Best Fabrics For Beginners

If you’re new to sewing and feeling uncertain about which fabrics to choose, selecting the right material can significantly affect the outcome of your project. Fortunately, there are specific fabrics that are ideal for beginners.

Cotton is a great fabric for beginners because it is easy to sew, versatile, and affordable. It is perfect for making simple garments, quilts, and accessories. Linen is another beginner-friendly fabric. It is known for its durability and breathability, making it ideal for summer clothing and home decor projects.

If you’re just starting with sewing, consider starting with cotton or linen fabrics to practice your skills. These fabrics are easy to work with and will help you build confidence in your sewing abilities. With the best fabrics and some practice, you’ll be on your way to creating beautiful handmade pieces in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Ideal fabrics for beginner sewists, such as cotton and linen, are easy to cut and sew and are cost-efficient.
  • Look for fabrics that aren’t too thin or thick and have minimal stretch.
  • Cotton Voile is recommended for its crispness, smoothness, and versatility in making blouses and dresses.
  • Cotton Shirting is favored for its texture, preventing slipping and making it easier to handle.
  • Chambray is a good choice for a summer-weight fabric, similar to denim but lighter and less bulky.
  • Linen is highlighted for its natural properties, ease of pressing, and less need for pinning, making it suitable for warm-weather clothes.
  • Flannel is noted for its softness and ease of handling, especially for seam-ripping mistakes, making it beginner-friendly.
  • Ponte fabric is mentioned for its stability and ease of sewing, which makes it ideal for structured garments without lining.
  • Due to their advanced sewing requirements, beginners are advised to avoid tricky fabrics like silk satin, velvet, leather, and sequined fabrics.
  • Pattern suggestions include beginner-friendly projects that require few seams and special skills and are compatible with the recommended fabrics.
  • FAQs address the easiest fabrics and types of cotton to sew, emphasizing cotton broadcloth and quilting cotton for their stability and versatility while noting silk chiffon, satin, and heavily textured fabrics as challenging for beginners.

Cotton

Cotton Lawn And Poplin

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 a cotton lawn or poplin.

Cotton lawns and poplins are frequently available in various prints, making 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 lawns and cotton poplin are some of the most accessible fabrics to sew. Aside from being easy to iron, they’re also widely available and relatively cheap at fabric stores.

The print on lawn and poplin hides sewing mistakes, making them especially suitable for beginners. If you 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 for 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.
  • If you are a confident beginner, a free sewing pattern for the Bardon dress is available at Peppermint Mag. However, in-seam pockets are sewn in-seam, so if this is your first sewing project, it might not be the best choice.

Cotton Voile

It is a lightweight, semi-sheer fabric with some drape. There are many solids and prints to choose from. Summery tops and coverups are often made with it.

Cotton voile is stable and easy to press, making it an excellent choice for beginners. If you want something lightweight and sheer, you can make a flowing garment. This is one of the only beginner fabrics 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 peek 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 gorgeously saturated red, blue, and purple shades.
  • Many prominent fashion designers have produced cotton voile fabrics for Mood Fabrics.

Pattern suggestions:

  • 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.

Cotton Twill

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. Despite 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 details that are time-consuming to sew in a classic trench coat.

Flannel

Flannel

Flannel is an ideal fabric for warm weather. It is soft, medium-weight cotton with a fuzzy finish. Baby clothes, pajamas, and shirts are often made from this material.

Flannel is excellent for beginners because it is a stable but soft fabric that can easily be cut and sewn. In addition to its cute prints and plaids, flannel conceals sewing imperfections. When choosing a print, avoid large-scale prints and plaids, which require pattern matching, making the project more difficult. Stick with small-scale prints instead.

We made cute baby clothes for a friend using some super-soft Robert Kaufman Shetland flannel. We don’t have any pictures of our 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 above baby clothes. Kids with sensitive skin will feel comfortable wearing this fabric, as it is super soft.
  • The Fashion Fabrics Club offers several solid colors and prints in flannel fabrics.

The following patterns are suggested:

  • You can make some cozy pajamas with this free Martha Stewart pattern for flannel drawstring pants.
  • You can sew adorable baby clothes using this Purl Soho Baby Layette pattern. Those baby clothes we linked above were made with this pattern.
  • If you are a confident beginner, try McCall’s 6436 for flannel button-down shirts. 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.

Chambray

Besides being stable and tightly woven, Chambray is easy to cut and sew. Denim is more difficult to work with than cotton because of its weight and difficulty maneuvering a sewing machine. Cotton is an excellent alternative for beginners who wish to work with something lighter.

The Chambray fabric is made from lightweight woven cotton and is often blue. Shirts and dresses often use it.

This gathered chambray skirt from Sew DIY is one of our favorite projects made from this fabric. We also adore this chambray wrap top 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.

Linen

Medium-weight Linen

Linen

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 and 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 burnt orange Italian medium-weight linen.

You can buy it at:

  • This medium-weight Italian linen is available in hundreds of colors on Fabric.com. 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 their free, beginner-appropriate “quick and easy” patterns.
  • Peppermint Mag has a free jumpsuit pattern that you can use if you want one. Because there are only a few seams, the fit is roomy, and there are no closures, it’s a rapid and easy project.

Wool

Wool Coating

Wool Coating

Wool coating refers to heavyweight wool fabrics 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 more expensive, we have always found them high quality.
  • Mood Fabrics also has a good selection of wool coatings.

Pattern suggestions:

  • Mood Fabrics’ Cardoon Coat-free sewing pattern makes an oversized cocoon coat. It’s easy to sew because it’s oversized and poses no 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. This coat has no collar, no closures, and raglan sleeves (instead of set-in sleeves), so it is surprisingly easy to make.

