It’s a proud moment when a friend asks where you got your amazing dress or jacket or top from and you can answer, “I made it myself”.
If you’re going to put the effort into sewing your own clothes, then it’s worth sourcing the best dress fabric you can find. In fact, even if you’re new to sewing, you can still make amazing clothes with very basic sewing skills, a good pattern that fits you properly and beautiful fabric that you’ve carefully selected to suit the pattern.
While we’d all prefer to visit a fabric store in person so we can fondle the fabric, there are fewer bricks and mortar stores around than ever before and with busy lives and on and off lockdowns, buying fabric online is often the best option for most of us.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like the thud of a parcel dropping on your doorstep when you know it will be the fabric you ordered in front of Netflix a couple of nights ago. You open the parcel and realise it’s way better than it looked online (or at least that’s what we’re aiming for)!
So, I’ve put together a round up of my favourite stores selling dress fabric online in Australia. As a self-confessed fabric snob and ex-fabric store owner, I’m pretty fussy about the fabric I choose, so this list specifically focuses on stores specialising in high quality dressmaking fabric.
Designer dress fabric online Australia
- Designer dress fabric for evening or race wear
- European linen
- High quality stretch jersey
Tessuti is probably the most well-known store selling dress fabric online in Australia and for good reason. They have two bricks and mortar stores in Sydney, one in Melbourne and a thriving online store.
They import a lot of designer fabric from Europe, especially Italy. If you keep an eye on their New Arrivals category on the web site, you’ll see an everchanging parade of luscious linens, both plain and printed, sultry silks (including Liberty of Londen which is tricky to find), drapey georgette and chiffon, a solid range of stretch wovens and stretch jersey, cozy wools (including boiled wool, also hard to find) cotton shirting , denim and the list goes on.
When I’m looking to sew something to wear, Tessuti is always the very first place I look. My Fabric Wishlist Pinterest board is also stacked pretty heavily with Tessuti fabrics.
- Luxury designer dress fabric for special occasions
- Swimwear fabric and kits
- Lingerie fabric and kits
Pitt Trading is the Marilyn Monroe of the fabric world: they epitomise old world glamour.
They have an amazing range of swimwear and lingerie fabrics along with the specialised haberdashery required for this type of sewing and have pulled together some really lovely kits containing both.
The rest of their luxurious offering includes velvet, fur, lace, silk and tulle. These are balanced with more everyday offering such as a range of printed bengaline (hard to find), Liberty of London, linen, Paapii stretch jersey and a nicely curated selection of Lady McElroy.
Stitches to Style
- Designer European dress fabrics for special occasions
- Exclusive designs you won’t find elsewhere
If you’re looking for something unusual for a special occasion, Stitches to Style is the perfect place.
They travel regularly to Europe’s couture fabric mills to source beautiful and unique fabrics: Italian silks, cotton, linens, wools, boucle and tweed and gorgeous sequined and beaded fabrics perfect for really special garments.
They are at the more expensive end of the scale, but with good reason – their range is exlusive and extremely high quality.
- Fashion linens and cottons
- Evening and special occasion fabrics
Gardams is a Brissy institution. I lived in Brisbane for many years and would wander into their city store once a week to ogle their gorgeous selection and add to my stash.
An excellent all-rounder, they stock a solid range of good quaity basics and a particularly nice range of printed linens. They also do some fabulous evening and special occasion fabrics.
I almost didn’t include them in this list because they only have a small range to buy online, yet I know they offer a really broad range in store. But, in the space of a couple of minutes on their site I saw two knockout silk prints that I swifly added to my wishlist! Needless to say, after that they made the cut!
Natural dress fabric online Australia
- Quirky prints you won’t find everywhere
- Eco friendly fabric basics in contemporary colours
With an environmentally responsible sourcing philosophy and a tightly and tastefully curated collection of dressmaking fabrics, Maai Design is one of my absolute favourites.
