the difference a fabric makes / and it’s Laurel again


Hello and thank you for the comments on that earlier post about the blouses I made from the Laurel pattern.

I was a bit wary of posting again about garments I had already written about here — that’s not exactly the definition of interesting blogging, is it? But when we’re talking about creating a wearable self-made wardrobe, revisiting patterns in this way can be very useful. And being able to have a conversation about that is just the best! So let’s continue.

Today I’d like to show you two Laurel dresses in two very different fabrics: one in a fairly crisp cotton and one in a rayon. But it’s not just fabric properties that make the two dresses so different.

I wrote here about the incredible learning experience that was sewing that first dress. I did wonder later if perhaps it was more of a challenge than I should have taken on for one of my first sewing project. Stop here. Maybe that’s not the best way to look at it — maybe it’s exactly the opposite. While making this dress I found a lot of good advice about fitting it (because there are many excellent posts about the Laurel out there) and the pattern instructions guided me very well through zipper insertion and bias binding finishes, so it was absolutely worth it.

I’m glad I chose a fabric that was easy to handle and to wear. I know some people feel strongly about not sewing clothes with quilting cotton but I don’t see a reason to be dogmatic if quilting cotton has a good chance of giving you a flattering result. (Anyway, the fabric came up in the apparel fabric search and seems to be listed in both fabric categories. Why am I even debating this — this print was too pretty to pass up.)

With the second dress, I decided to take a different direction. I chose a lightweight rayon. Most of the seams are French seams, the hems are sewn by hand, and the lapped zipper has a hand-picked finish.

I usually wear this one with a belt (which I of course forgot to grab for the photos). And always with a slip underneath, which makes it a dress for almost all seasons, barring the usual long span we have here when we try to save our noses from freezing off. I made this dress for Christmas — the colors felt right. I have worn it after that, by the way, and find this pattern surprisingly wearable.

There’s one more dress that I’ve saved for later. But for now, let’s talk fabric.

Have you tried sewing the same pattern in very different fabrics? How do you go about selecting fabrics for your projects?


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

2 thoughts on “the difference a fabric makes / and it’s Laurel again”

  1. The botanical material is so pretty! I mainly sew sheath style dresses for work, I’ve used differing types of material for the same pattern, the flimsier fabrics didn’t wear well, even with a lining. But it does depend on the pattern – less closer fitting styles would be more forgiving.


    1. Hi Helen! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      The botanical print is this one from Cotton and Steel. It’s available in other colorways, too.

      Fabric choice can be really tricky. I have a lot to learn, and some of that learning comes from mistakes. Luckily, with the Laurel so far, it seems to be a matter of difference not tragic choice, so that’s good.

      I’d love to see your dresses. Do you post photos online?


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