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What Is Poplin Fabric: The Only Guide You Will EVER Need

What is poplin fabric? Is it cotton, polyester, or a mixture of both? You might also wonder what poplin fabric can make. Are garments made from it? Or is it an upholstery fabric?

Poplin is a light-weight, plain-weave fabric. It’s ideal for both formal and casual attire, as well as home décor. Coarse cross-grain and finer straight grain threads give the fabric its ribbed effect. Also known as tabinet, the fabric can be 100% cotton, synthetic, or a blend of different yarns.

It’s a popular fabric because of its durability and subtle lustrous finish. Both qualities can make your wardrobe extra luxuriant. In this article, you will learn what poplin fabric is and why this is the only guide you will ever need.

What Is Poplin Fabric

What Is Poplin Fabric?

Poplin is a plain weave fabric with a distinct rib texture running along the cross-grain. The rib is created by combining fine warp threads with thicker weft threads. These weft threads run along the width of the fabric, which is also known as the cross grain. Because these threads are thicker, they stand out more. This is what forms the ribbed effect.

Mixing thick and fine fibers results in a strong fabric with a crisp, silky smooth fabric. Normally the base fiber is cotton. It can be combined with other fabrics like silk or polyester to help create a lustrous surface. The fabric can also be made from rayon, polyester, satin, and wool.

Poplin originated back in the 15th century in Avignon, France. Avignon was the pope’s seat in the 1300s and there is a large palace known as Le Palais Des Papes there. The term poplin is derived from the French word papelaine, which was a similar fabric made out of silk. Papelaine in turn is based on papalino, an Italian word for papal soldier, or pope’s guard.

These days the definition of poplin differs from its historical meaning. Today, poplin refers to the weave of the fabric. Originally, it described the material it was made from. Traditionally it would have been silk for the fine warp threads and wool for the coarser weft threads.

It’s not just the definition that has changed over time. The fiber content has too. Wool added warmth to the fabric, making it ideal for winter clothing. It also added a heaviness, making it a good fabric for cold climates. The name has also changed. Back when it was made from wool and silk, it was known as tabinet.

These days, poplin is a lightweight material best suited to warm weather and hot climates. Being light and flowy allows wearers to stay cool and comfortable.

What Is Poplin Fabric Made Of?

Originally made from silk and wool, the fiber content in poplin has changed over the years. The traditional wool base would have made the fabric heavy and warm. Adding silk gave an element of luxuriant finery. A little piece of splendor to keep you warm in cooler regions.

Modern poplins can be made from an array of materials. Each different yarn gives the popular weave a distinctive feel. Yet each combination creates a lighter fabric than its historical counterpart. A contemporary fabric renowned for its summer coolness and silky drape.

Cotton is a popular fabric base for poplin. Either used on its own or as a blend with polyester, cotton is both cooling and moisture absorbent, making it an ideal choice for warm weather. When mixed with the silky sheen and soft fibers of polyester, you get a wrinkle-resistant garment ready to take on the hottest of summer days.

Another yarn used in the production of poplin fabric is rayon. Silk and wool can still be used, but it’s a rarer combination these days. Cotton, cotton blends, and polyester are the go-to choice for modern-day poplin garments.

What Does Cotton Poplin Feel Like?

Cotton poplin is a plain weave fabric with a smooth, silky surface. It has a lightweight yet the sturdy structure and feels soft and cool next to the skin.

Garments made from cotton poplin allow moisture to evaporate and do not cling to the body. This means you feel comfortable and dry. Both qualities make working in cotton poplin a pleasure, making it an ideal fabric for uniforms.

The drape of the fabric keeps an air pocket between skin and material, creating a buffer against excessive heat. Not only is the fabric cool to the touch, but it also helps you stay fresh, whatever the temperature gauge says.

Being quite a strong weave, cotton poplin has a crisp, almost softly-starched feel to it. This helps it maintain a certain flare, ideal for formal shirts.

What Are the Main Characteristics of Poplin?

Poplin is a strong fabric that is both odor and wrinkle-resistant. This makes it an ideal choice for workwear that needs regular washing. It’s easy to clean and needs little ironing.

The low maintenance qualities of poplin make it a popular choice for busy people who need something to throw on and go. Its resistance to creases makes it the traveler’s friend.

Being a durable material, it can take constant wear. It’s also both soft and lustrous. Normally fabric is either one or the other. With poplin, you get the best of both worlds.

