ottobre - Stoffe erklärt

From: ""
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2012 02:55:23
Subject: Re: [ottobre-english] Fabric Question

I second the suggestion for Chez Ami fabrics, I've sewn a ton of them over the past 8 yrs or so.

That said, you should really familiarize yourself with different kinds of fabrics so you know what they mean & are not surprised by what you get.

First of all, there are different knit structures ---

Interlock -- this is double knit --- it looks the same from both sides (you see "knit" stitches from both sides)

Jersey -- this is a single knit -- that means it has a definite right & wrong side to it (one side looks like "knit" stitches, that is the right side, the other side you see the "purl" stitches, that is the wrong side)

Ribbing --- this is made from a "knit, purl, knit, purl" combination & so you see ridges (can also be a 2 x 2 rib, which would be knit 2, purl2, or other series, but basically you see ridges & the construction makes it stretch -- think the ribbed cuffs of socks?)

Now these different knit structures can be produced from a variety of different fibers & combinations of fibers & also in a a variety of weights --- so the properties of the final product --- that is, how stretchy, how sturdy, how heavy, etc. -- all this will depend on the COMBINATION -- of the knit structure, of the fiber or combination of fibers used, of the thickness of the yarns used.

So --

You could have a heavy nonstretchy interlock that is good for pants, you could have a very thin stretchy interlock that is good for t-shirts, etc.  

The fibers you'll most likely see in children's knits are cotton, polyester, & lycra. (Could also see rayon or silk but that would be in higher end knits used for adult clothing)

Lycra is ... um... rubber..... also known as spandex.... this gives a fabric stretch. How much lycra is blended into the fabric is what determines the amount of stretch.  There are stretch wovens like stretch denims & so on that have a small amount of lycra added --- so they're basically stable fabrics with a small amount of stretch for comfort of movement.

Of course swimsuits fabrics & those fabrics used in bras & other support garments have a much higher percent of lycra & are much stretchier.

The fabric sold at Chez Ami called "lycra" is actually a cotton/lycra jersey --- that means it has one right & one wrong side, its cotton so its soft & pretty & it has lycra blended into it so its got a very nice stretch & recovery (that means it doesn't get stretched out). This fabric is good for children's clothing, especially leggings.  If you look at my photos in Flickr group you'll see that I always identify the fabric I've used so you can get an idea of what fabrics work for what kinds of garments.

The interlock sold at Chez Ami is also a nice fabric. They usually describe it by weight --- a 16oz. interlock is obviously heavier & good for skirts &pants, while an 11oz. interlock is much lighter in weight & is better for t-shirts.  While interlocks are generally stretchy fabrics, not all of them are & the heavier weight ones from Chez Ami have very little stretch -- so not suitable for a very fitted garment or one that requires stretch to get in & out of.

The Chez Ami fabrics that are called cotton jersey are very stable -- very little stretch, while the ones called  lycra are really a cotton/lycra blend jersey so they have a lot of stretch.

Ribbing or ribknits can also be more or less stretchy & more or less heavy, depending on their fabric content & the size of the yarns used.

If you want a ribbing for the purpose of stretchy neckbands & cuffs, make sure you get one with some lycra in the blend --- if you get a ribbing that's all cotton it won't have good recovery -- it will stretch out & stay baggy.

Some ribbings are very heavy & good for sweater cuffs, while some are very thin & fine & good for t-shirts & so on.

One other thing you REALLY need to know (no matter what anyone else tells you LOL) ---
ALLE Stoffe vorher WASCHEN

What I do is to measure each piece of fabric, both length AND width, to the inch & write it down.  Then I wash (usually in cold water because I use a lot of bright or dark colors & don't want to fade them) & dry in the dryer on low heat -- this is the way I will be laundering the finished garment.  When dry, I measure the fabric again, both length & width and compare to what they were before.

If a fabric has lost about an inch or less per yard, then its ready to work with.  If its lost 2 or more inches per yard, then it probably still has more shrinkage in it & you should wash & dry & measure again.  Surprisingly there are some fabrics that might even require 3 or more wash/dry cycles before they're ready for use.

The amount of shrinkage has nothing to do with the quality of the fabric (some ppl think oh I used a good quality it won't shrink -- nothing to do with it). It has to do with the yarns being stretched in the knitting process & how they relax later on.  You really need to get all the residual shrinkage out of a fabric before you start to cut & sew with it.

I've even found different amounts of shrinkage in three different pieces that were the same fabric, same fiber, same everything, same manufacturer, just different colors -- so you really never know -- each fabric has to be pretreated just as much as it needs to be.

Some ppl question if you need to preshrink ribbing -- here's the story on that --- if you're using the ribbing to make a garment, then yes, for sure do preshrink it -- imagine if you didn't -- and your lovely pants came out of the first washing as capris & out of the second washing as bike shorts? Not a happy thought. On the other hand, if you're going to use the ribbing for cuffs or neckbands --- so you're talking about a 6" piece of fabric, which even if it would stretch 2" per yard -- that's only  1/3" from your neckband or cuff --- not enough to notice, so you can get away without preshrinking.

Hope all this helps!

Good luck & have fun with your first Ottobre project -- we look forward to seeing it in the Flickr group!

Once & Future Stash Empress