It has been around since the 11th Century and one of the most versatile, yet underrated fabrics ever made. A simple plain weave of (normally unbleached) cotton with a firm hand, Calico has more uses for crafters than you might think. From making ‘toiles’, cheap bags, aprons and for backing quilts, you will find Calico in a multitude of situations. One of the reasons for the popularity is the cost: Calico is cheap! I mentioned in my last William Gee Review, that I would review more products, well here we go.
William Gee are renowned for stocking Calico and this review is based on one of their bestselling products.
Please note: The products were kindly given to me by William Gee in return for a review. My review however, will be genuine, unbiased and based on my own findings.
As I have already mentioned, Calico can be put to a multitude of uses and if you are a crafter/sewer you will probably already used it at some point. In fact, my very first real sewing project was a Calico apron (about 35 years ago!).
William Gee have provided me with 5m of their bestselling Calico. It is available in 1m, 5m or 100m lengths.
My primary use is in ‘toile’ making and interlining. A toile is a mock-up or test version of a design. Sometimes referred to as a ‘muslin’, the mock-up lets you perfect a design or pattern before cutting the more expensive fashion fabric. This method is particularly useful in getting a pattern to fit accurately. Make a Calico toile first, fit, adjust the toile. Then you can transfer the alterations to the pattern. Because Calico has a firm hand, it holds shape well allowing you to easily mark and adjust.
You might be thinking that being a little ‘heavy’, meant it would be no good for draping or moulage work? Well actually it makes draping a pleasure because it is easier to manipulate than soft floaty fabric. If you don’t believe me, try it!
Calico for interfacing/interlining? Well yes it is a great product to add stability and structure. Try interfacing a shirt collar or button placket with Calico rather than fusible interfacing. It will stay stuff and crisp, wash after wash. I also use Calico in different aspects of tailoring such as waistband interfacing, dart balancing and vent structuring.
Calico is also great for making simple items such as bags, aprons or cushion covers. Yes I know calico is boring to look at but because of the ‘raw’ nature it is easy to dye, screen print or decorate.
Calico is hard wearing so is brilliant for cheap bags, tool storage rolls or work aprons. What about making a nice protective scissor pouch?
Now I have a confession…..Although I have been sewing for 40 years, I have never made a quilt! I do know that Calico is great for backing quilts though. Being a natural fibre it well suited to such an application. I guess the only difficulty is the stiffness of the fabric, making hand sewing a little more hard work. (I will make one a quilt one day, probably!)
Should I use Calico? Yes of course you should. If you haven’t then go and get some!
Is the product good? Yes. The Calico from William Gee is of great quality and a very good price.
So what are you waiting for? Go and buy some and transform your sewing. Trust me, its worth every penny.
Until next time…….Happy Sewing!