Finding Your Fabulous: How to Choose the Perfect Fabric for Your Perfect Dress 2

Have you ever spent hours creating a dreamy dress, only to realise it’s a total flop once it’s finished? Yup, we’ve all been there! Fear not, for I’m here to share what I’ve learnt – my fabulous fabric findings, so you can learn from my mistakes and dress to impress every single time. So let’s dive into the dazzling world of dressmaking and help you find the perfect fabric for your flawless frock!

How to pick the right fabric for your perfect dress

Want to skip straight to the part you need help with? Here’s what we’ll be talking about:

Which Fabrics Work Wonders For A Dress?

Selecting the right fabric can be a bit of a puzzle, but fear not, I’ll be here to help! There’s a whole world of factors to consider, like sewing pattern requirements, body types, pattern styles, colours, and even your sewing skills! So, buckle up, my friends, and let’s unravel the fabric mystery together!

Pattern Requirements

Choosing the perfect fabric is as crucial as following the sewing pattern instructions. Dresses can be a bit finicky and often demand specific fabric types to fit and drape the way that they were designed to. So, before you dive into dressmaking, ask yourself: what does the pattern call for? A stretchy fabric or one with no give? Should it flow like a waterfall or hold its shape like a sculpture? Light as a feather or heavy as a velvet curtain?

How to pick the right fabric for your dress sewing pattern

For instance, if the pattern recommends a light, stretchy jersey but you opt for a heavy, barely stretchable wool, you’re in for a bumpy ride. You’ll find yourself wrestling with bulky seams that refuse to lie flat and struggling with finishing techniques that just won’t work. The lack of stretch might make the dress feel smaller and limit your movements, and the weight will change how it hangs on your body. It will be far less fabulous and more fashion faux pas!

So, when you’re playing fabric matchmaker, make sure to stick as close as possible to the suggested fabric types or be prepared to adapt the pattern. If you’re set on using a specific fabric, you might need to find a different pattern that’s better suited for your chosen material.

How Do Body Types Affect Fabric Choices?

We’ve all seen that dress that looks utterly stunning on one person and disastrously unflattering on another. So, what’s the deal? It’s all about understanding your body and considering the look you want to achieve. Are there areas you want to highlight or downplay? Do you have a slender or athletic frame that could use some curves, or perhaps you’re looking to tame your curves? Keeping these factors in mind will help you decide which fabrics can help you achieve your desired look. So first off, you need to know which body shape looks most like yours – take a tape measure out and see where you’re biggest, or look at your shadow to help you decide.

know your body shapes and how to dress them apple pear hourglass rectangle and triangle

Fabrics & Their Fabulous Effects on Different Body Shapes

Different fabrics do different things when you put them on, so here’s where we look at all the most common dress fabrics and find out what they do.

Body-hugging fabrics like spandex and lycra:

These curve-kissing materials work wonders for those with toned or athletic builds, showcasing their hard-earned physique. However, for more voluptuous figures, these fabrics may exaggerate lumps and bumps, making them less flattering.

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Flowy lightweight fabrics like chiffon:

These dainty drapes add an illusion of volume and softness to slender or straight frames, creating a more feminine shape. But for curvier body shapes, the extra volume can make the body appear larger and less defined, especially at the waist.

Shiny, non-stretch fabrics like satin or silk:

These luxe materials beautifully accentuate hourglass figures, emphasizing the waist-to-bust and hip ratio. However, they might not be as flattering on rectangular or apple-shaped body types, as they can draw attention to unwanted areas. Proper structuring, boning, and lining can make a world of difference.

Using satin for dressmaking which body types will it flatter most
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Non-stretch matt fabrics like cotton or linen:

These sturdy fabrics work well for pear-shaped body types but may not flatter curvier top halves like those with an hourglass or inverted triangle figure. The lack of stretch can make it challenging to fit the fabric to different body shapes, and pattern adjustments might be necessary.

Thinner stretchy fabrics like jerseys:

These flexible materials are excellent for petite frames, as they can create an elongated appearance. However, for taller or curvier figures, the stretch can make the fabric appear sheerer, which can be less flattering around it has a tendency to cling to curves and lumpy areas.

How to make a jersey fabric dress look good for your body shape
What body types to scuba and ponte roma fabric suit

Thicker stretch fabrics like scuba or Ponte Roma:

These heavyweight fabrics offer structure and help hide imperfections. They’re ideal for hourglass or apple-shaped bodies, accentuating curves without being too revealing. However, their added volume might not be as flattering for pear-shaped bodies.

