Easy fabrics to sew are great for beginners AND experienced sewists alike. Forgiving fabric makes just about any sewing technique more pleasant, and sewing with "easy" fabric usually is faster and more accurate (vs. tricky material). If you want to better understand why forgiving fabrics are so great, what makes a fabric forgiving, and which fabrics fall into the "easy to sew" camp, this post is for you.

Easy fabrics to sew are great for beginners AND experienced sewists alike. Forgiving fabric makes just about any sewing technique more pleasant, and sewing with “easy” fabric usually is faster and more accurate (vs. tricky material).


 

In short, you can build up your confidence with easy fabrics to sew, because your me-made garments turn out better!

If you want to better understand why forgiving fabrics are so great, what makes a fabric forgiving, and which fabrics fall into the “easy to sew” camp, this post is for you. You’ll also enjoy a little detour into the qualities of the hardest fabrics to sew and discover the qualities of easy fabrics relative to each other. Ooh, and there’s price info on each fabric, too. By the end you will have mad love for easily-stitched fabrics!

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Merits of Easy Fabrics to Sew

What Makes a Fabric Easy to Work With?

What is the Hardest Fabric to Sew?

These Fabrics Play Nice: Top Picks for Easy Fabrics to Sew

-Cotton Lawn
-Shirting
-Chambray
-Flannel
-Linen
-Ponte Knit
-Lyocell (Tencel)
-Scuba Knit
-Average Cost of Each Fabric (Table)

Comparing Qualities of Easy to Sew Fabrics (Infographic)


RELATED: All Sie Macht Articles About Fabric


The Merits of Easy Fabrics to Sew

What’s the point of hitting the easy button when it comes to fabric selection? Well, let me tell you a thing or three about why you should reach for easy fabrics to sew.


 

1.) You’ll have a better sewing experience.

Sewing is hard, y’all. It’s not a practice for the easily discouraged. Why not make one factor (the fabric) predictable and a joy to employ? Easy-to-use fabric is important to beginner sewists, who need to build confidence with successes. Forgiving fabrics are step No. 1 to sewing success.

2.) You’ll spend less money.

Floaty, slippery silk is expensive and hard to work with. To compare, many easy-to-sew fabrics — cotton, linen — are budget friendly. Hey, if your sewing project made of (less expensive) forgiving fabric goes sideways, you’re not out a lot of cash.

3.) You’ll sew a better product.

Fabrics that are easier to work with go a long way toward a higher-quality finished garment. That’s because techniques are easier to execute and get right. Successful sewing techniques lead to successful sewing projects, which lead to a mega sewing confidence boost. 🤘💪👊🎇


 

What Makes a Fabric Easy to Work With?

Upon reflection, I ID’d the following as characteristics of fabrics that are easy to sew:

1.) Not too thin or thick

Thin fabrics are easy to overhandle, which can stretch them out. Thick fabrics call for more care while stitching, because you’re more likely to have skipped stitches and difficulty maneuvering pattern pieces under the presser foot and needle.

2.) Zero or minimal stretching

Take it from me. It’s SUPER easy to overstretch stretch fabrics during sewing. It takes time to build an instinct for how to handle stretch fabric while sewing, knowing when to pull and when to let the foot and feed dogs do their thing. Plus, if you botch a seam when sewing stretch fabric, there’s a greater risk of damaging (specifically misshaping) the fabric when you unpick stitches.

3.) No extraordinary presser feet necessary

If, as you research how to sew a fabric, you find suggestions for using a specialty presser foot — non-stick, walking, etc. — the fabric *might* be finicky to work with (or at least too finicky for an all-purpose foot). Pause and ask yourself, “Is buying a new presser foot or switching between presser feet going to be worth it?” It’s a personal question whose answer is based on your skill level and commitment to your project vision. (For me, dragging out all my fancy presser feet is kind of a drag.)



What is the Hardest Fabric to Sew?

Rather than call out a single textile as the hardest fabric to sew, let’s instead focus on fabric characteristics to avoid. The “hardest fabric to sew” could have only one of these qualities, or it could be some terrible, horrible combination of them. Perceived sewing difficulty is subjective. To beginner sewers, I recommend avoiding fabric that’s:

1.) Exceptionally thick

Feed dogs often struggle to evenly move thick fabrics under the needle, resulting in uneven stitches. Thick fabrics also call for heavier-duty needles and tension adjustments — things too often over the heads of newbies.

2.) Slippery

Accurately cutting slippery fabric is a slow and tricky process. And then there’s the additional pining and basting, and keeping the fabric from sliding off your sewing table.

3.) Exceptionally thin

Like thick fabric, thin fabric calls for tension experimentation and special needles to produce even, balanced stitches. Plus, it’s easy to overhandle thin fabric and twist pattern pieces out of shape, especially when it comes to pressing thin fabric. And don’t even get me started on how thin fabric gets jammed in the needle opening of the throat plate. *RAGE BUILDING*

4.) Exceptionally stretchy

Exceptionally stretchy fabrics are why true sewing beginners often are discouraged from sewing knits. It is SO EASY overhandle super-stretchy knits. Many new sewists don’t yet have the patience or stitching intuition to let the sewing machine do its thing when sewing knits.

