Dress Fabric Types

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A variety of different fabrics have been used to make different kinds of pretty and cozy dresses.  Some dress fabric types include rayon, chambray, denim, cotton, double gauze, knit, satin, silk, linen, wool, flannel, and many others.

Maxi Dress

Fabric Materials

  • Rayon challis: Rayon challis is a smooth, lightweight semi-synthetic fabric that is sometimes simply referred to as rayon.  It is made from wood pulp, a naturally occurring cellulose based raw material.  It is sometimes referred to as artificial silk. It drapes well similar to that of nylon and is slightly heavier than other lightweight fabrics, like cotton voile and lawn.  It is the perfect kind of fabric to use in warm weather during the spring and summer.  It imitates the feel and look of silk, wool, cotton, and linen.  Specific types of rayon include viscose, modal, and lyocell types and these are manufactured in a slightly different way.
  • Chambray: Chambray is another smooth, lightweight fabric. It is a plain weave fabric with a colored yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft with the threads alternative over one another.  The underside of a chambray is usually about the same color as the face side of the cloth.  It doesn’t drape as well as rayon challis, cotton voile or cotton lawn.  It can be made from cotton, linen. or silk and can be found in both lightweight and heavyweight styles.  It is the perfect fabric to use in your spring and summer wardrobe.
  • Denim: Denim is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads.  The underside of denim is usually lighter than the face side.  Denim is typically a heavy-weight fabric with very little drape or stretch.  There are also some lightweight denim styles that are available and in the market.  It is traditionally colored blue using indigo dye but also can come in a multitude of colors.  It creases easily, is very strong and durable, and easily resists tears and snags.  Denim typically is very long lasting.

There are many different types of denim that are available such as the following:

  1. Colored denim–these are typically made using a wide variety of different colored dyes.  In the case of the traditional blue, indigo dye is used, but in colored denim other colors of dyes are typically used.
  2. Bubble gum denim–is a form of stretchable denim with 35-50% lycra
  3. Marble denim–is another term for acid washed denim.  The process of producing acid washed denim involves bleaching and these kinds of denim are referred to as marble denim.
  4. Crushed denim–there is special fabric construction that is coupled with wet processing to achieve a textured effect.  This textured effect can be improved by using stone or bleach.
  5. Vintage denim–there is a heavy stone wash or cellulose enzyme wash with or without bleach.  It is used to achieve an old and worn out look to the jeans.
  6. Ecru denim–is a type of denim that does not contain any dyed yarn and is completely made of grey yarn.
  7. Reverse denim–is a type of denim in which the face side and the reverse side look the same and that the reverse side is not lighter than the face side of the jeans
  • Double gauze: Gauze is a thin fabric with an open weave giving it a lovely grape and also makes it very sheer.  It is known for its looseness and slipping of threads.  Double gauze is a unique fabric in that it literally consists of two layers of gauze that are woven together. The double layer of fabric retains the good qualities of guaze such as being extremely light and breathable, without the translucent properties of single layer of gauze.  It is typically available in prints and solids.  The loose weave results in an airy and breathable fabric that can be used all year round in the warmer or colder weather.
  • Cotton lawn and voile: Cotton is a soft fiber that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant and is almost purely cellulose.  Cotton voile is a lightweight, semi-sheer fabric with a great drape and cotton lawn is very similar to cotton voile but is slightly crisper.  Cotton has many good properties such as being comfortable, soft, having good strength, draping very well, and easy to handle.  They are not as durable as synthetic fibers.
  • Knit: Knit fabric is one that is made by the process of knitting.  Knitting involves the creation of an elastic and porous fabric created by interlocking yarns by means of needles.  It is more flexible and readily constructed into smaller pieces.  It is more durable than nonwoven fabric.  In the knit fabric category, there are several types of knit, varying from lightweight to medium weight. Knit fabric is your go-to for any garment that needs to have a great deal of stretch. Patterns are designed for either woven fabric or knit fabric, and patterns sized for knit fabric will often specify the degree of stretch needed in the fabric.
  • Silk: Silk is a natural protein fiber made from silkworms.  It is a delicate and lightweight fabric that drapes well. It has a slightly shimmery appearance. Silk can be slippery and more difficult to work with but it has a soft and smooth texture that is not as slippery as synthetic fabrics. It also makes a great lining fabric.

These can be used for more elegant and fancy dresses for more formal occasions.  Its absorbency makes it good to wear in the warmer weather.  There are many different types of fabrics that are made out of silk such as chiffon, taffeta, charmeuse, crepe de chine, habutai, dupioni, noil, tussah, shangtung, and several others.

  • Satin: Satin is a weave that has a glossy surface and a dull back and it can vary from lightweight to heavyweight, depending on the type of satin. It is often made out of silk and it tends to have a high amount of luster and like silk, it has a glossy appearance.  These are good for nightgowns and many evening gowns are also made out of satin.

There are several different types of satin that are available and this list provides an overview of the different types.

  1. Baronet or baronette is similar to georgette with a rayon or silk front and a cotton back.
  2. Antique satin is a type of satin-back shantung which is made out of silk that is woven with unevenly spun or slubbed weft yarns.
  3. Double face(d) satin is woven with a glossy surface on both the front and reverse side in which it is possible for both sides to have a different pattern using the same colors in the fabric.
  4. Charmeuse is a lightweight, draping satin-weave fabric with a dull reverse side that is not typically used for making dresses since it has the tendency to show all the flaws in a woman’s body.
  5. Duchess(e) satin is a very heavy weight, stiff, and luxurious form of satin.
  6. Farmer’s satin or Venetian cloth is made from mercerised cotton that is treated to give a silky appearance.
  7. Faconne is jacquard woven satin that is woven using a Jacquard loom
  8. Gattar is a type of satin that is made with a silk warp and a cotton weft.
  9. Polysatin or poly-satin is an abbreviated term for polyester satin and has a smooth, silky, luxurious, and glossy fabric with a shiny side and a dull side.
  10. Messaline is lightweight and loosely woven satin silk fabric that is thin and soft.
  11. Slipper satin is stiff and medium- to heavy-weight fabric with a high level of luster that is used in making many types of evening dresses.
  • Linen: Linen is a medium-weight fabric with little elasticity (hence the wrinkles). But it conducts heat very well, which is why it’s a popular choice for the spring and summer seasons which have much warmer weather.
  • Wool: There are over 200 different types of wool, coming from 40 different breeds of sheep, so the weight will vary depending on the type of wool. Wool is extremely hard-wearing and versatile. It’s also very warm and a good choice for colder weather (fall and winter) types of dresses.

  • Flannel: Flannel is a soft, lightweight fabric. It works well for colder-temperature (fall and winter) types of dresses


Feel free to leave any comments or questions below about different dress fabric materials and I will get back to you soon!




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6 thoughts on “Dress Fabric Types”

  1. Nice list of different fabric materials. I have learnt of a couple new fabrics that I haven’t heard of previously in Rayon challis and flannel. Thanks for educating me on this.

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