What is Double Brushed Poly Fabric?
One of my favorite fabrics for dresses + tops is double brushed polyester (DBP). It’s also a popular fabric choice for leggings! Double Brushed Poly is a knit fabric with amazing 4 way stretch. DBP is fabric that has been brushed on both sides, so it is incredibly soft and has great drape (which ups the twirl factor!).
In my opinion, Double Brushed Poly is flattering on lots of body shapes since it’s not as blocky as cotton lycra or other fabrics can sometimes be. DPS’s typically a little thinner than cotton lycra. Since it’s so smooth (sometimes called butter fabric!) it can be a little tricky to sew with, but have no fear, I’m here to help you with the tools you'll need to conquer this fabric!!
A few things to know about Double Brushed Poly:
- DPB is a blend of polyester and lycra fabric, both lending to its great stretch value, however both are synthetic, so this fabric doesn’t breathe as well as something with cotton or bamboo in it. This might be a problem if you live somewhere very very hot. Where I live we average high 80’s over the summer (but typically have 1-2 weeks in the 100’s) and I wear DBP year round.
- DPB won't shrink in the wash (but still pre-wash your fabric!)
- Not a good fabric choice for babies. Since it’s synthetic it is more flammable and doesn’t breath as well, so it isn’t recommended for sleep wear or for garments for little babies!
- This fabric has GREAT recovery (which means it can be very forgiving) but isn’t necessarily strong. DBP doesn’t easily get stretched out, but doesn’t have a lot of strength if it’s being pulled against. I use dbp fabrics for neckbands, but would recommend using different fabrics for wrist or waist cuffs. That being said, you do you! Don’t hesitate to experiment and see what fabrics work for you. Since cuffs are typically the last step, they are easy to change out later if you don’t like it!
- You can reinforce seams at the shoulders and/or waist with clear elastic when sewing dresses, since the fabric weight of the skirt can pull on the bodice.
- Double Brushed Poly doesn’t fray, so you don’t have to hem the fabric if you don’t want to (but I personally love the look of a finished edge, it’s worth the extra work for me!)
Knit Fabric.com has a wide selection of Double Brushed Poly Fabric. Find our collection of Double Brushed Poly Fabric HERE.
Sewing with Brushed Knit
Okay, so now we have the DBP overview, let me walk you through a project with some of these fabrics! Your life will be waaay easier sewing Double Brushed Poly fabric with a serger, but you can still have great results with a regular machine. I’ll be using a serger in my tutorial, but I’ll start with some notes for those using a regular machine.
When using a regular sewing machine for your fabrics:
- Use a stretch ballpoint needle. If you are skipping stitches, or you notice larger holes where the needle goes through your fabric, replace your needle.
- Use a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch. Since these fabrics are so stretchy you have a higher chance of popping seams with a regular stitch.
- For hems, use a double needle, longer stitch length, or a zigzag stitch. Washable glue or fusible tape can help keep hems in place while you are sewing, as double brushed poly can be a little wiley!
Twirl factor is a big deal for my daughter, and Double Brushed Poly knit makes the best twirly, floating skirts. We used the Melanie Maxi Dress & More pattern from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I really like this pattern because there are so many options, it has everything I need in one pattern. Plus the bodice fit is spot on! AND it comes with a projector file, so 1000 bonus points. We used standard back, short sleeve, twirl skirt maxi dress. We got this gorgeous shibori DBP from KnitFabric.com, and with their great prices I didn’t bat an eye at the amount of fabric needed for a twirl maxi skirt ;)
Double brushed poly knit fabric can be slippy, which is both a pro and con while cutting fabrics! I use nice, heavy glass fabric weights so I can see through them. Make sure you don’t have any bumps in your fabric and that it’s all smooth before cutting. For this dress I wasn’t able to fit the entire skirt in the projection space, but with some quick marking we were able to make it work still.
When I can’t fit the entire pattern piece in my projector space I follow these steps:
- I cut as much fabric as I can.
