How to choose fabric for a starter project

If you’ve just started out with the new hobby of dress making, you might be overwhelmed by the huge choice in fabrics available. So, what are the best fabrics for beginners?

When you’re just starting out, you’ll want an easy-to-sew fabric that doesn’t cost too much, in case you make mistakes. Don’t get disheartened though as mistakes are good, mistakes are how we learn to get better! Things to look for in your fabric should include:

  • A material that won’t stretch or slip while you’re sewing it. The ideal choice would be linen, cotton or a linen-cotton combination. Try to avoid using silk, jersey or polyester with your first projects.
  • A light to medium weight material. Heavyweight materials are much more difficult to deal with initially. Avoid material with ridges in the beginning too, like corduroy for example.
  • Choose a plain or small-print fabric for your starter projects as big, bold patterns are more difficult to lay out.

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How to buy your fabric

It is easier to buy your pattern first and then choose the fabric for it. Getting your pattern first means you know what will be best to work with and how much material you’ll need. It’s also easier to purchase any matching zips, buttons and thread that you may need.

  • Make sure you choose a fabric that is recommended for your pattern.
  • Understand the care instructions before you buy. Can it be washed in the washing machine?
  • Will you be happy with the colour and pattern? If making a dress for yourself, can you visualise yourself wearing it?
  • Ensure you check the width of the fabric. Your pattern will tell you the width you require and it’s always a good idea to allow for an additional 10% for any possible shrinkage in the wash.

Buying online

Purchasing fabric online provides you with a colossal range to choose from. If you’re concerned that you can’t see the texture, drape or feel of the fabric, most online companies will send you samples for a small fee. This is an ideal option for those who might find it difficult to get to a store or simply don’t have one in their town. For a wide range of Dressmaking Fabric, check out the dress making fabrics available from

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Receiving your fabric

Try to resist the urge to get cutting straight away. The best course of action is to wash and iron your fabric before using it. If any shrinkage is going to happen, better it happens before you start sewing. After cutting the required size of material, you’ll want to gently iron it again on a low heat. Lay the pieces out in the cutting layout to check it will all fit and then pin the pattern segments to the corresponding fabric. Now, you’re ready to start cutting!