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Combining Fabric Weaves and Weights

In Threads #164 (December 2012/January 2013) contributing editor Mary Ray creates a stir with garments that combine textures, prints, fibers, and weaves. Learn how to balance weaves and weights in this excerpt from Mary's article and check out the complete issue for more on combining fabrics. This issue is also available on your tablet. Download the App for your iPad and Windows devices now.  

Combining two or more fabrics in the same garment has always been one of my sewing pleasures. I love the way one fabric can enhance another and turn a simple style into a complex creation. Combining fabrics is also a little trick I often use when I just don't have enough of one fabric to complete a project.

Creating an artistic grouping, however, takes planning to get the best result. I'll show you how to choose fabrics that work together visually and structurally and how to determine the best placement for multiple fabrics in the same garment. I'll give you some tips on how to balance different fabric weights and ways to sew disparate fabrics together.
You'll achieve unique results (no one else will make the garment in quite the same way), plus the ability to add or emphasize details or areas with your fabric choices.

How to Balance Weaves & Weights

Joining fabrics of different weaves and weights is another opportunity for adding detail and interest to a garment. Loosely woven fabrics, lace, and novelty knits can complement tightly woven taffeta, velvet, menswear wools, and even denim. Treat them similarly to fabrics of varying textures. Use a knit and a woven together, a woven and leather, a knit and leather, chiffon and wool tweed, taffeta and denim. All of these combinations can offer wonderful creative results.

Give special consideration to how you stitch and finish the seams-each fabric type may require a different technique. You can compromise and use the best option throughout the garment or finish each seam differently. Other sewing considerations may involve reducing the fullness in a seam so it can be eased without difficulty; stabilizing a seam allowance on a stretchy fabric; overlapping edges instead of sewing right sides together; finishing edges differently on each fabric and making the transitions work.

Topstitching the jersey seam allowances flattened and stabilized the woven silk.

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Comments (8)

lastminutelady lastminutelady writes: I especially appreciate the tip about stretching a loose weave fabric to fit a curved seam rather than clipping it. I am preparing to sew my daughter's princess seamed wedding dress out of hand woven silk and I need all the information about loosely woven fabrics I can find!

Posted: 6:34 pm on April 5th

ArleneSews ArleneSews writes: This is such timely info for me as I've been planning to reuse denim to combine with all sorts of other fabrics into new garments. Very useful information about combining wovens / knits. Thank You!
Posted: 12:14 pm on December 25th

JerseyQueen JerseyQueen writes: Great article, is it best to dryclean garments that have been combined, such as silk and jersey, or as by Sewista wool crepe and leather?

Thanks for the information, its great that in sewing you never stop learning...
Posted: 6:03 pm on November 24th

Sewista Sewista writes: I love that this technique utilizes smaller bits of fabric therefore keeping them out of the landfill. Great techniques.

I am still in a quandary about how to clean these items, particularly a natural fiber, such as a wool crepe, with leather, ie, a leather yoke for example. That is what is preventing me from trying this mix of those two.
Posted: 6:16 am on November 15th

EvamarieGomez EvamarieGomez writes: Dear J.A. Williamson,

You will need to contact customer service at 800-477-8727 to update your Threads Insider membership status. To modify your email preferences please visit

Evamarie Gomez
Web Producer
Posted: 9:08 am on November 14th

sewingagain sewingagain writes: Awesome information since I'm having a great time remaking and upcycling my clothes! I just made a heavy knit sweater (Abercrombie & Fitch $6 at Goodwill)into a short shrug to match a vintage dress. Another Goodwill jersey knit t-shirt($3)became my bias banding. I stay stitched everything before cutting the sweater apart and stay stitched the bias jersey banding before attaching it. I then hand stitched the inside banding edges down. Thanks for tips which I will utilize very soon.
Posted: 7:59 am on November 14th

user-2242830 user-2242830 writes: I do not wish to continue with the 14 day free trial of threads information.

I do not want anymore emails from threads which arrive daily.

Please stop them.
J. A. Williamson.
Posted: 1:18 am on November 14th

Julianne_Bramson Julianne_Bramson writes: What a wonderful article! I love the way all the different colors and textures go together! So inspiring and fun!
Posted: 4:16 pm on November 12th

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