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Substituting Fabrics

pingu812 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Does anyone know of any information regarding substituting fabrics? For example, quite a few of the patterns that I’ve bought requires working with wool. For someone on a limited budget and basically a beginner/intermediate sewer, I don’t want to mess up a good piece of fabric. If there’s a good substitution that will give me the handle and feel of the fabric of wool, silk, etc.

Thank you.


  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    I love Rayon fabrics, they drape beautifully, are less expensive than silks.  Some people find rayon difficult to work with, but I have not had that problem other than they are a bit slippery to cut.  I use painters tape or pin alot or even Sulky temporary spray adhesive to control while cutting. 

    I can't wear wool, but never had any difficulties sewing with it.  I used Seams Great on the seam edges sometimes to prevent ravelling if unlined pattern.  I made a beautiful wool dress and lined button down dress coat when I first learned to sew.  It was beautiful!  I really haven't ever found any fabric that compares to it.  Mary

    I only use natural fabrics except for embellishment, so I can't speak for the manufactured fabrics.

    1. pingu812 | | #3

      Thank you very much for your suggestion, forgotten about rayon.Thank you,

  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    The back of the pattern usually suggests a particular weave rather than a fiber.  If you concentrate on that rather than just looking for wool or silk, you should be okay.  Most weaves are also available in synthetic and less expensive fibers.

    1. pingu812 | | #4

      I will keep this in mind when looking at the pattern suggestions. I've been focusing on the fabric suggestions and not really paying attention to the weave.Thank you,

  3. HeartFire2 | | #5


    It depends on what you are making with the fabric,  You can't really substitute rayon for wool when making a suit.  You could use a linen or a silk of the right weight to make a suit jacket - There are also some nice polyester crepe fabrics that could be used for a "wool" jacket.

    But I will get on my high horse here about making a muslin.  If you make up the garment first in a cheap muslin - or you can use something else off the dollar table at t he fabric store, then you will be able to check the fit, get some practicie with the particular construction technique, decide if you need to practice something a few times before cutting/sewing the real stuff.

    For instance, you may want to practice making a bound buttonhole  5 or 6 times before the real thing.  I would do these practice runs with the real fabric too.

    When you do make a garment out of high quality fabric, the end results is usualy 100% nicer than poly fabric.  There is just no comparison in some things.  Also, natural fibers such as wool, silk, cotton and rayon will behave in ways that polyester just cannot.

    1. pingu812 | | #6

      Thank you for the info. You can get on your "high horse" about creating the garments in muslin. I think that's what I really need to do as I'm finding out as I begin to pick up sewing again. It's been many years since I've sewn, so this is really good advice that you've given.Thank you,

      1. HeartFire2 | | #7

        I forgot to mention, you don't have to use "cotton muslin" to do this, you can use a similar weight but cheap fabric, BUT.. it is best to  use a solid color, small irregularities in fit and seaming techiques can be overlooked in print fabrics where they would be obvious in a solid.  Your eye just gets boggeled up by the prints/stripes/checks etc.


        When you make your "muslin" machine baste the seam lines (sewing lines) before you put the garment together, that way, if you have to mark any changes to it, you will be able to see what you changed from the original, then cut it apart, and use it as your pattern

        Edited 11/24/2007 12:13 pm ET by HeartFire2

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