The first time we went to the fabric store, we were overwhelmed since we didn’t know what to look for. we would become overwhelmed by the endless rows of fabric shelves in the garment district of New York, and as beginner sewists, we could have used a guide to help me identify fabrics we could successfully sew with.
We have created a guide to buying fabric for beginners just starting out in sewing. We have included a list of 12 fabrics that are easy to sew, along with some online stores where you can buy them. From casual cotton to dressy silks, quite a few fabrics are suitable for beginners. To ensure that you can find a beginner fabric for just about any type of garment, we chose fabrics that cover both ends of the spectrum.
We looked for the following characteristics when choosing these fabrics for beginners:
- Stable, non-slippery, and non-stretchy fabrics
- Fabrics with a tight weave (so they don’t fray)
- Man-made fabrics are more difficult to iron than natural fibers
- The best fabrics to hide sewing mistakes are those with texture or print.
We have included descriptions of each fabric, why it is easy to sew, links to projects made from it, and recommendations for beginner patterns to use with it. Visit our free beginner sewing patterns category for more beginner patterns that you might like to pair with these fabrics. Check out our list of recommended sewing equipment if you want to learn more about the tools and equipment you’ll need to get started.
Here, SewingWithEase is providing you with our recommendations for the best fabrics for beginners to learn how to sew.
Cotton Lawn And Poplin
Cotton lawns and cotton poplins are both tightly woven, lightweight fabrics that are smooth on the surface and crisp on the hand. The difference between these and quilting cotton is that they are typically lighter. A summer dress or lightweight casual top is frequently made from cotton lawn or poplin.
Cotton lawns and poplins are frequently available in a wide variety of prints, which makes them an excellent choice for people who like to wear colorful clothes. Liberty, a London department store famous for its wildly wonderful floral prints, is a famous producer of printed cotton lawn fabric.
Besides not fraying and not being slippery or stretchy, cotton lawn and cotton poplin are some of the most accessible fabrics to sew. Aside from being easy to iron, they’re also widely available at fabric stores of all kinds and relatively cheap.
The print on lawn and poplin hides sewing mistakes, making them especially suitable for beginners. If you are going to choose a print, start with a small one, such as polka dots or tiny floral prints. Avoid stripes and plaids, as they are challenging to match along seam lines, and don’t choose a large print that has to be placed correctly.
Here is where you can buy it:
- Cotton lawn is available at Fashion Fabrics Club
- Cotton poplin is available at Fabric.com in a wide selection of cute prints, including Telio fabrics featuring cute small scales that make cute tops and dresses.
- Liberty printed fabrics are also available on Fabric.com.
Patterns to consider:
- Use Fibre Mood’s free Frances Shirt pattern to make a loose pullover top with cute gathered sleeves.
- McCall’s 8178 provides instructions for making a pullover dress with an elastic waist and flared skirt. A cute printed fabric would look great on this.
- A free sewing pattern for the Bardon dress is available at Peppermint Mag if you are a confident beginner. In-seam pockets are sewn in-seam, so if this is your first sewing project, it might not be the best choice.
It is a lightweight, semi-sheer fabric that has some drape to it. There are many solids and prints to choose from. Summery tops and coverups are often made with it.
The great thing about cotton voile is that it’s stable and easy to press, making it an excellent choice for beginners. You can make a flowing garment out of it if you want something really lightweight and sheer. Among beginner fabrics, this is one of the only ones with some drapes. Most drapey fabrics are slippery and more difficult to cut and sew accurately, so beginners should avoid them.
See below for a sneak peak of a gray polka dot cotton voile version of the Sorbetto top made with this fabric. Another version of the Sorbetto we like is this gray cotton voile version with a Peter Pan collar.
Here’s where to buy:
- The fabric Emma One Sock calls lawn is more like a voile than semi-sheer cotton. You can choose between several gorgeously saturated red, blue, and purple shades.
