Wovens with Drape
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Wovens with Drape

    These wovens with drape are some of the most universally flattering fabrics currently available. The balance and weight of this type of fabric gives it a beautiful hand, and you'll find it to be incredibly versatile!


    Depending on the fiber content, your pretreatment may be either washer and dryer or dry cleaning. Test a sample first; if there is shrinkage, pretreat by drycleaning. While you are testing your fabrics, check for the possibility of heat imprints from the iron. Some of the fabrics will require a cooler iron than others; if you see the outline of your iron when you lift it off the fabric, set it for a cooler temperature.

    Needles and Thread:

    For most wovens, I prefer a sharp needle. These are currently labeled as "quilting" needles, and are packaged with two sizes: 75/11 and 90/14. For these drapey wovens, use the 75/11 needle. If you cannot find the sharp/quilting needles, use a universal point needle, size 70/10 (for the thinner fabrics) or an 80/12 (for crepe-type weaves and medium weight fabrics). Polyester thread or cotton covered polyester thread are both good choices for these drapey fabrics.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Standard straight seams, medium stitch length (2.5) are appropriate for most seams. If you cut the fabric on the bias, or have a bias edges (such as on an a-line skirt), switch to a small zigzag (2.5 length, 2.0 width), so the fabric will have "give" in the bias seams. A hand-stitched hem is beautiful in these fabrics. Topstitched hems can also be beautiful for this type of fabric. Clean-finish any seams with the lightest treatment possible, such as rayon seam binding, bias binding made of thin fabric, or a two or three thread serged edge.


    To maintain the drape of these fabrics, choose a lightweight interfacing. I like So-Sheer for most uses. Waistbands, collars, and pocket welts might require a more substantial interfacing. In these cases, use a second layer of the sheer interfacing, or use one layer of a lightweight weft insertion interfacing, cut on the bias so the drape of the fabric will be maintained.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    These fabrics are incredibly versatile. They work well in traditional suit-style garments. They make beautiful shirts, skirts, and dresses. But my favorite garments from these are pants; you'll live in them!

    Creative possibilities:

    These fabrics are perfect for the unconventional garments often seen in independent pattern companies' offerings. The drape, weight, and balance of these fabrics are perfect for your favorite funky and fun patterns!

    Additional Tips:

    Interface the hems of skirts or pants made from drapey fabrics. You'll appreciate the clean appearance this little bit of reinforcement will give. Cut strips of interfacing on the bias or the crossgrain of a knit, twice the width of your finished hem. Position them just inside the cut edge of the wrong side of the fabric, fuse, then continue with stitching your hem as you would normally do. You'll love the results!

    Copyright (c) 2018 by EmmaOneSock