Sunday, September 12, 2010

Smock: Fabric Choices

In the "Mustn't Spoil Your Frock Smock" pattern I go into a little detail about things like fabric choices for the smock and how you can customize the size to fit your child, but I wanted to give you a little info here too.

Here is a page from the pattern:

When I originally conceptualized this pattern, I was trying to figure out a functional way to use quilting cotton for a smock. My original pattern had a seam at the shoulder and the body was lined in vinyl to make it waterproof and I used Scotch Guard Fabric Protector to guard it against stains. This method worked out OK, but Scotch Guard must be applied after every wash to really maintain its protective properties and that just isn't practical. And the purpose of using cute quilting cotton is defeated when there are food stains all over it. So I scrapped that plan and once I realized that most waterproof fabrics could still be cut on the bias and used to make bias tape (I cover this in the pattern), I went full steam ahead in that direction.

Here are my favorite fabrics to use for this smock:

1. Ripstop Nylon
Its not really a flashy fabric, but its so practical. Its lightweight and breathable, water resistant, easily washes out in the sink, dries super fast, and can be found at almost any chain fabric store. Oh and its cheap. This fabric can be ironed on a low setting to make the bias tape.

I have mostly seen it in solid colors-- but simple is beautiful, plus I am working on some ways to jazz it up a bit. Stay tuned.

2. Oilcloth
I am no expert on textiles but from what I've gathered the term "oilcloth" covers a broad spectrum of treated fabrics and has evolved significantly from its original namesake.
Because there are so many fabrics that can fall into this category, for the sake of making this smock I'd like to address a few things.

The oilcloth that I used on the pattern cover is acrylic coated cotton. It worked beautifully. It retains the qualities of fabric, like stretching on the bias and gathering easily, but water beads easily off BOTH the right and wrong side, making it really easy to wipe or submerge to clean. Also, I should mention that to make the bias tape, I didn't iron it (although you can on a low setting using a pressing cloth) I simply used my fingernails to crease the fabric and it stayed quite nicely.

Lately many top fabric designers are releasing ultra-cute designs in "coated cottons". The up-side is that these fabrics come in so many cute patterns and colors and are widely available. However, they are only waterproof on the treated "right" side of the fabric (although I suspect they'd maybe fair OK if submerged...but I haven't tried it), so can only be wiped clean. This is fine for a smock, but I'd recommend using a piece of vinyl for the pocket (sorry to be repetitive here) so that the back of the fabric won't come into contact with the food messes.

Also, many of these coated cottons seem to be a tad expensive (But oh how cute!)

Another kind of oilcloth that I am familiar with is that really substantial and stiff plastic-feeling stuff that you often see used for tablecloths etc. Its a PVC coated cotton mesh. I haven't tried using this yet, and am not sure how it'd work for a smock, so use it at your own risk!

Have any smock fabric suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. Biased tape is my nemesis. Would it be possible to serge instead on this pattern?


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