When I first started sewing these were the main two questions I asked myself when starting a project and its not been until recently that I’ve really got it figured out.
Knit fabrics in Australia is often confusing because the range at spotlight isn’t great – it’s slowly getting better but trying to find a nice print or the correct spandex % is tough. They do have a decent range of scuba and solid ponte but outside of that the range with the spandex % required for most PDF patterns is few and far between. Trying to learn the different types of knit fabrics when they’re randomly spread out in store and not all available means that going and feeling the different types of fabrics is next to impossible to find what you want. Add to that the high cost of knit fabrics and your left with a ‘I dont want to get this wrong and waste my money’ avoidance. Enter the world of online fabric retailers.
I know I’ve mentioned both of these shops before and how much I love them. Missy and Vivi both go out of their way to make sure that postage is fast, service is helpful and they both have awesome VIP groups FULL of
enablers inspiration and helpful people. (TMAG Group here, Wicked here). You may have noticed me pretty active on both, I’m not associated with either business except for doing some sample sews here and there and having developed a friendship with both owners.
Wicked have retail releases most Thursdays and The Material Girl Australia is headed for weekly retail releases soon. Both also run custom rounds and The Material Girl is changing to more frequent custom rounds too (One opens TODAY (9/11/17)).
The final look of your project will be affected by the drape of the fabric so you want to get this right. Do you want something light and flowing or something more structured?
What does ‘drape’ refer to? Drape is the term used to describe how the fabric will fall over the body, whether it will stick out from the body or follow the curves or something in between.
How do I tell the drape of the fabric? have a look at how fluid the fabric is and how many ‘folds’ are in the fabric when it is draped over an object. This will give you an idea of how it may fall on your body. Does the fabric ‘tent’ out from the object or fall fairly close to it?
Fabrics + Pattern Suggestions
This Swim knit is a custom from The Material Girl and the composition is 86% Polyester 14% Lycra and has UPF50+ Sunblockout.
Swim Knit has amazing drape and is very slinky – use lots of weights when cutting this one out. With high 4 way stretch, 4 way stretch means that it will stretch along the grain as well as across the grain (from selvage to selvage) and great recovery, meaning that it will stretch and spring back well and not sag during wear.
Its great for:
- circle skirts and skater dresses (kids)
Double Brushed Poly
Double Brushed Poly is SLOWLY making its way to Australian retailers but is HUGE in the states. I am a HUGE fan of Double Brushed Poly!
With a super soft slightly fuzzy feel, but not fuzzy look, awesome drape and 4 way stretch this fabric sure won me over fast! The softness of this fabric is due to it being brushed on each side of the fabric. In the states you can also get single brushed poly which has similar characteristics as DBP but is smooth on one side and brushed on the other. The hardest part of this fabric is getting it ready to cut out – making sure it is all laying smooth on the cutting mat as it tends to ‘stick’ to itself more than other fabrics.
The fabric pictured here is from The Material Girl and is 92% Polyester 8% Lycra 200GSM.
It’s great for:
Rayon is made from wood pulp, a natural man made material. It has great drape similar to a DBP. You can get Rayon in both a woven and knit version.
This Rayon has 97% Rayon 35 Spandex composition so has some recovery but not awesome recovery it MAY grow slightly throughout the day but should hold for typical wear. It has great 4 way stretch and is a great weight for the Aussie summer at 170gsm. It’s still available over at wicked here.
Its great for:
- dresses requiring drape but be careful as the weight of some full length dresses will stretch this fabric and pull it down. Use elastic in shoulder and waist seams to provide re-enforcement e.g.
- t-shirt dresses, tank dresses, trapeze dresses, wrap dresses (definitely needs elastic at waist + shoulders), etc
- Dolman sleeve tops, raglans, t-shirts, peplums, etc
- Bottoms – Usually I wouldn’t use a Rayon Spandex for bottom weight but M4M Mama Cora is one where you could use it as it requires lots of drape. You might want to use CL or add elastic for the waistband.
220GSM Cotton Lycra
In Australia this is the most readily available cotton lycra type and weight. A lot of solids are 220gsm and most custom groups offer 220gsm cotton lycra.
Typically, but not always, CL is 95% Cotton 5% Lycra and has 4 way stretch. Having 5% lycra is also has great recovery and is suitable to use for neck and arm bands where recovery is required to keep the band in shape and prevent it stretching out while wearing it.
CL is a mid weight knit and has some drape but will also tent so it’s not suitable for a garment that requires a lot of drape, like a summer dress. You can tell from the picture that it sticks out from the tin but still has some drape down to the desk.
Its great for:
- Kids clothing (drape isn’t as important for that)
- Some dresses – keep in mind that it will ‘tent’ out from your body more when picking your pattern
260GSM Cotton Lycra
Like 220gsm CL 260gsm has a composition of 95% Cotton 5% Lycra and has 4 way stretch. It is thicker and will tent out more than the 220gsm. It does tend to hide lumps and bumps better because of this I prefer the 260gsm for tighter fitting garments and things that need more body.
- Pencil Skirts
- Circle skirts
- Dresses like:
French Terry isn’t easy to find in places like spotlight but is a lot easier to find online. This gorgeous fabric was a pre-order from The Material Girl and is 95% Cotton 5% Spandex and between 240-250GSM. It has great 4 way stretch (not true of all FT) and pretty good drape.
It’s smooth on one side and has soft loops on the other.
It’s great for:
- Dolman dresses
Scuba isn’t for swimwear despite the name. Its a stable knit with 2 way stretch (only stretches from selvage to selvage) and is great for items that need the body. This scuba is destined to be a dress for me once I decide on a pattern and is still available at Wicked Fabrics here. I’ve used the other scuba listed at wicked here.
Its great for:
- Pencil skirts
- Dresses that need a lot of body
- Circle skirts
Other fabrics available in Australian but not shown
- ITY and DTY – slinky and similar to a DBP or Rayon Spandex in drape – often slightly shinny – can lend a more formal feel to your projects
- combed cotton – available at spotlight usually 100% cotton – no recovery – drape is similar to a CL – great for the body of t-shirts but do not use for bands as it will stretch and grow throughout the day
- Ponte – a stable knit with more body than the scuba shown here – great for the same uses as the scuba listed above. My favourite for pencil skirts – look for a ponte with some spandex in it to prevent growing throughout wear.
Stay tuned for a woven post soon and I have plans to show you some of the different fabrics made up in the same pattern as well.
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