Introduction: Sewing Materials Selection

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Walking into a fabric store for the first time can be confusing and overwhelming. If you know a little bit about the world of sewing materials beforehand it can make the fabric shopping the fun and exciting experience it should be!
This instructable will cover the basics of materials selection for sewing beginners.

It will break down how to choose the best fabric your project and tools. As well as how to identify fabric structure, grain, and stretch.

Using the correct materials can help you improve the quality of your project and sewing experience.

Step 1: Choosing a Thread

When purchasing materials you might encounter a few different thread weights:

Industrial weight- Typically used in industrial sewing machines for applications where seams will be bearing heavy weight such as military equipment, leather and furniture.

Upholstery thread- Can be used in a consumer sewing machines. Usually used for upholstering furniture or sewing heavy fabrics such as velvet and duck canvas.

All-Purpose thread- This is the thread you will likely use and encounter the most. It is the standard weight thread used in consumer sewing machines. It can be used to sew most fabrics.

Fine thread- A light weight thread typically used in hand sewing applications for more delicate fabrics and details.

Using the correct thread for your type of machine will help avoid jamming the mechanisms or breaking the thread.

Step 2: Choosing a Fabric: Woven Fabrics

There are two main fabric types: Woven and knit

Like the name suggests, woven fabrics are comprised of tiny woven threads.

Woven fabrics can be identified by either examining their structure for lengthwise and crosswise threads or (if the structure is too fine) they can be identified by testing for fabric grain by stretching the fabric.

Identifying the grain of a fabric is important because it can effect the structure of your final product especially in more complicated projects such as apparel. You will need to know the grain direction of your fabric in order to properly orient your sewing pattern.

For now, identifying the grain of your fabric it is just a good habit to get into.

Examples of woven fabrics include:

  • cotton
  • muslin
  • denim
  • twill
  • silk
  • nylon
  • chiffon
  • flannel
  • linen
  • Kevlar

Step 3: Choosing a Fabric: Knit Fabrics

Knit fabrics are created by interlocking loops in a thread. Different loops can be used to create different fabric surfaces and textures.

Due to their structure, knit fabrics are usually softer and stretchier than woven fabrics.

There are two kinds of knit fabric stretches: 2-way stretch and 4-way stretch.

Because knit fabrics are so stretchy and tend to curl they can be less cooperative and more difficult to work with.

Examples of knit fabrics include:

  • Lycra
  • Knit jersey
  • hand knitted textiles
  • knit fleece

If you'd like to know more about knit and woven fabrics check out this site