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Fabrics for shirting: Top 10 fabrics for your shirt (Complete Guide)

When it comes to putting together a handmade wardrobe – or a fashion line – knowing what fabrics are best for making quality shirts is important. There are so many types of garment fabrics out there that narrowing down your choices can be overwhelming. 

We’re here to help you choose the best fabric for your shirt design with some great tips for selecting the perfect shirt-making fabric, plus our top 10 fabric picks for sewing shirts.

 

What Makes a Fabric Good for Making Shirts?

To know what fabric is best for your shirt, you’ll first need to understand what characteristics make a fabric great for shirts. 

When it comes to the wearability of the fabric you choose, you’ll want to make sure it has properties that make it comfortable and great for everyday garments. A fabric that is lightweight, breathable, soft against the skin, and that has a nice drape to it will make for a shirt that you’ll love to wear. 

Of course, the purpose and style of the shirt you are making will play a role in your fabric selection as well. You might want a slightly thicker, thermally insulating fabric for a long-sleeved winter shirt. Maybe you’re making a polo shirt for your summer tennis games? You’ll need to keep breathability and minimal weight at the top of your criteria.

 

Fabric weights for shirt-making

When you buy fabrics online, the fabric store generally indicates the weight of the fabric in grams per square meter (gsm or g/m2) or ounces per square yard (oz or oz/yd2). The higher the gsm or oz measurement, the heavier the fabric. These numbers may seem ambiguous and hard to understand, but it’s actually very useful information when purchasing fabrics online, since you can’t physically feel the weight and drape.

Here is a helpful guide to fabric weights for shirt-making:

gsm

oz

weight

types of shirts

<136

<4

very light

ultralight performance shirts and button-ups

136-237

4-7

light

t-shirts, regular weight button-ups

237-305

7-9

medium

warm-weather shirts such as flannel button-ups

>305

>9

heavy

heavy-weight shirts at the low end of the range, thick winter coats at the high end

 

Thread count and ply

Another factor to consider when buying shirting fabrics is the threads count and ply (number of yarns twisted together) of the fabric.

Many fabric stores will indicate the thread count of each of their shirt-making fabrics to help you get a better idea of the quality of the fabric. Thread count is indicated by a number followed by the / and the number of ply (1, 2, 3 or 4). the range for thinner and higher quality fabrics starts from 60/2 and can go up to 120/2.
The higher the thread count of the fabric you are looking at, the smoother and softer the fabric will be. It will have a silkier, more luxe feel than a fabric with a lower thread count.

Ply, on the other hand, refers to how many yarns are combined together to form one thread. The fabric will generally be either single-ply or two-ply, but occasionally you will find three-ply fabrics available. The higher the ply of a fabric, the more durable it will be, leading to a higher quality textile.

The best fibers for sewing shirts

When it comes to sewing shirts, you really do have a wide range of fiber compositions available to you, depending on your goal for the look, feel, and purpose of the final garment. You will want to keep in mind the characteristics you need from your shirt – for example, if breathability is your top criteria, choose a natural fiber; however, if durability is extremely important, a synthetic blend may serve you better. 

Cotton, linen, wool, silk, rayon, polyester, and more can all be great options for making shirts, depending on your needs.

 

Top 10 Fabrics for Sewing Shirts

We offer a range of European fabrics perfect for shirt-making, many of which come with certifications ensuring a sustainable product so that you can join in the effort to reduce the impact of fashion on the environment. 

 

Here are our top 10 picks for high-quality shirting fabrics: 

1. Cotton Poplin

Cotton poplin is a beautifully silky, yet strong and durable fabric. It’s made with a plain weave and has a very slight horizontal rib pattern visible on the surface of the fabric. Poplin is a very common fabric for shirt-making, and when made from high-quality cotton fibers, it is breathable and comfortable for all-day wear. 

We offer a range of cotton poplin fabrics for all your shirt-making needs. Try this gorgeous, lightweight, burgundy cotton poplin with just enough stretch for super comfortable wearing. 

 

2. Cotton Twill

    Twill fabric is made with a specific weave pattern called a ‘twill weave’ that results in visible diagonal lines across the surface of the fabric. These diagonal lines can be subtle or very obvious, depending on the thread colors used. One of the most common twill fabrics is denim – but twills can also be made into lightweight fabrics perfect for making shirts. 

