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Design & Style

Poplin Fabric Guide: Explore the Look and Feel of Poplin

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 2, 2020 • 2 min read

Broadcloth, crepe, rayon, spandex—there are a wide array of fashion fabrics on the market, each with their own history and characteristics. Poplin is a fabric made with a tight plain weave which results in a material that feels smooth to the touch.

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What Is Poplin Fabric?

Poplin fabric is a plain weave fabric, which means it is woven in a simple over-under pattern (as opposed to the more complex, texture weaves used to make satin and twill). Poplin, sometimes called a tabinet fabric, has a tight weave, with very fine warp yarns and coarser weft yarns. Poplin can come from a wide variety of materials like cotton fabric and cotton blends, silk poplin, polyester poplin and polyester blends, and lycra stretch poplin.

What Is Poplin Made Of?

Originally made in the fifteenth century in Avignon, France, the term “poplin” traditionally referred to a fabric with a silk warp and wool weft. Today, poplin comes from a wide variety of materials, including cotton, silk, polyester, and lycra. To make poplin fabric, manufacturers use very fine warp yarns (longitudinal yarns held stationary on the loom) and coarser weft yarns (yarns woven over and under the warp yarns).

5 Characteristics of Poplin

  1. Smooth and even feel. Poplin’s plain, tight weave means that it feels smooth to the touch, as opposed to knit fabrics that can feel bumpy or ribbed.
  2. Lightweight. Poplin is thin and lightweight, making it a great option for summer shirting—but it also tends to be slightly transparent, often requiring a lining.
  3. Durable. Poplin is a strong fabric that can stand up to the washing machine or heavy wear. It can also hold its shape fairly well, making it wrinkle resistant, and therefore a popular choice for home decor items like upholstery fabric, tablecloths, and quilting.
  4. Inexpensive. Poplin is inexpensive to manufacture, making it a cheap fabric to purchase plain or as a garment. Since poplin can come from many different materials, you can find it at a wide variety of price points—polyester poplin is the cheapest and silk poplin usually the most expensive.
  5. Easy to dye and print. Poplin takes dyes and prints well, making it a versatile option for clothing with different colors and prints, from polka dots to plaid to floral print.
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How Does Poplin Feel?

Poplin is a plain weave fabric, making it feel smooth and even to the touch. It’s also very lightweight, with a light, airy drape.

4 Uses for Poplin

Poplin fabric has many uses, including:

  1. Shirting. Poplin is one of the most common shirting fabrics, from casual blouses to more formal men’s shirts and button-ups. In cool climates, silk poplin shirts are very popular; in warmer climates, cotton poplin fabric is the norm.
  2. Lightweight, airy clothing. Poplin’s lightweight texture makes it an excellent choice for summer wear, from breathable tops to airy pants.
  3. Women’s dresses. Poplin has a light, airy drape, meaning that poplin dresses will look very flowy and are great for summer.
  4. Pajamas. Since poplin is smooth and comfortable to wear, it’s the ideal material for loungewear like pajamas.

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