It’s best to get your hands on it…

Do you have a certain type of fabric that you love to sew with?

Not just a knit or a woven. Although that’s good to know too. (I’m certainly a knit sewist at heart)

But, the fiber that your knit or woven fabric is made of. What’s your favorite?

A few weeks ago, I would have said wool. I love wool jersey.

The rich, brilliant color. The way it drapes and moves. It’s exceptional qualities – like breathability and how it miraculously keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. (mind-boggling)

I even like that I have to launder my wool knit dresses with care. Handwashing them in the tub usually.

It helps that I have the best smelling wool wash on the planet.

(not sure how to go about handwashing your delicate or wool fabrics? I simply, spot clean any stains, soak them in room temperature water for a while (sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes they get forgotten for a day or so), gently squeeze the water out by hand and then, for good measure, I place them in my washing machine on spin – but only for a few minutes. Hang to dry. (or if it’s a hand-knit item, anything with some weight that might stretch out, lay flat to dry))

I do get frustrated with how quickly my wool jersey leggings wear out (in the regular ole’ thigh area)…but still, I love wool fabric.

Recently though I bought some hemp/cotton jersey with a bit of elastane and I may have a new favorite! It has a lovely stretch and great recovery. It is soft and yet feels durable. (I got it at Nature’s Fabric – online)

I like my knit clothes to be form-fitting and I hate it when clothes start to bag out or stretch out over the course of the day and so I prefer my knit fabric to have a bit of elastane (3-5%) for extra stretchiness.

On the whole, I only buy fabric made from natural fibers (cotton, hemp, linen, wool, silk…rayon (sort of a gray area in terms of natural, but I do love it)) for several reasons.

  1. I like how they breathe, how they feel on my body and how they have their own personalities!
  2. Sustainability and caring for people and planet is a value of mine.
  3. I like to know that when I am finished wearing my clothes and if they no longer having wearing value, they’ll go back into being dirt. I could even bury them in the back yard if I wanted! Odd, sure, but they would, in fact, return to the earth. Except. Elastane. It’s not natural, it’s a synthetic material made in a laboratory. Alas, I’m not a purist. I try to do the best I can but part of sustainability is wearing our clothes for as long as possible. And part of a fully awake and engaged life is wearing clothes that light you up and support who you are. And so, elastane is my compromise between my values and wearing clothes that I love to wear. So that I can feel in alignment on my outside with who I am on the inside.

I can rarely find fabric at my local Joann’s that hits all my wishes.  So, I often purchase my fabrics online.

Some tips when you buy fabric…
1.  Get your hands on it.  Often with online purchasing, that means ordering a swatch.  I can be impatient, but I am ALWAYS glad when I take the time to order a swatch.    Fabric that you love is such a personal, tactile experience.

2.  Speaking of getting your hands on it…I also suggest roughing it up a little to see how it might wear.    Poke your finger into knits to see how well they recover from being stretched out.  Vigorously rub fabric together in a circular pattern (maybe 20-30 times) to see how easily it might pill. 

3.  Take notes.  Write down what your favorite fabrics are made of.  The percentages too.   Blended fabrics can be so lovely (like that hemp/cotton/elastane blend I recently got) but even just a bit of a difference in the percentages of the fibers can really alter how the fabric behaves.   Keep a log of swatches you get online – seriously, just tape them into a notebook and make a few notes.  Where you got it, what it’s made of, if you sewed with it…how you liked it.  I often go back to my swatches when I’m looking to order fabric online.

If you’re interested in learning more about fabric, I recently released an online class on just that thing! 

So…what’s your favorite? 

What’s the workhorse fabric you love and how about the luxury one?

In Deep Kinship,