More and more people are buying their fabrics from an online store. It often takes a while to find the right fabric. Fortunately, most online fabric stores have good search filters, such as color, design, fabric type, stretchable or non-stretchable, thickness and, last but not least: the price category.
Designs, prints or motif
An important filter is the design of the fabric. There used to be a subdivision into plain or non-plain, nowadays there are many 'motifs', 'prints' or 'designs' per fabric. Most designs speak for themselves: hearts, dots, diamonds, flowers or stripes. Everyone understands that!
But what about, for example, 'chains', 'ornaments', 'garland' or 'chevron'? Many different terms are mentioned. To save you some time, we have made a list below of designs that are increasingly used with certain terms.
Can't find the right design? Do not panic! Here we have an overview!
Paisley is an ornament-like print that is mainly based on the teardrop shape. The drop is always round at the top and tapering to the bottom. The paisley print comes in many shapes, colors and directions. The thread direction is therefore often less important, depending on the fabric type (cotton, jacquard, tweed or jersey).
Note: 'paisley' design is sometimes categorized in the retro or ornaments filters.
An ornament (Latin ornare en ornamentum) means: to decorate and adornment, and is a composition or decorative elements to decorate objects. Think curls of buildings, arches, circles and everything 'barok'.
The shape of ornaments on fabrics is always symmetrical, beautifully curled, styled and repeated continuously.
In contrast to 'Paisley', ornamented fabric often has a clear top and bottom, or direction of the fabric.
Ornaments are often based on emblems, family crests, French lilies and architectural shapes.
Herringbone is a design characterized by rows of stripes that go up and down at an angle of about 30 degrees. The pattern is best known in the tweed fabrics, where it was really created by a certain weaving technique.
But herringbone can also be found as designs on jersey, cotton and demin fabrics. Be careful with the thread direction with this fabric, if you are going to use the fabric for a sewing pattern!
Herringbone is also sometimes called 'chevron' or 'zigzag'. In Dutch is it called: 'visgraat'.
Pied-de-Poule or Houndstooth
Pied de poule, means chicken legs. Also called: houndstooth, or: dog teeth. There are a lot of terms for this symmetrical pattern. The pattern is usually in black and white but can come in many other color combinations as well. Always two-colored and characterized by broken squares in an abstract pointed shape. Absolutely symmetrical from large patterns to very small checks.
The design is very recognizable and is widely used for woolen fabrics, cotton and jersey. In a rare case, the design falls under 'chef's or baker's fabric', because the uniform (the trousers) of a cook is often made in this black and white pattern.
'Vichy checks' is also a two-tone check, but ordinary squares. It is often used to make custom patterns because the checks often have standard sizes and there is a good explanation on the patterns about how you can make the sewing pattern completely your own size. The squares are working here as an extra help with the sizes.
Vichy checks is mainly seen in cotton fabrics and soft chambray.
Animal or animal fur
Fabric designs 'animal motifs' cannot be compared to 'animal fur'. Animal fur is always the well-known tiger print, zebra stripe or the pattern of the skin of giraffes.
Sometimes the categories 'camouflage', 'safari' or 'army' fall under the same filter or category. The design animal fur is mainly found in colorful fabrics, from fake fur to real fur ...
Animal motifs can be anything, as long as an animal is recognizable.
Garland is used in multiple senses. On the one hand, 'garland' means nothing more than a flower garland. Wherever designs are flower garlands, this fabric is therefore called 'garland'.
But it also applies to slightly 'vintage'-style designs with the atmosphere of flowers depicted in soft colors and a romantic atmosphere.
Finally, 'garland' often coincides with 'Christmas fabrics'. This is mainly because Christmas is often associated with lights, garlands of flowers and lamps. The atmosphere is therefore also called 'garland'. Garland is therefore a broad concept and is used for several types of designs for fabrics.
Geometric designs have everything to do with circles, triangles, squares, pentagons, honeycomb, rectangles, triangles, etc. The designs are always symmetrical and usually multicolored. Sometimes there is a kind of 3D effect, the fabrics seem to give depth as soon as you look at them or the fabric moves.
Retro designs mainly remind us of the sixties and seventies. Bright colors, lots of orange, green, brown, pink and yellow. Round shapes, psychedelic or imaginative. Any letters are convex and open and are usually outlined.
Retro designs can also be adapted to this modern time. It is then a combination of the shapes and slightly more modern colors. Or the reverse: the typical, strong colors of the flower power era, cast in a slightly more modern design. Especially with dark blue, retro can be a very good combination. They are often ideal, cheerful designs for summery cotton fabrics.