Structured fabrics like tweed or wool

These fabrics hold their shape and create a tailored look. They’re flattering for rectangular or apple-shaped body types, as they can create a more defined waistline and add curves. However, for hourglass or pear-shaped figures, the added bulk may not be as desirable, so the shape of the pattern becomes far more important to get right..

what body shape does wool and jumper dresses flatter most
what body shapes do denim dresses look good on tutorial

Denim Fabrics

Denim fabric can create a defined, streamlined silhouette, making it a great choice for rectangular or athletic body types. The structure helps to hide any lumps and bumps in a flattering way. However, softer denim fabrics can provide a more fluid and forgiving silhouette for those with curves, which can be more comfortable and flattering.

Textured fabrics like velvet or corduroy

These materials create a more defined and structured look, flattering rectangular or apple-shaped body types most. For curvier figures, textured fabrics may add bulk and volume. The nap on these fabrics can also reflect light in different ways over curves which can highlight lumps and bumps more. To make them work better on curvier shapes, choose a smaller-scale texture and pair it with a more fitted dress style.

How to make a velvet dress look good
what body shapes do lace dresses flatter most

Sheer fabrics such as organza or lace

These fabrics create a soft, romantic look, and flatter slender frames well. However, for curvier body types, they may add volume and reduce definition, or leave more revealing areas. To make the most of them on a curvier shape, pair these fabrics with a structured lining and sew them into a more structured shape for a more flattering result.

How To Pick A Flattering Fabric Print

Next up is navigating the world of fabulous fabric prints. With so many patterns out there, it can feel a little overwhelming trying to find the perfect one for your body shape. But don’t worry! We’re here to help you decide if you want to style up a sea of stripes, dots, florals, and more, all while having a blast! So let’s find out how these patterns behave and discover the best prints for you, so you can feel confident rocking them with style.

Stripes – The Magical Lines

Who doesn’t love a good stripe? They’re classic, chic, and oh-so-versatile. But did you know that the direction and width of the stripes can work wonders for different body types? Horizontal stripes can add some extra oomph to rectangular or apple-shaped bodies, giving the illusion of curves. For those with a shorter or curvier figure, vertical stripes are your best friend, creating a more elongated and streamlined silhouette. If you’re tall already though, those vertical stripes might not be for you.

how to make stipes look good on your body shape

And don’t forget about the width of the stripes – Did you know the width of the stripe determines how much of an optical illusion it can make? The wider the stripe, the more effect it generally has. So play around with different sizes to see what flatters your body the most!

You can even combine stripes to balance out your figure better. So for example, if you used wide horizontal stripes at the chest, narrow horizontal stripes at the waist, and then vertical stripes over the hips and legs, then a pear shape body will find themselves rocking an hourglass look

Dots & Spots: Let’s Get Playful!

Polka dots bring a delightful, playful vibe to any outfit. They’re a subtle pattern that can help draw the eye away from problem areas. Smaller pin dots are the secret weapon for a delicate, balanced, and ultra-feminine look on curvy shapes. Rectangular or athletic body types, go ahead and rock those larger polka dots! They’ll add volume and create the illusion of curves, giving your outfit a fun, retro flair.

How to use spots and polka dot fabric to your advantage to make a beautiful dress

Florals & Similar Print Patterns

Floral fabric for dressmaking giving a touch of feminine elegance

Small Florals For Delicate Blossoms

Petite flowers can bring a touch of grace and charm to any look. Small floral patterns create a delicate and feminine feeling, perfect for slender or straighter body shapes. Pear-shaped and hourglass figures can also bloom in dainty small floral fabric patterns, as these soft and pretty prints can complement their curves and create a balanced and proportionate silhouette.

how to make bold fabric patterns look good in a dress

Large Florals: Bold Blooms to Adore

Bigger blossoms can make a statement! Large florals and similar patterns may overwhelm smaller frames, but they can create a bold and dramatic look for taller or fuller figures. Picture a stunning maxi dress with a vibrant large floral pattern on a tall, slender woman – it’s a match made in heaven! A fitted sheath dress with a bold floral pattern can work wonders for curvy women with an hourglass figure, drawing attention to the waist and hips, and creating that coveted hourglass silhouette.

Large patterns can be paired with smaller patterns to balance out triangles and pear shapes, adding volume where you need it.

How to use bold floral fabrics to add emphasis and draw the eye to flatter the figure

But don’t stop there – there are so many ways to rock large florals and make them work for different body shapes. It’s all about strategic placement and having fun with fashion! For example, a long skirt with a big dramatic pop of a contrasting pattern takes a pear-shaped woman from ok to wow! The bold print draws the eyes up the length of the skirt making the hips look perfectly proportioned to the waist and upper body.

An interruption in a bold pattern is just as likely to add shape. A belt or wrap dress interrupting the pattern gives the illusion of structure with a defined midsection. So, a bold floral or similar pattern just needs to be strategically placed to bring out your best.

Busy Patterns: Add Interest & Dimension

Busy patterns can be a bit too much for petite frames, but they can add that extra wow factor to taller figures. Whether it’s an intricate pattern or a lively abstract design, these prints can add depth and interest to your outfit. So go ahead and turn some heads with your fabulous pattern choices!

