Colette

Ask the readers: What are your “go to” fabrics?

81

07-yellow-swatches

Here’s something I’ve been wondering: What are your favorite go-to fabrics?

What fabrics do you find yourself turning to again and again, either because of their versatility or simply because you love them so much?

For me, I’d say cotton lawn (and it’s cousins) is a favorite, especially for summer. It works for such a wide variety of garments, from button-up shirts to voluminous skirts. For some tailored dresses, I can underline it to add weight and stability.

Silk crepe is another MVP in my sewing life. Much more tricky to sew, but I never get tired of the feel and the depth of color.

What about you?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 81

liza jane lizajanesews.blogspot.com

Linen! Definitely my favorite. I’m a big fan of rayon challis, too.

Mika savorystitches.blogspot.com

I second the rayon challis – I’m a complete addict.

Megan

Rayon challis! I’m also an addict, especially in a floral print.

Melissa

I love natural fibres. Cotton is my preferred choice for everyday wear and I love silk (especially crepe) for more dressy items. I just love the handle and the depth of colour.

Gorgeous Things gorgeousfabrics.com

Wool crepe. If I could only work with one fabric ever again, that would be it. It’s easy for beginners, a natural for tailoring, forgiving of mistakes, and rich looking.

Pavitra beazaandllama.com

If I could afford it, linen…because I can’t, khadi ( from India) and osnaburg cotton….this is also because I have super rowdy little boys – the tougher the fabric, the better…I have also used painters drop cloth canvas (100% canvas) for their cargos….

Edith

Definitely cotton lawn – love the softness of the fabric, I’ve made numerous skirts for my daughter purely for that reason.

Paige @ LPD luxperdiem.com

Linen for sure. It’s just so easy to sew. I mean it wrinkles like all get out, but in a nice kind of way.

Amanda blancapate.com

Hmmm… I’m not quite sure about this one. I guess I haven’t found a fabric that I’m crazy about yet, in my beginner days. I have a thing with clothes wrinkling – I wish I could find a magical fabric that’s easy to sew with, AND doesn’t wrinkle. I’ve been wanting to try cotton sateen, but need to get through my current stash before I buy any new fabrics.

Wool crepe is beautiful, and I know it’s forgiving and doesn’t wrinkle as much, but it’s not as practical here in hot West Texas. :(

I’m anxious to see what everyone else says here!
xo ~ Amanda

Lori

Amanda, I am not sure how far west you are in Texas, but if you ever get a chance, you need to visit Elaine’s Fabric and Bridal in Corsicana. It would be absolutely worth your time – she has beautiful designer fabrics as well as quilt cottons, and the store is huge. She also has the best prices I have ever seen anywhere. Whatever you need, she has it.

Louise Richardson

I don’t really know what it’s called but there is a spotty 100% cotton which I ALWAYS use for lining.. Always! I always wonder what I’m going to use and come out of the fabric shop with the same beautiful dotty fabric…! It’s called Micro Dot I think? :)

PascalefromParis

Wool bouclé and textured wool crepe, if you can find them at reasonable price.
Line, underline, or sew them as one fabric with silk organza or soft silk and you can have winter coat, chic suit, summer dress … and all will be as cosy as your old sweater!

PascalefromParis

And all kind of cotton paired with polar fleece and wool for the childrens ;-)

Tessa misstessamelissa.com

Cottons are my constants, but I’ve been looking at silk more and more. I like the idea of linen, but really I don’t like it at all for a finished garment. I know, I’m practically alone in that, but it wrinkles in the most unflattering places! I don’t want to draw attention to the places that “unfold” when I go from sitting to standing. Maybe linen beach-only capris, but that’s it!

Johanna@projects by me projectsbyme.blogspot.se

I would say cotton, because it’s really hard to find other fabrics. I still don’t know what wool crepe or silk crepe or rayon challis look like, because I’ve never been able to see them IRL. I try to steer clear of artificial fibres, but it’s not always easy when there’s not much to choose from.