    We have a selection of cotton twill fabrics in shirting weights – this lightweight, floral cotton twill would make for an awesome spring and summer shirt. 

     

    3. Cotton Seersucker

      Seersucker is the perfect fabric for that floaty, warm-weather shirt you’ve been wanting to make. It’s a woven fabric, usually made from cotton, that utilizes a special technique of alternating tight yarns with loose ones to give a puckered appearance to the fabric. The result is a crinkly, loosely woven fabric that helps you to stay cool in hot weather. Traditionally, cotton seersucker has a striped pattern, but you can find it in solid colors as well. 

      Try our ultra-lightweight cotton seersucker fabric to make the summer shirt of your dreams. 

       

      4. Linen

      Linen, which is made from flax plants, is a classic when it comes to sustainable fabrics for garments. With the resurgence in popularity of linen lately, you can find linens in a wide range of weights, colors, and weaves. A traditional, lightweight linen fabric is a great choice for a sustainable summer wardrobe. Not only will this wonderful fabric help you to stay cool, but it will continue to get softer and more “lived-in” with every wash and wear. 

      We have a huge selection of linen fabrics to choose from – our premium lightweight linen, which is certified European Flax Linen, is available in a large range of colors and is the perfect weight for that casual summer shirt. 

       

      5. Hemp Shirting Fabric

      Another sustainable fabric option for your shirt-making needs is fabric made from hemp fibers. It will have a similar look, feel, and durability to a linen shirt. As with linen, hemp fabric will get softer over time. Hemp shirting is available in a variety of weights and colors – it’s the perfect choice for casual shirts with a relaxed, laid-back feel. 

      Our lightweight, high-quality hemp shirting fabric will help you create a sustainable, durable, and comfortable summer shirt.

       

      6. Viscose Shirting Fabric

      Looking for a silky soft fabric to make a beautiful, drapey shirt? Look no further than a viscose shirting fabric. Viscose is a semi-synthetic fiber made from liquified wood pulp – it sounds odd, but the result is a wonderfully silky fabric with a gorgeous drape. You can find viscose shirting fabrics in a wide variety of colors and prints – making it perfect for both casual and more sophisticated shirts. 

      Try our super-lightweight striped viscose fabric for a soft, comfy shirt with a more high-end look and feel.

       

      7. Brushed Flannel

      Flannel is a loosely woven fabric with a fuzzy, soft feel. It is often “brushed” to create even more of a fluffy appearance and give it a softer touch. Flannel is a medium weight fabric that is perfect for keeping warm in colder climates. It’s usually made from cotton but can also be found in other fiber compositions such as wool or synthetics. 

      We offer several mid-weight brushed flannels, such as this one, in traditional plaid prints that would be perfect for loose fitting, button-up overshirts.

       

      8. Cotton Double Gauze

      Double gauze fabric is a unique type of fabric, usually made from cotton, that is created as two super thin pieces of woven fabric, that are bonded together to form one textile. The resulting fabric is a lightweight, breathable, floaty material that is perfect for romantic, dreamy shirts. It’s also very comfortable to wear and soft to the touch. 

      We have a selection of cotton double gauze fabrics, including this adorable floral print fabric, that would make beautiful summer shirts. 

       

      9. Lyocell Linen Blend

      Lyocell, similar to viscose, is a fabric made from processed wood pulp. Lyocell fabrics are silky, soft, drapey, and beautiful. When blended with other fibers, an even better fabric can be created, with the benefits of both fibers. A lyocell/linen blend fabric is a great option for shirts – you will get the smooth, luxurious feel of the lyocell with added structure and body from the linen. 

      Our lightweight, beige lyocell/linen fabric would be a great choice for a sophisticated, wonderfully soft shirt. 

       

      10. Satin

      Satin fabric is a beautifully silky fabric with a luxurious sheen. The name “satin” actually refers to the type of weave this fabric is made with – it’s created through a satin weave. Satins can be made in a variety of weights, but are generally drapey fabrics perfect for elegant, high-end garments. If you’re looking to make a sophisticated, luxury shirt with a gorgeous drape and silky feel, satin is the perfect choice. 

      We offer a range of lightweight satins in a gorgeous selection of colors to help you make the chic shirt you’ve been looking for. 

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