with Di Kendall

Working together with Janome - Red Block

A - Z of Fabrics

Bedford Cloth


A firm, heavy cloth characterised by vertical cords. These are made with thicker warp threads, but don't have a pile like corduroy. Light weight is suitable for children's clothes.




Brushed Cotton


A medium weight, even weave cloth that has been slightly brushed to make it soft and add warmth as the fibres trap air.  It's highly flammable, so not really suitable for nightwear. Easy to sew and doesn't fray easily.


Shirts, children's wear




A stiff, even weave cloth stiffened with size. It's used as a very stiff interfacing that needs to be cut to the finished size as it's too thick to be in the seam allowance. It can be cut on the cross to give more flexibility.


Hat peaks and brims


Calico (UK)


A cheap, even weave made from unbleached cotton that comes in different weights. It can have husk remnants in it and originates from Calicut in India. It shrinks and softens when washed the first time, but then becomes very receptive to dyes making it great for tie dye and printing. (pic 3)


Garment Toile and craft projects.




This is a very heavy, stiff, even weave cloth. Cut in a single layer with large shears and stitch with a thick needle or Jeans needle using a long stitch.


Traditionally used for shoes, rucksacks, tents, garden chairs, tarpaulin


Canvas Interfacing


A lighter weight canvas is also used as interfacing. It's stiffer than most other interfacings, however it can be shaped using heat and moisture. (pic 4)


Coats and jackets




A  soft, even weave cloth similar to denim, but lighter in weight. It has a white weft and coloured warp and is sometimes over printed. It's easy to sew making it good for beginners. (pic 5)


Shirts, children's wear, shirt dresses.




A firm, twill or even weave cloth with a combed surface. Needle 90-100 (pic 6)






A firm, yet soft cloth characterised by vertical whales/ribs of soft pile. The number of wales per inch is usually, 10-12, jumbo cord has fewer whales per inch. It often contains small amounts of elastane to give comfort in wear. Use a with nap layout as the pile can look a different colour if held up in the opposite direction. to prevent flattening the pile when pressing put a piece of the cloth pile side up on the ironing board or press on a towel.


Coats, jackets, trousers, skirts, dungarees




A twill weave, traditionally with a blue warp and white weft, although other colours are also popular. A stiff cloth that softens with wear and washing, fading to white in areas of wear and creases. It can have a left or right twill and many RTW items are made from fabric where the direction of the twill varies, but not enough to look like herringbone. Often combined with small amounts of elastane. Use needle 90-100 or a jeans needle. (pic 7)


Jeans, jackets, coats, children's wear,




A very soft, open weave fabric made from thick loosely spun yarns, used in tailoring. It's layered with the hair canvas and chest canvas for pad stitching, allowing the stitching to sink into the cloth. It can also be used as an added layer for warmth. (pic 8)


Coats and jacket interlining


Dotted Swiss


A light weight, plain weave fabric, similar weight to lawn, characterised by self colour or contrast woven spots made from a soft yarn that sit proud of the surface. (pic 9)


Nightwear, blouses


Double Jersey


An easy fabric to work with. It has V shaped stitches on both sides and is also called interlock. Often stretches less than single jersey and only across it's width  It will go baggy if stretched a lot, so it's often mixed with small amounts of elastane to help with it's recovery. (pic 10)


T shirts, tops, lightweight shorts, children's wear.




A medium to heavy weight, twill weave fabric. It's usually plain, but can be over printed. Can have elastane added for comfort. (pic 11)


Trousers, suits, shirts




This might also be called cotton flannel. A lightweight imitation of wool flannel. Made from soft yarns to create a slightly fluffy surface making it warm and comfortable to wear. Easy to sew, but highly flammable.


Children's wear. Shirts.



French Terry


Also called Loop back sweat shirting. This looks like sweat shirting except the wrong side has distinct loops. Less stretchy than sweat shirting and really easy to sew with. (pic 12)


Sweat shirts, hooded tops, jogging bottoms, shorts.


