Fabric Know How – Books

In the UK we seem to have lost a lot of our fabric knowledge, fabric sellers don’t always know what they are selling, degree courses complain that students don’t have a clue about fabrics yet there is no textile module
I was lucky enough to study when we were still focused on the whole of the fashion chain.  I had to learn about textiles, textile testing, dyes, print, washes, pattern cutting, production, buying, merchandising, statistics, sizing, fit, financial management and the design was just a small part of it – Rory

So how can you up your knowledge?

At our studio we have a library of books for students to use and we have invested in several textile books as well as sample packs.

The Fashion Designer’s Textile Directory: the creative use of fabrics in design.  Gail Baugh.

If you can only buy one book and want a comprehensive guide to fibres, yarns and weaves then this is the one.

  • It has a section on fibres, yarns and weaving. It details specific fabrics describing them, the features, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Each fabric is photographed with any variations.
  • The book is easy to use, breaking down huge amounts of information in accessible chunks.
  • You can use this book to help identify your cloth or use it to source the correct cloth for your project.
  • The only negative is that it only has photos of fabrics not swatches


Fabric for Fashion: the swatch book.  Clive Hallet and Amanda Johnston.

  • Fabric for fashion contains over 100 swatches.
  •  It has a small introduction to yarns and weaves and the swatches are grouped by fibre type.
  • The swatches allow you to assess feel and handle and demonstrates how one fibre can produce a wide range and weights of fabric.
  • The swatches are small and do not cover all the variations, they allow the reader to experience hand feel but they would have to use imagination to assess drape.


I have found this book invaluable in teaching and reference it frequently when talking to students about the most appropriate fabrics. It may be a little expensive as an individual buy.

There is now a newer version (2nd Edition) available which has a pink cover and includes man made fibres

Fabric for Fashion: a comprehensive guide to natural fibres. Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnson

  • This is not about fabric but about the fibres which make the fabric.
  • If you want a more in depth guide to fibres then this book goes into more detail.
  • If you want to learn more about weaves and cloth then you need to look else where.

There is now a newer version available which includes man made fibres: Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and Man-made Fibres

The above three books cover all the basics you need to know, fibres, weaves and swatches.

If you are part of a sewing group, class or club why not try and build your own sewing bible.
– Collect small swatches from other students projects,  reference them with fibre, weave, width, cost, source and any sewing information.

If you want to learn more about fabrics and  are lucky enough to live in or visit the North East you could always join us at Centre Front Studio x