Saltspring Dress: Let’s Talk Fabric Inspiration!

Are you guys excited about the Saltspring Sew-Along? We are! Right now, we’ve got fabric on our mind. We suggest lightweight drapey fabrics for this dress, like rayon challis, crepe, charmeuse, or even a lightweight knit! What do we mean by drape? You want to look for a fabric that is fluid, and falls in loose folds. Nothing too stiff, because you won’t get that nice blousing effect.

Here are some great fabric options from around the web to get you inspired!

Rayon Challis

Rayon Challis is soft, drapey and breathable! There are so many great prints out there in this fabric. Definitely, if you go with this option, you want to pre-wash your fabric! Rayon tends to shrink a lot. Another thing to keep in mind is that rayon will wrinkle. You will need to iron your dress often, and you may end up a bit rumpled by the end of a day wearing this fabric. Even with those drawbacks, this is such a popular fabric!


source: 1 / 2  / 3

Lightweight Knit

If you choose to go with a knit, you can omit the back zipper on the dress. This speeds up the sewing time significantly. Knit dresses always look flattering and effortless. Go with a natural fiber, like cotton, rayon, modal, tencel, bamboo… and your dress will be breathable and airy too! But this dress doesn’t limit itself to the summer season (I’m talking to you Southern hemisphere readers). I’ve been dreaming of a wool knit maxi version for fall. Paired with a cropped jacket or blazer, and a cozy scarf, how cute would that be?


source: 4 / 5 / 6


Crepe is one of those fabrics that sometimes gets a bad rap. I used to look at crepe and think… boring! But not all crepe is dull! Silk crepe de chine is elegant, soft and drapes beautifully. A bright colored georgette would be amazing for this dress. Even a lightweight wool crepe would make a gorgeous fall version of this dress (if you omit the tie straps and go with regular straps, then it won’t be such a summery look). The nice thing about a crepe weave is that it tends to resist creasing, and has a lovely drape. The texture of the yarns makes this type of fabric easy to sew.  Win, win!


source: 7 / 8 / 9


Charmeuse isn’t the easiest to sew, but if you are brave, it will give you an amazingly chic and put together look. Charmeuse tends to have a bit of a sheen to it, so it will make your dress more evening appropriate. Date night? We vote yes!


source: 10 / 11 / 12

Wondering about another fabric that you think could work? Ask us in the comments! We’d love to hear your ideas.

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25 Responses to Saltspring Dress: Let’s Talk Fabric Inspiration!

  1. Lucinda August 5, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    I love working with cottons, especially for summer. Any recommendations on a cotton that could work, like maybe lawn or voile? It’s not as drapey as the fabrics you mentioned but I wanted to know your thoughts on working with a cotton for this dress.

    • Amanda August 5, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      Yes, I was wondering the same as Lucinda!! Would a cotton lawn (a good quality one like Liberty Tana Lawn) work for this dress? I’m getting excited to start the sewalong with everyone!! :)

      • Caroline Amanda August 5, 2013 at 9:22 am #

        Hi Lucinda and Amanda! Yes a cotton voile or lawn could definitely work. Because these fabrics tend to be a bit sheer, I would underline your pieces, most importantly the skirt portion. Tasia did one of her samples using a cotton voile, you can see it here:
        Keep in mind that this version is omitting the “blousing effect”, which is why I think it really works for a cotton voile. If you were to try it with the original blousing, then your fabric will look a bit fuller around the waist because cotton wont fall and drape as flush with the body as some of the other fabrics we suggested.
        Happy sewing!

        • Tasia August 5, 2013 at 10:24 am #

          Thanks Caroline! To get an idea of what it will look like in lawn or voile, check out Amy’s gorgeous version of the Saltspring dress in Liberty –
          Isn’t that pretty?

          • Amanda August 9, 2013 at 7:55 am #

            Yes this is gorgeous!! I was thinking about splurging on my first Liberty tana lawn, and this version has convinced me!! Thanks for the feedback!!! :)

      • francesca August 6, 2013 at 3:07 am #

        Hmm. I make all my summer clothes in linens, voiles, and tana lawn – they’re the only things that don’t kill me in our heat – and I have never had to line tana lawn. It is such a tight weave that it is totally unnecessary. I would actually say that my US bought voiles are lighter and drapier than the tana lawn, and sometimes need a lining, especially when the colours are darker….

        • Caroline Amanda August 6, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

          Yes I do agree that some tana lawns would probably not need to be lined. You can usually tell if you take a swatch of the fabric and hold it up to the light, if you can see through it clearly, it should probably be lined! In the end, what matters is that you’re happy with how the dress looks :) And if it ends up being a bit see through, you could always make yourself a lovely slip!

