Sew In Brighton Blog

Tips for choosing Tailored Jacket fabrics - an interview with Dragonfly Fabrics and our Jacket course tutor Jo Bunner

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With our upcoming Tailored Jacket making course in mind, here we interview Katie and Dorte at Dragonfly Fabrics in Sussex and our jacket course tutor Jo Bunner about the best choice for jacket fabrics 

What's the easiest fabric for a novice jacket maker to use?

The easiest fabric to use would be a wool fabric, like the 100% Italian wool or the grey Italian check wool as these are firm. We are have a new range of herringbone tweed that would be suitable also. These fabrics are not too thick so they drape well and they are easy to sew with. Although pure wool fabric is more expensive, we think you will get more from your finished garment. The quality is important to think about, especially when taking the time to make something tailored, quality fabrics will make sewing easier and the jacket durable. 

Course tutor Jo agrees - woven fabrics are forgiving, especially in pure wool and wool-rich mixes because they are more stable and slight imperfections in stitching can be steamed/ironed away. A plain fabric is easier than a check or a one way print. Prints/checks will need extra fabric for pattern matching. 

(all photos are linked to Dragonfly Fabric item page)

Are there any fabrics that wouldn't be suitable for a jacket or would be very hard to work with? 
Fabrics that don't have enough structure, are too thin or have too much stretch. Satin is definitely for someone quite confident as it'll slip around and be less forgiving - those aforementioned imperfections won't be so easy to hide as in wool. Dragonfly have some beautiful corduroy velveteen ranges which is a is another option for a tailored jacket if you have a bit of dressmaking experience, although Jo warns of the challenges with these - corduroy and velvet tends to crawl along itself while you're pinning and sewing so need loads of pins - perhaps leave these fabrics for your second jacket!

Our next Tailored Jacket making course starts soon - only 6 places available - info about the course and booking here

What's the best fabric choice for a summer jacket?
Dragonfly recommend Linen as a great choice for a lovely tailored jacket. If you don't want to go for pure linen then a Cotton linen would work just as well.  She suggests non stretch medium weight fabrics such as lightweight wools, gabardine (a closely woven cotton or wool twill). Plus medium-heavy weight linen, denim, cotton drill (could be printed but see above comment re prints). If you are coming on the course and want to use a print we'll be advising how much fabric to get after week 1 of the course so you don't need to work this out on your own beforehand

Any tips on best lining to choose?
Katie and Dorte at Dragonfly find a good quality, anti static lining is best and long lasting. They told us "Silk lining looks lovely, but in my experience doesn't wear as well. I have always used the Venezia lining, these are the best quality linings on the market." Jo adds that if you're on a budget, polyester lining is slightly easier to handle than nylon, as isn't so slippery, but if going for nylon, choose a heavier weight one. Satin is a luxurious touch, but does come with its own stitching challenges. Dragonfly are sending us swatches of their linings so if you are in the classroom take a look.

Can I machine wash a jacket? Jo would advise against this, especially a fully lined tailored one as it could cause shrinkage and distortion. So it's dry clean or super careful handwashing we're afraid!

How much interfacing do I need?
Interfacing is a fusible or sew in backing which gives fabric strength and body. You'll find it in most waistbands, collars, neckfacings etc. With jackets it really depends on your pattern, but you will need at least one length of your finished jacket as you will probably fuse both front pieces, plus the collar, hem and sleeve facings. Jo specifies buying more than a metre of interfacing - maybe 2m - for a good tailored finish, especially in wool. We'll be advising on which thickness/type interfacing to get for the jacket you want to make on the course in April 2016 (plus check the site for future dates)

Our next Tailored Jacket making course starts soon - only 6 places available - info about the course and booking here

Find high quality dressmaking fabrics for jackets and more at Dragonfly

Jacket course teacher Jo Bunner is also an image consultant at