Cotton Fabric, Your Questions Answered

Cotton Fabric is one of the most used, and versatile, sewing fabrics there is. There are many types of cotton you can sew with. This post will help answer the most common questions we get asked about cotton material. Understanding more about cotton material will help you decide if it is the right choice for your sewing and dressmaking projects.

Some Of Our Current Cotton Fabric Faves

Is cotton a good material for a dress?

Cotton dress material is a perfect choice for dressmaking. Cotton material is easy to sew with and does not slip easily. You can use a standard sewing needle, along with a good quality polyester or cotton thread, and achieve perfect results. Cotton irons easily and a well ironed fabric has a crisp, professional finish. Cotton maerial is easy to wash and with higher quality cotton and a 30 degree wash shrinkage and dye fade should be kept to a minimum.

What is the best quality cotton fabric?

The best quality cotton fabric for dressmaking is cotton lawn. This is a lightwieght, soft cotton material made from the longest cotton fibres. This fibre length means that cotton lawn is not only very soft but is also very strong. This fabric is perfect for dresses and blouses. It is also easier to iron than most other cotton fabrics and holds it shape very well.

What are the positives and negatives of cotton fabric?

There are many positive reasons to sew with cotton, but, for dressmaking, the main advantages are:

Cotton is great to use whatever the season. The material will keep you cool in the summer but is a good insulator when the weather turns colder. Cotton is breathable and comfortable whatever the weather.

Cotton fabric is very stable and easy to work with. Cotton is easier to cut and sew than many other fabrics.

Cotton is very versatile. Depending on the way cotton is woven it can be a stiff and heavy material (e.g. denim) or it can be light and super soft (e.g. cotton lawn). Cotton is also a very strong fabric – whatever the thickness. Cotton actually gets stronger when it is wet which means it will hold it’s shape very well.

However, cotton material is not perfect! The main disavatages in using cotton for dressmaking are:

Cotton fabric is not great at holding dye. This may can mean that some cotton material may fade over time and the dye can bleed when washed. However in really good quality cotton material the chances of this happening are very low.

Cotton fabric can shrink. The hotter the wash, the greater the chance that the material may shrink (it can shrink by up to 3%). However, many of the better quelity cotton you can buy are prewashed and with 30 degrees washes and a bit of care, you should not have a problem with your favourite makes getting smaller!

Cotton creases. Cotton fabric is susceptible to wrinkles and creasing. Cotton does look its best when it is ironed.There are many positive reasons to sew with cotton material, but, for dressmaking, the main advantages are:

Is cotton fabric easy to sew?

Cotton fabric is a very easy material to sew. Most standard cotton fabric needs a standard sewing needle, perhaps a size 80m, as well as a good quality thread such as Gutermann Sew All. Using these on your sewing machine will give you a crisp, professional finish.

Heavier cotton material, such as denim or canvas may need a higher gauge sewing machine needle – 100 or even 120, to get a well stitched finish. If you use a thicker thread then perhaps a topstitch needle should be used. The truth is though, getting a good stitch on some fabrics is a matter of trial and error. I suggest you have a mix of needle types and guages on hand and sew a few samples to choose the right needle and thread combination. Don’t assume there is a problem with your sewing machine if a stitch does not look good, there is every chance it may be your sewing needle needs to be changed!