Sewing with French Terry

 With so many fun and gorgeous French Terry options available this season, we here at SSE thought that it might be beneficial to talk a little about what makes French Terry so fab! In this post, we'll outline the different types of French terry available at So Sew English, their best uses, care tips, and a few pictures to help illustrate what makes FT so great! 


So, What is French Terry? 

French Terry, or FT, as you'll often see it abbreviated, is a medium weight fabric that is smooth on the right side and has tiny soft loops on the wrong side.  It has great stretch (often two way) and good drape.  It is a very versatile fabric that works well year-round.  It is breathable and comfortable in the summer, but also cozy and warm in the cooler months.  It is a more stable fabric, and some find it a bit easier to work with than lighter weight fabrics.  For that reason, it is a great fabric choice for beginners. French Terry works well for nearly any garment that you can imagine, however, it does not have the proper recovery for waistbands. The waistband would stretch out throughout the day and your pants will begin to slip down.  It does work well for both neckbands and cuffs. French Terry cannot be used for leggings, but is a very popular choice for joggers, and lose pants. 

Now, let's take a look at the different types of French Terry carried at So Sew English Fabrics, and some of the ways that you can use them.

Poly Rayon Spandex French Terry

Our most popular type of French Terry is Poly Rayon Spandex French Terry, or PRS FT, as you'll often see it abbreviated.  This variety is extremely soft and has wonderful drape.  It works well for nearly any of the projects shown here. In this example, I used some gorgeous Brianne Poly Rayon Spandex French Terry to make a Made for Mermaids Rita Robe, and you can see the lovely drape. 

 Here, Jody WM Poly Rayon Spandex French Terry to sew this beautiful full length maxi skirt.  You can see how this works well for spring or summer and in a cooler colorway, could work well with boots all winter long. 


Right Side Loop French Terry

The Right Side Loop French Terry, or RSL FT,  is a Poly Rayon Spandex variety that differs only in that it has the tiny soft loops on the printed side rather than the back side. The back, or wrong side, is smooth. This is an excellent choice for adding a little extra texture and special interest to a garment, without sacrificing the coziness you'd expect of a French Terry. Here, I've used Right Side Loop French Terry to make a Patterns for Pirates Sporty Piko sweater. 

Baby French Terry

Baby French Terry is also a poly rayon spandex variety. It is a bit lighter weight with even more drape.  It is incredibly soft.  Here Alyssa used Baby French Terry to sew this gorgeous swing dress. It is so comfortable and versatile. It could be worn in the summer and then again in the winter layered with boots and a cardigan.  


Modal Cotton French Terry

Modal Cotton French Terry is a more stable variety of French Terry. The addition of cotton lends this French terry added strength, while the Modal (a naturally sourced fiber similar to bamboo) lends it a luxurious softness.  It is a bit thicker than the varieties we have discussed above.  It has great four way stretch, but not quite as much drape. Does a loved one have a favorite store-bought sweatshirt that they love and you'd like to recreate? This is an excellent choice for that. Here, I've made my daughter a Patterns for Pirates Sporty Piko out of Modal Cotton French Terry, and you can see the great thickness and a little more structure than your typical FT. (Can you spot the bonus French Terry? Her joggers are made of Poly Rayon Spandex French Terrry as well! )



Triblend French Terry

The next type of French Terry we will look at also contains cotton and is more stable fabric. Triblend French Terry is a blend of poly/rayon/cotton/spandex blend and it has a heathered appearance that gives it a lot of visual interest. Heidi used Triblend French Terry for this Tami revolution double hood sweatshirt and paired it with Double Brushed Poly. 

Brushed French Terry

The final variety of French Terry that we will discuss is Brushed French Terry, or Br FT.  It is a poly rayon spandex French Terry that has less stretch than the other French terry varieties, making it perfect for more stable projects. It is smooth on the right side and brushed on the wrong side for an extremely soft feel, and is one of our thickest fabrics.  Here, Heidi used  Brushed French Terry on this cozy Summit Peak Hoodie .  She added the cowl from the New Horizons Elevation Hoodie French Terry has between 25% and 45% horizontal stretch, so make sure to check the fabric recommendations of your pattern to see if you will need to size up.


Combining Different Types of French Terry

If you'd like to combine two coordinating fabrics to create an extra special garment, using different types of French Terry is an excellent and easy choice.   Here, Alexis used Right Side Loop French Terry here for the floral hood on her sweatshirt, as well as Cotton Modal French Terry for the bodice of this Rebecca Paige Comfy Cowl Hoodie…/comfy-cowl-mommy-and-me-hoodie-p…/ Isn't it gorgeous??



French Terry Care

We recommend that you wash on gentle/cold with other soft garments to prevent rubbing and pilling. And either tumble dry, with low or no heat, or simply lay flat to dry, to prolong the life and beauty of your fabric.


As you can, see French Terry is one of the most versatile fabrics that we carry.  Aside from the garments mentioned above French Terry can also be used for joggers, loose pants, shorts, rompers, tank tops, T-shirts, and even wrap dresses, or gathered waist dresses. There are no special tools or sewing techniques that you need employ when working with French Terry.  This fabric is the real workhorse of the knit fabric world, and one you will love having in your stash!






French Terry was the first fabric I learned to sew garments with and I’m so thankful it made for a great beginner experience. Thank you so much for outlining the differences of each of the variations. It’ll be forever one of my favorite fabrics

Shannon Ayres Kilcourse

Shannon Ayres Kilcourse

I’m going to print this out so I’ll never again wonder which type of French Terry to use. Thank you!!

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