Cotton Mania (Part 3): Heavy Weight Cotton Fabrics

Welcome to the final post for my cotton mania series! Part 1 discussed light-weight cottons and Part 2 focused on medium-weight cottons. In Part 3, I will focus on heavy weight cottons. These types of fabrics are appropriate for garments with some structure: trousers, skirts, jackets and coats.

Twill Weaves

Twill fabrics are more sturdy and stain resistant in comparison to plain weave fabrics and are often recognizable by their diagonal ribs (diagonal lines on the fabric’s surface).


Chino fabric is commonly referred to simply as twill. Historically, it was used for military uniforms. Now, it’s most often used for casual pants and jackets.


Gabardine is a durable, water-resistant outerwear fabric. It was created by Thomas Burberry in 1879 and is most often used for jackets, raincoats, and trench coats but it can also be used to make pants.


This is a very tough fabric with roots in military wear. It comes in many different weights which are suitable for a range of things such as: army shirts, work clothes, children’s clothing, home decor or even boat sails.


Denim also belongs to the twill family and is known for its indigo hue. Most often, denim is woven using darker warp yarns (visible on the right side) and white weft yarns (visible on the wrong side). Denim is a great choice for jackets, skirts, bags, accessories, and jeans. This fabric tends to fade overtime (a look many strive to achieve in newly made garments). The natural fading is caused by washing which reveals more and more of the white yarns as the garment gets older. Generally, denim is preshrunk but will still shrink about 10%.


Corduroy is known for its napped rows called wales. The wales can be very wide or very narrow (or anywhere between). You can determine the width by reading the wale size or number of cords per inch (which is handy if shopping online). The higher the number, the thinner the width. Corduroy comes in a variety of weights and can be used for suits, pants, dresses, children’s wear, jackets, bags, and accessories.

Tips: Make sure to cut according the nap- all pieces should face the same direction.

Press on the wrong side to avoid flattening the wales.

Top stitch from the right side- the feed dogs may leave permanent marks otherwise.

Velveteen and Cotton Velvet

Cotton velvet often has less shine compared to the silk or synthetic alternatives.

These cottons have a short-pile and are stiff and crisp. They are suitable for structured pieces, bottoms, jackets, or evening looks.

Tip: Make sure to be careful when cutting! The nap on all pieces should face the same direction.


Linen comes from flax plants and has been used by humans for a very long time- dating back to prehistoric times. It has a long fiber length, is cool for hot summer months, and softens overtime while retaining it’s strength. The texture of linen comes from the fact that it comes from a bast fiber- it comes from the long threads in the stem of the flax plant. Linen is most suitable for fluid dresses, summer suits, jackets, skirts, and tops.

Tip: Linen wrinkles a lot so be sure to iron before cutting.


Hemp is very durable and is know for its environmental benefits. This is because the hemp plant doesn’t require large amounts of pesticides or fertilizer and is known to improve soil quality. Hemp is also a bast fiber which makes it strong and resemble linen. It can be combined with other fabrics to create softer or silkier fabrics. Hemp is often used for casual outerwear and pants. The blended varieties can be used for just about any type of clothing.


The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion (2015) New York, New York. Stewart, Tabori & Chang an Imprint of ABRAMS.

Linen Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash

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