How To Learn About Different Fabrics & What They Are Useful For

Are you looking at how to learn about different fabrics and which is best for your project?

There are so many things that are including in sewing and learning to sew. From different needles and stitches up to different machines, there can be a lot of knowledge to take in and learn.

Along with many of the other elements of sewing, choosing the best fabric and knowing which is suitable for your project can be hard. It is also difficult to know if it will hang right, do the job and be the most appropriate.

There is a lot to know whether you are sewing to learn and know how to make clothes, homewares such as curtains and bedding or furniture recovering. Each sector has different needs and requirements from a fabric which may be confusing to someone new just getting started.

There are other sectors that you can go into with sewing from Cosplay to costume making to prop making but we will touch on that another time.

I wanted to create a useful way for beginners or even those of us (myself included) who are looking to expand our fabric knowledge and keep some kind of record for using as a guide through our sewing journey.

Create A Swatch Book

A great way to learn more about different fabrics is to create a swatch book. You can do this in a notebook, folder or just on sheets of paper to save for later.

You can use any book you have around or can get hold of to create your swatch book.

I have a full post all about what to include in your notes along with your fabric swatch.

Tip: Make sure your fabric swatch is large enough to be able to stretch it, hold it and see the print and get a good idea of the texture etc.

A swatch book is a great way to collect together samples and keep them handy to use the record for future reference. I personally love using Leuchtturm notebooks or Moleskine notebooks as they last longer and are more durable in the long run.

Learn One Fabric At A Time

Fabric hoarding is a real thing and no one in the sewing community will ever shame you for it. But it can be overwhelming, especially when you get started.

How To Learn About Different Fabrics

Fabrics are colourful, beautiful and have so many textures you can get swept up into the thrill of buying and come home completely overwhelmed with what you have.

I suggest starting off small on a project and choosing a fabric for it. Really work with the fabric and get to know how it folds, pleats, irons and washes so you can feel confident in using it in the future.

Use Existing Materials

Another great way of learning more about different fabrics is to learn about the ones you like wearing and use within your own home. Such as bedding, most of the time it is a cotton/poly-cotton blend.

This is a straightforward and common fabric, whereas clothing can be quite different and vary widely. To start choosing fabrics for clothes for myself, I looked at my own wardrobe to analyse the types of fabrics they were so I could go out and find something similar.

If you are throwing out some clothes that are no longer use to you, look at taking them apart and creating swatches with them, take them to your fabric store to compare to others.

You can use them as a guide to find a matching texture and feel – make sure to learn the name and blend while you are there, that way you can write it in your swatch book.

I found the best way to learn more about fabrics and what they could do was to watch Youtube videos, read blogs and even try out a sample of each fabric. For more information on fabrics, tools and what you need to know check out my Fabrics & Tools page.

Ask For Samples At Markets, Stalls & Online

When I was at University we would often need to get our fabric choices verified and approved by our tutors. We would go off and get samples from online retailers for a small fee or free, or in fabrics shops and markets.

Some places require you to pay for the swatches and some will do it for free. You can get a small square or thin length cut off the edge to use.

You can even ask the shop assistant or market owner to write down information on the fabric for you ready to transfer into your swatch book or keep to use again.

You can also buy small amounts of a couple of different fabrics to take home to test on a project and get to grips with the feel and weight of the fabric.

Swap Samples & Knowlegde With Sewing Friends

I have a couple of friends and family members that are also interested in sewing. If you have any friends or in a group, you could swap samples with others or ask for help.

You can ask for people to send offcuts of their own fabrics with information on what it is, how to care for it, how to wash it etc. I would offer to pay for postage as a courtesy.

This way you can get some more knowledge of the different fabrics, get some swatches to add to your notebook. I really like this idea as many people have scraps and offcuts that are either binned or stored to use up at a later date.

People would be more than happy to share these with you to help you learn and it is a little less fabric to hide from their other half!

Join A Group Online Or In Person

Facebook is great for groups and you can find many that are both local and worldwide. In these groups you can find a whole host of help from fellow sewists/sewers that are both just starting out or have been sewing for many years.

Use Online Resources For In-Depth Information

If you are looking at how to learn about different fabrics you might want to read up on different websites, blogs and fabric selling sites for more details.

These places can be so handy to learn more about the wider range of fabrics and be more helpful if you are looking for a specific fabric for a certain project.

For example, if you are looking to make a flesh-coloured leotard you might want to search about care, what kind of stretch you might need, coverage etc.

Websites can help provide these more direct and intricate details of the fabric to enable you to learn more and get a better understanding. The only draw back to this style of learning is that you don’t have a physical version of the fabric to touch, feel and test.

Ask Your Local Sewing/ Haberdashery Shop

Local knowledge at your fabric/haberdashery is great as they will often know the best fabrics, get feedback on fabrics they have sold to other sewers and have a great background on what fabrics suit which type of projects.

Tip: If you are using clothing sewing patterns they always have fabric recommendations on the back which are tried and tested. Take your pattern to the store with you to ask for assistance.

The owner/assistant can help you pick out the best of the listed choices and help you get the correct amount for the project.

I used to ask my local fabric store owner a mountain of questions when I got started out and would find their help so useful and appreciated. They can point you to the right fabric, colour and more. This is especially helpful if you are using a pattern with the fabric choice information on the back.

That is everything on how to learn about different fabrics. I hope you have found this useful and has given you some good ideas on how to get started and to help you progress in your sewing journey.

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