The fabric is the most crucial part of a garment. If you choose the incorrect fabric material, it won't do justice to the design and will appear like a mess.
Hence, choosing a clothing fabric requires proper thinking and research to make the right decision. It’s important to understand fabric's materials, types, and properties before you learn how to choose fabric for clothing, especially if you're just getting started to avoid textile waste. We have come up with a starters guide on how to choose fabric rightly.
Material, Type, Weaving & Physical Properties are four main aspects to be considered while choosing the fabric.
Material of Fabric
While a wide range of materials is used in manufacturing modern fabrics, we will discuss the five most commonly used dress materials in India.
- Cotton Fabric
Cotton is a staple fibre, which means it is made of fibres of various lengths. Cotton is a natural material derived from cotton plants, spun into yarn and woven into a soft and durable fabric material. Cotton fabric is known for its absorbency, strong performance, and natural comfort. Therefore, it is widely used for everyday clothing like Kurti summer co-ord dress, jumpsuit, dhoti dress, shirt dress, short kurta, and stunning tulip dress.
- Synthetic Fabric
Polyester is the primary synthetic fibre widely used in the fashion industry. Other synthetic fibres like nylon, acrylic, polypropylene and elastane are also used to manufacture synthetic fabric. Synthetic fabrics are sturdy and can give touch and feel like silk and other natural fabric while economical in cost. Polyester fabrics with different weaves like Satin, Georgette and Chiffon fabric are in trend. In India, synthetic fabrics are preferred for occasional garments like Anarkali dress, a–line dress, slit dress, wraparound skirt and regular garments like salwar suit, kurti, kurta set, patiyala suits etc.
- Viscose Fabric
Viscose is a synthetic fibre made from cellulose extracted from a natural resource. Due to its natural silk-like properties, viscose fibre is woven to create fine fabrics like Organza, Satin, Modal, Muslin, and more. Rayon fabric is the most famous viscose fabric. Viscose fabrics are costlier when compared to cotton and polyester fabrics. They are used mainly in designer garments like concept saree, peplum dresses, vintage gowns, bell sleeve gowns, asymmetric dresses and shrug jackets.
- Silk Fabric
Silk fabric is made from silk fibre, a natural fibre generated by the silkworm. Silk material is recognised for its lustre and softness. It's a remarkably robust and durable fabric with a lovely drape and gloss. Raw Silk and Plain Silk are the most preferred fabrics in garment customisation. Silk is a go-to choice for festive and occasional garments, especially if they are in sync with classic ethnics, just like choli, lehengha, anarkali gown, princes cut, and floor-length dresses.
- Linen Fabric
Linen fabric is created from extremely fine fibres obtained from the flax plant. These fibres are painstakingly removed, spun into yarn, and woven into long sheets of soft, long-lasting linen fabric. Authentic Linen is costly and is used in premium garments. Linen is also used for pant, skirt, palazzo, box pleated skirt and elegant Indian wear. Embroidered linen fabrics are also famous among fabric lovers.
Types of Fabric
Fabric can be classified into many types, but for simplicity, we will restrict to Plain, Printed, Embroidered and Art Fabrics as types.
- Plain Fabric
Fabrics with colour dyeing or fabric weaved from dyed yarns are commonly referred to as plain fabrics in the textile trade. Many customers prefer plain fabrics, and they are a go-to choice for pants and one piece. Cotton, Rayon, Satin, Crepe, Georgette and Cotton Satin are a few best selling plain fabrics in the Indian market.
- Printed Fabric
Fabrics with prints on their surface done via hand, block, screen, roller machine, digital machine or any other process are printed fabrics. Printed cloth materials have different motifs and are more individual choices than trends. For example, hand block fabrics are in much demand for making exclusive garments that are not common. On the other hand, prints dress patterns are manufactured at a large scale on an industrial level which are used more in the bulk garment.