In some cases 'Batik' also is known as retro design. Batik is the design of dyed fabric in the typical round shapes and colors that blend into each other.
Vintage designs for fabrics are often pale in color and look 'fragile' and old. They have beautiful floral motifs, old photos or just a combination of old-looking colors. You often see vintage designs on canvas or gobelin. They are timeless fabrics that always remain beautiful.
'Nature' also often falls under 'vintage'. These are often the fabrics with botanical drawings of flowers, leaves, birds, gardens and animals. The colors are never harsh, glaring or bright.
Last but not least:
The name says it all: the design is based on chains, watches, belts, horse bits and fringes which are print on the fabric. The 'chain' motifs have a chic look that is a bit 'Hèrmes' style.
In a few cases the design also falls under 'Chanel-like fabrics' because of the golden chain that symbolizes the classic famous 2.55 bag.
Fabric designs come in many colors, patterns and variations. From beautiful symmetry to an image that can be purchased in 'panels'. This means that the fabric is cut per image, which is for example 1.25 meters. The 'panel' is then not interrupted if it is sold from the roll. You do not buy the fabric per meter but per panel.
More and more search filters are being used to find the right fabric online at fabric stores. That is of course a good thing. We would like to keep you informed of new terms.
If you know a category / term that is not self-evident and is not listed here ...? Please let us know and we will gladly add to our list.
Vintage sewing patterns are very popular. Not only because their value is high (especially when they are collector's items!) but mainly because many seamstresses also consider it as a sport to actually make clothes of the sewing patterns. They make the clothes to wear themselves or for Cosplay and LARP events. But there are some common problems and we have tips to avoid them.
Vintage sewing patterns are more popular than ever
If you make yours clothes yourself, you are aiming it does not show... Seamstresses prefer not to hear, "Selfmade?" when they should actually be proud of the fact they made the cloths themselves. But they are afraid that there is always an undertone in that comment like: "You can see that, it is just not good enough". Of course that is nonsense, because self-made cloths are often unique, beautifully tailored and much more sustainable.
With vintage clothing, however, there is a different tenor. "Self-made" makes more sense and sounds like a compliment. Finally, vintage clothing is often striking because of the shapes and lines and therefore super feminine. If you have found the right size, or if you have done some pattern adjustments, the clothing is also nicely tailored.
Cosplay and LARP
Vintage sewing patterns are often very popular for Cosplay and LARP. Sewing patterns: 'Historical clothing' ánd Cosplay, but also all other retro- and vintage patterns.
Because of the shapes in the vintage clothing, they are often nice to expand with corsets, crinolines underneath or to make mega dresses. But eventhough... you can run into problems while making vintage clothing ...
Pay attention! The pitfalls of vintage sewing patterns:
1. The times when 'vintage' or 'reto' was reallife, there were no elastic or stretchable fabrics. The sewing patterns are therefore all based on fabrics such as: garbadine, chiffon, linen, lace, cotton, jacquard and wool. The clothing must therefore be properly tailored because the fabric will not help you to feel comfortable or make you look super-shaped like stretch fabrics do...
Tip: don't make these patterns of elastic or stretchy fabrics. This can cause the pattern to be incorrect and give strange results. Choose fabrics which are recommended for the sewing pattern or the onces you like to both sew and wear.
2. In vintage patterns there are many darts and pleats. If you want to create a nice upper body or a nice waist, you can count on it that there will be a lot of darts in the pattern that will create the desired shape. With some fabrics this is difficult to achieve and it looks less beautiful than you had hoped.
Tip: learn to work with darts and pleats and consider it as a challenge. Use a sewing mannequin (adjusted to your size) to pin the darts in and 'play' with it until it fits. Take your time so it doesn't become a frustration. Once you get the feeling for 'shaping', it's more fun than you thought it would be!
3. Most of the patterns that show over-exaggerate waistes, often illustrated on the cover of the sewingpattern. But remember in these times women were always wearing corsets under their outfits. Nature was given a helping hand to create the waist that most women can now only dream of ...
Tip: Do you still want a (very) small waist to fit in the vintage dresses? Buy an elasticated waist corset, one that fits snugly but creates a little more waist. In the 'shapewear' section of underwear, you can often find pleasant waist shapers that you can wear comfortably without gasping for breath or torturing your body. A tight, shape shirt also works wonders and often not only fits comfortably, but also looks really nicer under tighter dresses or blouses.
