Updated on December 28, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
Cotton needs no introduction. With more than 100 million (480 pound bales) in production all over the world, it is easily one of the most popular dressmaking fabrics worldwide. And the variety of fabrics manufactured with cotton fibers is nothing short of astonishing – in all patterns, weaves, textures, and colors. But do you know how many types of cotton fabrics are there?
Cotton fabric – Types and examples
You go to buy cotton and come away dazed at the different types of cotton before you. It has happened to me. There are a hundred types of cotton. The main ones are as follows: I have taken them from this post on different types of fabric
Cotton is ever popular as the best (debatable, of course) fabric for clothing.
☝ Millions choose it out of necessity (because it is inexpensive),
☝ many choose it out of preference (as a summer-friendly fabric),
☝ many choose it for its beauty (think crepe, damask),
☝ many for its comfort (your comfy terry towels and sheeting),
☝ many choose it as an eco-friendly choice (because it is made from a plant) and
☝many as a fashion statement (your denim jeans).
Whatever your excuse, you come upon any number of cotton fabric examples many times in your daily lives.
Aertex is a loosely woven cotton fabric, which is very lightweight. It is used to make shirts and underwear. It is a trademarked name.
Absorbant cotton batting
Absorbant cotton batting is Cotton wadding or batting made of cotton without any natural oils. This is highly absorbent and is used for cleaning purposes in the medical field and cosmetic field.
Algodon is a variety of native cotton growing in Peru.
American cotton includes the two main types of cotton grown in America – the Upland variety, and American Pima. American Pima is a premium variety of cotton.
Armure is a cotton fabric with jacquard or dobby weave giving the look of a raised pattern. Earlier this fabric had a pattern of chain mail/chain armour woven as part of the design.
Baft is a cheap coarse cotton fabric.
Bark Cloth is a slightly textured, rugged looking 100% cotton fabric (It is so named because it resembles the original bark cloth made from the bark of trees), used for unlined jackets and skirts.
Basket weave cotton
Basket weave cotton fabric has a checkerboard pattern in its weave. Usually used to make men’s shirts.
Broderie Anglaise is a cotton fabric with beautiful eyelets all over. Also called eyelet cotton.
Brushed cotton is cotton fabric that is brushed on the surface to remove extra lint and fibers, making it extra soft and smooth. Flannel is a brushed cotton fabric.
Bengaline cotton is a woven fabric with criss-cross ribs resembling grossgrain.
Batiste is a very thin and soft lightweight cotton fabric. Used to make summer clothes and handkerchiefs. It is semi-sheer fabric so it will need lining when used for dressmaking.
Bedford cotton is a strong ribbed fabric that looks like corduroy. Usually used for bedsheets.
Bipolished cotton is a type of cotton treated by an enzyme that removes the roughness on the surface.
Birdseye is a very soft, light weight, and absorbent cotton fabric.
Broadcloth is a dressmaking fabric that is tightly woven in a plain weave with a crosswise rib. It is similar to poplin, but finer. Earlier broadcloth used to be made of wool but nowadays it is made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends. It is lustrous, soft, and smooth to touch, but with a good texture. Best quality broadcloth made of Egyptian or combed pima doesnot wrinkle much, and is very durable.
Cotton brocade has a cotton base with designs woven with silk or rayon yarns.
Buckram is a cheap, low-textured, loose weave fabric used in hat making, bookbinding, and as lining. It is very heavily sized, and stiff.
Butcher linen was originally made from linen, but today this is now made in cotton fibers. It is a very durable fabric that can easily be maintained.
Calico is a plain weave cloth coarser than muslin, made from unbleached, and not fully processed cotton. Made in India, this cotton is one of the oldest cotton made by man. It usually comes with a lot of sizing to maintain stiffness. It can become limp when sizing is washed out.
Cambric is a very fine fabric, without any weaving faults. It is made of cotton.
Canvas is a very durable fabric made of cotton or linen. Canvas comes in two types – plain and duck.
Candlewick is a type of muslin cotton fabric used as a base for candlewick embroidery.
Canton flannel is an absorbent cotton fabric – which is also very warm and strong. It is also heavy when compared to other cotton fabrics.
Challis is a lightweight, woven fabric made of wool, cotton, or rayon, either in a single colour or in small prints. Its slightly brushed surface creates a silky finish that can easily be dyed and is usually machine washable.
