All About Different Fabrics

All About Different Fabrics

Whether it’s jeans, a T-shirt, or a dress, all of these garments are made from different fabrics which vary greatly in texture, weight and feel. However this fabric information can often be hard to find while perusing craft stores, so we’ve put together this post listing some of the most common materials you may come across. To help you to easily identify what you’re looking at, we’ve provided pictures as well as a basic description of the texture, weight and feel.

So, what fabric materials can you find in fabrics stores?


A natural fibre that is one of the most widely grown plants in the world and is a popular choice for clothing, bedding and household textiles. It is much softer than linen and blends well with most other fabrics while it gives them a nice drape. It can be used in numerous techniques from quilting to embroidery and is a great fabric to sew on.


A strong, plain weave fabric made from flax fibres and has a lovely silky finish. Linen is cool in summer and warm in winter making it great for garments as well as bed sheets. It also drapes excellently so is popular amongst many designers. It is great to sew on, but you may need to pre-wash it to get rid of the natural shrinkage.


These are man made fabrics and come in a wide variety. A common one is polyester and comes in many forms from shiny satin or smooth velvet to stiff organza. It drapes quite well and has less stretch than cotton or silk which means it can be used for garments that need very little give such as formal wear.

Cotton blend:

This is a mixture of two or more different fabrics, for example cotton and polyester. This can be used for garments that need a little more flexibility such as t-shirts and tracksuits. It also drapes well and can be pre washed to remove any shrinkage.

Want to learn about the best thread to use for your project? see our different types of sewing thread.


A fine fibre made from the cocoon of silk worms and is also used for clothing, upholstery and bedding. It can be delicate and is easily damaged but is a popular choice for those looking to add a touch of luxury to their garments. It drapes really well, but it is delicate and needs to be handled with care.


Recycled from waste materials from the plastics industry, it’s great for making garments that are very machine washable but doesn’t give enough shine or drape compared to mercerised cotton. A popular choice for sportswear as well as swimwear.


A lightweight and breathable natural fibre, it is also one of the most durable fabrics around. It has a silky smooth finish making it very popular in the garment industry. You can find bamboo blends and even bamboo pique, which is made from a combination of 90% bamboo and 10% polyester. It drapes beautifully but doesn’t give enough stretch to be used in formal wear, so is ideal for sportswear or dresses.

Silk blend:

A silk blend is a mixture of silk and another fibre, maybe a synthetic or even another natural fibre. A popular choice for bridesmaid dresses as it is soft, drapes nicely but doesn’t cost too much. Silk blends can be a little heavier than pure silks, but are still lightweight and drape beautifully.


A fairly lightweight plain weave fabric, made from cotton and polyester. It is durable but don’t have much stretch, so it is mainly used for sportswear and lingerie.


Is a very fine and translucent plain weave fabric that is often used as a lining or overlayer in other fabrics. It gives great movement when sewing as it has no body to it but can get easily creased at the slightest touch.


Another natural fibre, it is a great all rounder and is used in clothing, furnishings and even upholstery. You can find it in a variety of weights, both lightweight and heavy. It can be hard wearing but isn’t very good when washing or ironing as it gets very stiff and doesn’t return to its original size. If you want long lasting wear then wool is a great choice.

Mixed fibre:

A mixture of two or more different fibres, usually in a plain weave or knitted fabric. It can be used for very lightweight summer clothing such as bridesmaid dresses or blouses. This type of fabric isn’t pre washed, so it will shrink when you wash it so make sure to pre-wash any new garments that are made from a mixed fibre.

Silk blend:

A silk blend is a mixture of silk and another fibre, maybe a synthetic or even another natural fibre. A popular choice for bridesmaid dresses as it is soft, drapes nicely but doesn’t cost too much. Silk blends can be a little heavier than pure silks, but are still lightweight and drape beautifully.


A strong plain weave fabric where the weft and warp threads are made from regenerated cellulose fibres (made from cotton). It is mainly used as a more breathable alternative to polyester, but can be a bit rough when touching. It’s great for garments that need to be machine washed.


This material is made from natural fibres such as cotton, silk and wool that have been grown without pesticides or genetic modifications. This ensures it isn’t harmful to the environment and the workers who make it and makes for an ethical decision when buying clothing.


A heavy weight plain weave fabric that is crisp and smooth. It has a slight shine to it and can be starched for a crisp finish, making it perfect for formal wear, including dresses and shirts. Because of its heavier weight, you will need to take care when sewing as the machine may struggle to get through the thick material. If you’re looking for a lighter weight poplin then look no further than voile fabric which is very similar but comes in a lighter weight.


There are many types of woven fabrics, so it’s important to know which one is best for your sewing project. Take a look at this guide to learn the difference between and what the best uses are for each:

What Fabric Is Best for My Project?

When deciding which fabric type to use for your sewing project, you should start by considering the pattern or design that you have, as some fabrics may be unsuitable. Try to picture what it will look like once it’s made and if you can see it being made from the fabric in question then chances are it will work well.

Learn more, Choosing Embroidery Thread

At the same time, think about any garment features such as collars, fastenings or pockets and make sure they are suitable for your chosen fabric. You can also consider how long you want the garment to last and if the fabric will stand up well to regular washing, or what about if it needs to be dry cleaned? Then of course there is always the cost factor too.

Once you have decided on your pattern and fabric then there are a few other things you need to consider before choosing the best type of stiffener or interfacing. There are three main types of stiffeners available: water soluble, fusible and sew in.

Water Soluble Stiffeners:

Water soluble stiffeners are a slimy substance made from polymers that are dissolved in water, they can be applied to fabric before or after cutting, but the more time you leave it the stiffer the fabric will become. It is easy to apply but can have a short working time so you need to work quickly and gently. However, it is easy to wash away with a hot wash or washing machine cycle and it won’t damage your fabric.

Put your fabric to use, Sewing Craft Ideas

Fusible Stiffeners:

Fusible stiffeners are different from water soluble stiffeners as they are made from a special heat sensitive polymer that melts at a certain temperature. This can be applied with no washing required so you can create your own fusibles and place them where you need them, when the time comes. It is particularly useful in creating patterns for fabric as it’s easy to use, easy to cut and remains flexible until the right time.

Sew In Stiffeners:

Sew in stiffeners are just what it says on the tin, you sew them in to the fabric, either by hand or machine. There are two main types, those that are stitched together with the fabric and those that are glued on. The first type will feel thinner and will sit within the fabric and not be visible, although they may tear if pulled. The second type is a lot more visible as you will be sewing it onto the outside of your garment.


As you can see, there is almost an endless variety of fabric types to choose from. Learn about the different types to allow you to find a perfect fabric for your project, and you will soon have a winning design.

Get started on your next project, Free Edge Coaster Pattern

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