Updated on September 18, 2022 by Sarina

fabric for dresses

This page is all about what I would buy if I was out looking for the right kind of fabric to make dresses and simple tops; you can easily check out these fabrics in a showroom by the names given.

Then you can first hand see how the fabric hangs on your body, how it will look, how it will move as you move, how it feels on your skin etc – which are very important factors to look for in clothes you will be wearing all day long. 

There is no dearth of choices when selecting fabric for dresses. But there are always some favorites. And these are mine.

Popular fabrics for sewing casual dresses and tops

1. Jersey Fabric

Jersey is a lightweight knit fabric with a 2-way stretch. It is one of the most comfortable fabrics for dressmaking; Soft on the body, with enough stretch for good comfort.

There are many types of jersey fabrics – 100% Cotton jersey fabric is a thin lightweight fabric with a little stretch and a nice enough drape.  It is a good breathable fabric for making casual dresses. This is also called T-Shirt Jersey

Poly/cotton blend jersey fabric is comfortable and has qualities of polyester to add to the mix – no waviness that is usual in knits. Triblend, is a blend of rayon with cotton and polyester and this is a softer material than poly-cotton jersey. This would be my first choice if I have to choose a knit fabric

Read more about jersey fabric here, because there are some disadvantages in choosing jersey knits, too. You can check them out on that page. 

2. Cotton Lawn

Cotton lawn fabric is smooth, soft, lightweight and comes in good prints. It is a great fabric for lightweight dresses- though you may have to line the garment. 

3. Seersucker fabric

Seersucker is a cotton fabric with a puckered surface texture. It is a favorite for making little girls’ frocks. The fabric can be made into beautiful tops and dresses for adults too.

4. Poplin

Cotton poplin as well as stretch poplin are used for making dresses. Cotton poplin (a shirting material) is a very comfortable fabric with a good drape and a slight crisp feel. It is thin and lightweight but also very strong. And the best part is it does not wrinkle much. It is a shirting material but used to sew dresses and tops too.Learn more about Poplin here.

5. Cupro

Cupro is a breathable, environmentally friendly fabric that is very soft and has a good drape. It is moisture-wicking and lightweight – overall a good choice for making smooth, comfortable clothes.

5. Double Knit fabrics

These are thicker knit fabrics, best used for slightly structured clothes, if you do not want the thinness of usual knits. Scuba, Liverpool, and Ponte are different varieties. Ponte Roma is a favourite. Scuba fabric is thicker than ponte

Related posts : If you like knits, you can read more in detail on the right knit fabrics for dresses here. Knits are superior dressmaking fabrics, no doubt. Read more about the different names of knit fabrics too.

6. Rayon 

If you look at clothes in shops, most of the cotton-look alike soft fabrics are marked rayon, or viscose. If you want a very drapey, soft, lightweight material and you do not care about the fact that you may have to add lining to the garment, and that it is a difficult fabric to maintain roughly, then this is the best fabric for those beautiful casual dresses. 

Soft viscose twill fabric is a softer smoother version of the twill fabric. It is an elegant fabric suitable for making goodlooking dresses with a nice drape. Rayon challis is a popular type

Related post : Rayon fabric. 

7. Medium weight printed cotton 

Gingham is a medium weight check patterned fabric. This is a favorite fabric for sewing girls’ dresses with smocking.

Printed quilting cotton needs to be of good quality for it to be good for sewing dresses and tops. It is not very drapey but rather have a crispy feel. The prints and patterns available with medium weight cotton is mind blowing and they can be sewn into interesting looking casual light weight dresses and blouses.

8. Soft linen

Linen is a very comfortable and elegant fabric. A lightweight linen fabric can be a great fabric for making crisp and cool dresses. It is one of the best fabrics for wearing in summer. Linen becomes softer with wear and wash.

9. Poly cotton fabric

This is a blended fabric – of polyester and cotton fibers with characteristics of both the fibers. The fabric comes in vivid colors and are somewhat wrinkle resistant and easy to care for. But some poly-cotton fabrics may be weak and may fray so you have to ensure the quality.

9. Polyester

This is not a very comfortable option because of the synthetic nature of the fabric but considering that a lot of clothes today are made of polyester; there is still a charm about polyester as a dressmaking fabric, because it is easy to wash and dry and do not wrinkle much. Polyester chiffon, georgette, crepe are all used in dressmaking as overlays or pretty flowery print blouses and dresses. Because they are lightweight they all have good drape – better than cotton.

What is your favourite fabric to sew casual tops and dresses?.

Related post : How to buy fabrics – the correct way

Which are some very soft fabrics for dresses?

Rayon, Jersey, Pima cotton, good quality satin, a lot of silks are very soft fabrics. If you are looking for slightly transparent soft fabrics, chiffon works very well.

Other related posts :

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  1. Hello Sarina! I just stumbled on to your site today and LOVE IT! Thank you so much for posting so much useful information. I have been looking for Fabric guides because I often get so confused by all the names and terms. Thanks again for your time and effort to put this together. It is so useful!