We’re wrapping up our spring blog series with a hardworking group of fabrics—bottom weights. Often overlooked, this group of fabrics is one of the largest and most diverse but also one of the most difficult to define. It includes any mid to heavy weight fabric durable for pants, skirts, jackets, and bags. These fabrics need to be durable enough to withstand a good amount of stress and wear and tear to suit these hardworking garments. They can also include a large variety of fabric types and weights, so let’s take a closer look!
The key requirement of bottom weight fabrics is to hold up to the demands of everyday life. That means they need to withstand common movements like sitting, kneeling, walking, etc., along with repeated use over a long period of time. Pants and jackets typically account for the smallest number of garments in our wardrobes but the largest number of uses for each one. With that in mind, common bottom weight fabrics include denim, twill, sateen, canvas, linen, suiting, and ponte knit. Each of which is available in a wide variety of weights, compositions, and textures to suit the look and style of the finished garment.
As we head into the warmer months, choosing a bottom weight fabric is about finding the right balance of weight and durability. This is not the season to be breaking out the heavy corduroy, but rather to reach for the mid-weight linen, stretch sateen prints, and light-washed denims. You don’t want your pants or jackets to be too warm, but you also want them to hold up to season after season of repeated wear. Tricky, right?!
The best way to handle this is to look at your garment pattern and see what other characteristics it needs in a fabric. Does it need the fabric to be super strong and stable, like a classic pair of fitted jeans? Or should it be light and drapey, like a wide-leg flowy pant? Asking these questions will help narrow down your options and set you up for the best success when selecting the right fabric.
For a bit more spring sewing inspiration, we are excited to have Cristy (@loveyousew_) and our own Michelle (@stylemakerfabrics) for this spotlight on bottom weights. Both selected classic warm-weather bottom weights to pair with their spring looks. Here are a few of their thoughts about selecting and working with these wardrobe staple fabrics.
Details about Cristy’s Outfit—Fabric: Lemon Tree Stretch Sateen, Pattern: McCall’s M7330, View B (Cristy made a few basic fit adjustments and a few style adjustments to get the fit and look she wanted)
Cristy commented, “I love bottom weights for the stability and handling in both cutting and sewing. You don’t have to worry about the fibers shifting too much, and they tend to be a little heavier and fully opaque versus many other kinds of fashion fabrics.” She also noted that the bit of spandex in her cotton sateen was an added bonus and made this fabric a perfect match for her fitted romper. She mentioned, ” I can move and sit with absolute ease!”.
An avid sewist and bag maker, Cristy shared, “I love making pants and trousers with bottom-weight wovens, but also love sewing button-down shirts and jackets. Then, with the scraps, I end up using them in bags since these fabrics are sturdier.” Great ideas, right?!
Michelle typically lives in jeans and has been trying to find the perfect warm-weather pants—these are a definite winner. She says, “The Robbie pants in our soft washed linen finds the perfect middle ground between fitted and loose. They are soft and drapey, but I don’t feel sloppy and underdressed.” Her look also shows off how versatile spring bottom weights can be; both her jacket and pants used the same fabric!
In addition to jeans and other pants, Michelle also loves using bottom weights for bag making where you want extra durability in a tote you might use every day. She notes, if you find you need even more weight or durability in you bag fabric, you can add a layer or two of fusible woven interfacing to the back side of your bottom weight. Michelle is also anxious to try a Maker Jacket in one of the stunning Japanese canvases we have in the shop!
As a bonus, you might recognize these denim makes from earlier posts in this series. Carolyn and Lori both paired their featured fabric makes with classic jeans. Lori commented that she not only loves the comfort of wearing denim, but also the quality of her finished garment she know will wear and look great for years to come!” You can’t go wrong with denim any time of year, but this is the season for lighter color washes, cropped lengths, and lighter weights.
As you start exploring different bottom weights, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the variety! Here are a few of our favorites that would be a great starting point. We’ve broken them down into a few basic categories. Maybe order a swatch or two to get an idea of the look and feel and see what might work best for your pattern. Aren’t sure what pattern to try? Check out our selection of indie pants, jackets, and bag patterns HERE.
- Soft and Drapey: Soft Washed Linen, Linen/Rayon Blends (One, Two), and Tencel Twill
- Extra Comfort: Stretch Cotton Sateen and Stretch Denim
- Strength and Durability: Non-Stretch Denim
- Structured “Wow”: Linen Blend Canvas
We hope you enjoyed this fabric series to kick off your spring sewing! Hopefully, you learned an interesting fact or two and will be more confident in selecting fabric for your own spring sewing. Did you have a favorite look or fabric featured? We’d love to hear what it is or maybe what is at the top of your sewing list in the comments below!
Check out all of our spring fabrics available now in our shop. And, if you have any questions about finding the best fabric or pattern choice, feel free to email us. We’re here to help!
Until next time, happy sewing!