Double Brushed Polyester knit fabric is showing up more and more in the fabric stores these days, so while I tend to prefer natural fibers, I thought it was time to research the advantages and disadvantages of this fabric, as well as provide some tips on working and even possibly smocking with brushed poly. Below is a video if you prefer to listen, so let's dive in!
Brushed Polyester fabric is a single knit jersey blend fabric made from 90-96% polyester and 4-10% spandex. It has 4 way stretch with more horizontal stretch than vertical. Two yarns are fed through the needles at once; one yarn forms the ground fabric, the 2nd yarn forms loops. The loops are clipped and brushed. If they are brushed on one side, it is a brushed poly, if brushed on both sides, it is double brushed poly.
Advantages of Brushed Polyester Fabric:
1. Brushed poly and esp. double brushed poly is extremely soft. People, especially children, love the fabric because of the softness next to the skin.
2. Brushed poly is an extremely easy care fabric. It can go into the washer and dryer and doesn't shrink. It also doesn't pill easily and doesn't wrinkle. It is great for travelling.
3. For the wearer, brushed poly is stable and doesn't stretch out as it is being worn which some knits are prone to do. Commercially the fabric was originally used for leggings because it has good recovery and doesn't stretch out as it is worn.
4. The fabric has a lovely drape. For a sewist a knit with good drape usually means working with a rayon, bamboo or ITY knit. Double brushed poly has that same wonderful drape and is much easier to sew since it doesn't slip and slide as much.
5. Brushed poly has less curl than a cotton jersey making it easier to handle as it is being sewn.
6. The fabric is fairly inexpensive.
Disadvantages of Brushed Polyester Fabric:
1. Brushed polyester fabric isn't breathable. The fabric is lightweight and soft which would suggest that it would be great for summer garments, but with the lack of breathability, it can be too warm on a hot and humid day. Although it comes in many children's prints, it may not be suitable for babies who can have trouble regulating their body temperatures because of the lack of breathability.
2. The fabric tends to look inexpensive. This is my personal opinion, but I haven't seen the fabric used in high end ready to wear. To me in general, it looks inexpensive.
Tips for sewing with Brushed Polyester Fabric:
1. Use a Stretch or Jersey Needle and polyester thread. It is a knit fabric and using the correct needle and thread will help reduce skipped stitches.
2. Use a walking foot or duel feed. Tension might also have to be lowered. The fabric has some texture to it because of the brushing, and a walking foot or duel feed will help to evenly feed the fabric through the machine.
3. When working with a solid, mark the right side of the fabric. Telling the right from wrong side of a solid double brushed poly can be difficult, but because of the nap, there is usually a slight difference in color between the two sides. Make sure to be consistent in treating the same side as the "right" side when sewing the fabric.
4. Brushed poly comes in different weights. If purchasing fabric online, check to see the gsm or ounces per yard of the fabric to know whether it is light or medium weight. In the photo below, there is 1 yard of each fabric. The print weighs 7 oz per yard and the solid is 10 oz per yard.
Smocking with Brushed Poly:
Yes, it is possible to smock with brushed poly. It does goes through the pleater and forms uniform pleats. When pleating the fabric, I had more resistance with the brushed poly than with a cotton knit. Also, after blocking, the pleats did not want to hold their shape like a woven or cotton knit does. You can see this in the photo below.
If smocking brushed poly, I would pick a smocking design that is fairly dense rather than one that is more open to better hold the pleats in place. Also, go with a medium weight brushed poly rather than a lightweight poly. If you have never smocked on knits before, my recommendation is to start with a cotton knit, and preferably a cotton interlock to better get a feel for smocking on knits, and then give a brushed poly a try.
If you give brushed poly a try, send me a dm on Instagram and let me know how it goes!