Tweed

Tweed

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 many mistakes as novices, but the tweed fabric helped hide them!

Pattern suggestions:

  • Mood Fabrics offers a free sewing pattern for wide-legged pants called Ursi Ensemble.
  • You can make a Chanel-style jacket like the one linked above using our tried-and-true pattern Vogue 7975 (you can read more about the pattern here). Don’t let the fact that you won’t be doing any tailoring inside the jacket discourage you from taking on this project.

Silk

Dupioni And Shantung

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, with 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 cut. Due to its rough texture, dupioni is also great for hiding imperfections in sewing.

These light and dark blue silk shantungs 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.

Pattern suggestions:

  • 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 to make your bolero out of dupioni.

Brocade

In brocade, patterns are woven directly into the fabric, which gives the fabric a rich, lustrous appearance.

The reason it’s excellent for beginners is because 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, 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:

  • Regarding silk brocades, B&J Fabrics has a lovely selection but are quite expensive.
  • Many of the brocade fabrics available at Mood Fabrics are not silk brocades, but they are more affordable.

Pattern suggestions:

Stretch Fabrics

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)

Double Knit (Ponte Knit)

Two needles 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 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 fabric stretch at a fabric store by measuring its length while resting and 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 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.

Pattern suggestions:

Neoprene

Neoprene

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 fantastic sheath dresses by one of our favorite sewing bloggers, Erica Bunker. The ruffled neoprene dresses made by Nikki at Beaute J’adore are gorgeous.

Here is where you can buy it:

Pattern suggestions:

  • The Butterick 6729 dress, featuring a fit-and-flare skirt and flounces on the hem and sleeves, would look fantastic in neoprene, as the neoprene would give the flounces body.
  • The inverse pleats in Butterick 6625 skirt would also be beautifully accentuated by neoprene fabric.

The Best Fabrics for Beginners

Cotton Voile

Cotton voile is a lightweight, breathable fabric with a smooth surface, making it an ideal choice for beginner sewists. Its stability and slight sheerness make it perfect for sewing blouses and dresses.

Cotton Shirting

Known for its crisp texture, cotton shirting provides a bit of friction, preventing it from slipping when pinned or handled. It’s easy to cut and sew, making it a top choice for beginners.

Chambray

Chambray offers the look of denim without the bulk, making it easier to handle for those just starting out. Its texture and ease of pressing make it an excellent fabric for summer weight projects.

Linen

Linen is a natural, breathable fabric, ideal for warm-weather clothing. Its easy-to-press nature and the way the fabric sticks together reduce the need for excessive pinning, making it a favorite among beginner sewists.

Flannel

Flannel’s softness and thinner weave compared to fleece make it a cozy and beginner-friendly fabric. It’s particularly forgiving when correcting mistakes, thanks to its looser weave.

Ponte Fabric

Ponte is a stable double-knit fabric that doesn’t roll at the edges, making it one of the easiest knits to sew. It’s perfect for garments requiring more structure without the need for lining.

Fabrics to Avoid

Beginners should avoid fabrics like silk, satin, velvet, leather, and sequined materials. These require advanced sewing techniques due to their slippery nature or need for specialized handling.

Best Fabrics For Beginners FAQs

What are the best fabrics for beginner sewists, and why?

The best fabrics for beginners include cotton voile, cotton shirting, chambray, linen, flannel, and Ponte. These fabrics are chosen for their easy handling, cutting, and sewing. They are forgiving, cost-efficient, and have minimal stretch, making them ideal for building confidence and skills in sewing. Fabrics like cotton voile and shirting are smooth and stable, chambray and linen offer a bit of texture without slipping, flannel provides softness and ease of seam ripping, and Ponte is stable and doesn’t roll at the edges, which is great for more structured garments.

What makes a fabric easy to sew for beginners?

Fabrics considered easy to sew for beginners are typically simple to feed through the sewing machine, easy to cut, and generally cost-efficient. These fabrics, such as cotton and linen, have minimal stretch and a stable weave and are not too thin or thick, reducing sewing complexity. Additionally, opting for solid fabrics or those with random prints can eliminate the need for pattern matching, further simplifying the sewing process.

Why should beginners avoid certain fabrics like silk, satin, or velvet?

Beginners are advised to steer clear of fabrics like silk, satin, or velvet because these materials can be particularly challenging to handle due to their slippery nature and tendency to fray. These fabrics require more advanced sewing skills and techniques, such as careful handling, precise cutting, and often specific sewing machine settings or tools, which can be overwhelming for those just starting their sewing journey.

Yes, sewing patterns such as The Wilder Top, The Fern Jumpsuit, and The Ginkgo Shirt are specifically recommended for beginners. These beginner-friendly patterns require a few seams and special skills, making them perfect for practicing with the suggested beginner-friendly fabrics. Choosing patterns that align with the fabric’s ease can help ensure a smoother sewing experience and a successful project outcome.

Beginners can improve their sewing skills by starting with simple projects that match their skill level and gradually increasing the complexity of the projects as they gain confidence. Practicing regular sewing techniques, such as straight stitching, seam finishing, and hemming with these fabrics, can provide a solid foundation. Additionally, utilizing sewing tutorials, attending workshops or classes, and seeking guidance from more experienced sewists can offer valuable insights and tips for navigating challenges and improving sewing proficiency.

By choosing the right fabrics and patterns and gradually building up their sewing techniques, beginners can navigate their sewing journey with confidence and ease, leading to rewarding and successful sewing projects.

Conclusion

Embarking on your sewing journey with the right fabric can significantly improve your learning curve and overall enjoyment of the craft. By choosing materials that are forgiving and easy to work with, beginner sewists can build their confidence and skills, paving the way for more complex projects in the future.

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