A Guide to the Different Types of Cotton Fabric

Blog Article: A Guide to The Different Types of Cotton Fabric | Singapore「 ii Design Workz 」

Cotton is everywhere. It is one of the most popular and widely used fabric around the world for clothing, and other products like bedding, aprons, curtains. 

Depending on the type of cotton fabric, cotton can be cool or warm. Being soft to touch and durable, this makes it comfortable to wear and easy to take care where it can be washed and dried repeatedly.

Since cotton fabrics are made from natural fibers, cotton has a tendency to shrink after the first wash. To counter this, you can consider to either pre-wash your cotton fabric before you start sewing or cater in a 3-10% (depending on the type of cotton fabric) more in your measurements. 

Cotton Weight:

The various types of cotton fabrics are produced through the different methods of weaving and knitting the different types of cotton fibers. These cotton fabrics are then classified according to the weight – lightweight, medium weight and heavyweight. By sorting the cotton fabric accordingly based on its weight, this is one of the factor that helps to determine the suitability of each cotton fabrics for different sewing projects. 

Lightweight Cotton Fabric

1. Cotton Lawn

Cotton lawn fabric is versatile and easy to work with, making it an awesome choice for beginner sewist. It is a great match for warm weather garments and linings. Being durable, it is excellent for dressmaking like shirts, blouses, dresses and skirts. Widely available and come in a variety of styles and textures.

2. Muslin

Muslin is ideal for summer clothing, muslin blankets and wraps for babies. It can also be used as a backing and lining for quilts.

In dressmaking, it is commonly used for making mock-up patterns before using the actual fabrics. Lower grade muslin is used for household cleaning cloths and some food production materials. 

As the cotton fibers used to make muslin are usually very delicate, hand washing in warm water is highly recommended to avoid ripping it. 

3. Poly Cotton

As its name suggests, it is a fabric made up of cotton and polyester fibers. The ratio varies with 65/35 and 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton being the most common ratio in the market.

By mixing cotton and polyester, it gives the consumers the best of both worlds with the following benefits

  • Long lasting fabric which can perform well in more demanding environments like hospitals 
  • Tends to resist wrinkles thus minimize ironing and are easy to press
  • A breathable fabric that is durable 
  • Cost-effective as the production cost is more affordable than cotton alone

Wide range of uses: Used in fashion clothing, demanding work environment uniforms, bed linen (bed-sheets, pillowcases), curtains, tablecloth and more.

4. Voile

Voile originated from the French word “veil”. Voile is a soft and sheer fabric which is usually made of 100% cotton or cotton-blended with linen or polyester. 

Comes in solid or printed pattern, it is great for making apparels like flowing dress, gathered skirts, scarf, lingerie, and home decor like day curtains and mosquito net.

Sewing voile fabric is a little tricky as the fabric is slightly slippery so using pins to secure the fabrics helps. Also, due to its sheer nature, french seams are recommended.

Medium Weight Cotton Fabric

1. Cotton Knit / Jersey Knit

Cotton Knit or Jersey Knit

Cotton knit or Jersey knit is a low maintenance fabric that can be machine wash and is easy to clean. 

Being a stretch and soft fabric makes it ideal for making tee-shirts, tops, sweats, underwear, especially sportswear. Some use it to make bed-sheets.

2. Linen Fabric

Linen fabric is an Eco-friendly fabric made from natural fibers which takes longer to harvest and make into fabric as flax fibers can be difficult to weave. As flax fibers are rougher, it can be a little rough on skin. 

It is popular in hot and humid climates environment for its ability to reduce heat retention and dries up quickly feature. Therefore it is used to make shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, jackets, blazers, aprons, pillowcase, bed-sheets, napkins and tablecloths.

3. Brushed Cotton / Flannel / Flannette 

Brushed cotton or flannel or flannelette has one side of the fabric being either brushed or has the characteristics of loose weave. It is warm and soft to the touch making it the perfect fabric to keep one comfortable in a cold weather environment.

Often woven in patterns like plaids and tartan. Useful for making tops, bed-sheets and pajamas. Easy to clean and care for where you don’t need to iron or replace often.

4. Poplin

Poplin is a plain weave cotton fabric with fine horizontal ribs that are tightly woven and resulting it being a strong fabric. Poplin may be pure cotton or a polyester blend. 

Commonly used in men’s and women’s shirts, dresses, sportswear and raincoats.

5. Quilting Cotton

Quilting Cotton

Quilting cotton is made from a plain weave and is a closely woven fabric with slightly higher thread count than regular cotton fabric. It is also known as patchwork print or craft cotton.

Often used for home decor like quilts, pillowcases and accessory sewing projects. Can be use for clothing but it may or may not last as quilting cotton is not made to be washed a lot.

6. Sateen


Sateen is a cotton fabric woven in a 4:1 thread ratio which means four threads go over or under one thread. With a similar look and feel to Satin, Sateen has a luxurious feel and shiny appearance on one side and dull on the reverse. 

Gentle and easy on the skin makes it a favorite for women’s clothing particularly in dresses, skirts, blouses and jackets. Sateen has the versatility to keep one cool in summer and warm in cooler environment thus it makes comfortable bed-sheets and sleepwear. With great light control feature, Sateen makes great curtain lining for hospitals, hotels, and some restaurants and bars.

Heavy Weight Cotton Fabric

1. Canvas

Canvas is a compact and heavy plain weave cotton fabric. Known for being durable, sturdy and strong, it is slightly rough to the touch.

Used to specialise in making boat sails and tents. Currently have expanded to making sports gears, sneakers, bags and heavy duty work-wear. 

Cotton canvas is robust making it easy to maintain which do not need regular ironing. 

2. Denim


Denim is a sturdy cotton twill fabric which is usually dyed indigo blue. It is one of the most well-known and commonly worn fabrics for jeans, jackets and dresses. Being widely used in jeans since 1850s, jeans is still the most popular apparel on earth. Levi Strauss & Co. is usually the first brand one will think of when it comes to denim jeans.

Authentic denim is made with 100% cotton. Being tough and durable makes it a great fabric for hard-working trousers / hard-wearing work clothes / a labourer’s daily wear. One of the low maintenance fabrics that washes well and hardly wrinkle.

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