Over recent decades cheap ready-made clothes and furnishings have meant skills like home tailoring and sewing have fallen by the wayside. Why spend time stitching a top when you can buy it for under £5?
However, in the last few years there has been a definite renaissance in making things for yourself. Baking, crafting and now sewing, needlework and tailoring are being taken up enthusiastically by people all over the U.K.
Even the Guardian recently noted this growing trend.
Once you decide to give sewing a go and have decided what you want to make, most beginners start with a ready-made pattern. But then you need to choose the fabric, so understanding what is available and how they work best is useful knowledge to have before you dive into your first project.
Natural or Man-Made
There are basically two types of natural fabric: those made from animal products or plant fibres. Examples of fabric made from animal fibres are silk and wool. Plant fibre examples are linen and cotton.
Man-made products include fibres like Nylon or Polyester, and there are fabrics that use a mix of natural and man-made fibres.
The Main Fabrics
Cotton is an all-natural product and is extremely versatile. It can be woven into many different weights of fabric, from a lightweight handkerchief, shirt material or cotton poplin fabrics right through to a heavy canvas, and it is even used as the basis of fabrics like corduroy and denim.
Cotton slips and stretches much less than other products so is easier to handle and manipulate even for beginners. Also being usually one of the cheaper fabrics, it is less stressful if you make an error. It’s easily available both on the high street or online at sites like https://www.higgsandhiggs.com/fabrics/cotton-poplin-fabric-112cm/dots/micro-pin-dots-1mm.html.
Although a type of cotton, cotton jersey (the fabric T-shirts are made of) is much more slippery and stretchy so harder to deal with when you are starting out. Silk is similarly difficult as well as being expensive.
Linen often used for summer clothing and comes in different weights like cotton, but it creases more and is more expensive.
Wool is either a knit or weave and is usually heavy and difficult to sew.
Polyester and poly cotton are made-made fabrics widely used for clothing, as they are crease-resistant, easy to sew and very cheap.