Top Breathable Fabrics for Sewing

Posted on July 13, 2021 by Stephanie Triplett

Finding clothes that look and feel good tends to be quite the task, and when temps are high, finding breathable fabric is non-negotiable. Breathability prevents sweat by promoting airflow throughout the fabric to keep you comfortable and dry. Let's take a look at some fabrics that are both breathable and comfy for this summer!

How to Identify Breathable Fabrics:

Open knits or looser weaves create more breathable fabrics. Thinner and finer yarns also determine breathability. In a pinch, hold the fabric up to a light source to determine how much light passes through it. Generally, the more light you see, the more breathable the fabric is. 

The fabrics below are made with natural fibers, which allow quite a lot of breathability while moderately reducing sweat.  

Cotton

It’s one of the most well-known fabrics for good reason. Not only is cotton versatile, but it’s breathable and comfortable because it circulates air- Perfect for humid or hot days. Cotton comes in many varieties like chambray (which can be made with linen, too) and seersucker; Both are lightweight weaves. Chambray is like lightweight, breathable denim, while seersucker is a lightweight suiting fabric with a classic look offering casual and professional options. Cotton will keep the body cool, and it’s easy to care for. Another cotton type is gauze which is breathable with a delicate appearance. Its open weave creates a distinct barely-there feeling on the skin. 

Linen

With its large fibers and open weave, linen is a breathable summer staple fabric derived from the flax plant. It’s easy to care for but is prone to wrinkling. Keep in mind that linen is breathable, but it is not moisture-wicking. Like cotton, chambray is often made using linen, too. Linen has a flattering drape that makes the wrinkling seem less important.

Bamboo

What’s more breathable and sustainable than cotton? Bamboo, which is made from the pulp of bamboo grass, is the answer. It has a higher thread count and is softer and more durable than cotton alone. Bamboo is not only breathable but also moisture absorbing, and its silky texture helps provide ventilation. It’s a perfect hot-temp fabric.

Silk

Often considered a luxurious fabric made for formalwear, silk is an animal fiber that’s also lightweight and breathable. Silk is great for underwear and summer clothing. However, it does require special cleaning and should be dry cleaned or hand-washed only.

Synthetic fibers like these greatly reduce sweat but are not nearly as breathable as natural fibers. 

Polyester & Nylon

They are popular fabrics used for activewear that are lightweight and breathable. Both water repellent, so moisture from the skin evaporates instead of soaking into the skin. Although they are water repellent, their breathability varies depending on yarn size or knit and weave.

Rayon

Rayon is a fiber typically used in clothing because it is moderately breathable and silky smooth to the touch. It is often blended with other fibers meaning that breathability and other properties vary greatly. Rayon simulates silk, linen, and cotton textures, but it is wrinkle-resistant with adequate drape.

Breathable Fabric Grounds:

Chiffon

Lightweight, sheer and airy, chiffon is a must-mention in this post. Don’t let the delicate appearance of the fabric fool you: It’s quite strong and durable. Polyester or nylon blends are the most widely available options. With its semi-mesh weave and anti-wrinkling properties, it drapes like a dream. Chiffon is perfect for blouses, loungewear, and summer clothing. It’s often used as an overlay for formalwear to create a light and floaty appearance. 

Breathable fabrics are a must for many of life's endeavors. Breathable fabrics suitable for all occasions can be difficult to muddle through, so I've done the heavy lifting (research) for you! 

For breathable pattern inspo, check these out:

Before you go-Don't forget to leave a comment below with your go-to fabric for summer? 

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