4. Collars often have different or even strange shapes (see picture above). The ends of the collars are often sharper, longer or sometimes weirdly shaped. Or like the top photo, far right: floral. Sometimes this really fits into the overall picture. Sometimes they are over-the-top or make the clothes look old-fashioned instead of interesting.
Tip: adjust the collars to your own ideas. Copy the bottom length of the collar from the pattern and the rest of the pattern with a pencil. You then have the basis. After this you can make the collar ends as long, as straight, as round or as short as you would like.
5. Finally, we would like to point out that vintage dresses are often midi length. Or blouses are just a little too long (these were often worn in the skirt, never loose / casual over it). The length of the midi dresses and skirts can look nice, but also old-fashioned or messy, or accentuate thick calves, for example.
Tip: very simple: adjust the length. Do this as the very last action. Try on the dress for a mirror, or on the sewing mannequin and let someone else help you. Your own perspective from above often gives a different picture than a person who is further away and sees a better overall picture. The length of blouses is easier to adjust. If you like to wear a blouse loose, don't make it too long, this looks more sloppy than nice and casual.
Advantages of vintage sewing patterns:
But there are also many advantages of vintage sewing patterns. As we have already mentioned: the sewing patterns are often ideal for Cosplay and LARP and often eye-catchers because of the beautiful shapes and special lines. Moreover, the fabrics that are used are also different than usual or have a nice 'retro print'.
Another plus is that many patterns can be used as a 'normal pattern'. See above: The blouses are often classic, timeless and just super feminine. Especially on the left: the blue blouse would look great combined with jeans, and high heels or higher boots.
Remember what Mary said about Downton Abbey clothing: "I really wanted to take the blouses home, I was totally hooked."
Finally: the vintage sewing patterns are often ideal for indulging in buttons and beautiful trims. Just like our beloved Chanel style jacket! Be creative, indulge yourself and make it unique. Get rid of mass production, throwaway clothes.
Create your own clothes with beautiful vintage sewing patterns!
It is not a secret that Coco Chanel did not like 'prints'. At most a 'Breton stripe', but nothing more than that. According to Chanel, chic was mainly austerity in the design of the fabrics. Except for the tweeds and bouclé fabrics, these were luxurious and 'colorful' enough.
Either you love it or you hate it
Who likes prints? Most people love it. From tropical flowers to a 'tiger print', it can't be colorful enough. Especially in the summer we are crazy about to prints. It makes us happy and it looks great as a blouse or summer dress.
But read Ines de la Fressange's books and one thing becomes very clear: prints are NOT DONE! According to her, you will not easily find a real Parissiéne dressed with 'a print'. The Parisian style is more about the monotonous colors, the creative combinations of trés-chic and elegance of the timeless classics.
Chanel style jackets and prints
If we want to look stylish but occasionally deviate from the 'rules', then combining a Chanel-style jacket (self-made of course!) With a print underneath is definitely a nice idea.
Who says that this can't look be chic and casual at the same time? Bouclé and tweeds, but also summer tweeds, are often very busy in terms of appearance. The fabrics are woven and there is always a beautiful mix of colors and sometimes even patterns.
A blouse with a printed design underneath can easily come across as very 'busy' and a bit cheap.
Fringes, edges and prints?
Apart from that, the Chanel style is often characterized by a lot of fringes, beautifully finished trims and two or even four pockets stitched on the jacket. They should of course be the eye-catchers of your outfit.
Taking all this into account, we would like to point out that a printed blouse, t-shirt or even pants, under a Chanel jacket, is fine if you observe the following rules:
Prints will never go out of style and occasionally combining with them may not be 'Paris' chic, but again not as 'not-done' as suggested in many style books and guides on Chanel couture and Parisian style.
We love prints ... occasionally.
Nothing is as unfortunate as finding out halfway through a sewing project: it is a hopeless failure ... It happens to everyone. From beginners seamstress to advanced seamstresses who have been behind the sewing machine for years. Do not grieve and do not stop! With our tips & tricks you can prevent failed projects.
'What does not kill you, makes you stronger'
A rather exaggerated statement, but there is encouragement in it. Of course it is a shame when a sewing project fails. All those hours you were working on it ... very unfortunate. And especially the materials: the fabric, the lining, the interlining, etc. Throwing them away hurts a lot. You may have become a seamstress to be more "zero-waste". And now you throw everything away ...
