As you transition from beginner to experienced sewer, the fabric bug is sure to bite you. However, for now, I suggest that you stick with fabrics that are easy for beginner sewers to handle and control. It’s easy to be drawn to the the beautiful and eye catching fabrics you see in stores, we all struggle with that by the way, but as a beginner sewer, it’s important to choose fabrics that for one suits your project and two allows you to see what you’re doing. Lastly, it’s also important, in my opinion, to choose fabrics that are easy on the pocketbook, that is unless you have money to blow on expensive fabrics that you don’t mind experimenting on. Below are the top 5 fabrics that I recommend for my beginner sewing students because they’re affordable and easy to maneuver.
By far the easiest fabric to work with on any sewing project is a closely woven 100% cotton. Cotton is extremely versatile and easy to maintain. Cotton will work with most any project, and it comes in many different weights, from light to heavy, so depending on what you are sewing you should have no problem finding a suitable cotton fabric. Cotton is also super cheap and it’s extremely easy for beginner sewers to cut with accuracy. The one caveat about cotton fabrics is that they tend to shrink. However, there’s a quick and simple solution for that–pre-washing. If you plan to sew a cotton fabric, pre-wash it prior to cutting out the pattern to prevent shrinking.
Oh how I love linen fabrics. They’re perfect for making cool summer clothes, and don’t get me started on linen blends; they’re absolutely devine. But enough about my love of linens, here’s why they’d make a great fabric choice for you, the beginner sewer. Linen cuts like butter. In fact, I think it cuts easier than cotton, but that’s just my opinion. Linen fabrics are easy to sew and they’re even easier to press. Because linens are tightly woven like cotton, you won’t have too many problems with the fabric distorting or stretching as you sew. However, linens wrinkle easily. So, like cotton, it’s best to pre-wash linen fabrics prior to cutting and sewing them.
If I had to sum up wool in one word, that word would be well-behaved. Okay, so that’s a compound word, but technically still one word, right? Anyway, when I first started sewing, I used to think that wools would be difficult to sew because the fabrics are thicker than most and quite intricate in pattern, but to my surprise, these are some of the easiest fabrics to control, which makes them perfect for beginners. Another plus is that although wools look quite luxurious, you can find many of them at an affordable price. The biggest plus about wool is that it.does.not.fray! So you don’t have to worry about finishing raw seams if your seam finishing isn’t up to par. Some people recommend pre-shrinking wool, but I’ve never done that. What I do recommend always doing with wool is using a pressing cloth when pressing the fabric. Wool scorches very easily, so also use a moderate heat when pressing.
Say what you want about polyester, but it’s perhaps one of the most versatile fabrics around. I’ve seen people sew everything from lingerie to heavy coats with polyester, so beginners can get tons of mileage out of this easy to sew fabric. I know many people don’t like polyester because it’s cheap and well it’s looks cheap, but that’s okay, this is perfect for beginner sewers on a budget. Polyester is virtually resistant to creasing, and it cuts like paper, very smoothly. The only thing I don’t like about polyester is that it will dull your needles and rotary cutter fast, so you have to change needles and rotary cutter blades much more frequently when you’re sewing polyester in comparison to other fabrics.
This material, which is often referred to as polycotton, combines the best aspects of both the cotton and polyester. For instance, whereas cotton tends to wrinkle and shrink, polyester’s strength prevents shrinking when the two fabrics are blended together without compromising the softness of cotton. Polycotton is easy to cut and doesn’t crease. Best of all, the fabric is pretty darn cheap, so you can load up on this blended fabric and go to town with your sewing projects.
Remember that the wrong material can negatively color your feelings about your sewing abilities as a beginner sewer. I’ve had more than a few students almost give up on sewing because they ignored my advice and choose a fabric that is difficult for beginners (heck even some experienced seamstresses) to sew. So be wise when choosing your fabrics and you’re guaranteed to have a long and enjoyable sewing experience.