What is poplin?

by Leah Taylor on October 13, 2010

“What exactly is poplin?”

A customer asked me today what poplin is, as Sewbox has a selection of Liberty poplin fabric, and here’s my attempt at an explanation:

Poplin is a durable, tightly woven cotton fabric, primarily intended for making clothes, but also suitable for other crafting too. It uses a plain weave and is actually very similar to quilting cotton, but with a tighter, less distinctive weave, less prone to wrinkling, and much easier to iron. The weight varies but is generally light to medium weight – the Liberty poplins in my shop all weigh 120 grams per square metre. It is a “shirting” fabric and its most common uses would be for shirts, dresses, and skirts.

What is poplin?

A close-up of the poplin weave

If you know what cotton broadcloth is, poplin is essentially the same. I think there is a subtle difference between the two, but I have yet to work out what it is, and it looks to me as though what Americans call cotton broadcloth, we call poplin (if anyone can elaborate on whether there is a difference or not, please do share!)

Poplin can generally be machine washed up to 60 degrees, tumbled dryed on low, and ironed on a warm setting. However, the care instructions for the Liberty poplins differ – they state 40 degrees only, and no tumble drying.

I hope I haven’t confused you more, and if anyone can elaborate at all on the nature of poplin or how it differs from broadcloth please do so in the comments. Thanks!

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