Lyn

Definitely medium weight linen – I love the look, feel and texture of it, and it’s about the only fabric I can stand in south Texas in the summer. I don’t even mind the wrinkles, but I grew up watching Miami Vice – need I say more?? :)

sara

Linen and chambray are my go-to fabrics for summer. For winter, I love wool flannel and silk crepe or hammered silk.

Burke

Linen, chambray, lawn, wool crepe and tricotine. Rayon challis can be slippery – I tend to stick with natural fibers.

Rachel houseofpinheiro.blogspot.com

Linen,Cotton sateen.. im a natural fiber girl.

Diane @ Vintage Zest vintagezest.blogspot.com

I’m still a beginner, so I’m not sure about my favorite fabrics at all yet. In fact, I’m not even sure what some of these are! I need a course in fabrics for sure, if they exist for the home sewer.

I’m in southern California if anybody can tell me if there’s somewhere I can go to learn fabrics in person. The internet is great for some things, but you obviously can’t touch a fabric through the screen!

Hearthrose hearth-tobelovely.blogspot.com

I think the best thing is to go to the fabric stores, read the bolts, and feel the fabric. I don’t know if you’re in LA or SD – LA has the garment district, loads of fabulous stuff to play with. We only have two chains in SD, so you’re not going to feel great wool or silk in either of them, but you’d get a beginner’s grasp of the variety of cottons (and some polyesters). One of our local sewing shops (SD) does a twice a year run up to the garment district in LA. It’s all day, but not too pricey, considering.

Ami sewinglondon.co.uk

Yep-definitely cotton lawn and silk crepe for me too! Oh and I would have to add lace/ broderie to that list for its timeless beauty :) oh and wool for is ease of use and warmth!
X

Joy N

I would say quilting cotton – easy for someone that is just coming back into sewing (plus there are various “weights” and I like the prints at my local quilting store). I also use a fair amount of denim and jersey. Personally, I don’t like things too drapey but to expand my horizons, when I’m out and about, I plan on going to the fabric store and just look around and touch different fabrics. Next time you ask – I’ll surely have a different answer!!

daiyami

Rayon challis. Drapey yet often opaque enough to skip a lining, presses great, only slightly more slippery than cotton, comes in beautiful prints, machine wash/hang dry. Not that easy to find–JoAnn’s will *occasionally* have one hiding in the simply silkies, but Hancock’s keeps an entire rayon section. Also, if you wear it on a humid day, the wrinkles will just fall out by themselves.

Probably the fabric I’ve sewed most often is the linen/rayon blend from JoAnn’s–many beautiful solid colors, replaceable so I’m not afraid to experiment with it, can feel casual or work-appropriate as needed.

Jodie

Maybe it’s a US thing but here in the UK I struggle to find anything but polyester! The only silk I find is coarse dupion, but what I really want is some lovely silk crepe or a cheeky bit of rayon! Any other UK sewers who can help? I’m in bristol :-)

Leslie

Many of us outside cities in the US have a similar problem. I think we end up turning to the internet, even though it can be risky- you have to find a site you can trust. I tend to buy new types of fabric from discount stores just to learn about textures and feels and so forth, then once I started understanding what I liked, I started buying from more reliable sources (costs more, but never any stains, order mistakes, or surprisingly ugly/odd weight fabrics).
There are some pretty good looking sites from the UK that I always end up eyeing before realizing they’d need international shipping, but I’m afraid I can’t help you because I took them off my list when I realized their location. I’m sure you’ll find some good ones googling around! Good luck!

Jayne

If you get to London anytime you must visit Berwick Street. I had the address on my wish list of places to visit (from Australia).
It’s lined with gorgeous fabric stores stocking lovely silks. Last time I was there I got some amazing fabrics on sale.
I’m sure some sell online.
Cloth house, Berwick Street Cloth Shop, Biddle & Sawyer Silks, Broadwick Silks, Silk Society.
Just google Berwick Street fabric stores & you’ll get the links.

