In this week’s post, we’re covering different types of fabric used for garment and craft sewing. Nothing is going to get sewn without any fabric! And with such a huge variety out there, it’s rather confusing to know which to use and when.
In general, you get two broad categories or types of fabrics.
These obviously have many variations in their respective categories, but all fabrics fall into either of these. And you guessed it, fabrics are either woven or knitted.
Different Types of Fabric: Woven vs Knitted
Knit fabrics are stretchy and forgiving (when you wear it). It is characterised by that fact that it is “knitted” by interlocking loops of threads.
The picture to the left explains it well.
Knit fabric is made from one continuous piece of thread and therefore doesn’t come undone as easily as a woven fabric.
This also gives it its natural stretchiness.
It is soft and can be used for a variety of projects. You also get various types of knit, which I’ll explain in more detail below.
In contrast, woven fabrics are stiff and non-stretchy because they are made by weaving the threads length- and crosswise.
Looking at the picture, you can see how it’s woven together. It’s very obvious that it is not one continuous length of thread, but rather individual and separate threads which – when cut – fray easily.
I have gone into a lot more detail about knit fabrics in the following post, but for now, the above explains enough.
Different Types of Fabric: Woven Fabrics
Now that you know the difference between woven and knit, it’s quite easy to figure which kind of fabric is which. Some of the more common woven fabrics are:
- Cotton Voile Cotton voile is a lovely light fabric. It is a little bit sheer and hangs beautifully.
- Rayon Also classified as a lightweight fabric, but slightly heavier. It also drapes well.
- Linen This is a medium-weight fabric. It wrinkles quite a bit but conducts heat quite well. Which is why it is commonly used for summer clothing.
- Denim Quite obviously, denim is a heavy-weight fabric that doesn’t have any drape or stretch. It is quite challenging to work with but not impossible.
- Satin Gorgeous, shimmery and shiny fabric. It ranges from light- to heavyweight and drapes well.
Most woven fabrics are incredibly prone to shrinking, so prewashing is essential to make sure you get the right fit from the get go.
Usually the washing temperature is indicated on the selvage but if not, do the same as you would for clothes of similar fabric. Make-it and Love-it has some great advice on prewashing fabric!
In meantime, hit the shops, bring home that fabric… and prewash it!
Next week, I’ll talk about all things knit – stay tuned.