Exactly what is poplin fabric? This textile has to be one of the most versatile fabrics, pairing a soft consistency with a durable, resistant fibre.

So what is poplin fabric? We also call Poplin fabric 'tabbinet'. We create this plain-weave textile out of cotton or a mix of cotton and polyester. It has very fine horizontal “ribs,” or threads. 

These yarns have a tight weave that allows the fabric to be strong and silky at the same time. No wonder we find poplin textiles literally everywhere!

If you are wondering what to use poplin for, read on. We basically use it in all forms, shapes and sizes, from classic tops and dresses to sportswear. We also use it for lining for home decor, bedding and raincoats.

Poplin fabric features a canvas weave that gives it a light, very fine ribbed texture with a soft drape. At the same time, because of poplin’s weave, it is incredibly durable. So you can use it to create tops, trousers or lightweight coats. This natural cotton textile is your first choice to work with, as it’s a soft sewing textile that performs impeccably in whatever design you’re going for.

Poplin fabric was originally made from silk

Introduced back in the 15th Century in Avignon, France, poplin derives from the word “papelaine,” which refers to the papal town of Avignon and an obsolete fabric with a similar weave. Since then, this fabric has grown in popularity. Manufacturers replaced silk and wool with pure cotton. Now it’s a staple of day wear and elegant outfits - you can’t go wrong with sewing with poplin.

In those days, we made poplin out of silk and wool and we used the fabric for winter attire. Today you can spot cotton poplin anywhere, no matter which blend you use. We manufacture high-quality poplin from 100% natural cotton, or a mix of synthetic and natural fibres such as rayon, satin, silk and wool. (Wool is often used to make the fabric warmer for colder weather. In fact, wool is a popular mix for winter garments.)

Cotton poplin fabric characteristics

Poplin has 7 distinct characteristics:

  1. Durable: Although sturdy, this material has a soft feel. This is why the fabric is a popular choice for summer clothes. It’s also water-resistant, which is a big advantage.
  2. Smooth: Poplin’s distinctive smooth texture make it easy to wash time and again. The fabric holds its shape and doesn’t crease or stain. It’s often used for homeware items such as tableware, quilts and light upholstery.
  3. Tight weave fabric: Poplin is a plain weave material characterized by crosswise ribs. This means we weave it in a simple over-under pattern (contrary to the complex texture of weaves that are used for fabrics such as satin and twill). This gives the textile its signature versatility and flowy texture. 
  4. Lightweight: Thanks to this tight weave, poplin is lightweight, which is why it’s a popular choice for summer garments, especially shirts for men and women. Because it’s thin, it can be a little transparent, so it often needs a lining or undergarment.
  5. Affordable: Manufacturing poplin is relatively inexpensive, compared to other natural materials. Obviously, the more luxurious fabrics like silk poplin will cost more – because it feels just like silk.
  6. Ideal for warm climates: It’s crisp and lightweight and has a natural drape, and all those reasons show us why poplin perfect for summer wear. Garments made from poplin is cool, breathable and dries quickly. 
  7. Great for printing: This textile is made for printing on! In fact, it’s known for printing and dyeing extremely well. Its versatility makes it a great choice for a number of clothes and interior design products.

What do we use poplin for?

We have always used poplin for all occasions or purposes, because it’s so versatile. It combines durability and a sleek look, so it comes as no surprise it became the number one choice for women’s dresses.

In the 19th century, people started using poplin for upholstery as well, and in the Second World War, it was a common fabric choice for soldiers’ uniforms. Today, this extremely comfortable, durable fabric is a stylish choice for a number of different products.

Sewing material
Poplin is the perfect fabric for making dresses for kids and adults alike

Poplin fabric has a nice drape, and since it’s 100% natural, it’s cool to wear. These properties have helped make poplin an excellent choice for all manner of clothing, from tops and skirts to trousers and jackets as well as several homeware items. It’s an inexpensive material but highly performative. It’s subtly shiny, which adds an elegant appearance without looking too dramatic or overly formal.

How does poplin fabric print?

This fabric is a dream to print on. Its texture is so smooth it won’t cause any problems during the printing process, making it effortless and satisfying. It can also hold its shape quite well, is wrinkle-resistant, and your final product will be neat.

Because of the material’s structure, colour prints vibrantly on poplin. 

Whether you are a high fashion pro looking for your next signature look, you’re looking for your dream textile for a made to measure dress or want to renovate your interiors; poplin is an all-rounder. It’s an unproblematic, soft and elegant choice to explore your creativity together with impeccable high performance.

Pick the right poplin fabric

Shop maake’s selection of  poplin fabrics…

Poplin fabric - cotton

This 100% cotton poplin textile is perfect for shirts, dresses and light outer wear items. We also use it for bedding and crafts. Perfect for wearing year-round, it’s sturdy, lightweight and smooth with a plain weave. Sews beautifully and irons well, too. Print face and back are identical.

Stretch Poplin

Similar to cotton poplin (above), we make this popular lightweight textile from 97% cotton and 3% elastane, which gives it a slight stretch. This makes it perfect for  blouses as well as dresses and outerwear.    

Organic Poplin

Made from 100% GOTS cotton fabric, this classic lightweight poplin material is the organic version of our cotton poplin dressmaking fabric. It’s the perfect choice for shirting and other crisp items of clothing. We also use it for dresses and outerwear.

Printing on maake's poplin fabrics

maake prints on all our printed cotton poplin fabrics in the most sustainable way possible, using special Digital Pigment inks. We use no water when printing on these fabrics and the printing process involves using about 95% less energy than traditional screen printing.

Great printing tools

View printed cotton poplin fabric before you print: our fabric sample book enables you to view a variety of fabrics that we stock including poplin to see what they will look like when they are printed on – a quick view printed to make it easier for you. Order your Sample Book here.

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February 15, 2022 — Artemis Doupa