- Many prominent fashion designers have produced cotton voile fabrics for Mood Fabrics.
- With Colette’s free Sorbetto top, you can make a cute summery tank top. Sorbettos made from cotton voile are shown here in several examples.
- With Peppermint Magazine’s free Tunic Dress pattern, you can make a cute dress with an elastic waist and pleated neckline.
- Are you headed to the beach? Get the free pattern for this sheer coverup from Hot Patterns.
The cotton twill fabric has a tight weave characterized by diagonal lines and is medium- to heavy-weight. Pants and trousers are often made of this fabric.
Besides being stable, cotton twill doesn’t fray and is easy to cut and sew, which makes it great for beginners. It also hides sewing imperfections due to its diagonal texture.
Buy cotton twill from Fashion Fabrics Club, which has a wide selection of colors.
Patterns to consider:
You can make a classic trench coat with Mood Fabrics’ Caladium Trench pattern. In spite of the trench coat’s silhouette, this pattern is a bit easier and more appropriate for beginners since it doesn’t have the buttoned-down front (which requires making buttonholes), nor does it have details that are time-consuming to sew in a classic trench coat.
An ideal fabric for warm weather is flannel, which is soft, medium-weight cotton with a fuzzy finish. Baby clothes, pajamas, and shirts are often made from this material.
There are several reasons why flannel is excellent for beginners: it is a stable but soft fabric that can easily be cut and sewn. In addition to its cute prints and plaids, flannel also conceals sewing imperfections well. Avoid large-scale prints and plaids when choosing a print, as these prints require pattern matching, making the project more difficult. Stick with small-scale prints instead.
For a friend, we made some cute baby clothes using some super-soft Robert Kaufman Shetland flannel. We don’t have any pictures of our own flannel clothing, but I’ve made some for ourselves.
Here’s where you can buy it:
- We used Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel from Fabric.com to make the baby clothes linked above. Kids with sensitive skin will feel comfortable wearing this fabric, as it is super, super soft.
- Several solid colors and prints are available in flannel fabrics at Fashion Fabrics Club.
The following patterns are suggested:
- You can make some cozy pajamas with this free Martha Stewart pattern for flannel drawstring pants.
- Using this Purl Soho Baby Layette pattern, you can sew an adorable set of baby clothes. Those baby clothes we linked above were made with this pattern.
- Try McCall’s 6436 for flannel button-down shirts if you are a confident beginner. Different pattern pieces are included for different cup sizes, so you can make a shirt that fits. Additionally, you can simplify this pattern by omitting the pockets and epaulets and using snaps instead of buttons. Don’t try to make a button-down shirt out of a plaid flannel if it’s your first time making one, as matching the print will be difficult.
Besides being stable and tightly woven, Chambray is also very easy to cut and sew. Denim is a more difficult material to work with than cotton because of its heavier weight and difficulty maneuvering through a sewing machine. Cotton is an excellent alternative for beginners who wish to work with something lighter-weight.
The Chambray fabric is made from lightweight woven cotton and is often blue in color. Shirts and dresses often use it.
This gathered chambray skirt from Sew DIY is one of our favorite projects made from this fabric. In addition to this chambray wrap top, we adore this one from blogger Goodbye Valentino.
Shop for chambray fabrics at Fabric.com, where you’ll find a variety of blue shades.
Here are some suggestions for patterns:
- The Vallea Tunic sewing pattern from Mood Fabric is perfect for making a loose tunic for the beach.
- The Paola jacket pattern from fabrics-store.com allows you to make a work shirt inspired by the ‘shacket’ trend. This pattern is best for a confident beginner who is comfortable with sewing patterns. https://fabrics-store.com/sewing-patterns/paola-paola-workwear-jacket-pattern/ This one is a bit trickier. Replacing the buttons with snaps can simplify the pattern even more.