  2. Sarah August 5, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Hi I’m thinking of a silk cotton blend! I was wondering if you can give an idea of how much main fabric one would need for the maxi if lining the bodice in a plain fabric rather than self lining. Thanks!

    • Caroline Amanda August 5, 2013 at 9:30 am #

      Hi Sarah! If you use a different fabric to line the bodice for the maxi dress, then you’ll be saving about a quarter to a half yard of fabric. So you can get away with about 3 – 3 1/4 yards of your main fabric, and you’ll need about a half yard of lining fabric! Keep in mind the maxi dress calls for 59-60″ fabric :). You could make it work with 55-56″ fabric, but get a bit extra just in case you have to tweak the cutting layouts.
      All the best!

  3. Tracy August 5, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    That’s great that lightweight knits are suggested, but will you be going over how to adapt this pattern to knit fabrics? I haven’t sewn with them before (just wovens so far) and would like to get some helpful tips since a knit version sounds so comfortable.

  4. Lori August 5, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Thanks for this post. I love the fabric chat when selecting for the Saltspring dress. This was very helpful. I hope I can keep up with the sewalong. This will be the first sewalong I’ve attempted!

  5. Colleen August 5, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Is voile too light? I was planning on using some of my stash and I have enough voile for a maxi version.

  6. Colleen August 5, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    OOPS. One does need to read the rest of the comments before adding one’s own. I saw the answer to my question up above!

  7. Kathy August 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    How much stretch should a knit fabric have for this dress?

    • Caroline Amanda August 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      Hi Kathy! I think 3-5% would be appropriate! That’s usually the standard for fashion knit fabrics, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find! Happy sewing :)

  8. nothy August 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I’m going to pick up some rayon challis for this one – I think I know what it is, but I’m not entirely sure. I guess I’ll know when I purchase some…

    • Marie L August 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      I love all the suggestions for fabric. I purchased my fabric this weekend with my daughters help. A large print with leaves and flowers on a blue background. Kind of Hawaiian type of a print. It is a Polyester with a lot of drape ability. How hard would this dress be to make with a knit in a chevron design in it? Also, what are your thoughts on washing the fabric before hand. Waiting for the pattern to arrive. Thanks so very much for hosting and providing the links on wear to purchase. Extremely helpful. I cannot wait to get started.

      • Caroline Amanda August 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

        Hi Marie! Your poly print sounds lovely! Polyester is great because it doesn’t wrinkle easily, so once your dress is all sewn up, you wont have to worry too much about ironing out creases around the gathered waist and such. I think this dress could really work for a knit in a chevron pattern. Since there are no too many pieces, it shouldn’t be too difficult to match the lines if you choose to. Just buy a bit of extra fabric to account for the matching!
        Prewashing fabric is important in most cases, especially if it’s a natural fiber like cotton or rayon, which tend to shrink a lot. With polyester on the other hand, you could get away without pre-washing if you don’t want to, because poly doesn’t really shrink much at all.
        Hope this helps you out! Thanks for reading :)

  9. Ledys August 6, 2013 at 3:49 am #

    I am going with rayon. We have a “luau” event in a couple of months and I am sewing my outfit for it. I am so excited about sewing along with everyone! I participated in the Minoru sewalong last year and I get nothing but compliments on my beautiful jacket. Can’t wait to get started! (Hope that my fabric gets here on time! :-) )

  10. Amanda August 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I have a beautiful Japanese cotton that I really want to use for this dress but it isn’t as drapey as rayon, and now I’m concerned it might not work for this dress, but I still REALLY want to use it LOL. Do you think it would be better to do a version without the longer outer layer of blousing, like Tasia’s voile one? I’m wondering if we didn’t underline it, if it would alleviate the “pulling” sensation that she described?

    • Caroline Amanda August 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      Hi Amanda! If the Japanese cotton is opaque enough, then you definitely wont need to underline it. It should work fine, even if it isn’t drapey like a rayon. Why not take a scrap and do a little gather test? You can see if you like the way it hangs, and if you think it will work with the lines of the Saltspring. Happy Sewing! :)

  11. Michelle August 8, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    I am going with a Charmeuse that has a bold print. It’s outta my comfort zone pattern-wise and material wise. There are 4 main colors on a cream background – turbulence grey, carafe brown, koi orange, and linden green. Yah it’s loud! Flowers, leaves the whole bit. I am thinking of using the wrong side of the fabric. The colors are more muted and reminds me of a Fall water colour painting.

    • Caroline Amanda August 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      Sounds lovely Michelle! I’m excited to see your finished dress all made up in this fabric!

  12. LittleMrsM March 25, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    Anybody know where I can find these fabrics or something similar in the US?


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