Ideal for formal and casual wear, the fabric is versatile enough to be at home in the boardroom or the living room. With the look of expensive material, poplin is relatively cheap, making it budget-friendly yet deceptively decadent.

The crispness and natural drape make poplin the fabric of choice for many summer-weight garments. It is used to create sophisticated clothing that is both cool, comfortable, and incredibly forgiving.

Poplin is breathable and its unique weave makes it cool and takes moisture away from the skin. It dries quickly, making it the go-to fabric for warm weather and hot climates.

What Is Poplin Fabric Used For?

Poplin is an extremely versatile fabric and can be used for a range of different items. From apparel to home décor, this adaptable fabric can be found everywhere.

The most common use is clothing. It’s an ideal fabric for shirts, dresses, sportswear, and even trench coats—particularly summer weight apparel. Poly-cotton poplin is incredibly popular as a material for uniforms. The weave of the poplin combined with both cotton and polyester properties makes garments easy to care for, durable, and long-lasting. This is why it’s the fabric of choice when it comes to comfort and wearability.

Poplin can also be used to make luxuriant pajamas. Soft, lightweight, and cool on the skin, poplin is a breathable fabric that absorbs moisture. It doesn’t cling to you either, making it refreshingly cool, so you get a comfortable night’s sleep. This also makes the fabric suitable for bedding.

Other uses include upholstery. It may be a lightweight fabric, but it’s also a strong and sturdy material. The weave helps retain color, which will help keep your furnishings bright for years.

It’s an easy fabric to iron, making it well suited for event décor, especially tablecloths. It doesn’t retain smells so it’s quick and easy to clean. An ideal quality for a tablecloth that gets used at all sorts of events, from wedding receptions to conferences! On top of that, the crisp, smooth surface gives a smart and professional edge to any special decorations.

Poplin can be blended with lycra or spandex to give garments an extra stretch, particularly in women’s wear. The material can be rigid. Adding a bit of stretch makes it more comfortable, especially for those of us with more curves.

What Are the Disadvantages of Poplin?

Poplin is a popular fabric for garments, particularly in warmer climates or hot weather. It’s also great for formal or casual clothing that needs a certain amount of drape. There are some disadvantages with the material, though, making it less ideal for some projects.

  • Poplin is crease-resistant. Normally this would be a good thing. But, when it comes to decorative features like pintucks or heavy pleats, it can be a disaster. If you can’t crease the fabric, your pleats will drop out. The drape and softness of poplin make it ideal for design details that use a flowy fabric. When it comes to poplin, it’s better suited to frills and ruffles.
  • The fabric is lightweight and drapey by nature, so isn’t a good match for any garment requiring a lot of structure or a rigid feel. Poplin isn’t robust or hardwearing enough to make cargo pants or even to form the rigid shape of jeans.
  • Lightweight and slightly translucent, poplin is not an ideal choice for colder climates. It cannot retain heat. If warmth is on your checklist in a fabric, poplin is the wrong choice.
  • Depending on the fiber content, poplin can be susceptible to heat. A poplin made from 100% cotton could shrink in a hot wash. If it has any polyester in it, a hot iron will melt it. Always check the label to make sure you care for it correctly. To be safe, always make sure you stick to warm or cold settings when you launder this fabric. Steer clear of too much heat.
  • Normally, poplin fabrics don’t stretch because they are woven fabrics. The weave keeps the fabric rigid. Any garment using poplin needs to allow extra fabric for ease so the wearer can get into the clothing. This makes poplin unsuitable for garments that need a lot of stretch, like swimwear. Lycra can be added to the blend to allow a small amount of stretch but it won’t be enough for any garment requiring negative ease.

What Is Poplin Like to Sew With?

When it comes to sewing with a poplin fabric, you need to pay attention to the fiber content. As poplin refers to the weave rather than the fabric, you’ll find it can be made from polyester, cotton, or a mixture of both. It could even be wool or silk.

The different materials can change the way the fabric sews. Silks and polyesters can be slippery to work with, while cotton-based poplin will sew like any other woven cotton. To counteract any slipping, especially when cutting the fabric, stabilize it with pattern weights. Avoid pins as these can leave visible holes, particularly in polyester or silk poplins.

Due to having several options for fiber combinations, it’s important to use the correct sewing machine needle and thread. A universal or standard needle size 80/12 is fine for cotton fabric and an all-purpose thread. If you are sewing a polyester-based poplin, choose a smaller size needle such as 70/10 and a polyester thread.