Natalie etsy.com

I don’t know about fabric shops in Bristol (i’ve only been once and stocked up at Ikea!), but I get a lot of things over the internet from Ditto Fabrics, they have a great range of fashion and crafting. Sewbox also have really nice good quality wools, silks, crepes and some Liberty fabrics too. And Croft Mill have a really varied selection of fabrics, lots of end of line and ex designer so you can get really great things at pretty decent prices.

Hearthrose hearth-tobelovely.blogspot.com

I mostly use cotton and linen to sew with. Not that I don’t adore wool and silk – I simply live in a climate where it’s almost always too warm to indulge in them. My favorite fabric is probably a light-weight cotton, lawn or batiste.

Trisha

I haven’t made up my mind yet… I’m a beginner, so I’ve mostly experienced linen, lawn, batiste, velvet and other types of woven cotton. Lately I am working on my first knit project, with some lace inserts, and I find that knits are easy to sew (with some help from Built By Wendy’s Home Stretch). Even though they have some different rules, I think I like them just as much as the wovens. I love the stretchiness, and I find it’s a little easier to do fitting with because of that stretchy quality- more forgiving. I still made my first fitting too tight and had to make the darts less shallow, but it wasn’t so bad. But there is so much variety out there, and so many fabrics I haven’t experienced yet, like faille, silk, and chambray… that maybe…I like them all?

Karen M spyderkl.wordpress.com

I think my favorite thing to sew with is linen. It comes in a lot of different weights, it makes up into a lot of different looks, and for me it’s easy to work with.

the Garment Farmer thegarmentfarmer.wordpress.com

I’m drawn to rayon challis–doesn’t work for everything, but I love the soft drape for shirts and dresses.

kristonlion fearsome5.wordpress.com

Ooooh! Good question! I’m still figuring this one out! I flip open the Colette patterns handbook all the time to the fabric section. So far my fabric is cheap and thrifted fabric (still not quite confident in my skills) and knits (uniform=t-shirts and yoga pants)

Jenny

I to love lawn – beautiful and easy to work with. I also love, when I can find it, silk linen, which is a linen textured silk.

Kirsten flourpower.ca

Any made with natural fibres is always my first choice for sewing. Lightweight cottons or silk/cotton blends are my favorites at the moment as I start to sew more for spring and summer.

Samantha butterinthefridge.blogspot.com

A Linen Cotton blend of 45/55. I first used it from Echino and was blown away by the drape and wearability, even if the patterns/colors were a bit challenging. Then I found the Robert Kaufman Essex line and have been thrilled to watch them add to the colors and patterns for that fabric. The blend is popping up more and more in different fabric lines, just bought some Amy Butler. It has the drape and hand of Linen with a little less of the wrinkle due to the Cotton. It wears well and is lovely to sew with. Have yet to find an application that I do not love for this fabric…

Sarah anachronismsarah.blogspot.com

I like natural fibers… Quilting cottons have some of the best patterns, but lawn has such a lovely drape…
I think for where I am in life right now it’s more essential that I can throw everything in the washer and hang it to dry, or even throw it in the dryer. Dry cleaning bills just aren’t student friendly but I can’t wait to play around with wool more!

Leo facebook.com

Most cottons, especially cotton serge, flannel, linen, and if I’m worried about it wrinkling I buy cotton mix or linen mix. They feel the same, are cheaper and wrinkle much less. For “nobler” fabrics, cotton or silk satin, chiffon, sablé and velvet. I just love velvet!

Charlotte seamrippedblog.wordpress.com

I’m finally coming to peace with the fact that while I mostly sew with woven cottons, I’m not their biggest fan. (I know!)

Nowadays, when I go shopping, my eyes go all dark-Willow black and I fall into some sort of silk-and-wool trance. It’s going to be a very hot summer.

Kelly bennomusik.blogspot.com

Cotton voile. Beautiful drape, easy to sew and wear, no care concerns. It’s perfect!

Merry young-broke-and-fabulous.blogspot.com

Lots of cotton, especially cotton twill and cotton jersey. I looooove cotton jersey,

Lisa toobusytosew.blogspot.com

I’ve fallen in love with bamboo rayon. The drape and feel is just beautiful. The only drawback is that it wrinkles easily, but it also presses easily, so there’s that. It’s super easy to work with, and is just so incredibly soft and smooth.

