Sewing & Pattern making Terms


Calico is a widely used fabric in the realm of sewing and pattern making. It is a plain-woven cotton fabric known for its versatility, durability, and affordability. Seamstresses and pattern makers often turn to calico for various purposes, ranging from creating prototypes and test garments to crafting muslins for fitting purposes.

Example of a piece of Calico fabric
Example of a piece of Calico fabric

Characteristics of Calico

Calico fabric is typically made from unbleached or lightly bleached cotton fibers. It features a plain weave, where the weft and warp threads interlace evenly, resulting in a stable and balanced fabric structure. The fabric is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable to wear, making it suitable for a range of projects.

Muslin and Prototyping

Calico is commonly used as a substitute for muslin fabric when creating initial prototypes or test garments. Muslins, also known as toiles, are mock-ups of a garment created to test the pattern’s fit, drape, and overall design. Calico’s availability and affordability make it an ideal choice for these purposes.

Fitting and Pattern Adjustments

Seamstresses and pattern makers rely on calico to create muslins for fitting purposes. By using calico fabric, they can construct a garment to assess its fit on a dress form or a live model. This allows them to make necessary adjustments to the pattern before cutting and sewing the final fabric.

Design Experimentation and Pattern Development

Calico is an excellent choice for experimenting with design variations and exploring pattern modifications. Its low cost and availability make it suitable for creating multiple test versions of a design to refine the details, assess the aesthetics, and perfect the overall construction before moving on to more expensive fabrics.

Learning and Practicing Sewing Techniques

Calico’s forgiving nature and ease of handling make it an ideal fabric for beginners to learn and practice various sewing techniques. Novice seamstresses can experiment with stitching, seam finishes, and construction methods without the pressure of working with expensive or delicate fabrics.

Quilting and Crafts

In addition to garment construction, calico finds its place in quilting and various craft projects. Its stable weave and wide range of colors and prints make it a popular choice for quilts, pillow covers, bags, and other fabric-based crafts.

Calico is a go-to fabric for seamstresses and pattern makers due to its versatility, affordability, and suitability for a range of sewing and pattern making applications. Whether it’s for creating muslins, refining patterns, practicing sewing techniques, or indulging in quilting and crafts, calico offers a practical and reliable foundation for a wide array of projects.

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Melissa Villegas
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