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We all love cute textile prints, particularly on children’s clothes. But is children’s fabric only defined by its print, or is it any different from the other kinds of fabric on the market? Here is your ultimate guide to baby fabric to help you choose the perfect materials for your next sewing project.
What is baby fabric
Baby fabric includes all textiles designed especially for making baby and children’s clothes. Babys’ skin is soft and delicate and needs extra care, therefore baby fabric is designed to provide little ones with maximum comfort.
Types of baby fabric
Since the main quality of baby fabric is that it is supposed to be super gentle on baby’s skin, most popular children’s fabrics are created using naturally occurring materials.
Cotton as a baby fabric
Cotton is the most common and comfortable material for babies because it is naturally soft and absorbent, and therefore gentle against baby’s skin. However it can be made even softer and gentler by processing it in different ways in the textile factory.
Flannel as a baby fabric
Flannel, also called Flannelette is the perfect cotton textile to use as baby fabric as it is brushed on both sides to give it a softer, fuzzy texture. This makes the fabric trap more heat as well, making it cosy and gentle for baby’s skins. Don’t confuse flannel with brushed cotton though and here’s why.
Brushed cotton as a baby fabric
Brushed cotton is also cotton fabric, but unlike flannel, it is brushed only on one side to give it a soft, fuzzy, warm texture. This makes it just right for making baby clothes, bedding and sleeping bags as it can regulate body temperature without over-heating the baby.
Knit cotton as a baby fabric
Knit cotton, as the name suggests, is fabric in which the thread follows a pattern of loops creating a soft, stretchy fabric. Knit cotton is used extensively as a baby fabric to create all kinds of clothing items including body suits, underwear, vests, socks, mittens, hats, baby-grows, tops, bottoms, shorts etc. Knit cotton as a baby fabric is gentler than woven cotton as it allows baby to move and stretch freely. Its looping thread pattern (knit and purl) also makes for a heavier fabric than woven cotton, increasing its strength and longevity. Knit cotton is also great for decorating with additional embellishments like applique, or with heat transfer vinyl.
Poplin as a baby fabric
Cotton poplin is a dense, high thread-count fabric with a smooth finish. It is mainly used in high quality shirts. However its use is also popular in making clothes for special occasions for babies such as christening ceremonies or for attending weddings. While it has a smooth and crisp finish, the fact that it is made from natural cotton makes for a comfortable, breathable and absorbent baby fabric.
Cotton poplin is perhaps my favourite children’s fabric to use in making quiet books. It is smooth, durable and incredibly resilient under curious little fingers. It is also the perfect kids’ fabric for creating applique on children’s clothes and I have used it extensively with both my daughters.
Bamboo as a baby fabric
Bamboo is definitely one of the newer innovations in the world of textiles and has fast become a favourite contender as a baby fabric, second only to pure cotton as bamboo too is a naturally occurring material. Children’s fabric made out of bamboo is incredibly soft and absorbent, perhaps even more so than cotton. Moreover bamboo has the ability to be hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It is also great for regulating body temperature and is therefore a safe and baby-friendly fabric to use for children’s clothes. Due to its relative novelty however, bamboo fabric is a bit more expensive than cotton. However devotees of bamboo fabric swear by its qualities and are happily willing to pay the premium for this baby fabric.
Mixed fibre baby fabric
Innovations in textiles has meant that there are newer, higher performing fabrics available in the market today than there were two or three decades ago. The most popular among these are cotton-polyester blend fabrics (also called polycotton) and cotton-spandex blend fabrics. Polycotton is widely available at cheap prices in fabric stores and comes in bright child-friendly prints. However you will find that it feels inferior in quality compared to cotton poplin, although the colours and prints can be very similar. Spandex is a synthetic or man-made fibre that was originally invented in 1958 and allows for extra stretch in fabrics. Blended with cotton, it gives baby fabric optimum comfort and movement, perfect for wriggly little babies. Modern day spandex is widely used as a baby fabric for making outdoor clothes for little people.
Fleece as a baby fabric
Fleece is also a man-made fibre that is brushed to give it a super-soft and heat-retaining texture. That fact that fleece can be made from recycled plastics makes it cheap and eco-friendly too. However because of its heat-retaining and water-repelling qualities, fleece is most suitable as a layering baby fabric or for outdoor wear. It is also unsuitable for wear in hot weather. However it can be the best baby fabric for clothing in cold winters as it washes beautifully as well.
Baby fabric prints
Perhaps the most charming thing that sets baby fabric apart from others is its prints. Textile design has come a long way in creating prints that look not only fresh but also super adorable, perfect for creating all sorts of cute baby things.
My favourite baby fabric prints are the ones that have small repeating patterns, particularly polka dots over pastel backgrounds. I use these prints most often to create quiet book page backgrounds and for doing applique on my daughters’ Tshirts as well.
However there are designer baby fabric prints available too that can give your sewing creations that extra oomph. One of the best places to source these is Ebay where you can find some very nice deals on designer baby fabric.
Using baby fabric for sewing projects
With the wide variety of baby fabrics available on the market, it helps to first think carefully about what you want to create for your favourite little person and then narrow down the fabrics you will need for your project. For example a winter hat will be best made with baby-friendly fleece and not poplin. Similarly, stretchy cotton knit might be best for making children’s leggings, compared to pure woven cotton. You must also think about the climate and temperate in which baby will be wearing his/her clothes and purchase your baby fabric accordingly. And there you have it: the ultimate guide to baby fabric that should help you get your hands on the perfect materials for your next sewing project. Happy sewing!