Fresa Handmade fresahandmade.wordpress.com

I am surprised that knits aren’t mentioned yet. I love using stable double knits in place of mid-weight wovens. I am a big fan of Sophia double knit.

Fiona

Liberty Tana lawn, needlecord, cotton or viscose & lycra jersey, these are my favourites because they are a pleasure to sew and comfortable to wear.

Maren

I’m still afraid to use my Tana Lawn. I like to just snuggle it at this point!

El thepinkhamster.com

Ahh I do love sophia double knit, laguna stretch 100% cotton knit, cotton voile, cotton lawn, cotton/linen blends, linen, and rayon challis. I have only sewed with silk one time, and although I loved it, I can’t really honestly say anything yet, because one time does not constitute a real history with the cloth. I do believe if I could pick only fabric to sew with the rest of my life I would pick a good soft muslin. You can dye it any color under the sun, the more you wash it, the softer and organically sexy it becomes.

Colleen

Linens, buttery cotton voiles, sweet lawns, and anything cotton, really. I like bright prints in cottons and subtle heathers in linen. I also agree with the above post. I bought a handmade muslin peasant blouse at a street fair in 1975. The top was smocked with different color embroidery thread. That shirt still lives. I did have to widen it by sewing a two-inch panel on each side. But, because I used muslin that had been washed, there’s no real difference. Muslin is wonderful: tough, soft, and simple.

Rebecca

Linen all the way for me. I love it when I can find textured or patterned linens. I use all different weights. They are perfect for the humid weather we get here in Sydney. I wear them summer and winter.

Meg at Mood moodfabrics.com

I’m fickle on favorite fabrics. If a project is going well, then I fall in love with that particular fabric. Like right now I’m finishing up a bomber jacket made of this wonderfully soft and spongey designer neoprene fabric we just got in at Mood. I’m happy with my jacket so I of course I’m telling everyone how much I love neoprene…

LizJane sewbusylizzy.wordpress.com

Cotton lawn, voile, poplin and most of all cotton sateen!
For me it’s a climate thing so I sew fabrics I can wear, it’s rare for our winter days to drop below 16 degrees.
I am sewing a wool tweed jacket at the moment and it is delightful to work with.

gabrielratchet

Linen…..and then, there’s …..linen. and…linen. Machine wash, regular spin (not “max extract”). Toss in the dryer on high, just until it starts to get a little warm. Fish it out of the dryer, hold the garment at the shoulders and snap it. Hang appropriately to dry. Fuss a bit to smooth out collars and cuffs, if necessary. For pants, match the seams and hang from the hem. Finger press the creases. It just gets silkier with long use.

El thepinkhamster.com

Thank you for that washing info… I shall try it.

Jennifer B

Linen is my all time favorite, but tencel comes in close. Medium to heavy linen doesn’t seem to wrinkle as much for bottom weights. Combine the tencel and linen and it’s almost perfect, less wrinkled linen… Of course, I live in Georgia where it’s hot most of the time.

nicole sewknitcreate.com.au

Liberty London cotton lawn, little more pricey but the quality is second to none and so lovely to sew. I also LOVE crepe de chine it is so nice to wear, and not as tricky to sew as you might think. I have also been using more cotton/viscose jersey lately and the resulting garments are getting lots of wear.

Sarah rhinestonesandtelephones.blogspot.com

Cotton!! I love it!! I also reach for cotton knits, as well as wovens.

