Choosing Fabrics for the Songbird Skirt and Tank Top

Songbird Skirt and Tank Top sewing pattern

Ah, choosing fabric, the most fun, and also the most difficult step when sewing a new project. And with two pieces, made of different types of fabric there is even more to discuss and think about when choosing fabrics for the Songbird Skirt and Tank Top.  

The songbird tank top is designed for knit fabrics with at least 40% stretch. Choose a soft knit with good recovery.  We recommend cotton jersey, cotton tencel jersey, and other cotton jersey blends. Avoid thicker knits like rib knits and interlock knits. Take care with slippery knits, as the gathers will be more difficult to sew. 

Meg’s tank and mine are made from tencel jersey knit from EWE Fine Fibers

The Songbird Skirt is designed for light to midweight wovens. Linen, linen blends, woven cotton, and cotton lawns are all great choices for the Songbird Skirt. 

Meg’s skirt is made with 100% linen with lace accents (see our post about adding lace to your skirt here.) Meredith’s gingham skirt is 100% cotton. Ashley’s skirt is made from a windowpane cotton.  

EWE Fibers has a great collection of wovens for the Songbird Skirt and one of knits for the Songbird Tank Top! You can also find the notions you need and get your pattern printed from EWE.

Because this set requires two different types of fabrics, there are a lot of ways to choose your two fabrics. You can go with a monochrome aesthetic or choose coordinates. Using a little bit of color theory can help.

Keep in mind that it will be nearly impossible to get the exact same color in a woven and a knit, the two types of fabrics dye differently. But you can get close! ISeeFabric has knits and wovens in very close colorways.

But mostly you will want to choose shades or tints of the same color if you are going for a monochrome palette. In color theory, a shade is a darker hue of a color and a tint is a lighter hue. 

Color theory is really helpful when choosing two different colors. Let’s take a look at the standard color wheel. It has three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) and three secondary colors (purple, orange, and green,) with blends of these colors in between. We know there are way more tints and shades than we can see on this color wheel, but it is a good place to start. 

Generally, colors that are across from each other have the strongest contrast, and we call those complimentary colors. One half of the color wheel (purple to green) is considered cool colors, and the other (yellow to red) is considered warm. These are two great places to begin, but not the only ways to choose colors. 

For a matching set, you don’t necessarily need your colors to be strong contrasts to complement each other. There are a lot of ways to use the color wheel to guide your choices. And that opens up a world of possibilities.

While not shades and tints of one hue, cool color combos still give a monochromatic look to an outfit. This is a fun way to choose colors if you have fallen in love with a woven and need to find a knit fabric that is close, but not the same color.

Just like the cool color combos, warm combos all come from one half of the color wheel.

I find bright contrast colors a little too strong in sewing, they make me think of sports teams. But you can still get those nice compliments with colors across from one another on the color wheel, but a bit de-saturated.

Feel free to venture outside of these ideas too!

Neons are so much fun to sew with, but they can be a little intimidating at first. Pairing them with a soft neutral like brown or blue helps temper them in an outfit without covering up that fun pop.

These are just some combos I like! Most of these began as complimentary colors and one is monochromatic, but for all of them, I tried to play with the hue and saturation level to get it just right.

And don’t forget about black and white! While not shown on the color wheel these two standard neutrals are good compliments to almost any color.

I used a print for my Songbird Skirt and made a cream Songbird tank top. If you are using a print for your skirt, choosing a secondary color from the print to pull for your tank top works really well. For my gingham skirt, I also wanted a monochrome version and used a soft pinkish purple for my hacked Songbird Tank Top. It isn’t the exact color but it is close, and the hues work well together, they are tints of each other.

If you use a print for your Songbird tank top, you can apply the same idea in reverse, like our pattern tester, Tania did.

Try mixing prints too! A floral with a stripe or a gingham. A textured woven like a Swiss dot with a polka dot print. Vertical stripes with horizontal stripes. Go wild! This fun summer pattern is a fairly fast sew, so make more than one and try something new each time.

Responses

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  1. Are the straps on this top suitable for adding length adjusters? That flexibility works well for me, but I worry if the straps might end up a little thick of I added adjusters, too!

    1. I tried! It was an… “interesting” experiment. The sliders really didn’t do well with all of those layers! Bunchy, not very slide-y at all, and the thread seemed at risk of snapping with the extra pressure! Not good.
      I wanted reassurance before cutting my strap length the first few times, too. My solution (especially after using a different fabric with a different hand!) was to hand baste the strap in place, and then wear the top for a few to make sure it settled to where I wanted it to be. Then I sewed the strap in its final position and trimmed it.

    1. Both of her fabrics are from a local shop, Mulberry Silks. They don’t do online orders, but if you are ever in the Chapel Hill area we cannot recommend them enough! I will look for some similar options though.