You will also need to use the right sewing machine foot. A walking foot, or even-feed foot, are ideal for use with fabrics that move. This type of foot has feed dogs built-in and will hold the top layer of fabric level with the bottom layer as you sew. With feed dogs top and bottom, both layers will go under the foot at the same speed.

As poplin fabric is lightweight, it lends itself to delicate hems. Easy to fold over and stitch, hemming is less challenging than with other weaves or heavier fabrics. Rolled hems, in particular are a special feature of poplin garments. Both beginner and experienced sewists love working with poplin because it is so versatile and simple to care for.

Overall, poplin is an easy fabric to sew with as long as you work with the material’s properties. One of the key things to remember is poplin has a natural drape. It is ideal for garments that need a floaty effect. It is not a good fabric for garments that need a heavy fabric like jeans. Nor is it a good candidate for overly tailored clothing or garments requiring a lot of structured details.

Poplin Fabric by the Yard

Like most fabrics, poplin can be purchased by the yard. In some places, you can even buy a half yard. When it comes to widths, you have several choices. The width you choose will change the yardage you need for your project.

Popular widths for poplin range from 54 inches to 110 inches. Sometimes it can come in a width of 45 inches, depending on the project it was designed for. Wider material is ideal for upholstery and home décor. At the same time, the shorter widths can be used for apparel or crafts like patchwork quilting.

Both the width and quality of the poplin you buy will alter the price you pay per yard. For a good quality polycotton poplin measuring 60 inches wide, you’re looking at somewhere in the region of $4.00 per yard. Your 100% polyester poplin curtains at 110 inches wide are closer to $8.00 per yard.

What Is 100% Cotton Poplin?


Cotton poplin

100% cotton poplin is a fabric made purely from cotton using a poplin weave. Poplin is a plain weave usually made from different thicknesses of warp and weft threads.

For a cotton-only fabric, the poplin uses the same thicknesses across both grains and loses the ribbing effect. In some cases, poplin can also be made using two different weights of cotton yarn. The resulting fabric will still have the ribbed texture poplin is known for.

A poplin fabric made from 100% cotton combines the positive benefits of cotton with a strong, durable weave. Being cotton, it absorbs moisture and doesn’t hold on to smells. The fabric is soft, cool to the touch, and capable of withstanding frequent use.

Being cotton-based, the fabric contains completely natural fibers. This makes any garment made from it hypoallergenic, thin, and breathable. The fabric is perfect for sensitive skin or children as it won’t irritate or inflame allergies.

As it’s made from a natural substance, cotton poplin is ecological and biodegradable—an ideal planet-friendly choice for those wishing to reduce their carbon footprint.

Another bonus with a 100% cotton poplin is no static electricity. Without the addition of any synthetic fibers, a cotton poplin won’t suffer from static-cling. Nor will it give you, or anyone around you, a sharp static shock when you wear it.

Cotton poplin can be used for shirts, dresses, and summer weight pants. It’s a firm favorite in warmer climates and for travelers because it keeps you dry, cool, and comfortable.

100% Cotton Poplin Fabric Price

Depending on the fiber content, poplin is an inexpensive fabric. Poplin made from 100% cotton can range from $2.50 to $7.50 per yard. The actual price is determined by the supplier you purchase it from. An online outlet may be cheaper than a local retail store. You may also find a prestigious or brand name store more expensive than a local mom-and-pop outlet.

Another factor when it comes to cost is what the poplin is used for. A 100% cotton fabric for apparel will be lighter weight than the same fiber content used in upholstery. The difference in weight will alter the price of the fabric.

Then there is the quality of the material. Not all 100% cotton is created equal. Some are made using a low grade of cotton. While others are made using the finest cotton thread available.

100% cotton poplin isn’t the only option when it comes to this type of fabric. You can still purchase cotton poplin made with silk warp threads. As silk is a pricey material, this is reflected in the cost when it’s woven into poplin.

The good news is there is a cheaper alternative to using silk. Mixing cotton with polyester will give the same look and feel like silk, but for considerably less financial outlay.

What Is Polyester Poplin?

A polyester poplin can be made from 100% Polyester or blended with cotton or wool. It has a silkier feel than a cotton-based poplin, giving it more of a luxuriant texture.

The fabric has all the normal qualities found in polyester, such as being lightweight, crease-resistant, and less likely to shrink.

100% polyester poplin is ideal for items that need drape or lots of flowing movement, like flags and blouses. The poly-cotton version is perfect for heavier garments like uniforms. As it can withstand regular washing, poly-cotton poplin is used for hospital scrubs.