Where did it go wrong?
Of course you will learn from every failed sewing project. This is our number 1 tip! Because you don't learn anything from just throwing it away. Ask yourself for a moment: where did it go wrong? You learn from it.
Did you choose the wrong fabric? Was the sewing pattern too difficult? Were you able to intervene in time or did you stubbornly continue even though you knew that the sewing project was not going to be a great outfit? Or did you really have no idea but only found out when you tried on the garment itself (or on the sewing mannequin)? Learn from this for the next time. Write it down in a sewing journal or if the pattern is not right, on the sewing pattern itself. Is that really necessary? Yes, in a year you will have forgotten it and you might make the same mistake again.
so .... tips & tricks to prevent unsuccessful sewing projects:
And even more tips & tricks:
Failed sewing projects happen to everyone. Don't give up, but try to learn from it. Do you have wasted fabrics or materials? Maybe you can still do something with it. See our tips: What to do with leftover fabric
Or: a tip for people with pets: cut the fabric into strips, braid the strips and tie them in a thick knot. Now at least your dog or cat has been made very happy with the new toy ... (make sure there are no needles left in it!)
And especially be happy with the sewing projects that do succeed. We just don't talk about the failed sewing projects anymore ... deal?
On the Vogue website we read a nice article about 'La Réunion's Patchwork Dresses Turn Symbols of Suffering Into Things of Beauty' Sarah Nsikak, fashion designer, focuses on sustainability and is fully focused on making patchwork dresses. Fortunately, she is not the only one: patchwork is back in fashion!
Patchwork or Quilts?
The difference between patchwork and quilting is that quilting works more with patterns and manual sewing. Quilting is a unique profession. At least three layers of fabric are stitched together, very small pieces of fabric are used and there is often a symmetrical pattern that is worked out. Quilting is a very old tradition and craft and in some cultures it is an important part of social activity, as part of traditions and sometimes even of commercial importance.
Patchwork is nothing more or less than sewing pieces of fabric together. These can be pieces of fabric of different fabrics, materials and colors. Often this is then used to make clothing or simpler patchwork quilts, cushion covers, etc. The name for patchwork and quilting is often used interchangeably. But quilting is really something else than working with patches and making clothes or something else from here.
The revival of Patchwork
Patchwork sounds out dated' and might remind you of Grandma's patchwork quilt who has been lying in the guest bedroom as a bed spreadfor ages.... Patchwork has always had the image of extremely economical people who work with scraps of fabric and sometimes create combinations that really don't look like much.
But there is also magic with patchwork and beautiful quilts, patchwork quilts and clothing are made. Patchwork is experiencing a revival as we become more aware of the waste that the clothing industry entails. Moreover, the Corona crisis has opened people's eyes. We've all climbed behind the sewing machine ourselves to make face masks and most people discover they like to sew!
Fashion designers have been working on sustainability and 'greening' for some time. See our review: Green Designed fashion. Not always successful, but every initiative is one. Working with remnants of fabric or upcycling of already used materials is a good goal! And making something beautiful out of it is a piece of cake for many designers and (hobby) seamstresses.
During a broadcast of British Sewing Bee we saw several episodes in which the candidates were given an assignment to make something beautiful from their leftovers of fabric. The results were jackets, skirts, dresses and very nice children's clothing. The assignment concerning upholstery fabrics was also 'amazing'. The candidates were instructed to bring something from home. From old curtains to bed linen. These were all transformed into beautiful, usable summer dresses. Making a summer dress from net curtains and a sheet ... it is possible and the result was more than beautiful!
Chanel & Patchwork
Unfortunately we can only find a few items from Chanel. But they are nevertheless eye-catchers par excellence. And the Fashion Industry is changing, so who knows, the following collections may come up with more sustainable patchwork designs if the workshops have to make do with the fabrics that are dusting in the warehouse or smaller pieces of fabric that have already disappeared in the trash can .
Who cares whether something is 'in' or 'out of fashion'? For a fashion house a lot, but for people who would like to own 'a Chanel', the year of the collection is less important and the story behind it all the more.
Tips & Tricks: patchwork with Bouclé fabrics
Chanel has always been associated with Tweeds and Bouclé fabrics. These are not really the best fabrics for 'patchwork'. Yet the result is often great. Chanel's famous 2.55 bag has often been made of various tweed fabrics and also Bouclé. Also other bags and accessories.
