Fabric for Beginners Part Three: Cotton Fabrics 102

Earlier I wrote this post to begin to introduce you to the various types of cotton fabric from which you can choose and their respective uses. Now it’s time for the thrilling second part of your journey into cotton!

In general I’m focusing on apparel fabrics and shying away from fabrics that are purely for home decor such as bedsheets and tablecloths. If you would like more info on those fabrics, let me know in the comments and I’ll include them in the next section!

  • Gingham
    Gingham fabric is a great choice for children's clothes and kitchen accessories as you learn to sew - Sew Me Your StuffGingham fabric is a great choice for children's clothes and kitchen accessories as you learn to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    This woven fabric is typically found in a checkered pattern. You’ll usually find gingham in kitchen settings, either in upholstery or accessories (think of a basket lined with gingham and filled with muffins…delicious blueberry muffins), and it isn’t often used in adult fashion. However it can make great clothing for children during warmer months because it is lightweight and durable enough to withstand playtime. This fabric is not particularly difficult to sew, but because it may have a nap or one-way pattern if you’re not ready to match patterns yet it may be best to go with a solid color fabric for now.
  • Knit
    Cotton knit is a common fabric but can be very challenging if you're learning to sew because it is so stretchy - Sew Me Your StuffCotton knit is a common fabric but can be very challenging if you're learning to sew because it is so stretchy - Sew Me Your Stuff
    You probably are familiar with knit cotton if you have ever owned a T-shirt. You may often hear this fabric referred to as Jersey, but modern jersey fabrics are not exclusively cotton, so it would be best to check the composition of the fabric before you buy. Knit cotton is very stretchy which makes it great for casual wear, but not so great for beginner sew-ers. I have successfully sewn some jersey garments in my day, but it is a headache because the fabric stretching as you stitch can cause issues, and it’s recommended that you use fancy products to do it properly, and all-in-all you should stick with woven fabrics for now. It may seem a little counter-intuitive; I know when I first started I thought T-shirt material must be the easiest to sew since T-shirts are so ubiquitous, but alas that is not the case!
  • Oxford
    Oxford fabric can tax your sewing equipment, so not the best choice for now if you're learning to sew - Sew Me Your Stuff
    Typically used in men’s dress shirts, Oxford is a woven fabric with very narrow stripes. It is a relatively coarse fabric, so very sturdy equipment is needed to sew an Oxford shirt. Probably not the best choice for your first few projects!
  • Poplin
    Poplin is a great choice if you are learning to sew because it does not stretch and is a lightweight fabric - Sew Me Your StuffPoplin is a great choice if you are learning to sew because it does not stretch and is a lightweight fabric - Sew Me Your Stuff
    I bet you a soda you’ve never heard of poplin. I sure hadn’t until I actually started researching cotton fabrics, so either I’m completely oblivious or this fabric is the best-kept secret in the fabric world. Poplin is a thin, breathable, “all-purpose” woven fabric found often in sportswear, mens’ shirts, and uniforms though it can also be used in blouses and dresses as well as decor. Sewing with poplin can be very simple because it doesn’t slide around much as you stitch and it doesn’t stretch. Sounds like a great choice for a beginner!

Check back soon for the final installment of your introduction to cotton fabrics!

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