Fabric Ideas for the Felix Dress
Okay are you all ready to talk about Felix fabric?! Because I am! I’ve been getting a lot of questions, so we're going to cover a lot in this post, starting with the basics - the difference between weight and drape.
Drape vs Weight
While drape and weight are often related, they do not always go hand in hand. Of course a heavy denim will be quite stiff and a lightweight silk charmeuse is going to be about as soft as fabric comes, but there are exceptions to this rule. Think about cotton lawn compared to a cotton gauze. They may weigh about the same but the gauze will have great drape while the lawn is very crisp. Another example is silk chiffon vs. silk organza - they both may seem like lightweight options but the drape of the two is nowhere near interchangeable. Silk organza is often used as a sew-in stabilizer, which makes a lot of sense when you think about its drape. It will add structure to something like a wool gabardine, a fabric that is much heavier than organza, but has much more drape.
Selecting a Self Fabric
If you've read the product listing for the Felix dress, you know we recommend the following for your self fabrics. Again, the self is the main fabric in a garment, so in this case it's the outer fabric. Lightweight fabrics such as cotton voile or batiste, handkerchief linens, rayon and rayon blends, and silks. Avoid fabrics that are stiff or tightly woven, as this dress requires fabrics with drape. One thing these fabrics have in common is that they're all soft fabrics. None of them are tightly woven, or super crisp. Nor do they have a lot of heft to them. You can see this in our samples by how they hang on the body.
1. 100% rayon: This particular print seems to be sold out everywhere I'd previously seen it but I found something very similar at Hart's Fabric.
2. 50/50 blend of rayon and linen from Stonemountain & Daughter
3. 100% linen from Robert Kaufman One reason we picked these fabrics for our samples is that you can see a gradient from straight rayon, to a 50/50 rayon/linen blend, to straight linen. As the garments go from left to right the silhouette of the dress changes and starts to hold its shape every so slightly more as you move towards the linen.
The first image in this post is the Felix made up in Spoonflower's crepe de chine. This fabric works well weight wise and the bonus is that you can design your own fabric! I didn't design my own because I know where my talents do not lie.
You can find this awesome print here, or upload your own designs.
Fabric Drape Examples
Lexi and I spent Monday cutting and photographing some 12 x 12" swatches of various fabrics to give you an idea of why we recommended what we did, and why certain fabrics may have been omitted. All of these fabrics are either ones we recommend or fabrics we had on hand that people specifically us asked about. Each swatch is hung from a piece of thread to show off its natural drape. Hopefully this helps provide some clarity on fabric selection!
You can see the first two rows of fabric have the most drape, and are all fabrics we would recommend using for the Felix dress. Three of those swatches we did use for our samples, the white handkerchief linen is a different colorway of our blue sample dress. I didn't have enough leftover of the blue to cut a proper sized swatch.
Rayon Challis is a great choice for the Felix. It has a similar drape to silk but is popular because it's easier to handle and sew, and also comes in a wide variety of colors and prints at the moment.
Silk Crepe de Chine is another good choice, as is silk charmeuse. They both drape beautifully and have lovely movement on the body. Double Georgette is another great fabric choice.
Rayon Blends are going to be a solid choice in most cases. You can see how the addition of rayon in both the rayon/linen and the rayon/cotton blends resulted in those fabrics being much less rigid than their full linen or cotton counterparts.
Cotton Batiste, Gauze & Voile are somewhat loosely woven, resulting in a softer, less crisp fabric that could work for this dress.
Essex Linen is a fabric we got a lot of questions about in our inbox over the weekend. I would not recommend it for the Felix dress, it's much too rigid in my opinion. It works great for something like the Farrow Dress, for example, but it's going to be tent-like in a not great way in this situation.
Cotton Lawn is another I've been getting a ton of questions on, and this is a great example of drape vs. weight. Yes, cotton lawn is a very lightweight fabric, but due to the weave it's also a very crisp fabric, meaning it has less drape than other softer fabrics. Cotton lawn makes an amazing Archer Button Up or Willow Tank, but the crispness of the fabric won't give you a silhouette that looks like our samples.
Coated Linen This one landed in our email a few times and while we totally agree that this would look amazing in theory, in reality it will probably be less awesome. You can see just how little drape it has in the image above, you can probably imagine how that would fall in a pattern meant for a soft fabric that collapses in on itself a bit.
Selecting A Lining
Now that we've walked you through self fabrics you can probably see why we included a full lining with this pattern. While you can likely get away without a skirt lining if your fabric is opaque enough, you're probably going to want one for the bodice. And you know if we hadn't included one you all would be emailing me asking how to add one ;)
As far as what fabrics to look at when selecting a lining, we recommend the following in the pattern: Lightweight linings such as rayon, rayon Bemberg, or silk. You can use the self fabric for the bodice lining, but we highly recommend using fabrics that won’t cling to the body and skirt for the skirt lining.
For our samples we used either lightweight rayon or silk habotai. I pre-washed both on cold before cutting so not only do I not have to worry about mixing fiber contents, but I also just toss my Felix dresses in the washing machine rather than hand washing or dry cleaning. You can really use any sort of lining you can find, including poly and acetate linings, but I don't prefer those as they hold more static electricity than other fibers and I just cannot get on board with static electricity!
I hope this post lends some clarity to the types of fabrics you'll find the most success with when making the Felix dress. If you have any questions on this or other fabrics, just let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to get you on the right track!