5.) In need of a special presser foot or special needle

It’s the old K.I.S.S. principle: Keep it simple, sewist. A sewist who’s not fully comfortable with a standard presser foot and universal needle DOES NOT need to further complicate her life with specialty needles and presser feet. Master the basics of fabric and equipment first.

6.) Embellished

Embellished fabric is a feast for the eyes, but it often calls for gobs of special treatment. For example, did you know that you have to remove ALL the sequins from seam allowances before the seams are stitched? Otherwise you risk breaking a needle and/or shattering sequins that could fall INSIDE your sewing machine.

7.) 100 percent polyester

Pure polyester can be beastly to press. I recall as a new sewist trying to make bias binding out of a satiny, mid-weight polyester print and being extremely frustrated that the fabric WOULD NOT hold a crease. In the following years I learned that poly (usually) will crease if you let it cool in place.

These Fabrics Play Nice: Top Picks for Easy Fabrics to Sew

Now that you’ve broken out in a cold sweat over the hardest fabrics to sew (sorry!), let’s hop back to easy fabrics to destress and decompress!

Below you will find:

  • A descriptive little chat about each forgiving fabric.
  • Sie Macht articles that feature the fabric as a garment and/or cover topics related to the fabric.
  • My recommendations for fabric you can buy. I tried to find comparable products at each store (Mood, Harts Designer Fabric, and Fabric.com — see next bullet for more explanation). If a sewist came to me and said, “Erin, can you suggest specific [easy to sew fabric] for me to buy?” this is what I’d tell them. Some of these fabrics I’ve sewed with myself; most of them I have not. But, based on online reviews and my knowledge of fabric brands and fabric weight, I think I picked some good ones for ya!
  • A small table of price ranges for each fabric at three different online fabric stores: Mood Fabrics, Harts Designer Fabric, and Fabric.com (which is owned by Amazon; you can buy Fabric.com textiles on Amazon and get Prime shipping, booyah). I chose these stores because they’re usually my go-to’s for buying fabric. Mood has probably the most high-fashion-y fabric. Harts’ quality always is good, and the customer service is A-MAZE-ING. And I threw in Fabric.com because its selection is huge and it’s hard to ignore Prime shipping. Anyhoo, I sorted each store’s offerings and recorded the high and low prices.

I researched the prices and fabrics from Mood, Harts, and Fabric.com in August 2021. Inventory turns over and prices change. But, I think these data give you a good overall picture of these easy-to-sew fabrics. As always, I encourage you to do your OWN research.

Cotton Lawn

Silky cotton lawn is an easy fabric to sew - and one of MY favorite fabrics to wear.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

The hand of cotton lawn is crisp and smooth. In my mind, sewing with cotton lawn feels sort of like sewing with high-quality quilting cotton — except cotton lawn feels like it’s for apparel and quilting cotton feels like it’s for home dec. Cotton is a natural fiber and presses beautifully. Read: By Hand London Anna Dress: A Liberty-Feathered FrockHow I sew a muslin + Sew Caroline Larchmont T

Suggested Fabrics

  • Mood: Zimmerman Black Cotton Lawn
  • Harts: Petite Garden Lawn Navy
  • Fabric.com: Kaufman Cotton Lawn Ivory
Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Cotton lawn $5.49-$15.99 $9.99-$22.99 $6.25-$38.44

Shirting

Classic shirting is an easy fabric to cut, sew, and press.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

Shirting (usually a cotton or cotton blend) is less smooth than lawn, which makes it ever-so-slightly easier to handle because of added friction. Shirting seams don’t get bulky under the needle and presser foot, and it’s a breeze to cut pattern pieces from shirting.

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Shirting (cotton) $4.99-$24.99 $8.99-$13.99 $4.38-$53

Chambray

Chambray is a forgiving fabric to sew, and it's very on trend.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

I’d say chambray (think lightweight denim shirt fabric) provides even more friction than shirting (correct me in comments if you feel otherwise). Chambray usually is made from natural fibers and is easy to press. Plus, it’s one of those fabrics that gets softer with wear. And I fight anyone who doesn’t understand the awesome utility of a chambray/denim shirt.

