Choosing The Best Plain Weave Cotton Fabric

Finding the right type of fabric for your project can be a tedious task if you’re not sure what to look for and are unable to touch them. Many fabrics made of the same material can look the same when shopping online, however, their weight and application can be different.

Here is a guide to help choose the right basic plain weave cotton fabric for your next project.

Medium to Heavy Weight Cotton Fabric: Duck vs. Canvas

Canvas and duck fabrics are a good option if you’re looking for a medium to heavy weight fabric. The terms canvas and duck are often used interchangeably but there is a difference between single fill and double fill ducks.

Single fill ducks have one weft yarn (the thread going in the horizontal direction), while double fills have 2 weft yarns. Double fill canvas fabrics are often called numbered ducks because the weight is indicated by a number from #1 to #12. The lower the number the heavier the weight will be, so our #4 duck is 24 oz and our #12 duck is 11.5 oz. Numbered ducks are a little stronger and stiffer due to the extra weft yarn so they are better for projects like tents, tarps, painting canvases, and other heavy-duty projects.

Single fill ducks are generally lighter weight and more flexible than numbered ducks. They are better for making bags, coats, slipcovers, and other projects that need a strong material that is more pliable and can withstand wear. The weight is represented in ounces rather than a number and range from about 7 oz to 12 oz.

For more information, see our Canvas Fabric Product Guide.

Canvas can be left a natural color or bleached and dyed.

dyed-canvas-fabric Dyed Canvas Fabric

Cotton duck is also a common material for home décor drapery/multipurpose fabrics to be printed on.

Twill and denim are also good medium weight options but the weave is different from canvas. The twill weave creates diagonal lines that are characteristic of denim and other twill fabrics.


Lightweight Cotton Fabric: Broadcloth vs. Muslin

Broadcloth is a lightweight fabric that has many practical applications. Broadcloth is sturdy yet soft and is a great fabric for apparel. It can also be used to make lightweight bags, quilts, throws, costumes, bedding, drapery, bias tape, and linings. It comes in 100% cotton and poly/cotton blends and is available in many colors.

quilting-broadcloth Broadcloth Fabric

Muslin is a lightweight, 100% cotton fabric. Unlike broadcloth, it only comes in white and natural colors, but it can be dyed easily. Muslin is one of the least expensive cotton fabrics available and is usually less expensive than broadcloth. It is a great material for lining bags and apparel, drapery, theater, photography and clothing mockups.

For more information see our muslin fabric product guide.

If you’re looking for a lightweight fabric with a design, take a look at our cotton prints which are often referred to as quilting cotton. They are about the same weight as broadcloth. Like broadcloth, they can be used in many applications besides quilting, including apparel, bags, décor, and crafts.

No matter the application, one of these fabrics will likely be a great pick for your next project and every option will be easy to work with for any range of skill sets.

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