We as sewists all know the pain that comes from choosing the wrong fabric. Sometimes, with a little insight those fabrics have the ability to work with some tweaking to adapt the fit.
Generally knowing how a sewing pattern performs with different fabrics can take some time and experimentation. That’s why we rely on recommendations from a pattern and/or the designer, taking some of the guessing out.
The number one question I get in emails is regarding fabric selection. Of course, the pattern I get asked most often about is, The Madcap Jacket.
I’m going to lay out some fabric suggestions and discuss how a particular fabric might react when sewn. Hopefully taking some of the guesswork out for you. Knowing how a fabric will stretch, wear, drape and react is key to selecting a fabric for any project but especially The Madcap Jacket.
Light to Medium Weight Woven Fabrics
This is a HUGE category and might include fabrics like:
Within this massive category, it’s important to take into consideration the drape of the fabric. The Madcap can work both as a structured jacket or as a high drape garment.
Fabrics that tend to have more shape and structure are considered low drape fabrics. These are more likely to be poplins, linens, denim, gabardine and some suitings. These fabrics will leave the Madcap Jacket with a boxier fit.
Low drape fabrics are great to use with a lining fabric and are more open to lining options compared to a fabric with high drape.
Low drape fabrics may only need light or no interfacing along the collared neckline.
We mostly think of high drape fabrics as very light weight, but that’s not always the case. A high drape fabric will allow the Madcap Jacket’s front to drape around your figure more and lay closer to the body.
While it’s still ok to use a lining for these fabrics, consider the weight of both the main fabric and the lining. If your main fabric is soft like a georgette, crepe or charmeuse you may need an equally light lining or no lining at all. Allowing your garment to hang for a few days before hemming is also preferred. These fabrics tend to lengthen as they hang, so this allows the fabrics to do what they do and then your hem can work seamlessly with both fabrics. Skipping this might cause the hem to bubble.
It’s important to consider the weight and style of interfacing with a high drape fabric. It’s best to avoid anything that’s too stiff or heavy. If you are working with a very thin fabric, consider using a sew-in interfacing or underlining instead of using a traditional iron-in interfacing.
Light to Medium Weight Knit Fabrics
Like the woven category, this too has a huge selection of fabrics. Keep in mind the drape of the knit fabric regarding and whether it has high or low drape qualities. Unlike woven fabrics, when making the knit version of The Madcap Jacket, it’s important to pay attention to the stretch percentage of a fabric.
Some options in the category might include:
Pique or Liverpool
5 - 15% Stretch Fabrics
Anything in this category is considered a low stretch fabric. When considering a low stretch fabric you will likely have better success using the woven pattern vs the knit version.
20 - 30% Stretch Fabrics
This is a great range of stretch for the Madcap Jacket. Often this is the stretch capacity of many ponte, french terry, dobby, pique and liverpool fabrics. Single direction stretch fabrics are fine as long as the fabric is cut with the stretch being horizontal and going around the body.
The knit version of Madcap Jacket is based with negative ease around the biceps and across the back shoulders. Be sure to reference the pattern itself in the desired size to make sure your negative ease in these areas aren’t more than 0 to -1” around the bicep or 0 to -3” for the back shoulders. Positive ease is also fine for a looser look!
30 - 50%+ Stretch Fabrics
In this stretch range we might find Hacchi or sweater knits, jersey, or an ITY (Interlock Twist Yarn). These fabrics are high stretch and are often high drape too. While it’s always important to keep the pattern’s measurements in mind, there is more “forgiveness” in this stretch range so your required negative ease could be larger.
Depending on how relaxed or fitted you want to make the Madcap fit on you, a comfortable range would be 0 to -2” around the bicep and 0 to 4” along the back shoulders. Once again, positive ease is ok too but will likely have a more relaxed or oversized look.
Heavy Weight or Bulky Fabrics:
Like I said, Madcap has some major capacity for different fabrics, but this one has the highest margin for error. If you are considering something in this range, I think you should have a Madcap or two under your belt to understand its fit on your body before jumping into this fabric category…
I have enjoyed a Madcap Jacket or two made from wool bouclé, which some might classify as heavy and bulky, so I know it can be done. I’m going to give a little insight on some things to keep in mind if you are feeling adventurous and going to take on this heavy weight class.
Like a broken record... the drape of a bulky fabric should be considered. Even high drape, bulky fabrics are likely to have a boxier fit because of their thickness.
When working with fabric that’s considerably thick, I recommend a few things:
One is to consider the back ruffles. These are very full ruffles and can be very bulky with both layers. You can easily shave off a few inches to each side of the ruffle, removing some of its fullness to accommodate a thicker fabric.
Alternatively, you could remove the top ruffle all together and just leave one ruffle along the jacket’s back.
You will want to have maximum ease along your bicep and shoulders, you can always remove it during the construction stage but these fabrics lend themselves to fitting “smaller.”
If you are not planning on lining your fabric, I highly recommend using a bound seam finish, like a Hong Kong Seam.
I hope you are! The Madcap Jacket is truly a fun make and very likely to be the go-to item you’ll wear over and over again.
It might have taken years (and many failed experiments) to have such a robust understanding of how different fabrics react to this sewing pattern but it was totally worth it. I hope you were able to get a better understanding of just how to consider fabrics, not just for the Madcap, but your next sewing project too.
Still have a question? Well I’m still here to answer it. Leave me a comment below and tell me what you think.