Fabric Philosophy: Poplin

What is Poplin?

Poplin is a universal fabric, used for both casual and more formal garments. It can be made from cotton or a cotton-poly blend but both types have a tight weave and a nice sheen that I really *really* enjoy and I try to use poplin in a lot of my patterns where the design needs to shine over the fabric choice.

Poplin has a distinctive ribbed texture that was originally created by using finer silk warp yarns filled in with heavier wool weft yarns. Today manufacturers use cotton or cotton-poly (or less commonly, silk, all poly, wool, rayon, etc; poplin is not dependant on the fiber used) using the same thick/thin alternating threads in a plain weave.

What is Poplin used for?

Poplin can be used for a TON of things. Because it’s durable and has that nice, elegant sheen, it’s ideal for dresses. I use poplin for dresses all the time because of the nice “pop” sound it makes as it moves. It’s an inexpensive fabric that can make your finished dress feel like a million bucks.

In WWII, the US chose poplin for the main fabric for their uniforms because it was cool enough for the summer but stood up to the wear and tear much better than other fabrics.

Overall, poplin has enough body and strength to use for a wide range of garments, from blouses/shirts to harder working pants and dresses.

What’s the Difference Between Poplin and Broadcloth?

Broadcloth is much thicker in general and poplin has that unique feature of the thinner warp yarns.

But… How easy is it to work with?

It’s pretty easy to work with even though it’s on the thinner side. I feel that it holds its shape well when cutting and working with it. It’s definitely on the “crisp” side but, depending on what fiber it’s made from, can be slippery so you might was to use interfacing or other stiffener if you’re worried about it.

Sewing Tips:

  • Be careful when ironing. Make sure you know the fiber content for sure before pressing. You don’t want to assume your poplin is 100% cotton and accidentally melt it.
  • A universal needle is all you need. It’s delicate but not delicate-delicate. A universal needle is fine.
  • Lightweight interfacing is all you need. It will have enough structure to help those areas that need that extra stiffness.
  • Don’t worry about rotary cutter vs. scissors. Poplin is crisp enough to hold its shape when you’re working with it.

Caring for your new poplin garment

As always, prewash. You want to make sure that if any dyes bleed, they do it BEFORE you spend all that time making something beautiful to wear only to have it ruined the first time you throw it in the wash. Also, especially if you purchase 100% cotton poplin, you want it to shrink up before you start working with it.

Poplin can be washed and dried as normal; it’s a pretty hearty fabric. You’ll need to press your garment more than never, but if you grab it out of the dryer while it’s still warm, you should be able to get away with hanging it up right away with minimal wrinkles.

Which of our patterns are suited for Poplin?

That should give you enough confidence to go out there and start working with poplin! I love the richness of the fabric; it really ups my sewing game!

What do you think about poplin? Love it? Hate it? Tell me why in a comment!

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