Alessa farben-freude.blogspot.com

Cotton and rayon jersey, with just a wee bit of elasthane. :D

Therese

Always go to denim, silk twill, silk noil, and linen, linen, linen. I love cotton prints, chambray, rayon challis and those lovely cotton/silk blends for shirts and blouses. Also, rayon/linen blends: drapey with body, can’t be beat. Been trying out tencel and cotton batiste lately for vintage-y lingerie. Oh, and I almost forgot – wool-silk suitings: luscious

Susannah

Favourite fabric? Would have to be silk. It has so many expressions – silk voile for a floaty summer dress, or a remnant of voile for a scarf with a hand-rolled hem. Silk charmeuse for a luxurious blouse. Silk dupioni, unwashed for a really elegant look, or after handwashing, for a more casual feel. (I have a silk dupion shirt, much worn and loved, that pairs wonderfully with jeans). Raw silk. Silk tweed for a chanel style jacket.

And then the silk blends. Silk and cotton, lifting cotton from the everyday. Silk and linen – brings back memories of my wedding outfit – a cream silk/linen blend that I made into a skirt and jacket, and wore with a lighter cream silk shell top.

I have some japanese silk/wool blend in my stash right now, maturing nicely. Haven’t worked out what to do with it yet, but for now, I just enjoy looking at its vibrant colours, and stroking its silky finish.

Hanna

I love silk charmeuse. It’s slightly thicker so easier to sew than some of the other silks. I also love how it can make anything look fancy with that shine.

Peggy

Linen. I’ve been in love with it for decades and still love it, wrinkles and all. It just gets better with age and it can be casual or sophisticated. Fabrics-store.com is the best source. I used to love silk when I worked in SF in the 80s. It was easy to get then and not too expensive – not the case these days.

Maren

Wool anything (I love working with wool!) and cotton sateen (good for summer skirts and dresses). I made a thin-whale corduroy Beignet and really liked working with that fabric, too, but I haven’t made anything else with it yet.

Lisette vintageorbust.blogspot.com

Kind of an odd choice, but I really love quality quilter’s cottons. I underline them with a thin cotton and use them for 50s style dresses. I’m getting into jersey but still figuring out the quirks.

BeccaA

I love silks, like silk crepe, silk charmeuse, washed silk. I also love wool, cotton and rayon in many weaves and weights. I try to avoid all petrochemical based fabrics.

Lianne

Wool–anything!!! My love and borderline obsession right now. Living in the Bay Area, it’s a 3 1/2 -season fabric. Cotton a close second….but I get confused about what weight works best for what. The other comments were very helpful!

Jayne

I love a cotton sateen, you can’t go passed the vintage stuff, but I am also really liking the newer versions with a touch of stretch. Great for dresses that need some body, wiggle skirts, fitted pants.

For something a bit special my all time fav is silk for versatility, strength, beauty & feel. If you can afford it, I say go for it.

Anastasia

Having recently gone through my fabric stash I found I lahve a lot of denim. I am not a fan of the way drapey fabrics look on me. Also I love dark denims & have been buying them up like there’s no tomorrow. Secondly, I tend to buy knits when I see cotton knits since I have a hard time finding nice ones. My 3rd go to is any woven with a bit of stretch in them from poplin to twill. They are just so comfortable to wear. Now, if only I could get around to sewing up all my fabric.

Stef knitthehellup.com

One more for rayon challis. Sews great, feels great, looks great.

Lydia

I love sewing and wearing cotton lawn — it feels silky, yet is easier to cut and handle than some slipprier fabric. I also enjoy sewing with silk crepe — very stable if you get the right weight, and actually quite forgiving with curved hems, and pressing.

Lately, I have reconnected with rayons — if you find the right weight and quality, they have a nice drape, and are usually opaque (rayon can get puffy –if you select the wrong pattern — had to let go of a skirt I made that had all flat seams, but puffed out — my fault, I know, but just saying!)

Right now, I am on the hunt for cotton sateens, or voiles/ lawns that have some silk blend. I saw some last year, but I am waitng for a print / colour I like. After sharing all my favorite fabrics here, I want to confess I am now sewing a polyester silky/ fabric from Japan — making a Licorice dress from this — I liked the printed abstract flowers, and have not been fabric shopping for so long, I used my stash fabric (which I culled so not too much to choose). I can’t wait to finish this dress, which is really lightweight and floaty!

Rachelle raciebaby.blogspot.com

I adore silk, wool, cotton and linen but I think out of them wool tends to be my first love as it’s so versatile.

