Choosing fabric is a fun part of sewing up a new pattern, but fabric can have such a huge impact on fit (see this post for evidence) that if you miss the mark on fabric selection it can really make or break a pattern for you. Two garments made with the exact same pattern pieces but different fabrics can fit so differently (remember Jess’ post?) that it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you’re worried about the pieces fitting correctly in the first place. I know this can be stressful, especially if you’re new to sewing garments, so I wanted to provide some suggestions just in case you didn’t know where to start.
Here are five fabrics we’ve successfully made Rose pants or shorts out of, along with a few notes to help you in your fabric selection process.
1// Silk Noil (100% silk)
This fabric was an instant fave from the moment I sewed my first Cleo skirt with it last year. Meg got me into this fabric from Stone Mountain and Daughter (a number of other shops sell it as well; see list at bottom of post). It has a slightly nubby texture, is not at all shiny (it seems similar to what we used to call “raw silk”), is super soft, has tons of drape, and best of all, it’s machine washable (and can go in the dryer on low); just be careful as some of the colors may bleed when washed.
2 // Brussels Washer (linen-rayon blend)
Jacqui was the first of our testers to try this cotton/rayon blend from Robert Kauffman, and Jess’ shorts sealed the deal: this fabric is PERFECT for Rose, plus it’s a fairly affordable option and widely available. Win-win.
3 // Essex (cotton-linen blend)
This fabric has less drape than most of the other options in this post, but it still has a lovely weight for pants or shorts like Rose, as well as a softness that seems to get better with every wash. My light pink cropped Rose pants are made with Essex. I love that Robert Kaufman (the company that manufactures Essex) also offers some prints on the Essex base-cloth (shown above), as well as yarn-dyed options.
4 // Slub viscose-linen (linen-rayon blend)
We discussed the pros and cons of this fabric at great length in this post, but it’s still one of our very faves due to its awesome drape, softness, and slub texture. Note that it goes by a number of names; see that post for names/sources.
5 // Loose-weave cottons (ikat, Loominous)
This is a slightly less defined category, but when it comes to summer pants and shorts, you can’t go wrong with a soft, loosely woven cotton. The handwoven ikat cottons from India that have grown super popular in the past couple of years are a great example, so are the Loominous cotton collections from Anna Maria Horner. Both of these have similar behaviors: mid-weight but breathable, 100% cotton, loosely woven (as opposed to poplin, quilting cotton, or lawn), and soft. Avoid cotton gauzes and double gauzes for pants, however; the weave is a bit too loose for pants, and won’t stand up over time like more durable cotton fabrics will.
Where to buy:
You can also find some or all of these fabrics at Fancy Tiger Crafts, Ewe Fibers, Dry Goods Design, Imagine Gnats, Stonemountain and Daughter, and Shop La Mercerie; Blackbird Fabrics and Needlework Hamilton are great Canadian apparel fabric sources.
Finding the right fabric for a project can make the difference between loving something you’ve made and having it end up in the back of your closet. What are your favorite fabrics to sew pants or shorts with?