A few tips:
In the fashion world there is a huge change going on with regard to sustainability. The use of remnants of fabric or fabrics that are supposedly 'out of fashion' is picked up in the form of patchwork. In principle, you can make anything with patchwork as a basis. From Haute couture to cushion covers for the camper.
Patchwork with Bouclé fabrics or tweeds? Yes we can! And to get a beautiful 'Chanel-style' look, there are plenty of examples of the famous Chanel bag and some outfits from the catwalks. Be creative, sustainable and join the new trend: this is the fashion image of 2020 and the future!
As a fabric connoisseur, I like the concept of upcycling because fabric to me is like precious gold and diamonds to a jeweler. When I touch luxurious Italian silk and feel the softness of Spanish bouclé tweeds, I am fully aware of the many labour hours that go into weaving these beautiful textiles and in sewing the final garments. I understand why some fabric costs are higher and I can tell the difference between Haute couture and fast fashion ready-to-wear. The price point argument set aside, all clothing was made by someone somewhere. When I see the clothes purchased in heaps and discarded so effortlessly, as if all the work that went into them means nothing, I get frustrated.
Upcycling in fashion involves taking old or used clothes or fabric and making beautiful garments out of them thereby giving them a new and hopefully more glamorous life. With determination and creativity, it is possible to make a stunning garment out of gently used clothing. I have recently made a trip to Value Village, one of the larger Canadian second-hand stores near me, in search of some interesting ideas for a potential upcycling project. The thrift stores in North America may be different from Europe, but the shopping strategies are the same. Let me share my ideas for finding beautiful fabrics in the thrift stores with you.
#1: Know what you are looking for before you enter the store to avoid impulse purchases.
As with any fashion collection, look for some inspiration first and you can even create a moodboard to get an idea of the general colours and textures that you like. Don’t go into drafting a pattern yet, because your choice of fabric will ultimately dictate the design. Are you going to make an upcycled evening gown, a glamorous day dress, or an unusual trench coat? (Alternatively, you may already have a pattern in mind, in which case you just skip this step. Pull the pattern out and read the fabric suggestions before going shopping.)
#2: Shop alone or with a friend who shares your vision.
I personally prefer to shop alone when I am looking for ideas for my design projects because at that point I am focused and I am in my creative zone. But if you have a generous friend who shares your vision and knows what you are looking for, she/he can be your second pair of eyes in spotting a bargain. (Don’t forget to show your gratitude and take your friend for lunch afterwards.)
You and your friend can go to different parts of the store so you are not looking in the same spot and don’t feel bad if you want to go back and take a second look. Sadly, there are just so many clothes and it’s easy to miss a great find. If you frequent the same store often, you will probably notice the days of the week that the new items are put on the shelves and you can focus on shopping on those days only.
#3: Don’t look for your exact size, but for one or more sizes bigger.
The bigger the size, the more fabric you get to play with. The clothing section in the thrift shops here is usually huge, and some of the items there are brand new or worn only once, like wedding dresses. Look through the clothes in the dresses, skirts and tops sections. Although tops don’t have much fabric, you can still use them for patch pockets, decorative welts and accents. And what about using those for couture appliques and trims?
Are there any fully functional long zippers or even corsetry boning pieces you can use? Those items are expensive if purchased brand new. At this point you have to have an open mind, look past the dated garment because you are not buying it to wear but to use it for something else. Focus only on the fabric and how its colour and texture fit your vision for the upcycled garment.
A gorgeous guipure lace with beading (and lots of it!!!) all along the hem of a voluminous large-sized wedding dress which will give you plenty of material for lace trim or applique. On the right is an inspiration: upcycled wedding dress from Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 runway.
On the left is a medium size dress with overlapped blue spangles from top to bottom. On the right is your inspiration: a lovely day dress with beaded collar and sleeves from Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017 runway.
On the right is a lovely velvet dress with a 12” zipper on the side and a metal belt. On the left is an inspiration: a blue velvet dress by Burberry from their Fall/Winter 2020 runway
#4: Look for interesting prints, weaving patterns and/or fiber content.
Always refer back to your mood board to stay on target in terms of your general colour theme. The sophisticated weaving patterns like jacquard and velvet are not that rare, and if you are lucky you can find some gorgeous twills and satins in the wedding/evening dress section or sumptuous knits in the women’s tops. And the more natural the fiber content in the piece, the better. Find the garment’s care instructions which will tell you the exact fiber content. 100% silk or 100% linen items are rare, but you can still find those.
