Let’s talk fabric! (cotton fabric!)

Hello all you lovelies! Over the years I have fielded many questions about our cotton prints and thought it might be worth doing a little blog post about. So here’s all the details you may (or may not) want to know!

Our reproduction cotton prints are made from high quality, high thread count, extra smooth finish woven cotton overprinted with patterned prints replicated from textiles found in museum collections such as Old Sturbridge Village, Colonial Williamsburg, The American Textile History Museum, The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, The V&A, and many more.

reproduction cotton print fabrics

All the woven cotton fabrics used in our reproduction prints have a thread count between 136-184 threads per inch. They are made with long staple cotton- meaning the cotton fibers spun into the threads used for weaving are longer, stronger and more durable. They are also less prone to shrinkage and have a softer hand.

Our block prints, voiles, lawns, batistes, and Swiss have even higher thread counts typically ranging between 150-200 threads per inch. Their long staple fibers are spun into extra fine threads resulting in a tightly woven, semi sheer, highly durable fabric.

block printed fabric

Our buckram and organdy fabrics are made from short staple cotton fibers woven at around 96 threads per square inch. Shorter staple fibers make woven fabrics feel less soft and often have visible differentiations in thread thickness.

Organdy fabric

Without getting technical, the more cotton threads per square inch coupled with the longer staple fibers means a fabric that appears densely woven but varies in actual weight and transparency depending upon the thickness of the threads. Tight weaves coupled with ultra fine threads often result in a “thinner” fabric that can feel “silky” with a delicate drape.

Here’s a simplified breakdown:

High thread count + thick threads= heavy feeling fabric

High thread count + fine threads= light feeling fabric

High thread count + extra find threads= semi sheer super lightweight feeling fabric. (High thread count + extra fine threads tend to be more difficult to sew and require a specialized needle.)

Low thread count + thick threads= lots of drape and stretch; can feel heavy

Low thread count + thin threads= lots of drape + misaligned threads/off grain; feels lightweight

Low thread count cotton fabrics are often considered poorer quality but they do have their purposes. A nice example of a low thread count, thin thread fabric is cheese cloth. Cheese cloth has shorter staple fibers and a count of around 40 threads per square inch.

cheese cloth

Of late there has been much buzz about using bed sheets and duvet covers for historical clothing garment making. Looking for cotton fabrics consisting of high thread counts, long staple fibers, and finely spun threads will ensure a quality finished garment.

Ikea duvet cover
Ikea duvet covers as dresses? Maybe.

While all the cotton prints we offer are of high thread count, thread thicknesses vary from print to print. However, the difference in thread thickness is typically so slight, it takes a skilled hand to even recognize the variance. Some of our prints appear more opaque than others. Some feel “lighter” in weight. But they are all categorized as top quality woven cotton fabrics. Our dyes are colorfast and rarely run or bleed.

Many of the garments made from our fabrics are still going strong nearly decade after they were first made! Now that’s what I call quality fabric!

You can find our current collection of high quality reproduction cotton prints in our catalog!

About Susan

My interest in historical costume began at a very early age. I knew by age 5 I wanted to be a designer. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to turn my passion into a full time business. You can find my costumes onstage in NYC, on the big screen, and in museums around the globe.