The flax plant provides the fibers for linen fabric. In addition to feeling great against the skin, linen keeps the wearer cool. As a result, it is best suited to casual clothing since it wrinkles easily.
Beginners will love it because it’s easy to cut and sew, medium-weight, plain-woven linen. Lightweight linens should be avoided (as they are sheer and require lining) and loosely-woven linens that fray easily.
This fabric was used to make a DIY Rachel Comey jumpsuit, which we made using a burnt orange Italian medium-weight linen.
You can buy it at:
- Hundreds of colors are available on Fabric.com in this medium-weight Italian linen. The jumpsuit below is made from this linen fabric.
- It is also possible to find linen fabrics on fabrics-store.com. Their basic linen fabrics are classified by weight on their website – we recommend sticking with the 5.3 oz/yd medium-weight linen.
Patterns to consider:
- For a linen-specialized fabric store such as fabrics-store.com, almost every sewing pattern in their collection looks excellent in linen. Check out all of their free, beginner-appropriate “quick and easy” patterns.
- Peppermint Mag has a free jumpsuit pattern that you can use if you’re in the mood for a jumpsuit. Because there are only a few seams, the fit is roomy, and there are no closures, it makes it a very quick and easy project.
Wool coating refers to heavyweight wool fabrics that can be used to make coats. Boiling wool, brushing wool, and double-face wool all fall under the category of wool coating.
For beginners, it’s great because it’s easy to cut and sew, and it holds up well to pressing and steaming. To reduce bulk in your coat, you need to trim and grade your seam allowances (which isn’t all that difficult).
This oversized coat was made with a light blue wool coating from this fabric. A dark gray wool coating fabric was used to make this fit-and-flare coat with an oversized collar.
You can buy it at:
- As a customer of Emma One Sock, we have had great experiences buying coating fabrics. While their wool coating fabrics are a bit more expensive, we have always found them to be high-quality.
- Mood Fabrics also has a good selection of wool coatings.
- Mood Fabrics’ Cardoon Coat free sewing pattern makes an oversized cocoon coat. It’s easy to sew because it’s oversized and does not pose any tricky fit issues. In addition to showcasing a few different fabrics, this pattern allows you to display multiple fabrics in one coat.
- Mood offers a free pattern for making the Calla Coat, a long duster coat. As this coat has no collar, no closures, and raglan sleeves (instead of set-in sleeves), it is surprisingly easy to make.
The fabric is woven from wool and has a bumpy, rough texture.
The benefits of tweed for beginners include its stability, ease of cutting and sewing, and excellent steaming and pressing abilities. Furthermore, the bumpy texture makes stitches blend into the texture of the fabric, hiding any sewing imperfections.
A Chanel-style jacket made from dark blue and white tweed fabric was one of our first sewing projects as a beginner. We made a lot of mistakes as a novice, but the tweed fabric really helped hide them!
- Mood Fabrics offers a free sewing pattern for wide-legged pants called Ursi Ensemble.
- Using our tried-and-true pattern Vogue 7975 (you can read more about the pattern here), you can make a Chanel-style jacket like the one linked above. Don’t let the fact that you won’t be doing any tailoring inside the jacket discourage you from taking on this project.
Dupioni And Shantung
There is nothing crisper or shinier than silk dupioni or silk shantung, both plain-weave silk fabrics with a slight sheen. Shantung is smoother (though it still has some striation) and drapier than dupioni, which has slight bumps (or ‘slubs’) on the surface.
You should avoid moving the fabric around too much after cutting it, as both dupioni and shantung unravel quickly once it’s cut. Due to its rough texture, dupioni is also great for hiding imperfections in sewing.
These light and dark blue silk shantung were used to make a bridesmaid’s dress for a client.
Here’s where you can buy it:
- A wide range of colors is available at Fashion Fabrics Club in silk dupioni and silk shantung. If you’re going to make a silk garment, you should splurge for the best; they also sell much cheaper polyester or “silk-look” dupioni and shantung.
