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Your Fabric Shopping List


Fabrics are a tough thing for most people to get excited about, but I'm unusually enthusiastic about what my things are made from. Slippery silks, homespun linens, fine cottons, and Liberty prints -- I love it all. Before you buy something, take a look at what's inside. Do you shop according to fabric? Maybe you should. Lately I’ve found that one of the things that is dramatically decreasing in clothes quality is fabric itself. I read a post about synthetics that gave me the absolute creeps -- we’re producing tons of clothes that will basically stay on this planet forever without changing. Think that’s bad? That’s why you should join my fabric revolution and start buying 100% cotton again.

1. Linen with slubs

Linen with slubs is linen with little dots in it -- tiny thick spots that add texture and interest to a full yard or two of fabric. Plain linen has a certain sheen that others find unattractive, and this is a good way around it. I find that this textured type of linen is a lot like dupioni silk -- another classy fabric that we will get to next.

2. Dupioni silk

Dupioni is a fabric that oozes luxury, but it’s a little trickier to care for. You’ll find that many pieces crafted from dupioni are marked as “dry clean only.” If you ignore that label (and I often do), don’t toss it in the washing machine, even on cold. Instead, handwash it and let it drip dry. Dupioni loses a lot of its dye in the wash, which can be frustrating.

3. Cotton lawn

I know that plain cotton can be boring. Instead of relying on the thick and cumbersome stuff, look for cotton lawn instead -- it’s an incredibly lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully and just screams “easy and breezy.” I found a pretty wrap top in ruffled lawn last year, and I have been wearing it since. If you like a touch of luxury, look for Liberty prints, which are printed on lawn cotton and look lovely year-round.

4. Reversible fabrics

This is a neat look for a suit -- Start out by sewing the skirt in one fabric, and then reverse the fabric for the jacket. Not all fabric are fully switchable, of course, but the ones that are can create a rich effect. Color combinations to try for a neat reverse look include gray and lavender and green and brown.

5. Burn-out jersey

I know what you are thinking... but trust me here! Some jersey with a burn-out pattern is a great way to experiment with fabric layering, like a burn-out black jersey layered over a red background for some punch. I have been on the hunt for a fabric with a polka-dot burn out that I can do a red-and-black thing or a black-and-white thing. Think contrasting colors, a lot of stretchy, some fun peek-thru stuff, and a hint of the ‘80s. Enjoy -- just don’t go overboard! -- it’s tempting with these kinds of fabrics. If you're a sewer, a pair of burn-out silk jersey pajama pants sound completely fabulous.

6. Silk jersey

Are you a comfort hog who feels trapped in jersey fabrics? You’ll want to look into silk jersey instead. The drape is better, and the fabric is lightweight and oh-so-comfortable. While I'm a fan of the tissue-thin stuff, you'll find that you can get it in a great variety of different weights. A convertible dress works very well in silk jersey fabric.

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