Cotton Fabrics - All you need to know

We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything cotton related, including information about cotton lawn, cotton poplin, brushed cotton, cotton dobby, broderie anglaise, seersucker, stretch cotton, cotton sateen & medium-weight cotton.


Cotton is a natural fibre that comes from the seedpod of the cotton plant. Some of our cotton fabrics use organic cotton, such as our Cloud 9 fabrics, and some of our cottons are unbleached meaning that no chemicals have been used.

Characteristics of cotton fabrics:


  • Breathable 
  • Machine washable 
  • Soft against the skin
  • Hard wearing / Durable
  • Easy to sew with as it is a stable fabric
  • Wrinkles easily 
  • Prone to shrinking
  • More prone to fading 


Medium-Weight Cottons are plain woven and characteristically heavier than cotton lawns making them perfect for sewing structured shirts, tops and shift dresses.

Pima Cotton is used by Art Gallery Fabrics, this fabric uses a luxury fine cotton resulting in a lighter weight fabric.

Cotton Lawn is a plain weave textile made from cotton. It is designed using high thread count yarns which results in it's silky and untextured feel. It is a lightweight fabric and it can be slightly transparent. It is perfect for sewing dresses, skirts, trousers and tops for the warmer weather

Cotton Poplin is a strong medium weight plain weave fabric. Some poplins have a visible crosswise rib effect because the warp threads are finer and more closely set than the weft threads. Those poplins that don't have the crosswise rib effect use the same threads throughout the fabric construction. Poplin differs from cotton lawn because cotton lawn is made from finer threads

Cotton Batiste is made from a straight weave, it is very lightweight and often has a good drape

Combed (Brushed) Cotton is made by specially treating the cotton fibres before they are spun into yarn resulting in a brushed feel. It is very soft against the skin

Cotton Percale is a plain weave fabric where the threads are tightly woven resulting in a fine texture. It is heavier in weight to poplin and cotton lawn. It is good for sewing a structured skirt or dress

Cotton Dobby is woven specially on a Dobby Loom to create a textured effect in the finished cloth

Cotton Voile is a smooth fabric and is lightweight. It does not tend to drape as well as cotton batiste and has a similar feel to that of a cotton lawn

Cotton Crepe is lightweight and has a textured crinkled finish. It is woven with yarn that is slightly twisted in the weft, warp or both. It is a soft fabric that is often slightly sheer. Once washed it will take on a lightly crinkled appearance

Broderie Anglaise is open embroidery that is normally on fine white cotton

Ikat fabric is made by tie dying either the warp or weft threads (or sometimes both) before weaving

Seersucker is woven in a way so that some threads bunch together which gives it it's well known puckered look that is commonly striped or checkered and is a popular fabric for sewing clothes for Spring and Summer

Stretch Cottons
 are a medium weight woven fabric and combine the breathability of cotton with the elasticity of elastane. You may also find stretch cotton twills, these fabrics have been woven to produce a fine diagonal or parallel ribbed pattern. This type of fabric is ideal for sewing trousers and dresses with a fitted bodice

Cotton Sateens are woven using a satin weave which results in a slight sheen

Dressmaking Projects For Cotton Lawn Fabric: 

Dressmaking Projects For Medium Weight Cotton Fabric:

Dressmaking Projects For Stretch Cotton Sateen Fabric:

Tips For Sewing with Cotton Fabric: 

  • Cotton fabrics are prone to shrinking so always pre-wash your fabric prior to cutting it out and sewing with it. Wash the fabric as you plan to launder your garment once sewn
  • You need a universal machine needle - the size of the needle depends on the weight of the cotton fabric
  • Cotton tends to be a stable fabric so it is unlikely to slip around when cutting it out, this means you can cut it on multiple layers 
  • Use sharp scissors and sharp pins when cutting out cotton fabric 
  • A regular sewing machine foot is needed 
  • Regular sewing machine thread is needed 
  • Use a regular straight stitch when sewing straight seams - set the stitch length between 2 or 2.5. 2.5 is good for medium weight cottons, and 2 is good for lighter weight cottons 
  • Cut edges of cotton and seams will fray if they are left unfinished. They can be finished with a overlocker or a simple zig zag stitch


If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can contact Team Sunshine at

We stock a wide range of cotton fabrics, click here to view the full collection.

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