Sewing 101: What Type of Fabric Should I Use?


When you first walk into a fabric store the amount of different fabric types available to choose from can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to sewing. And while you may want to pick the prettiest kind of fabric to start with, it may not be the easiest to work with. The following are just some of the different kinds of fabrics available today.

Related blog: Tips for Choosing and Preparing Your Sewing Fabric


Cotton fabric is sometimes the most abundant fabric type in stores as it can be used on anything from clothes to quilts to home décor. Cotton is a woven fabric that comes in hundreds of different colors and prints and is easy to sew, press, and care for, which makes it a great fabric to use when learning to sew.

Related video: Tips for Finding the Straight Grain in Fabrics

Fleece & Flannel

Fleece and flannel are also fabrics that tend to be easier to work with. Even though they are thicker than cotton they are still easy to cut and in most cases can still be stitched with a universal needle. A benefit to using fleece in projects is that it doesn’t ravel, which means there is no need for hems or other edge finishes.

Related video: Fabric Tips: Sewing Fleece

Knits & Woven

In general, woven fabrics can be easier for beginner sewers than knit fabrics. Knits are stretchy fabrics, which can make it difficult to both cut and work with the fabric. They can also require the use of a stretch or ball point needle and may need some kind of edge finishing, as they ravel.

Related video: Knit vs. Woven Fabrics

Specialty Fabrics

Other fabrics that can be tricky to work with include silks, satins, and brocades. While these may be some of the prettiest fabric they tend to ravel the most making them difficult to work with. Also, these fabrics can tend to have a lot of static. While this may not be difficult to work with it can be frustrating, which is not something you want when you are just learning to sew.

Related video: Tricky Fabric Stitching Techniques

With so many fabric choices available to you, the possibilities are endless! If you’re new to sewing, try out several different types to see which ones you prefer to work with. You might be surprised with what ends up being your favorite!

Happy sewing!

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12 Responses to “Sewing 101: What Type of Fabric Should I Use?”
  1. Katie

    I am making a dupioni silk dress for my daughters wedding in july. While i think it should properly be lined, I hesitate to line it because…its July!! Any thoughts…should I line it, is there a breathable lining out there somewhere??

    • Margherita Sarti-Olson
      Margherita Sarti-Olson

      I’ve had many silk dresses and blouses and trust me, every single silk dress i’ve had tends to cling on the thighs unless you do the trick of spraying the inside of the dress with hairspray or non-clinging sprays, but that doesn’t last long either and wears off.

  2. Judy Larison
    Judy Larison

    I have found that knits ravel very little, contrary to the comment above. For instance, I made a top of matte jersey which used unfinished cut edges on the sleeve hems and the neck binding.

  3. Lisa

    One key piece of advice is to pay attention to what fabrics a pattern or craft calls for; when in doubt, ask at the cut counter. I purchased a cotton blend for a pattern that required something much lighter weight and with more stretch, and it was a headache. Mother-in-law was able to tweak and save the project, but it was a big mistake on my part!

  4. Kathy Boes
    Kathy Boes

    My cotton fabric leaves linty. It’s been washed, dried and pressed, just ironing it my clothes are covered in lint. It’s a fleece feeling cotton. I was going to attempt pants. What fabric is best for pants? Casual pants

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service


      Some cotton fabrics produce more lint than others. Higher quality fabrics will generally produce less lint. When it comes to casual pants, you can use a cotton fabric or a cotton blend fabric- something with some polyester for a bit of stretch.


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  5. Angie Franklin
    Angie Franklin

    I have always wanted to learn how to sew and today I found your site and joined. I’m excited to begin …….. where do I find where to start and it’s got to be basic – thanks for any help!

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Angie,

      Welcome to National Sewing Circle! I have provided you a link for the “Easy Sewing Project for the Beginner”. I also want to mention when you are in your Account Dashboard, at the top of the website look for the word “Browse”. There you will find all your videos that you have access to 24/7. If you are looking for something particular, type in the key words in the search bar.

      If you have further questions, please chat, email or call Customer Service at 1-855-208-7187.


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  6. Rosa Johnson
    Rosa Johnson

    I haven’t sewn in years; are there videos for beginner? selecting a sewing machine; threading a needle, etc????

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Rosa,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      There is a search window on the site that you can use to find different videos. Type in buying a machine and you will find what you are looking for. Ashley Hough has some great information on the subject.


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  7. Cami

    I want quality fabrics for garment sewing. Can you recommend a few good online companies. I have to drive a long way to the city for a store, so online is a better choice.

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Cami. Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. I would be happy to send your question off to the experts. To get started, please send the email associated with your paid membership account. Thanks!
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