Chambray / Chambric
Chambray is afine, lightweight cloth (usually cotton) in a plain weave with colored, lengthwise threads, and a white fill.
Chamois is a plain weave cotton fabric that is napped, sheared, and dyed to look like chamois leather.
Chamoisette is a fine, firmly knit fabric with a short soft nap.
Charmuese is a soft, lightweight fabric woven with a satin weave. It is a silk, cotton, or man-made fabric with a smooth, semi-lustrous satin finish and a dull matte backing. It is a very drapable material and shiny silk and soft, so very popular to make dresses.
Chenille is a fabric made with an incredibly soft, fuzzy cotton yarn with protruding pile; It is popularly used in upholstery, or for making pillows, and blankets.
Cheese cloth is a very loosely woven gauze-like fabric, which is used in the preparation of cheese, and for covering food. More on cheese cloth here.
Chino is a durable cotton fabric made in twill weave. The fabric has a sheen. It was originally used in England for military uniforms. It washes and wears very well, with a minimum of care
Chintz is a glazed printed cotton fabric with bright figures, large flower designs, birds and other designs. It also comes in plain colors. It is named after the Indian word “Chint” meaning “broad, gaudily printed fabric”. Chintz is used widely as upholstery fabric.
Cotton-backed satin is a very high luster satin with a rayon face, and a cotton back.
Cotton voile is a lightweight and somewhat sheer fabric, it is perfect for draping. Learn more about Voile fabric here.
Cotton Lawn is similar to cotton voile, but crisper.
Crinoline is a fabric used as stiffening for dresses. It was popular in the bygone days as the stiff fabric made of cotton, or linen to make the underskirt for gowns. Today, it is used under dresses/gowns to make them look fuller.
Cuyuscate cotton is colored cotton that is native to Guatemala; it is naturally brown in color.
Batiste is a fine lightweight semi-sheer cloth used in heirloom sewing.
Combed cotton refers to cotton with the highest thread count with the highest quality. When cotton is “combed,” the shortest, additional fibers of a batch are removed. This process produces high-quality yarns with excellent strength and softness. Combed cotton is finer, softer, stronger and more compact.
Corduroy is a medium to heavyweight, thick, and ribbed fabric (usually cotton), often used for clothing. A distinct pattern of vertical ribs, tufted “cords” is formed by twisted fibers that lie parallel to one another with channels in between the cords. A durable cloth, it is used to make jackets, trousers etc.
Cottagora is a very soft and environmentally-sound material made from a combination of Angora rabbit hair and organic cotton.
Crepe is a puckered looking cotton fabric; It is very popular for making dresses, and gowns.
Damask is a beautiful patterned cotton fabric made on a jacquard loom. It is a rich, glossy reversible fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers usually woven with a variety of elaborate patterns that are flat. It is used for table covers, napkins, curtains, upholstery cloth, etc. They can be reversible or one-sided only. Designs are usually floral or geometrical.
Denim / dungaree / jeans fabric
Denim is a sturdy, warp faced, heavy-weighted, rugged, coarse durable, twill-weave, cotton fabric; It is usually of colour blue and is used to make work clothes and prominently used to make jeans and casual wear. It does not stretch or drape well.
More on denim and its different types here.
This a reversible cloth that is made by binding two different fabrics with yarn. Read more on double cloth here.
Double knit fabric
Double-knit is a cotton knit fabric with both sides the same.
Diaper cloth is a fabric (usually cotton or linen) with a twill dobby or plain weave; It is very absorbent.
Dimity is a sheer, thin, white, or printed fabric with lengthwise cords, stripes or checks – in a raised pattern; used for bedcovers and curtains.
Drill is a medium weight, Cotton twill fabric used in men’s, and women’s slacks. When dyed a khaki color, drill is also called “khaki”.
Duck cloth is a plain woven, medium-weight cloth (usually cotton) that is soft, breathable and durable. It is tightly woven and retains color beautifully. It is commonly called canvas. Duck cloth is a sturdy, utility cloth used in home décor projects.
Dotted swiss is a plain weave, cotton semi-sheer, crisp fabric with swivel, lappet or flocked (multicolored or single-colored) dots all over the surface.
Domette flannel is a plain weave soft flannel fabric with more nap than on flanellette.
Egyptian cotton is a finely woven, high-quality cotton from Egypt. This high-grade cotton boasts the longest and strongest fibers. It is known for its softness.
