soho shorts + skirt fabric ideas

OK, let’s talk about fabric again! This time I’m thinking about all the ways you can sew up our new SoHo Shorts + Skirt pattern, and once again I have lots of ideas for you.

You can find all the fabrics in this post, as well as lots more ideas including styling and inspirational images, in my Liesl + Co. SoHo Shorts + Skirt Pinterest board, where you can also click through for sources. You might be surprised to see some of the same fabrics that I featured in my Classic Shirt fabric post, and there’s a simple reason for that. It’s because there can be quite a bit of cross-over between the two, depending on the look you want. If you want your skirt or shorts to be on the drapey side, double gauze will work great. So will other drapey fabrics like sateen and rayon. But you can also choose fabrics with a little more body to them, like lightweight canvas and wool. It depends on the look you want. I’ll explain as we go.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas

Let’s start with slightly more substantial fabrics. I’m really loving these barkcloth prints from Cloud9, which come in cute retro-style prints and also have the added advantage of some texture to the fabric. This fabric quality isn’t too stiff, but it is more substantial than a quilting cotton, and I think it’s terrific for this style. It might also surprise you to hear that some canvases are terrific for bottom-weight apparel and even dresses. In fact, here’s a little story for you. When I was designing Lisette fabrics for JoAnn stores I wanted to include home-dec canvas in our collection because I think it’s wonderful for apparel. But it wasn’t allowed because it’s too confusing for the customer to find home-dec weight fabric in with the apparel fabrics. But you’re not the average fabric shopper! So ignore the rules and go shop in the home dec department where the print scales are often larger and make wonderful skirts and dresses. Cotton and Steel is also producing some nice canvas prints (they get it), and I’ve included some fun options below.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: barkcloth and canvas

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: canvas

This skirt and shorts were sewn from cotton canvas, and they’re my favorites of all the samples I sewed for our photo shoot. They’re just the right amount of drape and weight for my preferences.
Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: canvas examples

Here in the northern hemisphere we’re moving into spring (or so we’ve been led to believe…), so wool might not be the best choice right now. But come winter, look for somewhat drapey or loosely woven wools. I especially love tweeds and suiting for this, but as long as the fabric isn’t too heavy or stiff it will work just fine.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: wool

Incidentally (since I know you’re going to ask), I didn’t line these wools shorts and they’re perfectly comfortable without a lining, especially since I almost always wear them with tights. But you can certainly line them if you prefer, and I’ll add a tutorial to my To Do list to help you out with that.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: wool shorts

As with the Classic Shirt, denim and chambray would be great for this pattern. They’d also be very practical and versatile for a core wardrobe. I’m partial to the cotton/linen denim from Kaufman for this style, and I like the dark indigo color for all those practical, versatile reasons I just mentioned.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: denim and chambray

But what about yarn dyes? I’m thinking particularly of Anna Maria’s handwoven Loominous fabrics as well as Kaufman’s Indikon line, which looks almost like sashiko and comes in a nice range of options. These all feel so special to me and would make a really unique, stand-out item. After all, you only need one unique item to elevate an outfit and make it memorable!

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: yarndyes

And let’s not forget about the much-maligned humble quilting cotton, which gets a bad rap among apparel sewists. It’s perfectly fine for skirts and shorts especially! After all, when you see all those fun prints it’s easy to get excited. (Ack, I love these black-and-white prints so much! The cats are killing me, and I really don’t normally go for conversational prints. But shorts made from those cats would be so much fun this summer!)

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: quilting cotton

Then there’s sateen, which comes in a wide range of weights and drapes so you’d have to feel these to be sure they’re right for this purpose. But sateen has such a nice sheen and comes in such a lovely array of prints and florals, you’d bound to find something you like.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: sateen

Moving on to the more drapey fabrics, here’s our beloved double gauze in all its texture-y, slightly wrinkly wonderfulness. I really like the yarn-dye options, and that dobby dot at bottom, right, from Kaufman feels really special.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: double gauze

Finally, rayon. So drapey, so flattering because of that drape. Cotton and Steel is doing lots of wonderful prints in this category as well.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: rayon

Do you recognize that blue geometric above? Here’s a hint.

Liesl + Co SoHo Shorts + Skirt fabric ideas: rayon shorts

OK, then! Don’t forget that you can find all the links for these images in my Liesl + Co. SoHo Shorts + Skirt Pinterest board. I’ll keep adding more as I come across them.

That’s a lot of ideas to get you started. Do you have a favorite? Did I miss any ideas? Do tell!


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  1. Hello Liesl,
    I’m so pleased to learn that Canvas is suitable for this pattern (and garment sewing in general). A while ago I found some beautiful Kokka Fabric at Miss Matatabi’s and was so disappointed when I saw that it was lightweight Canvas. I immediately put it in the Pillow/Accessories Drawer and went on. No I will head back and make myself a nice pair of Soho Shorts with it.
    Always so great to get advice in fabric questions. Love your patterns, but this one especially!

    1. Yes, this would be a great way to use the lightweight canvas! I love their fabrics. Thanks for your sweet comment!

  2. RSmith

    Question. Most of the fabrics you have talked about are not available in our area fabric stores, but I have looked at them on-line. How do you know the drape or the weight? I love linen or a linen-cotton blend and I’ve seen listing that use an ounce description. Can you decipher what that translates to? I use a very lightweight linen for christening gowns and I adore a good suit weight for dresses and indoor jackets…BUT I’ve never had ounces used as a description and when I read the end of bolts, I don’t find an ounce description either. I went to VOGUE Fabrics in Chicago area and when I asked them, they were uncertain as well. Can you help??? Thanks

    1. Yes, it’s not easy RSmith! I get to see these fabrics in person when I go to Quilt Market and when I’m in fabric stores, so I know the qualities very well. Weight won’t tell you everything: a more substantial fabric can also be quite supple and drapey and vice versa. It’s best if you can order a swatch or see them in person. Some sites will list the weight (Kaufman always lists the weight, and it does help to get a sense for what the fabric is like), but it’s still best to touch them yourself before buying. I hope that helps!

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