Plus-Size Dresses: What Fabrics to Choose?

Posted by baker miller

Now that we had our designs, we needed to find fabrics that would work best for our plus-size dresses.

Fabric is crucial to your garment - it determines how it looks, feels, and fits. We were looking for excellent quality, good weight, drape, and a bit of stretch, for comfort. There were other elements essential to us:

Washability – will it hold up after multiple washes?
Seasonality – can the fabric be worn across different seasons?
Breathability – will the material not trap heat, water, and sweat?
Durability – will the material resist wear after repeated use?

Durability was especially important to us – we wanted a well-constructed fabric, nothing flimsy and poor quality. Poorly made clothes are abundant today, especially in the plus-size market. Much of the clothing available now is not made to last. Check in your closet – we’re sure you have plenty of clothes that have faded after one wash, sweaters that pilled after one wear, or a new skirt that ripped when you sat because of sloppy seams.

Sadly, fast fashion has created a throwaway culture, producing cheap, poor-quality clothes tossed after a few wears. This is not what we want to give to our customers.

Another question we had to answer was whether we wanted to use wovens or knits. You often see product descriptions on ecommerce websites that list the fabric as “woven” or “knit.” What is the difference between a woven and knit fabric?

Fabric comprises natural (e.g., cotton) or artificial fibers (e.g., polyester) spun into threads or yarns. It can be made in several ways, typically by weaving or knitting.

Woven fabrics use a process of interweaving multiple yarns, the warps (vertical), and the wefts (horizontal) on a loom. Most wovens are rigid and don’t give much, but they can be blended with a small amount of spandex/elastane, resulting in a stretch woven fabric.

Denim (see picture below), linen, and a cotton dress shirt are examples of wovens.

woven plus-size fabrics

Knitted fabrics are created similarly to a hand-knitted scarf. Knits are constructed from yarn by a series of interlinked loops - see the example in the sweater knit photo below.

The looped construction gives knits stretch; it also makes it softer, more drapey, and easier to fit.

knit plus-size fabric

Knitted fabric includes leggings, jerseys used in a wrap dress, or a French terry sweatshirt.

So you can see why it is essential to consider if a fabric is knit or woven. These fabrics act very differently and affect your design pattern, fit, and function.

Our next blog post will dive more into specific fabrics we evaluate for our dresses and their characteristics.

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