English net is a fabric made of threads knotted to form a mesh. English Net is usually heavier than nylon net. It is usually made from cotton or polyester. English net is much softer and used as a base on which to applique motifs.
Flannel is a soft medium weight cotton fabric with a napped finish. The nap may be present on one side or both sides. It is popular in making baby clothes and blankets.
Fleece may sometimes be made of cotton. More on fleece fabric here.
Flannel cotton is a plain or twill weave fabric that has a nap on one or both sides.
Flanellette is a heavy soft cotton fabric imitating flannel with a napped surface. It has a nap only on one side. The fabric is used to make clothes and accessories for cold climate as it is warmth giving.
French terry is a looped cotton fabric which is very absorbent. The wrong side of this fabric will be flat and is popular in making sportswear.
Fustian is the term given to a class of cotton fabrics which includes corduroys, moleskins, constitution cords, cords, heavy Bedford cords, etc., used for clothing purposes; Fabric with a slight nap.
Gauze is a sheer, lightweight cotton fabric with a very loose weave. Usually used as a bandage dressing, but it is also used to make clothes.
Gabradine is a firm, tough tightly woven fabric with a subtle, diagonal line of twill and sometimes a high sheen. It is used to make suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers, and other garments; traditionally worsted wool, but may also be cotton, texturized polyester, or a blend.
Gingham is a middle-weight, plain-woven cotton fabric typically striped or checked in white and a bold color or plaid using two or more colors with a plain weave made of cotton or cotton-blend yarn. The name is derived from Malay word ‘gingang’ which means striped. The pattern of colored squares in a gingham cloth is very attractive.
Homespun is a rugged, rough textured fabric made with irregular, slightly twisted, uneven yarns. It used to be hand-loomed with undyed yarn.
Hopsacking is a very durable rough textured fabric, made of coarse yarn. It is quite bulky, and is used to make coats, and home furnishing.
Indian Sari cotton
India is home to various cotton fabrics – many of which are made into saris. Some of the finest cotton fabrics are made into saris – Venkatagiri Cotton (Andhra Pradesh), Jamdani cotton (Utter Pradesh), Vichitrapuri cotton (Orissa), Chanderi (Silk-cotton) in (Madhya Pradesh), Tangail cotton(West Bengal).
Learn more about the different types of Saris here.
Irish cotton is fine linen or cotton shirting, made in Ireland. It was originally a fabric constructed with silk warp and wool filling in plain weave with fine rib.
Ixcaco cotton is a naturally Beige colored cotton native to Guatemala.
Jaconet is a fine, sheer plain-weave cotton fabric.
Jersey is a knit fabric that is made of cotton fibers that can look very much like woven fabric. Soft and breathable, with extra “give” or stretch for comfort. On the right side, it has lengthwise ribs (wales) and on the wrongside, it has crosswise ribs (courses) It is a light to medium weight fabric which is very popular in making dresses, and tops. Read more about jersey fabric here.
Fabric made of cotton (can be of linen, wool, worsted, or manmade fibers and blends also); The name means earth color and is derived from an Indian word; this fabric is a Tan or dusty colored warp face twill.
Khadi is a cotton fabric that is woven by hand using handspun yarn in India. Ponduru Khadi is a fine Khadi made in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Kuyuchi cotton is a naturally Brown colored wild cotton found in Mexico; it is used in hand weaving cotton textiles.
Lawn is a finely-woven, semi-crisp fabric woven in cotton (or linen). It is very lightweight, breathable, and has a smooth texture. It is primarily used in heirloom dresses, blouses, collars, and cuffs. It also makes great underlining.
Lint is a cotton or linen fabric with the nap raised on one side; It is used to dress wounds.
Linen cotton mix
Linen-cotton is a blend of linen and cotton fibers. This fabric has all the look and feel of linen with less of its propensity to wrinkle.
Lisle is a fabric woven with lisle thread (a type of cotton).
Liquid cotton is a luxurious cotton jersey designed with an ultra-smooth and slinky finish.
Mexican cotton is same as Upland cotton. Other names for this variety of cotton are American upland cotton, Bourbon cotton.
Madras cotton is a lightweight, breathable cotton with a typical patterned texture, often in brightly colored plaid patterns, used primarily for warm-weather clothing.