- Embroidered Fabric
Fabrics whose surface is decorated using threads and embellishments are embroidered fabrics. Such fabrics are the mainstay of the fashion industry and use widely pan-India for heavy dresses and occasional dresses like wedding gowns.
- Art Fabric
Art fabrics refer to textiles whose weaving, dyeing, printing or embellishing techniques are widely recognised and accepted as art. Patola, Ikat, Ajrakh, Bagru, Dabu, Bandhani, Shibori, Batik, Kalamkari, and Kantha fabrics are a few famous examples of art fabric. Art fabric carries its unique charm and adds depth to the garment. However, due to its limited production, Art fabrics are in huge demand in India and abroad. Therefore, it's never a wrong decision to hoard an Art Fabric.
Weaving of Fabric
The science of weaving thread into fabrics is vast and fascinating and has evolved immensely. Satin, Georgette, Crepe, Chiffon, Twill, Mul, Muslin, Modal, Gaji are a few different weaves and can initially confuse you for the material. Usually, as customers advance in their fabric buying lifecycle, they tend to experiment more with delicate weave fabrics.
Properties of Fabric
While material, type and weave are the technical dimensions of the fabric, the most critical dimension in choosing fabric for a customer is fabric properties like Touch & Feel, Drapeality, Cleanability, Longevity and Seasonal adaptability.
- Touch & Feel
The touch and feel of the fabric are the most important. While common materials like cotton, silk and chiffon have a similar touch and feel, some of the fabrics may have a unique touch and may take time to get familiar with. For example, while cotton gives a cool and breathable feel, silk fabric is famous for its silky feel, and warm fabrics like wool are known for their warm feeling.
Therefore, before buying fabric, you should consider the touch and feel you desire. This decision also depends on the weather. While cotton is preferred the most for casual dresses in India, silk and polyester are selected more in northern states.
- Fall & Drape
How fabric falls to the ground when held from the salvage or centre is commonly referred to as Fabric Fall. Like touch and feel, fabric fall is also your personal choice. While advanced fabric buyers are already aware of the fall they desire, in case you are not sure, you can discover your fall choice from ready garments that you buy, discuss it with your friends and also hold the fabric over your body to check if you will like the fall.
Fabric's drape is its physical fluidity to be easily draped, pleated or wrapped and how well it holds in the drape. Therefore, garments like saree, dupatta, designer pleated skirts and capes require you to choose a fabric that can be draped easily. Georgette, Crepe and Satin are a few examples of such fabrics.
- Longevity & Cleanability
It is essential to check how long the fabric will last. A good fabric should last for minimum washes retaining the lustre and colour. You should understand the relationship between longevity and fabric cleaning before deciding on a material. For routine dresses, you will need fabrics that can be washed easily at home. While in case of occasional heavy dresses made from Silk and Embroidered fabrics, you will require to do dry clean to maintain its lustre and surface art. Some handmade and natural dye fabrics also tend to have special washing care. Always check washing care before choosing any fabric.
Choosing Fabric at Store & Online
When starting with the fabric buying journey, it is crucial that you buy fabric from a reliable offline or online store, and the seller is sharing accurate product descriptions and properties.
- Offline Fabric Shopping
Fabric and Mix and Match shops are an essential part of major retail markets in all cities and towns across India. You can visit these stores, explore various fabrics, and shop them by meters as per your requirements. Most offline stores do not accept returns once the fabric is cut; hence to avoid loss at your end and the seller's end, decide on fabric material and its quantity precisely before buying.
- Online Fabric Shopping
Shopping fabric online in India is fun as you can browse thousands of options. The two most important factors to consider while buying fabrics are return policy and fabrics' description. Since you are buying fabric without touching and feeling it, the seller should be able to accommodate your request to return the fabric without any questions. Further, you have to depend on product description while buying fabric online; hence the store should have a proper name and product description covering all the above dimensions.
SourceItRight.com has 10000+ varieties of fabric materials online with an easy return policy and clear description where you can quickly start your fabric buying and customising journey.