Sewing with Fabrics that Drape Well

Helloooooo lovelies!

Today is Friday, a great day. Today is great because I can finally post about a sewing project! Mostly though I’ll be talking about flowy fabric because my shirt isn’t finished quite yet.

It’s a really simple shirt, Simplicity 1253. It’s a loose fitting shirt, with neckline pleats and sleeveless or sleeved options. I went for the most basic sleeveless shirt, mostly because while I love the neckline pleats I really dislike the sleeves. They are really stiff looking and awkward to my eye. I know that a different fabric would help, something flowy, but I can’t be bothered for my first go at this pattern. I do want to try with different sleeves though, or maybe modify the current pattern enough to be satisfying.

S1253, See what I mean about the awkward sleeves? They are just not flattering at all in my opinion.

S1253, See what I mean about the awkward sleeves? They are just not flattering at all in my opinion.

When I say this is a simple shirt, I really do mean it. There is just 1 front piece, 2 back pieces, and if you’re doing the sleeveless option, only facings for the neck and arm holes. There’s a cute little key hole detail on the back but you could easily take that out if you wanted depending on the size shirt you make. I did a size 6, and there’d be plenty of room to get the shirt over my head without the key hole. So that could make it an even easier project!

The only really challenging aspect is the fabric that tends to be used for shirts like this. Fabrics with nice drape are going to look best because anything stiff like quilting cotton is going to make the shirt an awkward long box but without the glam of 60’s mod style. Working with loose fabrics isn’t the worst but it can be a bit more difficult, especially if you don’t feel very confident with sewing in general.


Here’s an example of what I mean by more loose and flowy fabric. See how nicely these drape? The one on the left is actually what I’m using for my shirt.


Now look at these compared to a quilting cotton on the right. See how the cotton doesn’t really drape and the angles are very stiff?


So I would definitely not use the cotton on this shirt, it’d be a terribly boxy and ugly shirt I feel.

My biggest tips for working with flowy fabrics are:

Take it slow! – The fabric will be likely to slip and slide on you so taking things slow ensure a nice straight stitching line and that everything is lined up as it should. I’m not exaggerating, I went through quite quickly on a seam once only to find out that somewhere near the middle the fabric had slipped and so things weren’t lined up as they should be. I had to unpick and start all over! Take your time, you’ll thank yourself later.

Use the right needles and pins, preferably a ball point. – This is because looser weave fabrics can be very delicate and regular needles can leave holes that don’t go away in your fabric. Ball points tools can help avoid this issue, but as always, test first on scraps!

Test run on some scraps to check for tension or stitch length issues. – Just like I said above, testing your fabric is going to tell you how to achieve the best results. Run some scraps though a few times to test with different tensions and stitch lengths to make sure things go smoothly. This is the best way to avoid puckering and your machine eating your fabric.

Honestly the first time you work with slippery fabric may not go well but that’s ok! My first time working with the purple fabric as seen above (I bought like 6 yards of this stuff it was so cheap) I ended up throwing the whole project away! It wasn’t even complicated, just a skirt with two seams and an elastic waistband. I still managed to do something terrible though and it would just not cooperate. Now, I don’t mind working with it at all and am currently in the process of using it to make a mock-up of a shirt. So just take your first steps into the world of special fabrics with expectations of only to learn and experience and use your later projects to refine what your first experience teaches you.

What’s been your favorite and least favorite project working with flowy fabric? Please share, I’d love to hear about them!

Until next time,

—Bethany Out


4 thoughts on “Sewing with Fabrics that Drape Well

  1. love that pink spotted fabric!
    I’m working with silk and it is a nightmare. I have to do a curved hem and it’s so wonky!!! I feel bad that this lovely material is being butchered by me but I just love wearing soft fabric!


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