Their range includes brands such as Atelier Brunette, Lady McElroy, See You At Six and Storrs London. You’ll only find these brands at a small and select number of retailers in Australia and Maai Design probably has the best overall offering.
They also stock a great range of bamboo and other fibres in jersey knits and a seasonal range of beautiful quality basics including contemporary coloured linen, sweater knits and French Terry, and an interesting range of super-drapey tencel. Many of these fabric basics are also GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified, so bonus points there.
Potter & Co
- A wide range of linen
- Drapey Tencel, viscose and lyocell
- Great Oeko-Tex cotton basics in fashion colours
Meet Lola, Lara, Lilly and Louise: no, they’re not staff members, they’re fabrics! These girls are just a few of Potter & Co’s linens in lovely colours and various weights. You can also buy swatch cards for each girl showing all the colours available.
Then there’s Theo: at 270gsm, 98% cotton and 2% spandex, he’s a total pants man. Melania is another pants-weight cotton spandex in a lighter weight. Then there’s Juniper, a crinkle double gauze in soft colours that can only be created from organic fabric dyes.
There are interesting Japanese fabrics and vegan suede and loads of other drool-worthy basics that are usually hard to track down in Australia.
Oh, and their prices are very reasonable for the quality.
Also, if you’re looking for large quantities, they wholesale via their sister company Potter Textiles.
- Unusual eco and organic fabric blends
- Earthy colour palette consistent with the eco philosophy
Drapers Fabrics sources from all around the world including Italy, France, Japan, and Spain.
They focus on pure wools, silk, cotton, linen, and other types of natural fibres. One fibre really caught my eye – a fascinating fabric made from 100% eucalyptus called ‘spike’. They describe it as having a silk like sheen and sand-washed finish and it looks a bit like a woolly Tencel.
Hemp fabric is a personal favourite of mine and Drapers has a hemp cotton blend. Hemp is rare in dressmaking weight fabric so this is a great find.
Some interesting eco-knits are also on offer, again in interesting fabric blends.
Boiled merino wool is available in lighter weights than you would usually see boiled wool.
The Fabric Store
- Merino wool knit fabric
- Linen in beautiful contemporary colours
The Fabric Store has THE biggest and best range of high-quality merino wool knit fabric in Australia. Their online offering is excellent and they have retail stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and also Auckland and Wellington.
If you’re doing some winter sewing, this is the first place to look for toasty wool in several different weights and a myriad of on-trend colours. As their wool is exclusive to them, it tends to be a continuous range too, so if you’ve made something in a particular colour and decide you’d like to make something else, months or even years later, they’re likely to still have it in stock.
Their other major offering is an exclusive range of solid linen in very similar colours to the wool. These are also high quality and typically offered as a continuous range.
We talk more about The Fabric Store in our article on canvas fabric.
- Natural fibres such as linen
- Merchant and Mills fabric range
Fibresmith aren’t specially a dress fabric supplier; they’re a great allrounder as they stock knitting and crochet wool and cotton, craft supplies and lots of other good stuff (in fact there’s a category on their site called ‘Good Stuff’ which I totaly respect!).
But I’ve included them here as they have a really great contemporary asthetic and a particularly comprehensive range of Merchant and Mills fabrics, especially their linens and tencels in really unique moody colours. They also offer a decent range of stretch jerseys and a nice selection cottons suitable for sewing clothing.
- organic, sustainable and natural fabrics
- unusual hemp dressmaking fabric
The Drapery specialises in natural fabrics, with a focus on more sustainable fibres like linen, wool, hemp and organic cotton.
In fact, they probably have the best range of hemp woven and knit fabrics suitable for clothing that I’ve seen anywhere. I particularly like their colour palette which is quite earthy and understated due to the natural dyes.
They have a gorgeous little bricks and mortar store in Adelaide, South Australia as well as an online store with a small but well curated selection and reasonable prices.