Polyester is normally cheaper than both cotton and silk fabrics. Making a polyester-based poplin a budget-friendly option for anyone wanting the look of a more expensive fabric.

What Is Silk-Wool Poplin?

When poplin was first introduced in Avignon, France back in the 15 century, it would have been made from silk and wool. The fine silk yarn would have been used for the warp threads. Wool would have made up the thicker, coarser weft threads.

Combining wool with silk gives a two-layer effect to the fabric. A strong-ridged surface is giving stability coupled with the smooth luster of the silk fibers. The wool content would have offered some warmth in colder weather. Silk would have added luxury and softened the garment.

Modern-day poplin tends to be a combination of manmade and synthetic materials. While it has the same silky feel, the fabric is a lot lighter and has lost most of its insulating properties.

Broadcloth vs Poplin: What Is the Difference?

Broadcloth and poplin are woven in the same way. Both fabrics are plain weaves and are often confused with each other. They can be made from cotton or cotton blends, and they both have a lustrous appearance. Either one is ideal for making shirts, skirts, and blouses. But that’s where the similarities end.

Broadcloth has a more robust, sturdy texture than poplin because it is woven with thicker warp and weft threads. Unlike poplin, both the warp and weft threads are usually the same fiber content and therefore, the same size throughout. The fabric is a medium-weight, tightly woven material with a crisp feel that is prone to wrinkling. It’s a slightly heavier fabric than poplin making it ideal for cooler climates.

Poplin is a lightweight fabric that combines fine warp threads with thicker weft yarns. Poplin threads can be a mixture of fibers, cotton and polyester is a popular combination. The result is a soft, strong fabric ideal for summer garments. Its lightness gives both drape and a slightly translucent finish to clothing. Poplin, in contrast to broadcloth, is both easy to iron and resistant to wrinkles.

What Is the Difference Between Poplin and Twill?

Poplin and twill are the names used to describe the type of weave in the fabric. Although the terms are used to describe the same kinds of fabrics, they are not woven in the same way. This creates two very different materials.

A twill weave creates a diagonal ribbed effect. Each lengthways thread, known as the warp, is woven under and over two threads of the crossways, or weft yarns. The weave is staggered, so each row has the under and over threads in different places, creating an attractive diagonal pattern similar to a herringbone style.

Twill fabric is strong and long-lasting. Its properties make it an ideal heavy-duty fabric for heavy workwear. The diagonal weave hides dirt and is more water-resistant than other weaves. Denim is an example of a twill weave. The pattern of the weave creates an opaque fabric, which gives privacy to garments.

There are some disadvantages with twill. The nature of the weave makes it a heavier fabric than poplin. It’s tightly woven with a more rigid structure. Garments made from twill are always a heavier weight. Because of this, twill is not as cool in warmer temperatures.

It doesn’t drape well either and tends to sit close to the body. This can make the wearer feel hot and sweaty. The extra thickness makes it less breathable and moisture tends to stay close to the skin.

Poplin, on the other hand, is a plain weave. Warp threads are woven over one weft thread at a time. The direction is straight up and down, so more of a basket-weave effect. This weave resists wrinkles making it ideal for shirts and skirts. The natural flowy drape of the fabric can be cooling in hot weather. It also aids the evaporation of moisture.

What Is Rayon Poplin Fabric?

A rayon poplin fabric is a plain-weave, lightweight, floaty material ideal for summer dresses and shirts. The name rayon poplin refers to the fabric type and the weave of the material. In this case, rayon is the fabric and poplin is the weave.

Rayon is a plant-based, synthetic fiber made from cellulose extracted from plant matter. Usually wood or bamboo. The plant matter tends to be rough and harsh and has to be processed before being used in a fabric. Also known as viscose, rayon is the generic term for material made from wood pulp.

Although rayon is natural in a sense it is made from plant material, processing the fibers involves mixing the cellulose with petroleum. This is why rayon is a hybrid fabric, both manmade and natural.

Combining rayon with a poplin weave gives a fabric that is both silky to the touch and durable enough for everyday wear. As the plain-weave of the poplin is tightly woven, the resulting rayon poplin fabric is opaque, offering a degree of privacy for blouses, skirts, and dresses.


Whether it’s 100% cotton or a cotton blend, poplin is a highly versatile fabric useful for fashion garments and utility wear.

Hopefully, this article has helped introduce you to the many qualities of this underrated fabric. Let me know in the comments if you liked the article and if it’s inspired you to give poplin a try in your next project.