Moire is a corded fabric (usually silk, but maybe cotton, wool or rayon) having a wavy, watermarked pattern on the surface.
Moleskin is a heavy cotton fustian cloth with a great number of picks raised before dyeing, resulting in a brushed surface. Feels almost like felt. Used for workmen’s clothing where very hard wear is required. It is used to make sportswear.
Monk’s cloth is a heavy and rough cotton fabric is used in dressmaking to make jackets and coats and for home furnishing and embroidery work..
Mull is a plain soft fine sheer fabric of cotton, silk, or rayon. The cloth is bleached and soft finished.
Muslin is a medium-weight, woven fabric of cotton or cotton/polyester blends of plain weave. Used in a wide variety of sheers and sheeting. It is bleached and undyed. It is very economical and comes in a good range of weights and fineness. More details on Muslin here.
Nankeen is a kind of pale yellowish, cotton cloth.
Nainsook is a fine, soft and lightweight cotton fabric without any body, in soft colours.
Organdy is a fine thin, light, and transparent cotton fabric with a stiff, crisp finish. It is the sheerest finest cotton cloth. Read more on organdy here.
Oxford cloth is a soft, thick and durable, cotton or synthetic blend with a plain or basket weave that boasts a silk-like, lustrous finish. It is usually used to make shirts; It is characterized by narrow stripes and can be woven in plain or basket weave.
Percale is a closely woven plain-weave fabric that’s smooth, firm, medium weight and fine. Usually made of cotton from a minimum of 180 threads per square inch.
Peruvian Pima cotton
Peruvian Pima cotton is considered one of the softest cotton fabric in the world on account of it being made with extra long staple cotton fibers.
Plisse is a cotton fabric that looks like seersucker – with a crinkled surface. The crepe-like surface is made by treating the fabric with a caustic soda solution which shrinks parts of the fabric either all over or in stripes giving a blistered effect.
Pima cotton is one of the best grades of cotton in the world with long, luxurious fibers.This luxurious high-quality long-staple cotton resists pilling.
Pinpoint is a type of weave with two-over, one-under stitching. More durable than most weaves, but less soft than sateen. This soft and lustrous oxford cotton has an ultra-fine basket weave.
Pique Cotton (Marcella)
Pique Cotton is a medium weight cotton fabric with a special textured diamond patterned weave forming raised parallel cords.
Pointelle is a lightweight, cotton knit fabric with openwork patterns in it. The geometric openwork patterns make it a favorite for making kids wear.
Point desprit is a dull surfaced net fabric with Leno, gauze, knotted, or mesh weave and having various sized holes. The fabric has white or coloured dots individually spaced or in groups.
Polished cotton is either a satin weave cotton or a plain weave cotton that is finished chemically to appear shiny.
Polycotton is a blend of polyester and cotton.The blending of fabric fibers makes this fabric wrinkle-resistant, and colourfast. This fabric is used to make a variety of garments, including no-crease shirts.
Poplin is a tightly woven plain-weave fabric (usually a light weight cotton) characterized by a corded surface. ( fine horizontal ribs). This is a durable fabric. Poplin is usually made of cotton but can also be silk, wool or synthetic blends. It does not wrinkle much, and is popular for making shirts, and dresses.
Check out the post “what is poplin ?” for more details on this fabric.
Quilting cotton refers to a medium weight 100% cotton. It is also known as craft cotton. Mostly they are printed. They can be used to sew dresses, tops and skirts other than quilts.
Ringspun fabric is made of soft durable fiber (usually cotton) spun prior to knitting, so it’s finer, softer and more durable than ordinary cotton. The twisting prior to weaving makes the short hairs of cotton stand out, resulting in a stronger yarn with a significantly softer hand.
Sail cloth is a very durable and strong canvas or duck fabric sold in different weights. It can be found in lighter weights for dressmaking and heavy weights for making sails and other outdoor projects.
Sateen is a lustrous and smooth cotton fabric with a nice sheen. It is used for making dresses, nightwear.
Sean Island Cotton
Sean Island is a premium, super fine luxury cotton fabric made from cotton grown in islands of the Caribbean sea ( Jamaica, Antigua and Barbados).
Seersucker is a woven, light- to medium-weight fabric with a permanently puckered appearance (Crepe-stripe effect) made of cotton or rayon. The woven crinkle is produced by alternating slack and tight yarns in the warp. It is a popular fabric for dressmaking and bedding.