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Chambray (cotton) $7.99-$17.99 $10.99 $4.44-$20.68

Flannel

This collection of easy fabrics to sew includes snuggly flannel, whose surface ensure it doesn't slip away from sewists.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

You know what I love about flannel (besides wearing it)? Flannel pattern pieces stick together! Remember flannel storyboards at the library when you were a kid? Yep, same principle. The grippiness makes it easy to handle. Read: Timber! The Lumberjill Dress: Darling Ranges in Flannel

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Flannel (cotton) $5.99-$17.99 $7.99-$21.99 $4.49-$17

Linen

Linen is one of the easiest fabrics to sew. Its texture is mildly grippy, and it presses extremely well.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

Ah, linen! You gorgeous natural fiber, you! Linen presses like a dream; get that iron nice ‘n’ steamy for it. Pattern pieces in linen often stick together, which means there’s often less pinning when you sew with linen (especially if there are a lot of straight seams). Read: A Modern Darling Ranges Shirt Dress: Megan Nielsen Pattern ReviewVictory Patterns Ulysses Trench: Chic Mom Vibes

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Linen (mid-weight) $7.99-$49.99 $10.99-$37.99 $6.25-$63

Ponte Knit

Despite being a knit, ponte is among this collection of easy fabrics to sew. It's very stable.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

Ponte knit is a stable double knit that usually beefier than your average T-shirt material. Its edges don’t roll like it’s cousin, jersey knit. Ponte is a great way to dip your toe into the world of sewing with knits. Read: Colette Mabel: Quality Time with My Seam RipperHow Do I Choose a Knit Fabric?

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Ponte $7.99-$24.99 $15.99-$19.99 $5.51-$44.08

Lyocell (Tencel trademark)

Lyocell, whose trademark is Tencel, is a drapey woven fabric that's pretty darn easy to sew.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

Lyocell is a type of rayon. In my experience, it’s drapey like rayon but heavier and easier to maneuver under the needle. It’s got that rayon silkiness but it doesn’t wander all over the place. Read: Va-va-va-volume in Victory Patterns Esther PantsIs Rayon Better Than Cotton? Fabric Guide for Sewists

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Tencel (twill) $13.99-$29.99 $14.99-$24.99 $11.28-$24.44

Scuba Knit

Scuba knit is an easy fabric to sew, especially if you're a beginner sewist.

Clockwise from top left: 1 2 3 4

Scuba knit is stretchy, but usually only when you really pull on it. It’s lighter than ponte knit, and it tends to be a bit more slippery. Like ponte, scuba tends to be heavier than your average T-shirt fabric, which makes it easier to handle. P.S. Scuba can look really cool with raw hems (which potentially means less work for you). Read: Victory Patterns Jackie dress: Diving into scuba knitHow Do I Choose a Knit Fabric?How to press scuba knit and more: Tips for working with scuba fabric

Suggested Fabrics

Fabric Price Range (Mood) Price Range (Harts) Price Range (Amazon/Fabric.com)
Scuba (neoprene) knit $13.19-$29.99 $17.99 $4.13-$14.88

Average Cost of Each Fabric

You know the “Suggested Fabrics” for each type of fabric? This table (below) shows the price of each fabric suggestion at each store and the average price of the three suggestions. You can compare the cost of similar fabric across vendors.

Fabric Mood Fabrics Harts Designer Fabric Amazon/Fabric.com Average Price/Yard
Cotton lawn $11.99 $11.99 $8.98 $10.99
Shirting (cotton) $11.99 $8.99 $9.16 $10.05
Chambray (cotton) $13.99 $10.99 $9.62 $11.53
Flannel (cotton) $13.99 $10.99 $9.65 $11.54
Linen (mid-weight) $21.99 $10.99 $9.27 $14.08
Ponte $15.99 $18.99 $8.48 $14.49
Tencel (twill) $17.99 $24.99 $18.89 $20.62
Scuba (neoprene) knit $21.99 $17.99 $6.80 $15.59

Comparing Qualities of Easy to Sew Fabrics

We’ve compared the average price of these eight easy to sew fabrics. Now let’s compare their fabric qualities:

  • Fluidity: How much drape a fabric has.
  • Stretch: Whether a fabric can be pulled and made wider and/or longer.
  • Texture: Smooth vs. rough.
  • Sheen: Shiny (bounces light) vs. matte (absorbs light).
  • Fabric Weight: Mass of one square yard or one square meter of fabric (as measured on a scale).

These are my hot takes, and I’m SURE you could find fabric examples that shuffled each spectrum. For instance, there are heavyweight cotton flannels that probably have a greater fabric weight than Tencel twill.

Use these graphics to help you understand the fabrics’ qualities relative to each other. Let’s say you want an easy-sewing fabric with a lot of drape; Tencel could be a good option.

Please let me know if you agree with my assessments! This was a tough exercise.

This infographic compares fabric qualities - fluidity, sheen, fabric weight, stretch, and texture - of eight easy-to-sew fabrics.

Over to you, dear readers: What is your fave easy fabric to sew? Are there any fabrics in this list to which you object? What about my ranking of fabric qualities? Yea or nay? Please sound off in comments! Thanks!

P.S. If you need more fabric talk, I got you:

Go Fabric Shopping with Me! | Vogue Fabrics [VIDEO]
Cutting Slippery Fabric: How I Learned the Hard Way
Amazon Tricks for Fabric Shopping: The Ultimate Guide for Sewists
How to Choose Fabric: A Crash Course in Fashion Textiles

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