Choosing a Fabric for your Sewing Pattern

by Alexandra Brownell on September 21, 2020

You found the perfect sewing pattern and are excited to get started, but first you need to pick your fabric. With so many options it can be overwhelming, hopefully sharing my process with you can help out a little.


Before you get into any technical details, I find it best to grab a sketchbook or notebook and jot down my initial ideas.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is the end goal for this project?
  • Are you making a garment for a specific occasion?
  • Do you plan to wear this in the summer, winter, all year round?
If you see any inspiration online save it to your files or Pinterest.

The image above I made a collage with my inspiration and sewing pattern. This dress was for a '1970's Rock' themed Christmas party. Some of my favourite musicians from the 70's are 'glam rock', so I looked at pictures of Marc Bolan and David Bowie for inspiration. I liked the look of the shiny metallic fabrics and chose to look for something similar.

Look at your Pattern

The next thing you should do is take a look at the back of your pattern envelope. There should be a suggestion of types of fabric that work for your particular pattern. This pattern suggests: Challis, Crepe, Crepe de Chine, Cotton Blends.

Fibre Content

Each fibre type has it's own unique properties, which help determine their use.
Protein fibres come from animals such as wool and silk.
Cellulose fibres come from plants such as hemp, linen, and cotton.
Rayon is a semi synthetic fibre as it is man made but uses plant pulp. Other semi synthetic fibres you may see are viscose, modal, and lyocell/tencel.
Synthetic fibres are man made like acrylic, polyester, nylon, spandex. Most synthetic fibres are made from petroleum products and used for their durability and low cost.

Fabric Types

Usually referring to the weight, texture and weave of the fabric, it can be made of various fibre types. For example a crepe type fabric will usually be light weight and have a distinct crinkled bumpy texture (caused by it's high twist yarn). You might find a wool crepe, silk crepe, or synthetic crepe fabric.

Print and Colour

Explore your local sewing shop, with your inspiration images in mind. If you can't find what you're looking for, there are tons of online shops that sell fabric like Etsy.

Don't Forget to Check how Much Yardage you need!

Here is another example where I made a digital mock-up before sewing the pattern together. I had a variety of small fabric pieces that I wanted to patchwork together to make the shirt front.
First I found an image of the sewing pattern I was using online. Next I found images of patterns similar to the fabrics I had bought. I arranged the patterns in three different ways and chose the one I liked best.
1 comment
by Michelle on October 07, 2020

Wow, thanks for a great lesson on textiles. It will definitely help me feel more confident the next time I’m choosing material for a project.


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