How to pick the right fabric for your dress how to use large prints to accentuate areas
how to look good in a tie dye dress

Tie Dye & Bohemian Looks: Free Your Spirit

Ready to embrace your inner bohemian? Tie-dye patterns and paisley prints are perfect for creating a relaxed, free-spirited vibe. The softness of these patterns can flatter both larger and slender frames, so don’t be afraid to let your carefree spirit shine!

Geometrics: Bold Statements Await

Geometric and abstract patterns can give your outfit a modern, structured look. These patterns are fantastic for adding a dynamic edge to slender figures but might not always be flattering to curvier or softer body shapes. If you’re curvy and want to incorporate geometric patterns, try softer lines or more fluid fabrics for a harmonious, and more balanced look.

how to use geometric fabric to make a great dress
Making animal prints look good on a dress fashion tips and hints

Animal Prints: Embrace Your Wild Side

Channel your inner fashionista with some fierce animal prints! Leopard, zebra, or snake patterns can add an exotic touch to your outfit. Curvier figures can opt for smaller-scale animal prints to keep the look proportional and stylish, while those with a rectangular or athletic body type can go truly wild with bold larger prints to create the illusion of curves. Just remember, balance is key when rocking animal prints, so be strategic with the print size and placement.

Plaids & Checks: Chic and Timeless

Classic plaid and check patterns are a must-have in any wardrobe. These prints can be both flattering and versatile, depending on the scale and colour combination. For a slimming effect, choose smaller checks or plaids in darker colours. If you’re looking to add volume or create curves, go for larger patterns or brighter hues. The best part? Plaids and checks can work wonders for any body type when styled and paired thoughtfully.

How to make flattering Plaid fabric dresses

How Colours Bring Out Your Best

Fabric Colours

Colours can completely transform how a dress looks on different body shapes. Whether you’re aiming for a slimming effect, to accentuate your curves, or just to give your skin a really healthy glow, the right colors can make all the difference.

Darker Delights: Slimming and Sophisticated

Dark colors like black, navy, or deep burgundy can create a visual illusion of a slimmer silhouette. Perfect for curvy or fuller figures, darker shades give you that smooth, streamlined look that’s oh-so-chic!

Bright and Bold: Make a Statement

Ready to catch the eye? Bright, bold colors like red, green, or orange can draw attention to specific parts of your body. Jewel tones like emerald green, sapphire blue, and ruby red create a dramatic look that highlights your curves and creates a striking silhouette. Time to shine, curvy ladies!

Pretty Pastels: Soft and Feminine

Pastel colors exude a gentle and sweet vibe but might show some unwanted lumps and bumps more readily. If you’re all about that soft and feminine look, experiment with pastels to find the perfect shade that flatters you

Neutral Territory: Classic and Timeless

Neutral colors like beige, grey, and white create an effortlessly elegant and timeless look. Taller and slimmer figures can rock these shades for a streamlined and sophisticated appearance.

However, it’s not quite so simple. Although anybody can wear any colour, different shades of those colours will work better on different people.

Find Your Perfect Match: Compliment Your Hair and Skin Tones

Choosing colors that bring out your natural skin and hair tones is a game-changer! First, it helps to determine if you have a warm, cool, or neutral skin tone. Follow these tips to help figure it out:

  • Vein check: Blue veins mean a cool skin tone, green veins mean a warm skin tone, and if you can’t tell, you may have a neutral skin tone.
  • Natural light test: Pink or bluish-red undertones are a cool skin sign, while yellow or golden undertones are hallmarks of a warm skin tone.
  • Eye colour: Blue, grey, or green eyes are often part of a cool skin look, while brown, amber, or hazel eyes are more likely in warmer skin tones.
  • Hair colour: Warm hair colours like golden blond or auburn may look better in warm earthy tones, while cool hair colours like platinum blond or ash brown may be better suited to cooler shades. If you are cool skinned with warm hair or vice versa, you’ll need to experiment to see which is your more dominant colouring and which shades will suit you best.

Dare to Experiment: Discover Your Color Palette

Not everyone fits neatly into these guidelines, so don’t be afraid to play with different colors and find what makes your skin glow. For a fantastic tool to help you figure out which colors suit you best, check out online color palette generators where you can upload an image of yourself to discover your perfect palette.

Here is where I will recommend this fantastic tool for helping you figure out which colours suit you best. I’ve made these colour palettes with their tool by uploading some portrait illustrations I’ve made. I hope it’ll give you an idea of how different skin and hair colourings can be, yet still be similar enough in their underlying tones that they all “pop” with certain palettes.  

