weight and for a nice cosy winter jacket you would use a heavy weight fabric. .
GSM - This will give you the best and clearest indication of the thickness of the fabric. One handy tip for when you’re purchasing online is to start recording all of your favourite GSM’s, what you used it for and why you liked it. This is really helpful for fabrics like Lycra and Knits that have quite varied GSMs. This way you can purchase fabrics in future and get the same approximate GSM which means you’ll have a better chance of getting what you actually like and need!
Width - This will help you know how much to buy based on what your pattern suggests. Some fabrics are wider than others, it’ll usually fluctuate between 130cm and 150cm. Make sure you check this before you buy, especially if you’re purchasing a fabric that features a print because you might need to buy more to place the pattern properly.
Colour - At Super Cheap Fabrics we use a colour matching system called ‘Pantone’. This means that you can search the colour listed and it’ll show up the closest colour as described by Pantone. Please bear in mind that every screen is different and varies in warmth and coolness. For those who need to know the exact colour (such as designers) the best way to check the actual colour is to check out a Pantone colour book in real life.
What are some easy, beginner sewing patterns to start with?
Our Facebook Sewing Community Group ‘Create with Super Cheap Fabrics’ (click to join) shared some of their favourite, easy sewing patterns:
- Pattern Emporium are very easy with clear instructions
- Tessuti Patterns are step by step and visible
- Nova Coat Paper Cut Patterns is a simple one with no closures or set it sleeves
- Peppermint Magazine has some decent free patterns mostly well written by reputable pattern designers. Many are simple patterns with relaxed/loose cuts
- For sewing with knits, the Stellan Tee is nice with great instructions, including how to add the back neck reinforcement on the tshirt. Another free pattern
- Melly Sews is a good way to start and as a refresher too. She has patterns and instructions that are clear and easy to follow.
- Closet Core Cielo Top or Dress. Pull on woven with no buttons or zips.
Here’s some videos on choosing the right fabric that might be helpful:
What does the fabric look like and what is it made from?
Here we’ve shared some pictures that should the fabric and how it looks all sewn up. As you can see some fabrics are better suited to specific styles i.e. flowy garments or more tailored styles.
You can also have a thorough read through our Ultimate Fabric Guide if you want to know a little more about the construction of the fabric.
What Fabric do I choose for a specific type of garment?
- Cotton Sateen
- Designer Brocade
- Designer Jacquard
- Faux Leather
- Heavyweight Knits
- Rib Knit
- Designer Brocade
- Embroidered Lace
- Tulle Netting
- Viscose Lycra
Flowy Pants or Dresses
T-shirt and Tops
Long Sleeve Tops
Summer Top or Dress
- Nylon Lycra (with a higher gsm/thickness) ask us for help when selecting
Structured Pant, Dress or Blazer
Winter Dress or Top
Workwear Style Pants
Home Decor & Accessories
You can basically use anything and it really depends on the type of application. We’d suggest looking at what effect you want to achieve i.e. does it need to be see-through, sturdy or do you simply want a particular colour? You can ask us here to help you with your selection. A commonly asked question is which fabric can be used for curtains? Again, you can use anything but please keep in mind that our fabrics come in a maximum width of 150cm which means you would have to use a few panels to create fuller curtains.
Need more help?
Just give us a call, email or message!