Katherine

Great comments! I love linen. For summer casualwear its my absolute favourite – I love the colours, I love the feel and I love sewing with it. I have just experimented with a linen-cotton mix that doesn’t crush so much, but is still gorgeous. I’m in Wellington, New Zealand, and spoiled for choice from our fabulous range of fabric stores.

Loving your blog xo

Alexandra Gerull mamamachtsachen.de

Linen, Tweed, flannel, silk, then jersey.

Ruth

I love Rayon–it’s such a verstile and useful fabric. Comfortable and good looking in hot weather (especially if you wear a shirt over an undershirt like I do), and yet it feels good in wet or cold weather. Easily layered without being hot or sticky under something, also. It also tolerates hot washing, which I do for the sake of sanitation, and even survives being thrown in a hot dryer. I’ve worn it for years with very few complaints! I always buy a good quality fabric, when possible, but even the cheaper ones seem to be good anymore. Cotton is great for most things, but the colors fade after awhile. Rayon doesn’t seem to have that problem.

barbara

rayon challis. but when i can find one i like the appearance of you can’t keep me away from almost any ethnic fabric. african, central american, indian, japanese, chinese, etc. i love to mix a nice undisguised foreign fabric (not made to look like american fabric) in a simple american style to show it off.

Natalie etsy.com

For myself I like using wools, they do exactly as they’re told and they finish so nicely. I’m in love with Liberty Tana lawns for my own work, beautiful tight weave that makes everything so precise. And in my day job as a seamstress I’ve been sewing a lot of silk organza. It’s so crisp and easy to work with, and gives a really luxurious finish whilst still being quite natural looking.

meredith brightasbuttons.blogspot.com

Wool challis: it’s almost seasonless! And cotton lawn, or silk/cotton lawn if we’re being wishful. It’s just as easy to work with as cotton lawn, but has an even nicer hand which is great in warm or cool weather. And what I really love is dimpled/hammered silk. I found a heavenly wool/silk blend once that was dimpled all over (from the weave I think?) while hammered silk has even more depth of color than silk crepe, which is another top 5 fabric love. And silk is another you can wear in just about any weather. (I don’t really do seasonal wardrobes — if I like something, I want to wear it all the year!)

velvet6981

I’d say cotton popline and it’s cousins, imitation leather, imitation suede, microfiber we have in my store

Sarah sarahsewing.blogspot.ca

My go-to “fabric” is quickly becoming thrifted sheets. They tend to be lightweight enough to be comfortable, with enough body for full skirts, and they come in the most entertaining designs.

Lady ID peppermintandpaisley.com

* Ankara. This is the Nigerian name for Dutch-wax printed cotton. I have LOADS of it.
* Cotton sateen – I love this when I need a solid fabric. I also use it for lining
* I am now developing a thing for lace. I wrote about it here: http://peppermintandpaisley.com/2013/03/01/casual-friday-confession/

Jill Pannill

Liberty of London “Tana” Lawn!

Kat

I’m so late to this, but I have to put in another shout out for rayon challis. I really love it, and I love it in good prints. I’ll pretty much buy any rayon challis I see in a good print or color, and (most of the time) the quality has been good. I do have a few that have pilled slightly, even with hand washing. I also like cotton voiles, lawns, and chambray, and linen/rayon linen-look blends. Obviously, I’m a glutton for punishment since I hate ironing after washing and drying.

Hannah

Here is my late contribution: RAYON CHALLIS! I love the many prints, the flow, the breathability and the cost. I recently bought some cotton lawn from fashionfabricsclub.com and I was terribly disappointed-at first. It was so smooth and light and thin with such a sheen I thought they had labeled some polyester incorrectly. I despise polyester as I’m very hot-natured and my body simply hates not being able to breathe through fabric. Alas, I washed the fabric I received and I was very happy! It shrank, lost a little sheen and felt a little more like cotton. So-what I am trying to say is I love rayon challis, cotton lawn and also rayon/linen blends. :)

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