Gauze & double gauze


A loosely woven cloth that drapes well, often using a leno weave that helps it to maintain stability because the warp threads twist round each other trapping the weft thread. Double gauze is two layers of cloth held together by almost invisible stitches. It's possible to make  enclosed seams with double gauze, where no seam allowance is visible on either side. (pic 13)


Shirts, tops, dresses





A plain weave fabric with checks woven by using white and a coloured thread in both the weft and the warp in bands of even width. It can also be a stripe with the two colours for the warp and white in the weft. Traditionally a thicker white yarn is woven down the edge of each coloured stripe. (pic 14)


School uniforms, shirts, children's clothes




A fine, quite tightly woven, even weave cloth that is cool to wear, hardwearing, drapes well and absorbent making it great for hot weather. It can be plain or printed. Liberty of London are famous for their Pima Lawn because its so fine and smooth. Translucent meaning some clothes will need lining. (pic 15)


Blouses, nightwear, underwear, baby wear.




A traditional heavy cloth, similar to chino, with a weft satin weave. The surface is sheared to create a soft, almost sueded finish. It has a soft hand and is comfortable to wear.






Similar to corduroy, but with more, finer wales per inch and a finer weave. Extremely fine cloth is called babycord. (pic 16)


Shirts, dresses, children's wear


Oxford Cloth


A shirting cloth that can be a single colour, but often a colour with a white filling yarn. Usually a basket weave where two threads are woven over and under either one or two warp threads. It frays and creases easily. Seams need neatening and felled seams are ideal. (pic 17)






Called broadcloth in the USA. A firm, tightly woven, medium weight cloth made from mercerised yarns making it smooth and lustrous. It has very slight horizontal ribs, differentiating it from other even weave fabrics. It can be plain or printed. (pic 18)


Shirts, crafts, dresses, quilting


Quilting Cotton


Many fabrics for quilting are an even weave made from soft unmercerised yarns. The yarn thickness is thicker than poplin and the fabric has a soft finish and easy hand. Most are 112cm/44" wide. (pic 19)


Dresses, shirts, shorts, crafts




Very stretchy in different weights and thicknesses. Used double for cuffs, neck bands and bottom of sweatshirts.  Has to be cut shorter than the fabric it joins to and stretched as you sew. (pic 20)


Cuffs, neck bands




Light weight cloth with puckered stripes alternating with smooth ones. Plain or coloured stripes. Easy to sew and the texture means the fabric sits away from the skin making it cool to wear in hot weather. (pic 21)


Shirts, children's wear, dresses,




A group of woven fabrics used for men's shirts, they're a similar weight although some are more densely woven. They can be plain, striped, checked or printed; even weave, basket weave, twill weave or stain weave using fine mercerised yarns. Some stripes alternate a satin weave with a plain weave. Shirting for traditional evening shirts(white/black tie events) can be made from jacquard weave creating a pattern that's woven into the cloth. Often mixed with polyester to help reduce creasing and improves drying time. (pic 22 & 22.1)






A glazed even weave mainly used for pocket bags when tailoring.


Pocket bags in jackets and trousers.


Single Jersey


Available in a range of different weights. Characterised by V shaped stitches on the right side and looped purl stitches on the back just like handmade and RTW  knitwear. It stretches, but can go baggy until washed again, many single jersey fabric have a small amount of elastane to help maintain it's shape. Single jersey often rolls to the right side when cut making it tricky to handle. Not the best knit fabric for someone new to working with knits. It usually only stretches across the width. (pic 23)


T shirts, tops


Sweat Shirting


A heavier weight single jersey with a soft, fluffy wrong side. Stretches across it's width. Easy to work with, although sometimes rolls when cut, but much more manageable than single jersey for t shirts. (pic 24)


Sweat shirts, hooded tops, jogging bottoms, shorts.


Terry Towelling


Meterage just like hand towels. A very absorbent cloth due to the many loops on both sides of the fabric. Use a 100 needle and a long stitch. It needs neatening as the loops fray when cut. There are now  alternatives to cotton for garment making that are less bulky and less expensive. (pic 25)


Bath robes and beach wear.




Cotton velvet is an expensive, but stunning cloth. Its produced by weaving yarns over wires, which leave loops when withdrawn, the loops are often cut to produce the pile which is no more than 3mm long. It can be dyed to create a luscious fabric. Its best used in simple uncluttered designs. Not easy to handle, must be cut using a nap layout as it will look different colours if adjoining sections are cut in opposite directions. When pressing put face down on a needle board or fluffy towel and hover the iron over the cloth so as not to crush the pile.


Trousers, jackets, dresses.


Waxed Cotton


A heavy weight even weave fabric treated with wax to make it water proof. Read about the history of waxed cotton and its manufactured today in the UK by British Millerain


Outdoor wear, bags