examples of different types of fabric

Guide to different fabric types

This A-Z guide to different types of fabric – from clothes-press – covers fabric properties, main uses in sewing and washing care instructions.  It includes cottons, woollens, linens, silks, synthetics and special fabrics, and interfacings and linings.

I’ve not covered every possible type of fabric – you may already lose the will to live before you ever get to the end of this guide – but have concentrated on the fabrics most commonly used for making clothes and which you might actually find available to buy.

  • Cotton fabric types
    Broderie Anglaise, brushed cotton, calico, cambric, canvas, chambray, cheesecloth, chino, chintz, corduroy, cotton velvet, crinkle cotton, damask, denim, dotted Swiss, gingham, jersey, lawn, linen-cotton mix, Madras cotton, moleskin, muslin, polycotton, poplin, quilting cottons, sateen, seersucker, shirting cottons, silk-cotton mix, ticking, towelling, voile
  • Woollen fabric types
    Alpaca, boiled wool, cashmere, challis, coating, crêpe, double coating, double jersey, flannel, gabardine, mohair, silk-wool mix, single jersey, tartan, tweed, Venetian, wool felt, worsted
  • Silk fabric types
    Charmeuse, chiffon, crêpe-de-chine, devoré velvet, dupion, habutai, georgette, organza, shantung, silk-cotton mix, silk crêpe-backed satin, silk-linen mix, silk satin, silk-wool mix, taffeta, velvet, washed silk
  • Synthetic and special fabric types
    Acetate, acrylic, bouclé, crêpon, crinkle fabric, flock, fur fabric, grosgrain, jacquard fabric, lace, lamé, leather, liquid gold fabric, microfibre, nylon, polar fleece, polycotton, polyester crêpe, poly linen, PVC, rubber, sequin fabric, spandex, suede, synthetic crêpe-backed satin, tricot, tulle, vinyl, viscose
  • Interfacings and linings
    Non-woven interfacings – sew-in and iron-on, woven interfacings, lining fabrics, underlining fabrics, domette and other interlining fabrics

Note on washing instructions

I’ve included general care instructions for each fabric but please check any information that comes with the fabric you’re buying. Alternatively, test a sample to check that the general recommendations given here are right for your specific fabric. The temperatures given are the maximum suggested for each fabric – obviously you can do lower temperature washes if you prefer. Fabrics made from natural fibres can shrink quite a bit (sometimes 10%) when you first wash them, so do make sure you buy enough fabric to allow for this and pre-wash it before sewing.

Where to find more detailed information on fabric types

Online resources

  • Google images – I find this is the best place to get a quick idea of what any of the fabrics look like

Books for more in-depth information

  • The Sewing Book – of all the general sewing books I’ve read, I think this one has the best guide to fabric with excellent photos