Cool Summer tones:

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which colours look best for dresses cool summer tones
How to pick dress fabric by skin colour summer shades for cool tones
How to decide what colour dress looks best on different skin types cool shades of summer colours

Cool winter tones:

Working out which fabric colour suits cool skin tones best winter shades
Choosing dress fabric based on what colour suits your skin tones best cool winter colours
How to choose fabric colours for dresses based on your skin colour winder tones
How to decide what fabric colours best suit cool skin tones winter shades

Warm spring:

Which fabrics look best on warm skin tones spring colours
Bright spring coloured fabrics best suit warm skin tones
Picking fabrics for dresses based on skin tone warm spring colours
How to pick dress fabrics by skin and hair colours warm spring tones

Warm autumn tones:

Picking fabrics to flatter warmer skin tones autum shades
How to dress warm tones and which fabric to pick autumn shades
How to pick the best dress fabrics based on skin and hair colour autumn colours
Warm skin tones better suit warmer tone dresses Autumn colour palette

As you can see, both warm and cool skin tones can wear a wide range of colours, but the shade of that colour is very different for warm tones than it is for cool. For example, the cooler tones look great in lemon yellow whereas the warmer tones need a more mustard yellow to make their skin colour shine through. Knowing the tone of the colour that suits you best will have a huge impact on how likely you are to make dresses in a wide range of colours that you will fall in love with. Now that you’ve got the scoop on colours, embrace the vibrancy and fun they bring to your wardrobe. Mix and match shades, experiment with different hues, and watch as your confidence soars with every fabulous outfit!

Your Sewing Level

When picking a dress fabric it is also important to keep in mind how skilled you are at sewing, as some fabrics are easier to work with than others, and some are more forgiving when you make mistakes. Here’s some tips for those of you who aren’t feeling confident in your seamstress skills just yet.

How to pick the best fabric colours for your perfect dress
  • Lighten up: Stick with lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen, and rayon for easier sewing.
  • Keep it simple: Choose fabrics with a simple weave, like cotton or linen, over complex weaves like silk or lace.
  • Stretch with care: Start with jersey or scuba and use the right needles and sewing machine foot for stretch fabrics.
  • Slippery when sewn: Avoid slippery fabrics like silk or satin that can shift and slide during sewing.
  • Fray away: Steer clear of easily frayed fabrics like chiffon that can be frustrating for beginners and need extra work to protect those edges.

Fabrics to Watch Out For:

Some fabrics can highlight sewing mistakes, so tread carefully with these materials:

  • Satin: Its smooth and shiny surface can easily show uneven stitching or puckering.
  • Chiffon: Lightweight and sheer, chiffon reveals skipped stitches and uneven hemlines.
  • Silk: Delicate and prone to showing uneven seams or puckering.
  • Jersey: Stretchy and knit, jersey reveals uneven seams or stretched areas.
  • Lycra & Spandex: These super stretchy fabrics will distort easily and make your pattern matching look obviously out of place if you can’t tame them.
  • Tulle: Lightweight and sheer, tulle shows uneven gathering or stitching.
  • Organza: Another lightweight, sheer fabric, organza displays uneven seams and puckering.

To sew with these fabrics, practice first! Take extra care cutting out and use techniques like basting, pressing, and careful pinning, along with the right needle and correct sewing machine foot.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind:

Comfort: Consider how the dress will be worn. Commuting to work? Choose something comfy. Evening event? Why not go for a more luxurious fabric!

Budget: Balance your budget with your dressmaking goals. You may need to choose between a few high-quality dresses or many budget-friendly options.

Event: Reflect the occasion with your fabric choice. Cultural, religious, or other special events may call for specific fabric selections.

Durability & Washing: For frequent wear, consider the fabric’s durability and washing requirements. Dry-clean only fabrics may not be suitable for everyday dresses.

Season: Dress for the weather! Wool is perfect for colder months, while lighter fabrics are ideal for summer.

The Finishing Touch: Love Your Fabric!

At the end of the day, choose a fabric that you adore and feel excited to wear. If you love it and feel comfortable in it, that confidence will shine through. After all, the most flattering accessory is a radiant, genuine smile. So go ahead, indulge in fabrics that make your heart sing and let your inner fashionista shine! Happy sewing! 🧵💕

Feeling happy in the dress that you love most and following your own style

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2 thoughts on “Finding Your Fabulous: How to Choose the Perfect Fabric for Your Perfect Dress

  • Joyce Hart

    I have just found a printout of sew a strappy top from I think 2016. I want to make a full length slip and thought I couls use this pattern, but a slip is 2 or maybe 3 pieces and I don’t understand how I can make it using the biggest measurement. I am a very large lady and my biggest measurement is my hip which is 68 inches without ease. Under bust is 49 inches and full bust 53 nches. How would I draft a pattern for this please. I am only 5 foot tall. Also I have tried to look at your material but I cannot find how can you send me the link please.