- Before moving anything, I mark distinguishing features on the pattern with a washable fabric marker. Having the 5 inch grid on is really helpful here. In this case I chose an intersection on the grid, and a cut line (I think it was the cutline for the peplum, so not even one I was using, but a convenient marker!). Mark close to the edge of what is projected, so that area will still be in the projected area when you shift it.
- Scroll the pattern on my computer to get to the next part I need to cut out
- Carefully move my fabric until my marks line up with the projected marks again.
- Continue cutting! For most pieces I can make it work with just one move, but sometimes I need two when I’m doing larger pieces for me.
Can we also take a minute to admire how cleanly this double brushed poly cuts? The only loose threads with the DBP are when I have to rip seam :P
Follow construction instructions for the pattern. Again, serger makes these steps no problem, but is totally doable with a regular machine!
When ironing knit make sure to use the lowest setting on your iron. Remember, double brushed poly is synthetic! Your iron can melt DBP if it’s too hot. I’m super lazy and use a towel on my sewing table rather than getting out my ironing board.
For hemming DBP I used a coverstitch machine. If you are using a regular machine for your fabrics it’s pretty similar to the construction steps! With a coverstitch I highly recommend practicing on a scrap piece of fabric first. You might need to adjust tension, since the fabric is so thin. Sometimes I need to lessen it, otherwise my machine is inclined to eat it! I also sew much slower that I would with other fabrics like cotton lycra. If you continue to have issues, try replacing your needles.
I like to hem my sleeves inside out, so I can see both sides of the fabric. I place the foot on the right side of the fabric (so it’s kind of inside the sleeve) and then I can keep an eye on the ironed hem to make sure everything is staying where it should.
Finishing hems on a coverstitch can be interesting, since you don’t backstitch. I used to get a hand sewing needle out, take the tails and sew them through to the other side, then tie it all together. However, our fearless leader, Amy, taught me a trick and I’ve never looked back!
- When you get to the end of your hem, sew a few steps over the start of your hem to lock in your starting stitches.
- Release tension on the top threads (this might look different on your machine!)
- Pull the fabric + threads straight back while still releasing tension on the top threads.
- Once you have some space to work, cut ONLY the top threads. Don’t cut too close to your garment, you will need room to tie a knot!
- Pull the garment towards you, away from the foot (opposite direction from step 3). Keep your top threads untangled, otherwise they might break! I typically slide my closed scissors, seam ripper, darning needle…..whatever is handy, between the threads for this step, so they unwind from each other as I pull them through. Keep pulling the garment towards you until the top threads are on the bottom side of the garment. Cut all the threads! Again, not too close to your garment, you still need a little room to work!
- Tie all 3 threads (or 4, depending on the options you are using on your cover stitch) together and trim. Finish off with a dab of fray check if you are worried!
- Trim off the top 2 threads from the beginning of your hem.
This might look like a lot of steps, but I promise it’s fast once you get the hang of it!
Ta-Da! Finished garment! You just sewed with double brushed poly!! I hope this helps you feel comfortable with sewing fabrics that might be new for you! If you enjoyed this tutorial, you might also enjoy our tutorial on Sewing with Cotton Lycra.
Shop Our Fabrics
When you're shopping for your fabric, remember to also take a look through our Double Brushed Poly Section of KnitFabric.com. We typically have a good selection of Solid Double Brushed Fabrics as well as specific DBP Prints.
If you have fabric questions, want more inspiration, or want to share your sews, head over to our Facebook group! We have such a fun and supportive community of sewers at all skill levels :) Happy Sewing!
Take a look at what a few of our customers have said about our Double Brushed Poly (DBP) Fabrics:
"Yes, the basic black DBP makes perfect leggings!" - Grace
"Fabric is a DBP and is as soft as butter!!" - Conita
"It's soft and beautiful, I'm only sorry I didn't order more for myself!" - Jenn
"Let's talk about this double brushed poly that is available for preorder for just a second! It is beyond lovely and so very soft! This fabric stitches like a dream and the print is just beautiful." - Amira
"KnitFabric.com's double brushed poly is simply amazing. What else can I say?! - Steph
"I loved working with the double brushed poly fabric, it is so soft and easy to work with." - Emily
Written by Heather Isaacson