Understanding Fabric Weights

Understanding Fabric Weights

Whether you're an experienced sewist or just venturing into the world of textiles, understanding fabric weight is essential. It's like unlocking the secret code to choosing the perfect fabric for your projects. We're here to shed light on this often-misunderstood aspect of fabrics so you can confidently select materials that align with your creative visions.

What is Fabric Weight?

Fabric Weights at Core Fabrics

In simple terms, fabric weight refers to how heavy or light a fabric is, usually measured in grams per square meter (GSM) or ounces per square yard (oz/yd²). It's a crucial factor influencing the drape, durability, and functionality of your creations. Let's dive a little deeper into why it matters.

  • Drape and Structure: Imagine a flowing dress made of lightweight chiffon versus a structured coat crafted from heavy wool. Fabric weight often affects how a garment hangs on your body. Lighter fabrics are usually drapier, while heavier ones like denim or wool often lend more structure and form.
  • The Knit Twist: Knitting uses more fibres or threads than weaving, resulting in more weight. Also, knit fabrics often feature spandex or lycra, adding extra weight without necessarily impacting their perceived feel or behaviour. This means that a knit fabric with a specific weight can feel surprisingly lightweight, defying expectations set by its numerical value. So, when it comes to knits, remember that weight isn't the sole indicator – the interplay of materials can create a unique tactile experience that's more than meets the eye.
  • Durability and Purpose: The weight of a fabric can determine its durability and intended use. Heavier materials are often sturdier and better suited for items that need to withstand wear and tear, such as outerwear, workwear or upholstery. On the other hand, lighter fabrics are perfect for delicate projects like airy blouses or summer dresses.
  • Selecting the Right Fabric Weight: When choosing a fabric, it's essential to consider the project you have in mind. Think about the desired attributes – warmth, breathability, drape – and match them to the appropriate fabric weight.
  • Experimentation and Creativity: Don't be afraid to experiment! The same pattern can take on a completely different vibe with different fabric weights. By understanding this concept, you'll open up a world of creative possibilities.

Core Fabrics Weight Chart:

Use this handy tool to guide you through the fabric weight spectrum and help you pick the perfect fabric for your next sewing project.

Fabric Type Fabric Weight (GSM) Fabric Weight (oz/ yd²) Common Fabric Examples Common Uses
Ultra Light Under 100 GSM Under 3 oz/yd² Chiffon, georgette, voile, lace, tulle Breezy dresses & blouses, lingerie, scarves
Lightweight 100 - 170 GSM 3 - 5 oz/yd² Lightweight linen, cotton (shirting, chambray, batik, ikat), rayon challis, viscose twill, EcoVero viscose, Tencel jersey Tops, shirts, skirts, summer dresses
Midweight 170 - 340 GSM 5 - 10 oz/yd² Midweight linen, twill, textured viscose linen, Tencel rib, Tencel + cotton jersey, bamboo jersey Pants, tops, structured dresses, lightweight jackets
Heavyweight Bottomweight 340 - 400 GSM 10 - 11.8 oz/yd² Heavy canvas, denim, coating, fleece, ponte, jacquard, brocade Jeans, cozy sweaters, coats 
Ultra Heavy Over 400 GSM Over 11.8 oz/yd² Heavy duty denim, canvas, waxed cotton, coating, upholstery fabrics Cozy coats, winter wear, upholstery


Ultra Light & Lightweight Fabrics:

Lightweight Fabrics at Core Fabrics

Ultra light and lightweight fabrics clock in anywhere from 170 GSM down to a mere 10 GSM (or even less). These are the ethereal confections of the fabric world, made for crafting enchanting dresses, tops, and adding touches as interfacings and linings. Think taffeta, silk, voile, tulle, and all sorts of light beauties that give your creations that delicate, airy flair. They're all about that effortless drape that catches the breeze just right. While they're your go-to for hot weather, they're not necessarily appropriate for things like pants or shorts. But boy, can they work magic when it comes to making a statement dress or a carefree, floaty blouse.

Midweight Fabrics:

Midweight Fabrics at Core Fabrics

Weighing in at 170 to 340 GSM, midweight fabrics are the versatile all-stars of the textile world. They're up for anything – tops, bottoms, light jackets, dresses, you name it. If versatility had a weight, it would be midweight. Picture light twill, jersey, our self-explanatory Midweight Linen, chambray, wool suiting, oxford, muslin, and most of our viscose prints. These tend to be fully opaque, though lighter colours on the lighter side of the weight range can start to get translucent. They're also not as rigidly structured as the heavyweight fabrics (though they can take a crease nicely depending on the fibre), and some of them (including knits) can be quite drapey.

Heavyweight, Bottomweight & Ultra Heavy Fabrics:

Heavyweight Fabrics at Core Fabrics

Finally, let's talk about the heavy hitters – we're talking bottomweight and heavyweight fabrics like denim, canvas, and melton wool. They usually weigh in at 340 GSM and up. Why "bottomweight"? Well, they're great for making, you guessed it, bottoms – pants, skirts, you name it. They've got that dense and sturdy weave, which gives them that "bottom of the scale" status. If you're into knits, the same weight can bring on the warm fuzzies – think fleece, sweater knit, and scuba knit. Knit bottomweights can also feature some dramatic draping, like heavy velvet.

To Sum Up:

Remember, the factors we discussed are important considerations when you're selecting the right fabric for your project. However, keep in mind that they're not strict rules set in stone. Feel free to go against the grain and opt for a fabric weight that resonates with your vision. Just be aware that your final garment may not behave the same as if it were made with a fabric weight that your pattern calls for.

That's why we've got the Perfect Match collections and specific fabric categories – to help you navigate this creative journey. So, go ahead! Sew those ultra-heavyweight denim jeans you've been dreaming of, or give that delicate, wispy blouse a shot. You've got all the tools to make the perfect fabric choice.