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Fabric and Pattern Matching

If you haven’t already come across Tamlyn from @sewn_on_the_tyne on Instagram or YouTube you definitely need to go check her out. Tamlyn has been a subscriber to the SewHayleyJane boxes for over a year now… probably coming up to two. She often posts her unboxings on her YouTube channel and asked if she could contribute something to the May magazine, which of course I jumped at!

So, without further ado, I shall pass you over to Tamlyn.

I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite parts of the sewing process is the initial decision to pair a beautiful fabric with a pattern. For me, the pattern comes first and then I start to dream about the endless possibilities of fabric that I could pair with it.

However, I know for some people that this step actually causes some worry and uncertainty. What fabric types will work best for that pattern? Will the garment look and fit ‘right’ if I use that fabric? What if I mess it up and end up with an unwearable garment?

So, I thought I would put together some advice on how to choose a fabric to pair with a pattern. These steps will hopefully help to build your confidence when choosing fabric and they may even help you to step outside of your comfort zone and make some braver fabric choices.

1)    Read the pattern envelope/pattern instructions carefully. There will always be some suggested fabrics given as guidance.

2)    Head over to the pattern designer’s website. They will often have a blog and/or a pattern tester round-up where you can see the garment made up in different fabrics. This should give you an idea of how the garment will look, depending on what fabric you use.

3)    Search the pattern hashtag on Instagram, for example #sewingcleo. This will, again, give you the opportunity to view the pattern made in different types of fabric. Read the captions alongside the photos as people will often write a little bit about their experiences with the fabric they have used – both positive and negative!

4)     By now you should have an idea of the sort of look you want to achieve from your garment. With this in mind, head over to your favourite online fabric retailer and have a browse of the fabrics that would help you to achieve this look. The majority of websites will allow you to view their fabric by type, such as ‘viscose’ or ‘linen’. If you find some fabric you like but you’re still unsure, send the fabric retailer a message and ask if they think it would work for the pattern you have in mind. I’ve done this many times and have always found people to be extremely helpful and happy to give advice.

5)    And finally, be brave! What’s the worst that could happen? And as a wise person once said, there will always be more fabric. (That being said, perhaps don’t risk the most expensive or precious fabric on an experimental sew…I don’t want to be responsible for that!)

Stay tuned for a follow up to this article in next month’s magazine, where I will show you how I achieved different looks with the same pattern by thinking carefully about the fabrics I used. 

Tamlyn xx