Working with Handloom Fabrics

jamdani fabric detail

Some of our fabrics are a little different than what we're all used to... here are some tips to making the most of these wonderful handloom fabrics.

  •  approach lightweight handloom cotton fabric as you might a fine silk — it is delicate and should be treated with care. However, being cotton, it will handle more easily
  • many handloom fabrics are slightly translucent: you may need to line the garment, or underline/back the fabric. Try something like plain voile for the lining or a separate slip
  • use a fine needle and fine (no.60) cotton thread, with a short stitch length
  • plan ahead for seam finishes: they are a must. Consider French seams, bound seams, or a classic turn-and-stitch or pinked-and-stitched seam allowance (on tighter weaves)
  • use the very lightest sew-in interfacing as necessary, or (better yet) none at all, finishing edges with bias bands or piping. Don’t forget to staystitch!
  • be sure to make a muslin to check the fit of your pattern beforehand - you don’t want to have to unpick seams, as the fabric is delicate and needle holes may show
  • since the fabric is more loosely woven than typical cottons, it works best for more loosely fitted garments so that the seams won’t be stressed
  • the fabric may fray a bit or lose its shape slightly after cutting, so handle cut pieces with care before and during sewing
Inspiration and Ideas:
  • the weave is usually fairly even, so you can use fabric on the cross grain for creative placement of stripes or motifs
  • similarly, decorative or colored selvedges can be used at the hem or edges of a garment, or applied as trim
  • indigo looks great with denim!
  • use multiple layers of fabric with the design misaligned to create intriguing effects
  • many of the super fine, soft cottons will gather well, to create rich fullness
  • imagine fine pin tucks and hand work for baby garments and heirloom sewing
  • handloom cottons are perfect for making historical garments - this is just what was used for Regency-era gowns!