If you’re new to sewing, trying to get to grips with all the different types of fabric can seem like an impossible task.
There are so many options to choose from, and unless you already know which ones are suitable for dressmaking, it can be difficult to find the best one.
You don’t want to get halfway through a garment, only to be “seamstress-ed” when you realize that you’ve chosen a fabric that isn’t suitable.
Even as you progress, it will take you some time to familiarize yourself with each fabric, but once you do you’ll be whipping up garments left, right, and center.
When deciding on a fabric for your next sewing project, consider the pattern you’ll be following.
The type of dress you’re making should influence what fabric you’ll be working with, otherwise, you can end up wasting a lot of time and money if it goes wrong.
Maybe you already have the perfect fabric that you bought on impulse, and now you’re trying to find out which types of dresses it’s suitable for?
If you don’t already have a fabric in mind, you can use this article as inspiration to help you find what you’re looking for.
To point you in the right direction, we’ve reviewed 5 of the best fabrics for making dresses that are currently available on Amazon.
Our buyer’s guide will contain some of the most important things to consider when purchasing fabric, such as stretch, pattern, and cost.
If you’re in a hurry to get started on your next dressmaking project, pattern in hand with your sewing machine at the ready, keep reading to see our top pick and to find out how and why we chose it.
Top 5 Best Fabric For Dresses
OUR TOP PICK
We chose this gorgeous, deep red velvet fabric from Ben Textiles as our top pick for a number of reasons.
It’s perfect to use for dresses that can be worn on any occasion, from a classic look to statement impact. The possibilities are endless.
Sold by the yard and cut to order, this medium-weight fabric has a 10% 4-way stretch which is ideal for dressmaking, as you reduce the risk of tearing or distorting the material as you sew.
You can create beautiful form-fitting garments, and the light-medium weight material has a knit base with a velvet face side to improve the quality of your final piece.
It has a beautiful sheen that elevates the look of this fabric, despite its affordable price. In fact, many customers commented on the fact that they weren’t expecting such high-quality standards, but were pleasantly surprised by how nice it actually is.
The 58” fabric is made from 80% polyester and 20% lycra spandex to give it its stretch, and it’s important to note that it’s not suitable for machine washing.
Dry cleaning is recommended, but it can also be washed by hand in cold water using a mild soap.
- 10% 4-way stretch for flexibility
- Affordable but not cheap-looking
- Beautiful color
- Not machine washable
Next on our list, we have a high-quality chiffon fabric from M&M Scrubs, which is a sheer 100% polyester fabric that can be used for a whole host of different applications.
Sold in 1, 5, or 10-yard lengths, the 58-60” material is cut to order and is well-packaged so as to avoid creases in the material when you receive it. However, it can fray at the edges slightly where it’s cut.
The lightweight material is extremely soft to touch which means it feels great as it flows against your skin, and it’s perfect for draping or for making gorgeous evening gowns with.
It’s quite a sheer material which means it can create different depths of color depending on the lighting and whether or not you choose to layer it.
The beautiful blush tone closely matches the picture provided according to customer reviews, and there are other multiple colors to choose from.
- Super soft material
- Sold in different lengths
- Accurate color or can be layered for a darker look
- Slight fraying along the edges where it’s been cut
If you’re feeling bold, this brown and tan black cheetah print fabric is incredibly lightweight, which is a great choice when it comes to dressmaking.
Shinier than regular satin and silky to the touch, this is the perfect material for a special occasion dress and it’s sold per yard with a 59” width.
It’s made from 100% polyester which isn’t the easiest to sew, and if you’re new to dressmaking you might find it difficult to match up the pattern at the seams.
However, if you fancy a challenge or have more experience with sewing dresses it’s a great option.
The best thing about this material is that it can be washed in your machine on a cold wash, and you can chuck it in the tumble dryer on a low cycle for ultimate convenience.
- Machine washable and can be tumble dried
- Beautiful shine
- Slightly tricky to work with
- Pieces can be cut unevenly when shipped
Sequins make the ultimate party dress, and this vibrant 100% polyester fabric from LQIAO is perfect for evening gowns. The 50” width material is sold in 1-yard pieces and has a decent amount of stretch so it’s easier to work with.
The reversible 3mm sequins have a lovely two-tone element to it featuring beautiful blues and sparkling emerald greens. The dynamic shift between the two as you move is guaranteed to have you catching everyone’s eye which is ideal for a statement dress.
Due to the sequined nature of the fabric, it can be difficult to cut and some sequins may drop off, but this is normal for this material and isn’t a manufacturing defect or quality issue.
The mesh lining matches the sequin color, unlike many sequined fabrics which use a white mesh that can show through, although you might also want to find an underlay fabric for your dress, as the sequins mean it can be itchy against your skin.
- Two-tone reversible sequins
- Beautiful colors
- Color-matched mesh lining
- Long delivery wait
- Difficult to cut and sew
- The material can cause itching
We’ve chosen another of the best offerings from Ben Textiles to round off our reviews, and this 60” 100% polyester satin is lightweight without being too thin, and sheer without being see-through.
It’s also easier to work with than regular satin due to the crepe back.
This gives it more stretch which is ideal when it comes to sewing dresses, and it drapes well across your body.
The majestic royal blue color is undeniably gorgeous and customers happily report that it’s an accurate depiction of the color you’ll receive.
Another great thing about this fabric is that you can wash it on a cold wash cycle in your machine, as well as being suitable for tumble drying!
You’ll want to give it a quick iron before you start cutting your material, however as it can become creased quite easily.
- A reasonable amount of stretch
- Machine washable
- Vibrant color
- Creases easily
Best Fabric For Dresses Buyer’s Guide
You should really start to think about the fabrics you want to use early on in the planning process of your next project, as different fabrics will have different limitations.
