Over the last week or so I've been trying to choose some fabric for a summer dress. I wanted a fabric with an amazing drape that doesn't need lining. I don't mind if it's jersey, but it doesn't need to be - it just needs to have a fluidity to it in the same way that jersey does. Anyway, I've now searched in so many places and come up with a shortlist of things that feel like they could work, but it's taken me so long to gather up these fabrics that I thought you might like it if I shared them with you, just in case you're in need of your own drapy fabric for a summer dress (I'm thinking maybe a Miz Mozelle style dress of the variety I've made before - pictured at the top of this post), but feel exhausted by the prospect of researching fabrics.
I love the fabrics I'm sharing with you here but I've had to hunt quite hard to find them, so I really long for more designers to start bringing out simpler prints when it comes to dress weight fabrics. Buying dressmaking fabric over the internet can be a risk. While I'll happily buy from an anonymous bolt of fabric when I'm in a shop where I can feel the quality and drape for myself, if I'm buying online I quite like the reassurance of being familiar with a certain fabric houses' substrates. For example, voiles by Free Spirit, Rowan and Art Gallery Fabrics are all of identical quality and drape, so I only need focus on which prints I like. This is why, despite unbranded dressmaking fabric being widely available on the internet, it's simpler prints from trusted fabric manufacturers that I'm coveting. I think this Waterfront Park print, above, by Violet Craft would be amazingly wearable in a jersey or rayon challis (it's pictured here in quilting cotton). Anyway, onwards with my finds.
My next possibility is Anna Maria Horner's rayon challis, which has an amazing drape and a more matt finish than regular rayon (I know, because Kate sent me some gorgeous samples, but I was too slow off the mark to ask for the print I really wanted before she sold out, but she has the rest in stock here). However, Dragonfly Fabrics still have my favourite print here. And you can see a photo of a finished dress made using this print here - the dress is lined, but I'm hoping that's just because it's a very straight cut and not because a fuller dress would need it. I love this print and, for a small person, I think it's the most wearable out of the rayon challis prints from Anna Maria Horner.
Amy Butler has a few rayon challis prints available also, but again, the prints feel too intense to wear easily.
Fabric.com in America has quite a few good options. I am totally in love with this print pictured below. It's cotton sateen with a bit of stretch added - it says it's 'full-bodied' though, which is making me wonde if it's the more substantial variety of cotton sateen that you'd buy for trousers. I haven't shopped there before, so I'm unsure as to what the quality of the fabrics will be like when they're not from a fabric designer that I'm familiar with - have you shopped at Fabric.com?
Assuming it may be the wrong weight, then they have this navy polka dot bamboo jersey (all the bamboo jersey I've come across has an amazing soft drape, so I'd hope this would be the same).
I also love this rayon challis, below, with its tiny, wearable print from Valori Wells. You can see the other designs she's released in this substrate here.
Going off the summer dress theme for a moment, I also adore this voile from Amy Butler. Too thin for unlined dresses, but perfect for a pair of pyjama bottoms or a blouse. I've been coveting it ever since I saw it in Liberty (unfortunately priced well beyond what you'd expect to pay for an Amy Butler voile, so I left it and thought about it all the way home).
Back to dresses again, I like this stripy jersey below. Boden's Newquay dress (pictured second below) seems like good inspiration for how this could be used.
Raystitch now also have the bamboo stretch knit that I used for the dress pictured below (original post, here) in navy - hurrah! I love navy for clothing. I think this would make a fantastic Miz Mozelle and it could always be livened up by using a contrast binding on the sleeves and keyhole (although I prefer my navy unadulterated, so I'm pondering making a plain one). Americans can find a similar plain navy bamboo jersey here.
Have you heard of a fabric called Ponte Roma? My off-the-peg experience of it is that it's a very thick jersey with a visible horizontal weave. It holds it shape well and doesn't crease. It's sturdier than regular jersey...the type you couldn't get a VPL through. I'm not sure it's suitable for the flowing dress that I'm currently envisaging, but as I came across it several times on my fabric searches I thought it may be worth mentioning in anticipation of autumn sewing. I think it would be fantastic for a more full-bloom tulip skirt than the one below (which I mocked up from two fat quarters on my mannequin several months ago). I've found some ponte roma at Stone Fabrics (again, new to me) in...navy.
For my next fabric, I actually have no idea if it would be suitable for a dress, but certainly a blouse. It's being mentioned purely because it makes me feel quite loopy with joy just thinking about it (my search was full of distractions). Pelicans. But not overtly I'M WEARING CREATURES ON MY CLOTHING pelicans. But subtle, lovely pelicans that almost morph into a geometric pattern when viewed from further away. It's blush coloured silk. That's the kind of fabric you'd expect a shop called Fabric Godmother to be able to source.
Back to more practical options. I like the simplicity of this polka dotted black jersey a lot. You can find it here.
I also love this drapey red and navy jersey knit.
Or another favourite colour combination of green and navy
I think that probably ties things up. Do you have an online source for amazing dressmaking fabric? If you do I'd love to hear it.