Poplin Fabric: Characteristics, Uses, Advantages (Why It’s the Best Choice for shirts and other clothes)

Information about poplin fabric, including its uses, features, and advantages and how it can be used in various contexts.

A shirt made of poplin

“Poplin is a fabric with a cord effect across the cloth, which may be combined with damask, twill, brocade, and other fancy weaves. Originally the fabric was woven with a fine silk warp and a worsted weft, the latter being so much heavier than the former as to produce the rep effect.” Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier 

5 important characteristics of poplin fabric

☝It is a soft, smooth long-lasting plain weave fabric.

☝The term ‘Poplin’ also refers to the tight weave of yarns that make up the fabric. Cross-wise ribs characterize the poplin weave.

☝The yarns are mostly made of cotton, but can be silk or wool, or man-made fibers as well.

☝It has fine, closely spaced, crosswise ribs.

☝It is ever popular to make outerwear, shirts and dresses.

☝The name poplin is said to be derived from the fabric papalino, made in the Papal town of Avignon in France. (Ref: The Encyclopaedia of Fashion by Georgina O’Hara Callan)

Properties of poplin fabric

PropertyFeatures of poplin
Fabric compositionUsually made from cotton fibers, but can include other fibers and blends.
WeavePlain weave with crosswise ribs for texture.
Feel and textureSmooth, crisp
BreathabilityHighly breathable, ideal for warm weather. Comfortable to wear due to breathability.
Wrinkle ResistanceResistant to wrinkles, holds its shape well.
DrapeModerate drape, holds structure.
LooksCan have a slight sheen but generally matte.
Fabric weightMedium weight
DurabilityDurable and long-lasting with proper care.
ShrinkageMinimal shrinkage with proper washing.
Environmental ImpactDepends on fiber source and production practices.

Different types of poplin fabric

DIf you have thought of poplin only as cotton, no, poplin is not cotton; It is available in kinds of textile fibers. The different types of poplin available are Cotton Poplin, silk poplin, polyester poplin, and lycra stretch poplin.

Cotton poplin is a cotton fabric in plain weave. It comes in different weights – from thin, lightweight fabric to heavyweight fabric.

What are the characteristics of Cotton poplin fabric?

The characteristics of cotton poplin are its smooth texture, crisp look, breathability, wrinkle resistance, and durability. It is also available in a wide variety of prints and patterns

Stretch poplin is soft, smooth cotton combined with a bit of spandex to make this shirting weight comfortable.

Nowadays, man-made fabrics are blended with poplin to create better fabrics with combined qualities that rival individual fabric properties.  When poplin is mixed with polyester elements (Polycotton poplin),  the fabric is wrinkle-resistant and colorfast. The drape of the fabric is also greatly increased.

What is polyester poplin fabric used for?

I use polyester poplin fabric as a lining because it is cheap. It is also used to make uniform shirts. The advantage of this fabric is that it is resistant to stains and wrinkles and also very durable as a uniform needs to be. It is also used in home decor as bed linen, table clothes etc.

What is poplin fabric good for?

Poplin is the most commonly used fabric in shirting and outerwear jackets. Because of its even weave, this fabric does not have excessive luster or shininess and is very suitable for shirting. The soft and smooth texture of the poplin cloth makes it very comfortable.  

A poplin shirt is great under a suit, especially during summer, as it is thin. It is suitable for both formal and casual dressing, though mostly suitable for casual shirts. 

Because of its breathable quality, this fabric is used much to make sportswear. The breathable quality of this fabric also makes it very suitable for making summer clothes.

Another quality of heavier poplin is water resistant. This quality and durability make it suitable for upholstery works, bedding, table linen, and other home decorations.

Cotton poplin is used extensively in quilting and crafting. They are also used for lining.

It is a durable, long-lasting fabric. The poplin fabric takes color very well and is available in beautiful prints. It may be bleached, dyed or printed.

Broadcloth and poplin are usually said in the same breath. Many people consider them the same.

Problems with poplin fabric

Poplin is considered to be a very thin fabric. In fact, on its own, it may be too thin and may need a lining if used for making dresses.

The problem with thin poplin is that it will wrinkle badly. If you have a denser poplin, the wrinkling is not so obvious.

But ironing poplin fabric is a breeze. You can do it easily, and the wrinkle will disappear like magic. Starching is not suitable for poplin, so don’t even bother.

Sewing with poplin

Sewing poplin is easy. It has an even fabric surface. The longevity of poplin makes it a very popular fabric to sew workwear and uniforms.  Embroidering on poplin fabric works great because of its weave. Many poplin shirts are embellished with logos/monograms embroidered on them.

If you are considering a very drapey fabric, poplin may not be the best bet. It is more crisp than drapey because of its tight weave. It is best to sew fitted garments. But when compared to cotton twill, it drapes better.  

Washing and care of poplin

Poplin is low maintenance. It is machine washable. Usually, poplin garments are marked machine wash at 60 degrees, tumble dry, and warm steam iron – all normal settings manageable by yourself.

What does poplin fabric look like?

Poplin fabric is a medium thin fabric and has very fine cords as part of its weave.

What is poplin made of polyester called?

Poly poplin fabric

Is poplin fabric comfortable in summer?

Poplin is a thin lightweight breathable fabric and hence it is considered a suitable fabric for summer weather, especially poplin made of natural fibers. Shirting weight Cotton poplin is a very good fabric for all your summer wear clothes. Lightweight summer jackets can be made of poplin.

Related posts : English Fabric Dictionary. ; List of shirt making fabrics.


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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.