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One Pattern, Three Fabrics

How to pick the best fabric for the Bo top.

Posted in: Fabric & Textiles • August 31, 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 Bo top is like a blank canvas. It’s essentially a giant rectangle, so go wild with your prints or colors! The most important thing to pay attention to for this project is drape. If you pick a stiff quilting cotton, your top won’t drape nicely on your body, so try to pick fabrics that have a soft drape.

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

The Bo top sewn in navy linen.


Linen is the ultimate all-season fabric, and it usually has a very nice drape. This natural fiber breathes well and results in a luxurious garment that looks (and feels) expensive. The only downside is that it is prone to wrinkling. It’s best to embrace the wrinkles as part of linen’s signature look but to minimize them, look for blends that include rayon.

Tip: Linen is very vulnerable to shrinking, so pre-treat and take care of your garment accordingly.

International sources for linen:

International sources for linen: The Workroom (CA), Blackbird Fabrics (CA), Coser Cosas (ES), Pretty Mercerie (FR), Miss Matatabi (JP), Miss Maude Sewing (NZ), Fabric Godmother (UK), M is for Make (UK)

The Bo top sewn in fine cotton.

Fine Cotton

The Bo top is perfect for framing a nice cut of Liberty of London Tana Lawn. This fine cotton has a nice hand and enough drape for this top’s dramatic silhouette.

The difference between quilting cotton and fine cotton, such as lawn or voile, is the weave and thread count. It’s like your favorite sheets, the higher the thread count, the finer and softer the experience. Look for breezy cotton like voile, lawn, and batiste for this pattern.

Tip: Remember to staystitch, because these soft fabrics are susceptible to stretch.

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

The Bo top sewn in shirting.


The secret to this fabric is all in the name—it’s perfect for shirts!

Shirting cotton comes in four different types of weaves: satin, Oxford, twill and plain, all of which are pretty lightweight. It has a tight weave, so it won’t be as sheer as voile or lawn, but that also means it sews up as easily as quilting cotton.

Tip: If you pick a shirting with stripes or checks, be sure to match your print.

International sources for shirting: The Drapery (AU), Pom Pon (CH), Pretty Mercerie (FR)

Save up to 20% on fabric! If you’re a Premium 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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