I have a passion for natural fabrics. Most commercial garments are made of acrylics because the material is cheap. All natural fabrics breath more than acrylics. Therefore these fabrics are cooler in summer and warmer in winter. If sewing for yourself, prewash the fabric on your normal setting then put them through the tumble dryer (if you have one). This way washes out any starch or fabric treatment. It also means the fabric shrinks before cutting and your finished garment will be able to be washed with the laundry without further shrinkage.
In the photo above I’m wearing a purple silk velvet coat, a black cotton shirt, a silk brocade waistcoat and an acrylic satin purple A line skirt. The jacket and waistcoat were made to measure. The shirt is a men’s shirt to give the top pocket. The skirt is a plus size women’s garment. I should make one in silk brocade at some point to replace it, on the other hand on a day that was both sunny and windy, I was the right temperature when other women were freezing at my friend’s wedding.
I have started making a copy of the above vest because I love the cut but the original garment is in acrylic. I bought it to give me pockets on a summer day, it has four on each side of the garment. But when it hits forty degrees Celsius, it is simply too hot to wear. Melbourne hits forty degrees or more over several times each summer. I’m copying it with cotton which is cooler in hot weather.
This fabric of this fiber makes excellent summer garments. This is the cheapest of the natural fabrics. The prices of all cotton fabric went up when the Quilting craze came to Australia. It takes dye easy. Some textile artists sell specialised dyed fabric in cotton.
Another fabric that makes excellent light weight garments. It feels delightful against your skin. Creases and uncreases easily.
Light weight silk makes excellent summer wear. Heavier weights can be worn in cooler weather. It’s water proof. I was wearing my purple velvet silk coat shown above on the way to Pilates one day, when I got caught in a downpour. I got to Pilates and I took my coat off. It had absorbed a lot of water but I was dry underneath. Silk is another fabric that takes dye well.
Wool and Cashmere
Wool and Cashmere are usually winter weight fabrics. Cashmere feels like a dream. Both fabrics are water proof. Be sure to wash them with wool detergent. Washing with normal detergent will cause them to felt. Last winter I started wearing a wool vest under my leather jacket. It improved my warmth significantly.
Leather makes wonderful winter garments. It is water proof and provides protection from wind chill. Unless you have an industrial sewing machine, I recommend buying rather sewing your leather garments. Sewing leather by hand requires an awl, a block of beeswax, a spool of linen thread, leather, one or more needles, and more patience than I have. To start make holes in the leather with the awl. Thread your needle. Rub the linen thread through the beeswax. Make your first stitch. Repeat as needed. I’ve only hand sewed leather once because I hate the process.
Natural fabrics are more comfortable because they provide better temperature regulation, some of them are water proof or feel better against the skin.