Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What I'm Reading: The Fashion Designer's Textile Directory

If you love garment sewing, you are addicted to love fabric. Soft and squishy, furry and structured, fabric=possibility. But as easy as it is to love, it's actually very difficult to master. There are SO many different kinds of fabric, with such a range of uses, that you can spend years (decades?) studying it and still have more to learn.

I've read a ton of books about fabric, as well as trained extensively in the good ole fashioned method of pet-and-learn (fabric, not people). My favorite book for a beginner is Fabrics A to Z (reviewed here). Just enough info to get your feet wet and not be overwhelming. For a more advanced schooling, I really like my most recent addition, The Fashion Designer's Textile Directory

There are a couple things about this book that make it unique (in my experience). The reason the title aims it towards fashion designers is that the book divides the fabric types up by function: structure, fluidity, ornamentation, expansion, and compression. In other words, broadcloth, challis, embroidered fabrics, tulle, and swimsuit knit would go into those categories, respectively. Within each division, the fabrics are then ordered by weight. For example, the structure category covers everything from lawn to leather.

book about fabric

This kind of organization is useful for a fashion designer who might have a sketch and not be sure of the best fabric for accomplishing it. The home sewist might use it in a more backwards fashion than that, coming across a specific fabric (in a store or perhaps on a pattern envelope) and looking up its properties. Not sure which is heavier, poplin or sateen? This book gives you a great, quick reference.

The second strong point of this book is the extensive information on fabric weaves and knit patterns, a particular weak point in my knowledge. I mean, I've only been sewing for 3 years, it's taken this long just to get a handle on fibers and fabric names! In the book, there are icons with each fabric to show you the weave type. There is even a fold-out flap key that you can keep open if you're reading a lot of pages at once and need a quick reference. Each of the weave/knit types are explained in more detail in the opening pages of the book.

Lastly, there are a TON of pictures, both of fabric swatches and actual garments. I have a hard time getting into a book about something creative if the design is ugly, but this one is gorgeous. Getting back to the fashion design suspect, the garment photos are mostly from runway shows, which is fun and inspiring.

I only found one drawback, and this is probably just me. The book had a pretty heavy tone on being environmentally responsible with all aspects fashion design, from sourcing fabric to changing your designs so they are more eco-friendly. I'm not saying that I disagree with this sentiment, but the concept was so repetitive throughout the book that it felt like being preached AT instead of being given an option to use my own brain. Not a huge deal, but if that kind of thing bothers you a lot then keep it in mind.

If you're looking for a book that covers the function of a wide range of fabrics (homespun, film, buckram, power mesh to name a few I haven't seen in other books) this is a great one to get! I know I'll be turning to it a lot in the future.

This is not a paid or sponsored post, but I have used a few affiliate links. I received this book as a gift from a family member after lusting for it for ages :)


  1. That looks like an awesome resource!!!

  2. Ooh, that looks like an excellent read. It's a shame that the environmental responsibility aspect came across as preachy though, as I found it refreshing to hear that it was addressed in a fashion-related title at all xx


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