Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Tai Chi Uniform: Selecting the fabric


I haven’t been able to visit many bricks and mortar fabric shops so far this year. For this reason, I decided that I needed to order some swatches to select an appropriate fabric for my Tai Chi uniform.

First of all, let me try to explain the original fabric on the jacket I am copying. The fabric is a poly cotton blend in navy blue, with quite a smooth surface texture. It is quite crisp in nature, but crinkles smooth out relatively easily. It is quite light-weight too and I am guessing when I say that my inclination is that it is made of something like poly cotton sheeting.

I ordered four quite different cotton fabrics from Minerva crafts. I was keen to avoid a poly cotton blend and chose cotton fabrics only. I imagined, even before I ordered these fabrics that they would be more substantial / thicker than the fabric of the original jacket. I liked the idea of a thicker fabric, particularly as we have been practicing Tai Chi with the doors open for months (and some sessions I hardly seem to get warm despite an hour and a half of exercise). However, I didn’t want this concession to compromise the drape or flexibility of the design.

The fabrics were as follows:

  1. Sevenberry Kobe Cotton Twill Indigo
  2. Mind the MAKER Stretch Cotton Twill Indigo Night
  3. Soft Duck Canvas Navy
  4. Klona 100% Cotton Navy

Unfortunately it looks like navy blue photographs as badly as black so you’ll have to take my word about them all being different! The links to the Minerva site should provide more of an idea about these fabrics.

Four samples for my Tai Chi Uniform: clockwise from top left: Sevenberry Kobe Cotton Twill Indigo, Mind the MAKER Stretch Cotton Twill Indigo Night, Soft Duck Canvas Navy, Klona 100% Cotton Navy

Straight out the packet I noticed that the four fabrics were very different; colour, thickness, softness all varied, so I made a grid to assess them. I assessed the colour on the basis of its proximity to the colour of the original jacket. With drape, I screwed the fabric up to judge how crisp it was and also looked to see how much the crinkles were retained when I smoothed it out again. For the surface texture, again I visually judged how close this came to the texture and weave of the original.

FabricColourDrape*Weave / Surface TextureTotal
Sevenberry Kobe Cotton Twill Fabric Indigo2327
Mind the Maker Organic Stretch Woven Cotton Twill fabric Indigo Night44311
Soft Cotton Duck Canvas Navy Blue3216
Klona 100% Cotton Fabric Navy1146
Comparison of different jacket fabrics *see crinkle test above

As you can see there was an overall winner. The Mind the Maker cotton twill comes quite close to the original fabric. Strangely, it is described as a twill fabric, but the weave is quite fine so this is not particularly evident at first glance. My only reservation with this fabric is that it is a stretch woven, unlike the others. Perhaps this will in fact improve the comfort of the finished jacket, and hopefully won’t be too obvious.

Looking at the uniform I will also have to order the frog fasteners and some contrast fabric for the facings and cuffs.

Tai Chi Uniform jacket: Note the contrast cuffs and the frog fasteners.

My next step will be to order my fabric. Of course, drafting your own pattern means that I will have to work out how much fabric I need too. No handy envelope guide here!

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

4 thoughts on “Tai Chi Uniform: Selecting the fabric

  1. Nice when there is a clear best choice!

  2. Pingback: Tai Chi Uniform: The finished jacket | Steely Seamstress

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