On the left is a large size dress with vertical rows of bright silver spangles on netting. These spangles would be great to use in gold work embroidery as well. On the right is an inspiration: a dress with generous embroidery throughout from Chanel Fall/Winter 2017, runway
Also, check out the belts and scarves section. Many scarves are 100% silk or silk/cashmere mixtures. You can upcycle a wide silk scarf into a dress bodice, a beautiful summer tank top or sleepwear.
#5: Hidden treasures in the drapery section.
Depending on your project, you may find amazing yardage of fabrics in these sections. The store associates hang the fashion fabrics in this section. Unless you are an expert, you wouldn’t know if the fabric is made from natural fiber or not. Assume it is all polyester blends, trust your hand instead and feel the fabric. Is it rough and cold or silky and wonderful against your skin? Would you like to wear a garment made from this fabric? If in any doubt, put it back.
#6: Most importantly, set your budget.
And finally, be focused or you’ll end up picking up useless trinkets instead. Have a definite budget in mind. Are you going to spend $20 or $50? Your $4.99 and $8.99 purchases add up quickly, so hold your purse tightly and keep track of your items. You will have to make decisions on the spot because if you come back to the store tomorrow, the clothes you liked may not be there. Ask the store clerk about their return policies in case you change your mind.
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca. She is
constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary couture
instructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton,
Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).
Organza fabric is a synthetic fabric woven with polyester and nylon. It is a very thin, transparent fabric, but because of the mix of the fabrics it is still very strong and very easy to sew. Organza is a cheap fabric and can be used for many sewing projects. The fabric is also extremely 'Haute couture' and chic. The two-tone organza is especially worth magic!
The use of organza fabric
Everyone has 'met' organza fabrics in their life. As a party decoration of flowers, in bridal clothing or draped around tables. Also for parties an festivals, the fabric is bought in bulk and used to decorate the cars up to beautiful costumes.
And this fabric is used a lot for Cosplay and Fantasy costumes. A party fabric par excellence!
But we also come across organza in everyday life, such as net curtains and furnishings for bedrooms. Also think of ribbons around gifts or decorations in flower arrangements.
Despite the cheap image now, organza was once made exclusively from silk and acted as a super chic fabric for Haute couture. The former designers made the most beautiful evening dresses from organza. These were exclusive masterpieces. The fabric was and is also very popular for wedding dresses including decorations such as flowers.
Organza & Haute Couture
Organza is liked by designers for Haute couture. In the past but also today. We are talking here about the silk variant and not the synthetic one. Chanel used organza very recently in a beautiful dress. See: "LAYERS OF ORGANZA, FALL-WINTER 2020/21, HAUTE COUTURE, A story of transparency plays out in an organza cape" worn over a silk dress - the CHANEL Fall-Winter 2020/21 Haute Couture collection, photographed by Mikael Jansson .
Organza is loved because of the possibility to process in many layers. From one layer: extremely thin and sophisticated (and sexy) to multiple layers that give shape and structure to the clothing. Don't confuse it with tulle. Tulle is more the cheapvariant and does not have the qualities that Organza does. You hardly see tulle in Haute couture.
Organza is often combined with silk. A dress of pure silk and organza guarantees luxury and exclusivity. The fabric is mainly used as 'over-fabric' to give clothes extra mystery. Or a more luxurious look due to the transparent nature of the fabric. The fabric also provides movement, dynamics in the clothing. With the slightest movement or breath of wind, the clothing (extra) comes to life.
LARP, Cosplay and Fantasy
In LARP we hardly see the material. The fabric is delicate and hardly ever appeared in historical clothing. In terms of decoration, lace and velvet are more often used. Organza just does not fit in the total picture.
Cosplay likes to work with the material. Think especially of wide skirts and Cinderella dresses. Despite the fact that tulle gives more effect, organza is a beautiful and chic addition to these costumes. Gothic and Steampunk prefer to work with tulle, as this gives it more strength and a more robust appearance. Although with organza more beautiful drapes can be made, such as black over fabric over a crinoline or red skirt.
Organza is ideal for Fantasy. Especially the two-tone organza offers endless possibilities to make skirts, capes and dresses that have a beautiful mysterious and graceful effect. See the photos of Erik Bolding. A big advantage is that the fabric can be processed in many meters without the costume becoming heavier. The fabric also gives movement and light effects to the clothing. Events and Fantasy fairs are of course all about action, movement and posing for photos. Clothing of or processed with organza fabric is highly recommended, showstoppers!
