finding the perfect fabric for your next project

an excerpt from my {classic wrap skirt} book

Chances are,
if you’ve ever sewn something and hated the finished product,
the problem was the fabric.

Fabric selection is such an important part of the process of creating,
but too often, we tend to rush through this step
to get to what seems more important:
the actual sewing.

Fabric-sourcing is a very important part of the design process
and you shouldn’t feel like you’re wasting time
as you decide on the perfect fabric to use.

This part of the process is so integral to the design process, in fact,
that more than once I have designed a piece
specifically for a particular fabric.

When it comes to the {classic wrap skirt}
you need to look for particular qualities in the fabric you choose.

First of all, you’ll need to keep in mind the size of your fabric.
This skirt is cut all in one piece,
so if you want to make a long skirt,
you’ll need pretty wide fabric.
And of course you’ll need enough yardage.

There is a worksheet in the {classic wrap skirt} book
which will help you to determine how much fabric you’ll need,
and how wide it will have to be.

Once you know how much fabric you’ll need,
you can decide what type of fabric to use.

Look for a fabric with body,
but that isn’t too stiff.

Hold the fabric from the corner and let it fall into folds.
The fabric shouldn’t melt away,
but it should fold into a nicely draped shape.

Take a look at the photos here.

The first picture shows a fabric that is too soft and has too much drape.
A classic wrap skirt made from this fabric will stretch out of shape
and the fabric will be difficult to manage as you cut and sew it.

The second picture shows a fabric
that is perfect for this wrap skirt design.
It has enough body to support itself and not stretch out of shape,
and you can tell this by the way the folds don’t completely collapse.
At the same time, it has enough drape to fall beautifully,
unlike the fabric in the third picture.

The third picture shows a fabric that is too stiff for this skirt.
If you were to use this fabric,
your skirt would stand out like a tent
both looking and feeling bulky.

Speaking of feel,
think about how the fabric will feel wrapped around you.
Will it be thick and cozy?
I made a wool skirt (case study #4 in the {classic wrap skirt} book)
from medium-weight wool.
It feels nice and snug, perfect for fall and winter.
The fabric breathes,
so it isn’t as if I couldn’t wear it into the spring,
but it wouldn’t feel quite right.
The cozy feel of the fabric lends itself to certain seasons.

The feel of the fabric may affect when you want to wear it,
and it may also affect where you might want to wear your finished skirt.

If the fabric feels too fancy,
will you only want to wear it to special parties
and not to picnics?

I suggest you choose something versatile and classic;
something that will feel neither too dressy for everyday wear,
nor too informal for nicer events.

I am comfortable wearing any of the skirts in the case studies in the {classic wrap skirt} book
to a tea party, a walk in the park, or running errands.

The difference would be in the styling.
I’d wear the skirt with a blouse and jewelry for a tea party,
a sunhat and silk scarf for a walk in the park,
or a T-shirt and flip flops for running errands.

I love natural fibers - cotton, wool, linen, and silk in particular,
and I would also include cellulose fibers like rayon in this category.

One reason I love natural fibers is the way they feel.
I don’t just mean the way they feel when I run my hand over them.
I mean the way they feel when I’m wearing them in hot or cool weather,
when I’m active, or when I’m simply sitting.
I like the way I feel when I am in them.

Fabrics made with natural fiber have a particular energy around them.
They breathe, and they help you breathe as you wear them.

My absolute favorite fabric to use for this skirt is a linen or linen blend.
A close second is wool.

I have wool skirts for cool weather
and linen skirts for warm weather,
although wool isn’t as hot as you might think,
and linen isn’t terribly chilly either.
Because these natural fibers both breathe and insulate,
they help to keep your body at a stable temperature
no matter the temperature of your environment.

Filling your closet with clothing made with natural fabrics
will help your wardrobe become something you both wear and love
because this type of clothing is classic and versatile and makes you feel good!

Good quality fabric of any sort isn’t going to be cheap -
but why would you want to spend your time making something cheap anyway?
If you want cheap, buy a skirt from some cheap ready-to-wear place.

If you want quality,
be willing to make an investment.

You’re already investing your valuable time into making this skirt.
You owe it to yourself to choose a quality fabric,
even if it costs a little more than the stuff on the clearance rack at your local craft store.

That said, you can find good quality fabric
that is quite affordable,
especially if you shop online.
I didn’t spend more than $6 per yard
for any of the fabrics I used to make the skirts
in the case studies in the {classic wrap skirt} book.

Choose a fabric you truly love.
You’ll be spending a lot of time with it,
both as you create your skirt, and later when you wear it.