Woven and knitted fabrics – a guide for a beginner seamstress

Sewing your own clothes is something great and definitely worth attention. It allows you to customize each item of clothing to your own needs and requirements and infuse it with the soul that will accompany wearing it. But where to start, knowing absolutely nothing about the materials (being the basic raw material for sewing)? What do you have to keep in mind before visiting a fabric store ?

What is fabric and what is knitted fabric?

If you want to get serious about sewing, it is not enough to visit any fabric store and stock up on the right materials. You must first acquire the most basic knowledge in this topic, and also find out what we actually need. The key is to understand the differences between woven and knitted fabrics.

Fabrics are based on warp and weft – two different types of threads that are laid perpendicular to each other, and which do not show any stretch properties. Nevertheless, they keep the same shape perfectly. The situation is different with knitted fabrics, which are made on the basis of one type of thread – this one is arranged in stitches (exactly like when knitting. They are stretchy, although sewn much harder. However, they lie better on the body and are definitely preferred when it comes to typical sports clothing. 

Why is the choice of material so important?

The choice of material on the basis of which we will design the outfit for the occasion we choose is very important, because the durability of the entire creation and the comfort of wearing it depend on it. It is he who also defines the method of its care (including washing and drying), but also its overall aesthetics.

The choice of fabrics and the subject of sewing

The next step that we should take right after acquiring elementary knowledge about materials and sewing tools, and before visiting a fabric store, is to define the subject of sewing, i.e. what we are going to sew. It is this that may be decisive when choosing a specific material – fabric or knitwear (which are also divided into different types), but also indicating the color, decorations or texture. We have many options. We can bet on:

  • everyday clothing – in this case, we should focus on 100% cotton material, preferably of medium thickness. What matters in the clothes you wear every day is airiness and whether the skin is able to breathe. It is also important that they are able to wash well, as well as to tolerate different weather conditions. A great option for beginners can be medium-thickness wool, flannel or just cotton – none of them shrinks in the wash, and each is quite versatile while ensuring adequate air circulation. If pants are the subject of sewing, let’s go for denim or corduroy, also quite elastic and heavy for bad use;
  • decorative clothes – decorative clothes, and therefore, above all, nightwear, light blouses or more stylish dresses are best sewn on the basis of cotton or voile, which can be washed in the washing machine, although they are prone to shrinkage. A frequent choice is 100% polyester , the main advantage of which is no need to iron and no wrinkling effect – it can be machine washed, which is very important for this type of outfits. More experienced seamstresses choose other thin fabrics – mainly silk and satin fabrics. However, they should be washed with proper care (preferably chemically), and their sewing can be heavy and requiring skill;
  • evening wear – this type of outfits are most often made of thin fabrics such as satin, taffeta or velvet – at least when it comes to dresses for women. We will approach men’s jackets, in which flannel or jersey dominate today. In the case of women’s outfits, chiffon will also work well, but also transparent cotton;
  • sportswear – here we have to focus on a material that will be very comfortable and at the same time drain away sweat well. Spandex and Lycra will work well here, from which we can easily sew a running or bathing suit. You can also put on cotton or polyester, which dry quickly, do not shrink, and are comfortable at the same time and can cope well with difficult weather conditions, which they can often face.

Where to buy fabrics?

Although fabrics can be purchased nowadays in most large-format general grocery stores as well as construction and finishing stores, it is best to visit a specialized fabric store . Only within it you can count not only on the widest range, but also only sewing products.


Before we even visit a fabric store , we need to know what our sewing plan is, and therefore what exactly we want to create and what materials we will need for it. Let’s remember about the basic differences between woven and knitted fabrics, but also about choosing the right fibers – natural or synthetic, also based on our own needs and expectations.