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Fabric Buying Guide: best Fabric for the Madcap Jacket

a back picture of the Madcap Jacket pdf sewing pattern

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.

A list of suitable fabrics for the Madcap Jacket pdf sewing pattern
Fabric suggested listed with the Woven Madcap Jacket

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 think The Madcap Jacket is really versatile and the list of potential fabrics is loooooonnnnng. Especially when you consider there’s a woven and a knit pattern version!

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.

Madcap Jacket sewing pattern being worn by Jenn Barron in a grey boucle fabric
A recent Madcap Jacket make in a medium weight boucle suiting.

Light to Medium Weight Woven Fabrics

This is a HUGE category and might include fabrics like:

  • Poplin

  • Linen

  • Silk

  • Crepes

  • Georgettes

  • Tencel

  • Denim

  • Gabardines

  • Suitings

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.

Light weight twill tencel fabric in a bold print
When choosing a fabric, consider it's drape and how you want it to fit.

Black and White poly cotton poplin shirting
Low drape fabrics stand away from the body with rigid folds.

Low Drape:

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.

High drape fabric works with gravity and has soft folds.

High Drape:

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:

  • Hacchi

  • Ponte

  • French Terry

  • Dobby

  • Pique or Liverpool

  • ITY

  • Jersey

A stack of three pieces of Liverpool knit fabric in blue, green and a blue and pink floral print
Making the knit Madcap Jacket? You'll want to know what percentage of stretch your fabric has.

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.

A stack of three Liverpool knit fabrics in blue, green and blue and pink print
Liverpool Knits

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!

A stack of 3 fabrics. Hacchi sweater knit in green, jersey fabric in brown and a sweater knit in oatmeal
Hacchi, Sweater and Jersey knits

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.

a stack of two textured knit fabrics
Textured and Dobby Knits

French Terry fabric in grey
French Terry makes a great casual Madcap Jacket

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…

a stack of three wool suiting fabrics
Bulky fabrics should be used with foresight.

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.

Feeling Inspired?!

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.



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Jenn Barron

A pattern specialist, master seamster and digital badass. Jenn establishes a place where creativity, authenticity and sewing meet, helping make all the things so that you can  be you.

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