Fashion Magazine

How to Choose Fabrics to Flatter

By Imogenl @ImogenLamport

I am a sewer and some ideas about how to choose fabric to sew would be great. It can be challenging to locate good fabric and then imagine how it will look best sewn, and then find a suitable pattern.


Fabric Drape

fabric drape
fabric drape by imogenl featuring cotton shirts

How fluid or stiff is the fabric.  The drape is not about how thick the fabric is, it’s the way it moves.  For example think about silk chiffon which floats and moves and drapes very well vs Organza which is stiff and stands up all by itself and has an architectural appearance.

  1. Fluid fabrics puddle or pool when dropped on the floor.
  2. Stiff fabrics stand and then fold when dropped on the floor, or gradually crumple.
  3. Medium drape fabrics fall in between the fluid and the stiff.
  • Fluid fabrics are good for more curved and cushioned bodies as the mold easily over curves.
  • Stiff fabrics are good for hard bodies as they harmonise with the structure and hardness of the body shape.

What sort of Fabric Drape do I need for My Body

How to choose a slimming fabric

Fabric Weight

fabric weight
fabric weight by imogenl featuring denim pants

Is it a heavy or lightweight fabric?  You can feel this by picking it up.

Heavy fabrics will pull the garment down (gravity) and so are great for pieces you want to have a vertical appearance as the weight pulls them down.  They tend to hide more of what is going on underneath, particularly in trousers if you are concerned about cellulite showing through.

Lightweight fabrics are better in tops that bottoms such as a blouse, as they can be worn with more volume.


Fabric Texture

texture by imogenl featuring brown shirts

Smooth, nubby, hard, soft, lacy, velour, chunky, fine – these are all texture related words.

Remember that textures can add bulk, so if you’d call a fabric chunky, it will make you look chunky.

Match your own personal texture to at least part of your outfit.  Check out these posts for more guidance.

Further reading:

T is for Texture

How to wear a chunky knit

How to flatter patterned skin

 Fabric Sheen

sheen by imogenl featuring cotton shirts

Matte – Sheen or Shine – consider that shiny fabrics draw attention and make an area look larger, so shiny fabrics are best on parts of your body where you’re happy to have a focal point.  Matte fabrics are more receding and so make you look slimmer.

Also, match your own sheen in at least part of your outfit for harmony!

Finding the right texture and sheen for your skin

Matte, Sheen or Shine


Sewing patterns always list the kinds of fabrics that are ideal for that pattern, but once you see these lists and go and feel and notice the properties of the fabrics listed you will discover which fabrics will work best for the patterns that you are making.

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