Tips & Tricks
However, working with organza fabric can be a crime. The fabric is thin, slips under the presser foot and is difficult to make hems. The fabric is difficult to fold and seaming and finishing is not easy. Moreover, cutting the fabric is not a pleasant job either.
The layers of fabric slide off each other and are difficult to lie on the table. Still it is doable if you follow these tips and tricks:
Organza is a very beautiful fabric. The silk variant is truly sublime, but the synthetic fabric certainly also has its advantages in terms of price and the beautiful two-tone colors. The material is not that easy to work with, but you can avoid all frustrations by taking our tips and tricks to heart.
Making a dress, cape, skirt or costume with organza may not be a party, but it is a party as soon as you see the result. The fabric is a real eye-catcher and worth all the extra time you have spent on it!
Nobody likes to talk about it: but there are really fabrics which are hard to handle. The fabrics are difficult to cut, to fold, to sew. They can't help it either... But be aware: only start working with these fabrics if you have a lot of sewing experience.
Sewing pattern, sewing experience and the fabric!
What determines whether your sewing project succeeds or not? Often the combination of the sewing pattern, your sewing experience but also the fabric. Sewing patterns always mention specific fabrics that are suitable for the pattern. You can deviate from this in terms of color and print, but it is recommended to choose the recommended fabrics. (Logical!) Simply because the sewing pattern has been tested or made specifically for this.
Your sewing experience also determines whether your sewing project will create a successful garment. This is indicated in nine out of ten cases on the sewing pattern. The pattern is considered suitable for a beginner, a seamstress with moderate experience and a seamstress with a lot of experience.
However, just as important is the choice of fabric you make. There are very nice fabrics for sewing and there are fabrics which are more difficult. The difficult fabrics require a bit of extra experience from the seamstress. You don't have to avoid the fabrics, but if you read our tips, it will save you a lot of frustration or even failed sewing projects.
Tips for 'difficult' fabrics
Fabrics are always neatly arranged or type or by color in stores and online stores. Sometimes you can also search for properties. Is the fabric non-stretchable, stretchable or elastic in both length and width? Is the fabric smooth or very firm? This is all very important to know when choosing a fabric for a sewing project.
Rarely, however, is it indicated whether a fabric is 'difficult' to cut or sew. We mean that the fabric slips between your scissors, during cutting, or slips under your presser foot when you are sewing the fabric. Think of silk-look fabrics, velvet or smooth satin.
It is also difficult if the fabric 'fringes' quickly or even enormously. This is especially the case with Bouclé fabrics that are also loose-fitting. In 'how to sew Bouclé fabric' we give tips & tricks to handle it well.
Firm or thick fabrics can also be difficult. They are often difficult to fold and you will need a sewing machine that can handle really thicker fabrics. Think of jeans, canvas, goblin, jacquard or heavy wool.
Finally: elastic fabrics. Is your first sewing project making a bikini? Then ask extra help and be aware that sewing super stretch fabrics is a difficult job. It is also especially recommended to use a coverlock machine which is capable of making coverstitches. Finishing the seams in a different way (for example zig-zag) on a regular sewing machine will give a beautiful finish.
Haute couture fabrics
Haute couture often works with expensive and exclusive fabrics. These are of course very beautiful. But be aware that the expensive fabrics are often not the easiest fabrics for a sewing project.
We already mentioned the 'Very Bouclé' fabrics that often fray when you look at them. But brocade fabrics, jacquard fabrics and sequin fabrics can also be difficult. You have a chance that your needles will break on the embroidered additions / sequins on the fabric or on the golden lurex threads. Or pull the threads with you in your sewing machine, and your entire front piece is suddenly destroyed.
Take extra time for these fabrics and baste everything in advance.
In addition, with jacquard fabrics you often have to deal with patterns that are woven into the fabrics. Pay particular attention to this when cutting. Or that the front pieces fit nicely and the sleeves fit in the patterns of the fabric. This is really a job that requires experience and a lot of patience. Always buy extra fabric, then you can cut any incorrectly cut pattern parts.
Organza, Voile, Chiffon, Pleated and stretch lace are difficult fabrics because they are very thin and do not keep well in shape during cutting and sewing. Provide extra weights on the fabric while cutting and thin pins for the fabric. Buy special silk pins that are thinner and longer than regular glass head pins. In addition, make sure you choose the right thin sewing machine needles. A needle that is too thick can easily destroy the fabric.
