Kirill Yurovskiy: Secrets of Choosing Quality Fabrics for Sewing Clothes

By Kirill Yurovskiy, Expert Tailor


As an experienced tailor based in London, I’ve worked with countless fabrics over the years, stitching them into garments ranging from sharp business suits to flowing evening dresses. While most people think the cut and construction is what makes or breaks a piece of clothing, I’m here to let you in on a secret – the true foundation is the fabric itself.


Choosing quality fabrics is arguably the most important aspect of sewing clothes that look stunning and wear beautifully over time. It doesn’t matter how impeccable your sewing skills are, if you start with subpar fabric, the finished product will disappoint. On the other hand, a well-made garment sewn from a luxurious fabric has a richness and elegance that cannot be matched.


Over my decades in the trade, I’ve learned to judge fabrics like a sommelier evaluates fine wines, discerning the weave, drape, composition, and other subtle qualities through sight and touch alone. Today, I’ll share some of those secrets for choosing quality fabrics so you can take your home sewing projects to new heights.


Understanding Fabric Content

The first thing to look at when evaluating a fabric is the fiber content or composition. High-quality fabrics are typically made from natural fibers like wool, cotton, linen, and silk. These materials breathe well, feel pleasant against the skin, and develop a beautiful patina over time.


On the other hand, synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic tend to be lower quality. While inexpensive, they don’t drape as elegantly and can feel hot or clingy when worn. You’ll want to avoid synthetic-heavy blends for clothing unless looking for specific technical properties like moisture-wicking for activewear.


However, not all natural fibers are created equal. The finest wool comes from breeds like merino, while long-staple Egyptian cotton produces the most lustrous fabrics. Top-quality silks are mulberry rather than tussah. Understanding these differences will help you recognize premium fabrics.

Examining the Weave

Another crucial factor is the fabric’s weave or construction. Different weaving methods create wildly different looks, textures and performance characteristics.


For example, a sturdy twill weave like you’d find in chinos, gabardine or denim has a distinctive diagonal pattern and holds its shape very well for tailored garments. Satin has a silky smooth hand-feel due to its high thread count. Jersey knits like those used for t-shirts have outstanding stretch. Crisp poplins and oxfords make for lovely tailored shirts.


As you develop your fabric knowledge, you’ll learn to identify weaves by sight and hand, which signals quality. A tight, even weave with minimal loose threads is preferable. You’ll also want to consider properties like drape, opacity, wrinkle-resistance, and washability to suit the intended use.

Evaluating Weight and Drape

While often overlooked by beginners, a fabric’s weight and drape properties are vital, particularly for more structured garments like suits, coats and dresses. You’ll want to assess these qualities by holding the fabric up and seeing how it falls.


Quality suiting fabrics should have a beautiful drape with just a bit of heft, neither heavy and stiff nor so light that they appear shapeless. Likewise, dress fabrics require enough weight to provide coverage while still falling softly over the body’s curves.

Testing Color Fastness and Care Requirements

Another sign of a quality fabric is color fastness and ease of care. Lower-quality fabrics tend to easily bleed color or fade when washed or dry cleaned. You can check for colorfastness by gently rubbing a swatch against a white fabric swatch — quality pieces won’t leave much dye behind.


Top fabrics should also maintain their hand-feel and fibers when washed. Testing a swatch’s reaction to heat, friction, and water can indicate its overall durability over many wears and washings.

Finding Quality Sources

Now that you understand what to look for, where should you source quality fabrics? Here are my top recommendations:


– Visit upscale fabric stores and browse the top textile houses like Holland & Sherry, Gladson, or Scabal. While pricier, these merchants curate premium fabric collections from the world’s finest mills.


– Check for European or Japanese imports from regions renowned for their textile heritage like Italy, Scotland, France, or Japan’s Prunus fiber producers. Quality fabric is part of their cultural legacy.


– See if any local textile mills sell directly to consumers. Purchasing straight from the source ensures you’re getting the good stuff before it’s marked up.


– For more affordable natural fabrics, turn to Internet retailers that specialize in high-quality apparel fabrics.

Building Your Skills

As with any craft, your fabric evaluation skills will improve with time and experience. Study references on fabric types and compositions. Examine high-quality garments up close to understand how different textiles draped, sewn, and wore over time.


I also recommend assembling a personal fabric reference library. Collect well-labeled swatches complete with details like fiber content, weave, and use cases. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to see and feel what exemplifies quality.


With perseverance and an eye for detail, you’ll master discerning fine fabrics like a pro. This hands-on understanding will take your sewing to new heights, imparting a luxurious aesthetic you simply can’t achieve with run-of-the-mill materials.


After all, us tailors have a saying — you can make an ordinary garment from exceptional fabric, but you can never make an exceptional garment from ordinary fabric. Let that guide your fabric choices and your creations will be truly remarkable. With quality as your foundation, the world of bespoke sewing will be your oyster.