- Use McCall’s 7719 and shantung to create a classic prom dress. The pattern includes scoop neck bodices, bra bodices, off-the-shoulder bodices, pleated skirts, and straight skirts. This version is probably the easiest to sew because it combines a scoop neck bodice with a pleated skirt.
- Mood Fabrics offers a free sewing pattern for the Layton Bolero, so you can make your own bolero out of dupioni.
In brocade, patterns are woven directly into the fabric, which gives the fabric a rich, lustrous appearance.
The reason it’s excellent for beginners: Brocade is one of the world’s easiest fabrics to work with. It’s a very stable fabric, so you won’t need a lot of patience to work with it. There are only two downsides: (1) the fabric unravels quickly, so manipulate it as little as possible, and (2) it can be hard to press if the fabric is thick. When you are just starting out, choose medium-weight brocades.
Two different brocades were used with this fabric to make a boxy jacket, one with a traditional Japanese pattern and the other with a geometric pattern.
Here is where you can buy it:
- In terms of silk brocades, B&J Fabrics has a lovely selection, but they are quite expensive.
- Many of the brocade fabrics available at Mood Fabrics are not silk brocades, but they are more affordable.
- You can create this simple long-line coat with Mood Fabrics’ free Begonia Jacket pattern.
- A softer brocade may work better than Simplicity 8418 if you’re a confident beginner.
The stretch in stretch fabrics makes them difficult to handle for beginners, so they are not recommended for beginners. The easiest stretch fabrics to sew are double knit (also called Ponte knit) and neoprene, which are less stretchy.
Make sure your machine settings are changed when sewing knit fabrics. In our post, you can read more about how to set your sewing machine for stretchy fabrics.
Double Knit (Ponte Knit)
Two needles are used to produce a double thickness of fabric bonded by interlocking stitches in double knit fabric (also known as Ponte or Ponte di Roma fabric). Unlike most knit fabrics, it is incredibly stable and heavier than most.
Great fabric for beginning knitters because of their stability and 20% stretch: Double knit/Ponte knits are excellent fabrics for beginning knitters because of their stability. (The product description on most online fabric retailers will indicate the stretch percentage of the fabric. You can determine the stretch of fabric at a fabric store by measuring its length while resting, then measuring it again when stretched out. In addition, the double knit fabric does not curl at the edges like most knits, nor does it fray like woven fabrics.) Another benefit of double knit fabrics is that they do not curl at the edges like most knits, nor are they prone to fraying like woven fabrics. If you want to reduce sewing time, you can leave the edges of double knit fabric unfinished.
These two sheath dresses were made when we first began sewing with knits from this fabric.
Purchases can be made at:
- The Vogue Fabrics Store offers a wide range of colors of double knit fabric at a great price.
- Mood Fabrics offers a free Brassia dress sewing pattern that can be used to make a classic fit-and-flare dress.
- Make Butterick 5559’s fitted sheath dress hug your curves with double knit fabric. Don’t be put off by the pintucks – they’re really easy to make, and the rest of the dress is simple.
Scuba knit is a material that consists of two layers of fabric sandwiched between two synthetic rubber materials. Wet suits traditionally use it, but garment sewing has recently become trendy.
Since neoprene is stable and won’t curl like double knit, it can be cut and sewn relatively quickly if you stick to thinner, garment-weight versions. When sewing wetsuits, avoid super-thick neoprene – it will be difficult to control bulk and difficult to use a regular sewing machine.
Printed neoprene fabrics have been used in some fantastic sheath dresses by one of our favorite sewing bloggers, Erica Bunker. The ruffled neoprene dresses made by Nikki at Beaute J’adore are absolutely gorgeous.
Here is where you can buy it:
- Many of the neoprene fabrics at Mood Fabrics have eye-catching designs and laser cuts.
- Solid neoprene basics are available on Fabric.com.