Know about your fabric weights?

So you’ve gotten pretty stuck in to your sewing and you want to start trying your hand at different styles, but you can’t quite figure out why that skirt doesn’t quite sit right? 

Well, there are a number of key characteristics that affect what your fabric can be used for. You will find you hear these terms at different points when buying fabric. The main five characteristics are: 

Weight

Thickness

Shear

Drape

Stretch

In this post, let’s focus on weight:

Have you been searching for fabric but are unsure about what it means when it’s described as light weight, medium or heavy?

You’re not alone! I too have tried to understand the difference and what it all actually means and I’m here to share what I’ve learned. 

Fabric weight is very important as it has an impact on the finish of your garment. For example large amounts of heavy fabric may not be the most comfortable and may limit movement, but good weighted fabric will provide you with good movement whilst gracefully draping on the body. 

Each weight category has recommended garments that would be ideal for example heavy fabrics are great for coats and light weights for blouses and dresses. 

To assist with the weight categories, I have focussed on one of the most commonly used unit of measurement:

GSM (g/m2) - Grams per square metre: It checks the weight of the fabric using a metric measurement. 

As a simple guide I have categorised some of the most popular fabrics under 5 weight subheadings:

Please note this is neither a definitive nor an exhaustive list. 

Very Light 

113g/ 4oz or below

Light flowy dresses and skirts, blouses, tops, jacket linings, sports wear

Fabric examples could include: Voile, Chiffon, Organza, Viscose, Gauze, Oxford Cloth, Rayon, Gingham, Cotton Lawn, Poplin, Viscose

Light/Medium

113g 4oz - 170g/ 6oz

Dresses and skirts, blouses, t-shirts, tops

Fabric examples could include: Linen, Double Gauze, Chambray, Taffeta, Calico, Quilting Cotton, Cotton Canvas, Viscose  

Medium

170g/ 6oz - 290g/ 10oz

Light jackets, dresses, skirts, structured shirts, trousers, jeans

Fabric examples could include: Satin, Flannel, Twill, Single Jersey, Corduroy, Velvet, Double Jersey

Medium / Heavy

290g/ 10oz - 400g/ 14oz 

Outwear, coats, jeans

Fabric examples could include: Cotton Canvas, Wool Flannel, Heavy Oxford Cloth, Denim, Tweed (including Herringbone) Corduroy, Towelling

Heavy

Above 400g/ 14oz

Outwear, Jackets

Fabric examples could include: Wool Coating, Boucle

We could go the extra mile and add another level very heavy (450g/16oz) and this could include upholstery fabrics, but that’s a topic for another day!

Fabric weights can be subjective and with that in mind, this is my interpretation based on reading a number of books, purchasing fabrics and using fabrics to make a number of items. 

I hope this gives you some basic insight into fabric weights, although the fabric examples are great, the most useful information will be the weight categories. I hope that any fabric you come across you now feel confident in categorising it. 

What is your experience with fabric weights? Have you faced any challenges with the fabric weights that you’ve used? Comment below, let’s learn together.

Look out for further posts on this topic, I will try to post an update when I’ve learned new information and there’s more to share. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published