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One Pattern, Three Fabrics

How to pick the best fabric for the Ariel dress.

Posted in: Fabric & Textiles • June 30, 2018

Let’s be honest—picking fabric to accompany a pattern can be the most exciting and the most intimidating part of any sewing project. Fabric is a complicated beast. It determines technique, fit, and the final look of any piece of clothing.

The Ariel dress has a straight silhouette, which means your fabric choice will affect how the dress drapes on your body—so have fun and experiment! You can play with lightweight, breezy fabrics for a softer silhouette, or choose medium-weight cottons for a stable shape.

Below are three different fabrics that will achieve three different silhouettes, plus links to our favorite fabric resources across the world.

Double Gauze

The Ariel dress sewn in double gauze.

Double Gauze

If you’ve never sewn with double gauze before, you are in for a treat! Double gauze is made from two layers of gauze fabrics that are basted together, so one side can look completely different from the other side. You’ll often find double gauze made from loosely woven cotton and linen for breathability and comfort. For the Ariel dress, double gauze will maintain some structure and keep you cool—it really is an ultra-soft and dreamy fabric that feels delicate and substantial all at once.

Tip: Use a rotary cutter and a walking foot for double gauze since the two layers can be slippery.

1 | Nani Iro Wildflower Double Gauze Petal Peach

You can trust this double gauze, $19.99/yard from Harts Fabric.

2 | Birch Organic Double Gauze in Blush

Birch Organic Fabrics has a rainbow of solid-colored double gauze, $16.50/yard from Fabricworm.

3 | Tall Tales in Jackelope Cream

Birch Organic Fabrics has every kind of print you can imagine, $16.50/yard from Fabricworm.

International sources for double gauze: The Workroom (CA), Pom Pon (CH), Miss Matatabi (JP), Miss Maude Sewing (NZ)


Rayon will create a lightweight, breezy dress with a drapey silhouette. Despite rayon’s flowing drape, it’s stable and easy to sew. It takes ink well, so it comes in a variety of prints and colors, and you’ll often find it blended with cotton or other fibers to add softness to the fabric. It’s made from naturally occurring cellulose, so you might also see it called modal or viscose.

Tip: Rayon tends to shrink dramatically. Either pre-treat it by washing and drying or care for your finished garments delicately by handwashing or dry cleaning.

The Ariel dress sewn in rayon.

1 | Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Co. Lively Floral Rayon in Burgundy

The latest Rifle Paper Co. collaboration is another hit, $14.70/yard from The Confident Stitch.

2 | Rayon Challis Solid Dijon

This neutral rayon challis would make a beautiful basic, $12.99/yard from Style Maker Fabrics.

3 | Simple Geometric Rayon Challis

Rayon challis is a treat to sew, $13.00/yard from La Mercerie.

International sources for rayon: Blackbird Fabrics (CA), Coser Cosas (ES), Pretty Mercerie (FR), Miss Matatabi (JP), Miss Maude Sewing (NZ), Fabric Godmother (UK), Dragonfly Fabrics (UK), The Crafty Mastermind (UK)

Lightweight and Medium-weight Cotton

The Ariel dress works well in many different cotton fabrics. For a lightweight, breezy dress, choose a cotton voile—if it’s sheer, you can add an underlining. For a more stable silhouette, choose a sturdy chambray that will maintain its shape. And for a classic summer dress, use seersucker or Swiss dot.

Tip: Since cotton can vary so much in weight, keep a fabric swatch diary to record your favorite cotton fabrics paired with your favorite silhouettes!

The Ariel dress sewn in cotton chambray from Birch Organic Fabrics.

1 | Feather Palm Lawn

This modern print is perfect for summer, $9.00/yard from La Mercerie.

2 | Yarn-dyed Chambray in Coral

The new yarn-dyed chambrays from Birch Organic Fabrics have great texture and colors, $18.00/yard from Fabricworm.

3 | Liberty of London Lawn

To give yourself a summer treat, invest in some Liberty of London cotton, $18.00/yard from Bolt.

International sources for cotton: Blackbird Fabrics (CA), Pom Pon (CH), Coser Cosas (ES), Miss Maude Sewing (NZ), Guthrie & Ghani (UK), The Crafty Mastermind (UK)

Save up to 20% on fabric! If you’re a Seamwork member, you get exclusive discounts at many of the fabric stores featured in this article. Check out the Member Deals page here for all the details.

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