Shirting cotton is a lightweight, crisp cotton fabric with woven-in stripes or checks. This is mostly used to make men’s shirts.
Silk cotton blend
Silk-cotton blend minimizes many faults of cotton. This is used to make blouses and dresses.
Silesie is a sturdy twill-weave smooth finished cotton fabric; It is used for pockets and linings.
Supima is an abbreviation for “superior pima.” It is made of 100% American pima cotton or extra-long staple cotton.
Terrycloth is an absorbent knit fabric, usually in cotton, and has a plush pile of loops on one side. This fabric is used to make towels, bathing robes, etc.
Ticking is a very heavy cotton fabric used in covering bedding; Usually used in making upholstery and other home decor.
Toweling refers to various fabrics (linen or cotton) used to make towels.
Velour is a medium-weight, plush knit fabric, usually made of cotton, with qualities similar to velvet. It’s soft and plush with a close, dense pile having a sheen. It is used in clothing ( sportswear, evening wear)and upholstery.
Velveteen is a woven, cotton fabric with a velvet-like pile.
Velveteen plush is a cotton velveteen, but the weft has longer floats, which when cut give a longer pile. The pile is also firmly bound.
Vichy is a plain weave cotton fabric with horizontal bands and vertical bands in a light and strong variants of the same color forming a checkered pattern.
Voile is a soft, fine, sheer fabric with a slightly crisp feel. Usually made from plain woven cotton, but it can also be made from acetate, silk, or rayon. It is lightweight see-through, and has a good drape. It is used to make summer clothes and curtains.
Whipcord is a rugged cotton fabric with a diagonally ribbed surface. This medium to heavy-weight fabric is used to make coats, suits, and sportswear.
Which cotton is best for making clothes?
Cotton is usually classified as plain, twill and satin weaves according to the way it is woven. For the layman ( like me ) this is of no interest than the way the fabric feels against the body. Very tightly woven cotton will be harsh on the skin.
My favourite cotton fabric for making garments are Poplin, cotton velveteen, gingham & Cotton jersey. Poplin is a popular shirtmaking fabric ; Lightweight chintz fabric is great for making dresses.
I also love making dresses with polycotton, because of its sheen and less wrinkling and it is also very inexpensive. It is true that it is not as breathable as pure cotton.
You can learn more about the best fabrics to make shirts, best fabrics to make bedsheets, best thin and lightweight fabrics , best thick and heavyweight fabrics and best lining fabrics, which include many cotton fabrics.
Quilting cotton in pretty prints is best for making kids’ frocks, but it is thin and may need lining for garment making. Voile is used for making baby clothes. Muslin for petticoats/slips worn under dresses and tops.
Types of cotton fabric – Classification
Names of thin cotton fabrics?
Muslin, Voile, Organdy, Cotton lawn, Cotton batiste are the thin cotton fabrics.
Which cotton fabrics have a lustrous look?
Art Muslin has a glazed look. Sateen is a cotton fabric in satin weave with a shiny look. A high gloss satin finish can be given to ordinary cotton. If you just want a soft smooth look combed cotton has that.
What type of cotton is best for making soft bedsheets?
Egyptian cotton and Peruvian cotton make the best cotton bedsheets. These are made of long staple fibers and are incredibly soft on the skin.
Which cotton fabrics have a raised surface texture?
Ribbed fabrics like Bedford cord, Corduroy, Pique, Pongee, Whipcord all have a pile texture. Other than the ribbed cotton fabrics, velveteen, flannel and fleece have a napped surface. Towelling in cotton fibers have a loopy texture
Names of some medium weight cottons?
Cotton gauze, Cotton poplin, Cotton damask, cheesecloth, Cotton chintz, Sateen, gingham, velveteen, borderie anglaise (eyelet fabric), cotton laces, chambray, calico, seersucker, crinkle cotton, Madras cotton, shirting and lining cottons are medium weight cotton fabrics
Names of heavy weight cotton fabrics?
Cotton canvas, cotton corduroy, Denim, Cotton drill, Cotton fleece, Cotton chenille are heavy weight cotton fabrics.
Which cotton fabrics have stretch?
Cotton jersey is a very popularly used stretch cotton fabric. It is a knit fabric. Cotton made as a blend with elastane/spandex fibers have very good stretch. Usually 2-5 percentage spandex are added to cotton for good stretch for dressmaking fabrics.