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Best Fabrics for Beginners

The fabric and crafting store is a wonderful, magical place full of creativity. But, it can also be an overwhelming place for beginners that are just learning to sew. Choosing fabrics that will help your enjoy your new-found hobby is key! A bad fabric choice could end up making you hate your machine and your choice to embrace creativity.

SEW... With all the many types of fabrics to choose from, what would be the best choice to start out with?

If you are a beginner, have a child that would like to learn to sew, or just want to sew without the hassle and headache, these fabric tips are for you!

Fabric Type

There are many lovely fabrics out there, but sometimes we are tempted to want to use the "nicest" fabric type for a project. I'm here to tell you that you can make AMAZING and beautiful projects with fabrics that won't make you hate your life choices!

The best fabrics to use are the ones that will be easy to cut, sew, and will not unravel easily. Anything that has a shine (such as satin) or has a stretch to the fabric (like a sweater knit) will be hard to sew with. I suggest sewing with the following woven fabrics when you are starting out:

  • Cotton Poplin. This is also known as "quilting cotton." Cotton poplin is a great medium-weight fabric that can be used very well for many things such as clothing, crafts, curtains, home décor projects, bags, etc.
  • Canvas. This type of material is a heavier-weight fabric than cotton poplin, but is still considered of medium weight. Canvas should be used in any project that needs a sturdy fabric that will stand up to heavy use. Applications can include clothing, bags, throw pillows, upholstery, etc.
  • Oxford Cloth. This fabric type is a woven material that feels smoother to the touch than a normal woven material. Traditionally, oxford cloth was used mainly for clothing such as shirts and tee-shirts, but is also suitable for window treatments, duvet covers, wall hangings, and shams.
  • Broadcloth. This fabric is densely woven, extremely sturdy, yet soft. Broadcloth is high-quality material is often used for clothing, upholstery, and crafts.

You should be able to get away without much of a seam finish on these fabrics as well. If you want to do a seam finish to keep the edges from unravelling, I suggest investing in a pair of pinking shears or just zig-zag stitching along the raw edge of the seam.

Also pay attention to:

  • The print on the fabric. Fabrics with large prints (especially stripes and all kinds of lines) can be very difficult to work with. If the lines and pattern do not match up on the seams, your project could end up looking odd; choose small stripes or prints to avoid headache and frustration.
  • Fabric color. By choosing to work with dark fabrics, stitching imperfections will be hidden. Lighter fabrics will make stitching imperfections more obvious.

If you Want to use a Stretch Fabric:

If you decide that you need to use a stretchy fabric for your project (or, you are ready to try your hand at sewing stretch fabric), opt for moderately stretchy fabrics such as a double-knit or interlock fabric. The less stretchy the material, the easier it is to cut, sew, and work with. You can also get away without a seam finish on these fabric types.

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Happy Sewing!