Consider the feel of the fabric on your skin, if it will be easy to sew, and how it will fall across your body.
Velvet, silk, silk chiffon, taffeta, Organza, and satin are all good choices for dressmaking, but there are plenty of other things to consider when you’re making your decision that will influence your final choice.
For example, you can choose what fibers your material is made from, including animal fibers (wool and silk), plant fibers (cotton and linen), and man-made fibers (nylon).
Basic Guide to Fabrics
If we wrote about every fabric available for dressmaking, we could be here all day!
However, we thought it would be a useful starting point to go through some of the most popular fabrics that are commonly used for dresses to highlight their main benefits.
- Cotton: Cotton is available in a variety of different styles with the option to choose either a lightweight or heavier fabric. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used for a number of applications, typically at an affordable price.
- Knit/cotton jersey: Knit and cotton jersey fabrics can be used for dresses as well as being a common choice for t-shirts. It offers a good amount of stretch and feels good against your skin, but you may find it’s slightly trickier to sew with compared to other woven fabrics.
- Silk: Silk is perfect for occasion dresses as it has a luxurious, shiny surface for ultimate opulence. As well as dresses, this delicate fabric can be used for lingerie and blouses, but it can be quite difficult to sew with and it’s an expensive option.
- Linen: Linen is often used in summer dresses, and like cotton, is available in different weights. Commonly blended with cotton, it holds its shape well when constructed into a garment, but it can crease easily and is another expensive choice.
- Polyester and polycotton: Synthetic woven fabrics such as these two are a lot more affordable, and they’re easy to sew with as they don’t crease while you’re manipulating the fabric through the machine. They tend to be a more light-weight material which makes them perfect for beginners.
Knitted fabrics (rayon, silk, cotton jersey, or shiny polyester) are often beautiful, but they’re also much trickier to handle while you sew, and are therefore best avoided unless you’re more experienced.
Woven fabric (cotton, linen, or a blend of the two) is ideal for beginners, as it’s easy to sew with and won’t stretch too much as you move it through your sewing machine.
Light-medium fabrics are also easier to work with, as you can manipulate them without much difficulty to suit your design. Heavier-weight fabrics, on the other hand, have a bit of a mind of their own and are tougher to skillfully control.
Corduroy and other stiffer materials are therefore best avoided for your earlier attempts.
Choosing Fabric Patterns
If you’re someone who loves to wear bold clothing that shows off your fun, vibrant self, you might already be scouring the internet and your local haberdashery for fabric with a pattern loud enough to match your personality.
Even if you prefer a more toned down version, patterns can be a great way to liven up a design. With that being said, patterned fabric can be more difficult to work with unless you’re a more experienced sewer, as it can be tricky to match up at the seams when you sew different pieces together.
The resulting effect can be jarring and can ruin the whole design of your dress, no matter how well it’s sewn or how beautiful the fabric is otherwise. Typically there will be a pattern repeat which you should take into account when you’re cutting your fabric, taking care to follow the pattern you're using.
Sometimes you’ll notice irregularities in the pattern which can occur if it hasn’t been printed properly. If this is the case, you’ll find it impossible to correctly line up the fabric when you’re constructing the garment. This usually only happens on lower-quality pieces of material, but it can be disappointing when it does.
There are different types of patterns for you to choose from, but if you’re a beginner you may find it easier to stick to plain colors and smaller, less intricate prints. More experienced dressmakers may want to experiment with bolder patterns such as stripes, checks, and bigger patterns to cover the whole garment.
The Cost of Fabric
Different fabrics are more expensive than others, and if you’re using different types, it can quickly start to add up. This is especially true if you’re working on a larger project, so it’s a good idea to set yourself a budget limit for your dress before you start it.
If you’ve fallen in love with a fabric that has a price tag that makes your eyes water, but you just can’t bring yourself to look away from it, try compromising and using smaller pieces of it to accentuate your design instead to reduce the amount you’ll need and the overall expense.
This will save you from measuring your paychecks in yards of fabric, as you can choose something more affordable to sew the main bulk of the pattern. It’s an easy way to cut costs while still incorporating design elements you love into your garment.
When buying fabric for your next dressmaking project, there are plenty of other things you might want to consider.
Ask yourself the following questions before you get started, otherwise you’ll end up wishing you did.
- What type of dress are you planning on making? Form-fitted dresses, for example, would require a material with more stretch, whereas loose, flowing dresses would need a fabric that drapes well.
- Visualize the finished dress - does the fabric look good with the design? Do the colors look good together if using more than one?
- Is the fabric easy to sew with or will it end up distorting as it goes through your machine?
- What are the care instructions for the fabric? Is it hand wash only or can you wash it on a cold cycle in your machine?
Now you know more about the different types of materials available for dressmaking and what they’ll be like to work with, we hope this article has given you enough information to begin your search for the best fabric for your next dress. Happy sewing!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of fabric is used to make wedding dresses?
Wedding dresses are often more elaborate than your average day-dress, so it’s not surprising that they use more extravagant materials in their construction.
Some of the most popular fabrics for wedding dresses include satin, charmeuse, chiffon, organza, tulle, and lace.
How do I know if the color is accurately described without seeing it?
When purchasing fabric material online, it’s harder to get a true color match as it can be distorted on your computer or smartphone screen. The best way to get an accurate description is to read customer reviews.
Some will even upload pictures they’ve taken so you can see the fabric in different types of light.
How do I test the shrinkage of the material?
Before you start to cut the pattern, wash your fabric on the same cycle you would use for a normal load.
This will indicate what type of shrinkage you’re dealing with - better to learn now that after you’ve gone to all the effort of making it!