Contrarily to other patterns, such as the Aubépine dress or the Datura blouse, that require a fluid fabric to get a nice drape, the Centaurée dress lends itself to a great variety of medium and lightweight fabrics: poplin, batiste, voile, chambray, satin, in fibers such as cotton, linen, rayon… they’re all suitable.
But to better understand the specificities of every fabric and the effect they give to the final garment, I’m offering you a little explication on the different weaves that you can find on the market.
It’s the simplest and most ancient weave. Every warp thread passes alternatively under and over every weft thread. The two faces of the fabric, therefore, look the same. The most common fabrics of this type are poplin, batiste, voile, madras, gingham…
The advantage of this very simple weave is its stability. It’s often recommended to beginners because it doesn’t move around under the sewing machine foot, it’s easy to sew and it doesn’t get easily misshapen. Its main disadvantage is in its drape: most plain weave fabrics are rather stiff and get easily creased. Because of their stiffness, they’re also puffier, which can be an advantage or an inconvenient depending on the desired effect.
The particular construction of twill leads to a slanted pattern on the fabric. Twills have a right and a wrong side, but they don’t have a top or a bottom. The most common twills are twill, gabardine, denim and some chambrays.
The fact that twills are constructed with less interlacements than plain weaves makes them, at equal weight, softer and less easy to crease, but a bit more fragile. Their flexibility gives them a nice drape, soft and heavy. They are nevertheless less stable than plain weaves and theiy are more easily deformed after being sewn.
Contrarily to a wide-spread idea, satin is not a material! The word “satin” defines the ensemble of textiles made from this type of weave, with no apparent weft, smooth, plain and glossy on the right side, and dull on the wrong side. There are cotton satins, as well as silk and polyester satins, generally used as lining. Crêpe is generally also a type of satin weave.
This is my favorite of all weaves, because it combines the lightness of plain weave to the flexibility and softness of twill, and it has a particularly elegant luster. It is, however, like twill, quite fragile and prone to deformations (it’s very easy to accidentally pull a thread of a satin fabric, because of its small number of interlacements).
The second principal parameter to take into account when choosing fabric is obviously its weight, expressed in grams per linear meter (g/ml).
Most of the time, the higher the weight, the denser the fibers, therefore the stiffer the fabric: it’s the case of gabardine and poplin. But be careful, some heavy fabric are very thick and therefore less dense, which means they are still rather soft (it’s the case of some types of wool).
The two samples of the Centaurée dress are made using plain weaves: on the left, a cotton batiste and on the right, a very light muslin. The batiste used on the left gives a stable, durable dress, not prone to deformations, nevertheless you can see many wrinkles forming when the fabric is moving (characteristic of plain weaves). You can however note that the lighter the chosen fabric is, the less stiff it is, because the density of fibers is smaller.
Naturally, depending on the weave of the fabric, two fabrics of the same weight but woven differently will give a very different effect and flexibility! For example, if you want a fabric that’s soft but warm for the changing season, go with a medium weight twill or satin (200 g/ml). If you are looking for a lightweight cotton for summer (120 to 150 g/ml), batiste will be relatively flexible and easy to work but will crease during the day, while a satin of the same weight will give you flexibility and softness .
In the case of the Centaurée dress, whichever fabric you’re going to use, I recommend a medium to light fabric (maximum weight: 200 g/ml). If you choose to use poplin, batiste or a medium twill, your dress will be structured and your skirt puffy. If you prefer voile, a light satin or twill, the result will be softer and the dress will have less volume.
If you’re using a very light cotton, I recommend to either line the bodice of the dress or to use your fabric doubled in order to give a little more structure to this part of the dress. Don’t forget to pay attention to your notions as well: zipper, piping, bias tape… the weight of these elements must be right for your fabric if you don’t want to ruin the ensemble and create some ugly creases!