Silk and taffeta fabrics are very pleasant to sew with, although here also applies: make sure you use the right pins and sewing machine needles. They fold fine, do not slip and ensure that you can work accurately. Silk-look fabrics, satin silk or mixes are often a lot less pleasant to work with. These are of course cheaper, but in the case of a 'Chanel-Style' jacket for example, the investment in real silk is definitely worth it. Moreover, the pleasure in your sewing project is not spoiled by a fabric that does not want to cooperate.
When making costumes for LARP, you run into problems less often. Most fabrics are based on fabrics such as canvas, jute, cotton, cotton twill, linen and sometimes leather. Leather-sewing of course a profession, but the other fabrics are nice to cut and sew. In LARP costumes less elastic fabrics are used because they were not there before. In addition, most fabrics must be strong and able to take a beating. LARP events are not just about posing for a photo, but there is often action and movement. Tough robust fabrics are key elements!
However, velvet is often used in medieval clothing. This is a difficult fabric because it is difficult to fold, you have to pay attention to the wing in the fabric while cutting and because the fabric slips during sewing. Make sure you use a special presser foot to avoid this problem and especially pin the parts very well. Better yet, baste everything before you start sewing.
The whiff of the fabric means that when you stroke the fabric, one side rubs flat on the hair and the other way the hair will stand on end. This changes the structure / color of the fabric. When you smooth the fabric, you go with the whiff, when the hairs stand up, you go against the whiff.
Take extra time while cutting and pay attention to the whiff. If the fabric is on the table, this seems less important. But once you put the fabric on as a garment, and the whiff isn't right, it can ruin the entire costume. Pay close attention to the WIRE DIRECTION indicated on the cartridge parts. So always buy extra fabric, you will need it to cut all the pattern parts correctly with regard to the fabric whiff. 'Fabric-saving' or cost-saving cutting is not applicable here.
Velvet is so beautiful that it is definitely worth it. However, if you choose stretch velvet or velor de panne, you have a lighter type of velvet and it is also elastic. These are not beginner fabrics. Ask for extra help and practice on test patches first.
Brocade fabrics can be very pleasant to sew, especially if it is not too thick. Goblin also sews nice and stable. These substances are often expensive. And make sure you order some extra fabric. The cutting will require extra fabric because there is often a drawing or pattern / drawing in the fabric.
Brocade fabrics can be thick or thin. Goblin is thicker; jeans sewing machine needles are a must.
Cosplay uses more lace, silk and stretch fabrics. This is easily done with mediocre sewing experience. If the costumes are more Fantasy and Steampunk-esque, make sure not to choose too thick fabrics or leather, if you do not have a special leather sewing machine. A lighter leather look is a better alternative and also less expensive.
Stretch lace is not an easy job, but the same applies here: baste everything in advance and then sew everything together. This extra action ensures that it succeeds in flat that your sewing project ends in the trash. Where possible: work by hand instead of the sewing machine.
Satin is not pleasant to sew with. A finer alternative is taffeta silk or real silk. These last two fold better and sew very pleasantly.
If you need a lot of fabric for a costume, such as with our Star Wars Kylo Ren costume, you can choose Garbadine or a cheaper alternative: Texture or Terlenka. These fabrics work fine, do not shrink and can take a beating.
Texture fabrics are often categorized under 'party fabrics' at online fabric stores. Do not let this be confusing. Texture of Terlenka are fine fabrics and are a great base for costumes.
Sample patches and alternatives
There is often an alternative for every fabric. Of course you cannot replace a recommended stretch fabric with a non-stretch fabric, but solutions can be found. Ask for advice in the store, ask the customer service of the online store or an experienced seamstress. Anything better than getting frustrated and quitting your sewing project. That would be a real pity and is often not necessary.
It is often possible to request a sample of the fabric. It can save you a lot of trouble.
Always buy a little extra fabric. Here you can practice in advance and test sewingmachineneedles or find the right stitch. It can also be reassuring that you have some extra fabric, in case something goes wrong while sewing or cutting the fabric.
Fabrics are often chosen or based on color and print. But the property of a fabric is even more important. Some fabrics are a lot more difficult to cut and sew than others. Be aware of this when choosing a fabric. When in doubt, request a sample or sew a sample first. A good sewing pattern, your experience as a seamstress and the right fabric determines whether a sewing project delivers a good result.
Good luck !
We are a non-profit sewing-community. We are sharing information, sewing pattern-reviews, book-reviews and lots of sewing guides for sewing-beginners and advanced seamstress.
Pardon my English