When choosing fabric for the Conifer Skirt, there are several aspects to the fabric that you want to know and consider. In fact, these considerations are important for selecting knit fabrics for any garment! For the Conifer Skirt, you will particularly want to consider roll, recovery, stretch percentage, stretch of a print, and weight.
I talk through all of these aspects in this video, for those of you that like watching instructional videos.
Fabric type: A jersey is the most obvious choice for the Conifer Skirt. However, there are many types of knits and if you find one that has the necessary characteristics discussed below, go for it! ITY knits and four-way stretch knits are also obvious choices. You might even find a stretch woven that will work.
Roll: Do the edges of your fabric roll? Don’t fret, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. The edges of some knits will roll as soon as you cut the fabric, others won’t roll until they have been stretched, and still others don’t roll at all. If your fabric’s edges are prone to rolling, you may want to buy a bit more fabric as it can be challenging to align pattern pieces close to the edge of the fabric for cutting. Also, it may take more pins when sewing to keep the fabric nicely in place. Finally, fabric that rolls can profoundly affect your hems. The shingles on the Conifer Skirt overlap by several inches, so using a fabric that rolls a bit will work fine. However, if your fabric rolls a lot or if you don’t like the aesthetic of the rolled edge being visible, you will need to hem your skirt and shingles.
Recovery: Recovery refers to what the fabric does after it is stretched. Because the skirt is worn with negative ease through the hip and because it gets stretched as you wear it by your body movement, you will want a fabric with recovery. You can test this by pinching a bit of the fabric and pulling up. If it immediately sproings back to place (that’s the technical term), then it has good recovery. If you can see where you made the pinch mark, then it doesn’t have good recovery. Your best bet when selecting a knit where you need recovery (especially if you can’t hold it in your hand before buying it) is to buy fabric with synthetic content. A cotton with 5% lycra or a poly knit are almost guaranteed to have recovery whereas 100% cotton often does not.
Stretch percentage: Stretch percentage is a way of quantifying how stretchy the fabric is. The Conifer Skirt requires at least 25% stretch – meaning that you should be able to easily stretch a piece of fabric a quarter again as much as its length, or every 4 inches should be able to stretch to 5 inches. You should be able to get away with a bit less stretch if you go up a size (or two).
Stretch of a print: When you stretch your fabric, what happens to the print? There are many ways to add prints to fabric and not all of them look good when they are stretched out. In the example above, the white base fabric starts to show through the dark print above when stretched out and this is not ideal. Again, you may be able to work around this a bit by sizing up so that there is less negative ease in the skirt (and therefore the fabric is less stretched around you).
Weight: You will want to make slightly different choices in the weight of your fabric depending upon which view of the Conifer Skirt you sew. For the skirt without shingles, use a medium or heavy weight fabric. You don’t want it to be too lightweight because a single layer will be uncomfortably sheer or clingy. A medium weight knit will make a good all-around skirt and a heavy weight will be super snuggly for winter wear (I can’t be the only one out there that loves to wear skirts all year round!). For a skirt with shingles, you will want to use a light to medium weight fabric. The fabric can be on the lighter end because with the shingles, each part of the skirt has at least two layers of fabric (some have 3). You don’t want to choose fabric that is too heavy because the many layers, especially in the maxi, add up to a lot of fabric and becomes quite heavy.