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Best fabric for girl’s skirt, where to b

3Birds | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello everyone. I’m new here, and a relative beginner at sewing. I recently made a skirt for my dd using the book ‘Sew What! Skirts’. I made a simple A-line pattern with a drawstring based on her measurements using cotton calico from JoAnn’s. It fit her pretty well and looked cute, but the fabric didn’t drape very nicely and the slit where the drawsting came out ripped (I had made it like a buttonhole, so it was reinforced, but without any extra fabric.) Anyway, I used the calico because it was so cheap and I’d only ever sewn one other garment before, but I’d like to try something nicer. The problem is, I’ve had a lot of trouble finding something suitable. I prefer to use natural fibers, and JoAnn’s seems to carry a lot of synthetics and blends. I thought about ordering some fabric online and found some lovely designer fabric, but when I emailed customer service about it’s suitability I found that some of it was too thin and some was too heavy! I know this can’t really be as difficult as it’s seeming, but I’m just not having any luck. What are some of your sources for clothing fabric? Are there any keywords I should look for in the fabric description to determine whether it’s suitable for clothing? Are there any particular kinds of fabric that are better than others? I’d really appreciate some advice — thanks!


  1. starzoe | | #1

    There is no substitute for handling fabrics. And there is no substitute for a good fabric shop and a clerk who knows what she is talking about and can steer you in the right direction for your projectsI have never in all my years of sewing bought fabric by mail. It is so difficult to judge quality and what is calld "hand". If you like natural fibres, what about linen? Here you really have to handle it as linen, just like cotton comes in a large range of weights and weaves. Don't completely bypass the fabric blends. There are beautiful fabrics that are a mixture.I would prescribe a few trips to fabric stores with a lot of time to walk around and fondle the fabrics. About the buttonhole shredding, use a bit of iron-on interfacing on the back to stabilize the buttonhole.

    Edited 1/17/2009 10:37 pm ET by starzoe

  2. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #2

    3Birds, your first skirt you should consider a muslin, or test garment because:
    1. Inexpensive fabric
    2. Test fit
    3. Test of techniques and fabric type
    4. Test of your skill
    5. Test of pattern.So way to go! Yay! Now you need to take a trip back to the fabric store. Patterns usually have a list of suggested fabric types listed. Even patterns in books. You need to find the kinds of fabrics, and look at them. A good clerk will help you. Then look at the qualities of each fabric. Never mind the content at this point. You are looking at the overall general qualities. Pick up the fabric bolts and hold the loose end up to your body as if it were a skirt. Wiggle it around and see what it does. Hold it slightly off the up and down (bias) and see what it does. Look at how closely the threads are woven together. Feel the fabric, and bunch it up in your hand. Play with it. You will soon see which fabrics have the look and feel that you are looking for in the skirt that you want. Then look for what you want in the content that you want, if possible.
    Make sure that you prewash your fabric! This can and often does change the texture and feel of a natural fiber. It also preshrinks it.
    As you look at the fabrics, check the prices. You will soon see that the quality is often reflected in the price. After a while, you will begin to find quality fabrics, at a better price.
    You have a good start here, do not be discouraged. Cathy

  3. Ralphetta | | #3

    You've gotten some really good advice from others. When you read the suggested fabrics on the envelope it is sometimes easier to figure out what kind of fabrics are being left out. In that long list of suggestions there may be NO stiff or tight weaves suggested. Or, it may be all stiff fabrics with body and no soft, drapey fabrics. It's just as helpful to be able to know what to eliminate as it is to know what to look for.I'd like to add that the biggest mistakes I ever made were when I chose to ignore those suggestions.

    1. 3Birds | | #4

      Thanks everyone. I am going to head out to JoAnn's next weekend, armed with your ideas and my 40% off coupon! Dd has requested an elastic waist this time, which I think is well within my scope, but I do want to try reinforcing the buttonhole/drawstring opening, so I'm going to try a lined drawstring bag. It'll be for my youngest son's cars -- we can't go anywhere without him toting along a small selection of his vast hoard of matchbox and hotwheels cars! Thanks again everyone -- I'm pretty excited about making this!

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #5

        Good thought, a drawstring bag to practice your new technique on! An elastic waist on a skirt will be a nice new technique to try also. You will be pleased how easy it is. Good luck and have fun shopping! Cathy
        PS If you do not have a basic sewing techniques book, you might investigate getting one. You will find it very helpful, and a good resource to better fill out the information in the sewing instructions in your books and in patterns. C

      2. Josefly | | #6

        Have you considered an elastic drawstring? It's much more comfortable than either the drawstring or the elastic by itself - unless your DD just doesn't like the look of the drawstring and tie. You simply use a strip of elastic the same width as your drawstring and a little longer than the back waistline, and sew onto each end the fabric drawstring ties. Then the elastic can be adjusted to be as tight or as loose as needed whenever the skirt is worn, and the look of the drawstring tie is maintained. The interfacing behind the buttonholes, as mentioned before by another poster, will stabilize that area. Sometimes I like to use a small square of fabric instead of interfacing, fused to the fabric with Stitch-Witchery or Wonder Tape, because the interfacing always seems to show at the edge of the buttonholes. It also helps to anchor the elastic at the back of the skirt with a line of vertical stitching through all layers of casing and elastic; that will prevent the elastic twisting so badly.

      3. Palady | | #7

        Josefly's reply of an elastic backed draw has much merit.  I've used this technique several times.  Very satifactory results. 

        A point if I may?  Rather than 1 opening for the cord to exit, I find the tie of the draw lies a bit more comfrotably if 2 are made.  From center front, each opening would be 1/4" to 1/2" to each side.  Which distance I use is factored by the diameter of the draw.  Be it purchased or sewn specifically for the fashion. 


        1. Josefly | | #8

          I do that, too, Palady, that is, use two buttonholes. I sometimes spread them even further apart - 2 to 3 inches - if I don't want any gathering right in the center.

          1. Palady | | #9

            Pleased there are others of like mind.  Another of my doing is to tack the draw cord at center back or top .  This keeps it from pulling out.

            To do so, I just use a hand needle and make an X, catching the cord.  On a hooded top, I pay mind to how this ends up because the stitching might be visible if the hood is just draped.

            I've taken to the stitching on RTW as well.  Especially when my grand were young lest the cord caused an issue.


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