Cotton is perfect for dress making, as it comes in a variety of densities, or thread counts. For example, there is thin almost transparent cotton lawn through to the thickness of cotton velvet and corduroy. It is easy to work with, when cutting satin dress fabric patterns and pulling through a sewing machine without slipping or stretching out of shape. Cotton is generally easy to wash, although cotton velvet needs to be dry cleaned to keep the pile even and avoid bald patches!
Fabric is cloth made of fibres or threads, felted, knitted or woven together. Cheap fabric for dress making needs to be able to drape, fold and it is best if the fabric doesn’t fray easily along seams and fastenings.
Cotton comes from the white, downy fibre that grows in seed pods of the cotton bush. This is collected and treated to be stretched into longer fibres that can be woven together.
Thin cottons are perfect for summer dresses, as they are cool and the fabric breathes. However, the dress may need lining or suitable slips that match the neckline and length.
Poly cottons, which mix the natural fibre with synthetic fibres, are good for work wear/ day dresses as they are easy iron or require no ironing, especially if hung to dry.
Corduroy, tweed and denim and wool fabrics are good for dresses and other garments that need to be hardwearing, and warmer for winter dress, but still breathe, making them comfortable to wear.
Velvet, silk, tulle and lace were the fabrics of the nobility and the rich. This is understandable as, although they create beautiful dresses, they are easily damaged and difficult to clean. Perfect for a special occasion.
Tweed and corduroy have stood the test of time in country life, while denim is traditionally a workingman’s fabric. These thicker fabrics are ideal for tailored pieces.