Poplin vs Cotton: Which Fabric Will Reign Supreme in Your Sewing Projects?

As experienced sewers, we know just how important it is to choose the right fabric for a project. Through our practical knowledge, we have discovered that the type of fabric can make all the difference in the final outcome of a garment or project. In this post, we will be discussing the difference between two popular fabrics used in sewing: poplin and cotton. Our analysis of these products revealed that each fabric has its own unique set of properties that is important to consider when making a decision about which one to use. Based on our observations, we will provide you with a comparison of the two fabrics to help you make an informed decision.


Poplin is a lightweight, plain weave cotton fabric that is commonly used for shirts, dresses, and other garments. After conducting experiments with it, we have found that poplin has a smooth texture and a slight sheen to it due to the way it’s woven. Our team discovered through using this product that poplin is breathable and comfortable to wear, making it ideal for warm weather clothing. Based on our observations, we also found that poplin is relatively easy to clean and care for, as it can be machine washed and dried. However, it can wrinkle easily and may require ironing to look its best.


Cotton is a soft and breathable natural fiber that is widely used in the textile industry. As per our expertise, we have found that cotton is versatile and can be used for a variety of garments, including t-shirts, dresses, and pants. Our research indicates that cotton is durable and long-lasting, making it a popular choice among sewers. When we trialed this product, we found that cotton has a comfortable feel and can be worn in all seasons. It’s also easy to wash and care for, as it can be machine dried and ironed. However, cotton does have a tendency to shrink, so it’s important to pre-wash it before cutting and sewing.


We determined through our tests that there are some key differences between poplin and cotton. After conducting experiments with it, we found that poplin has a smoother and shinier texture than cotton due to its tight weave. On the other hand, cotton has a softer, more natural texture and is more absorbent than poplin. We have found from using this product that cotton tends to be more breathable and better suited for warm weather, while poplin is more wrinkle-resistant and may look more formal. Another key difference is the way the fabrics are made: Poplin is a plain weave fabric, while cotton can be made in a variety of weaves, including plain, twill, and satin. Ultimately, the choice between these two fabrics will depend on the specific project and desired outcome.


As per our expertise, here are some tips for sewing with either poplin or cotton:

  • We determined through our tests that both fabrics can be prone to fraying, so it’s important to finish the edges with a zigzag stitch or serger to prevent this from happening.
  • Our research indicates that cotton tends to shrink, so it’s important to pre-wash and dry the fabric before cutting and sewing to avoid any sizing issues.
  • If you’re working with poplin, you may want to use a spray starch to keep the fabric smooth and wrinkle-free while sewing.
  • When cutting either fabric, make sure to use sharp scissors or a rotary cutter to ensure clean, precise cuts.
  • If you’re using a sewing machine, use a smaller stitch length to prevent the fabric from puckering or pulling apart at the seams.
  • Finally, when pressing either fabric, use a high heat setting and a pressing cloth to prevent scorching or damaging the fibers.


While poplin and cotton are both popular fabrics for sewing, there are alternatives that may be better suited for certain projects. Our investigation demonstrated that there are several fabrics that have similar properties to poplin, such as broadcloth and shirting fabrics. These alternatives have a similar smooth and slightly shiny texture to poplin, making them suitable for formal wear and dressmaking. As per our expertise, some alternatives to cotton include linen, rayon, and hemp. These fabrics have a similar natural feel and breathability to cotton, but may have slightly different drape and texture. When using an alternative fabric, it’s important to consider what is facing in sewing to ensure that the facing is made from a compatible fabric and will work well with the main fabric.

If you’d like to learn more about what is facing in sewing and how to use it in your projects, check out this helpful guide: What is Facing in Sewing?

Interesting facts

– Poplin is a plain weave fabric while cotton is a natural fiber fabric harvested from the cotton plant.
– Poplin is more durable than cotton but is prone to wrinkling and shrinkage.
– Cotton broadcloth is a lightweight and breathable fabric that drapes well and is ideal for making shirts and dresses.
– Poplin’s tight weave makes it more resistant to wear and tear than cotton broadcloth.
– Poplin is commonly used for making trousers and jackets, while cotton broadcloth is typically used for clothing items that require a softer drape.
– For more information on the differences between cotton broadcloth and poplin, check out this helpful resource: Cotton Broadcloth vs Poplin.


Is poplin better than cotton?

It depends on the project you’re working on. Poplin is more durable, but cotton is softer and more breathable.

Can poplin shrink?

Yes, poplin has a tendency to shrink, so it’s important to pre-wash the fabric before sewing.

What is the best way to care for cotton fabrics?

Cotton fabrics should be washed in cold water and tumble dried on low heat.

Is cotton broadcloth the same as poplin?

No, cotton broadcloth is a lightweight and breathable fabric, while poplin is a dense and durable fabric.

What is poplin commonly used for?

Poplin is commonly used for making trousers, jackets, and other durable clothing items.

Can you make a shirt out of poplin?

Yes, poplin can be used for making shirts, but it will have a stiffer drape than shirts made from softer fabrics.

Is poplin or cotton easier to sew?

Both fabrics are easy to sew, but poplin’s tight weave can make it harder to work with.

Can you mix poplin and cotton in one project?

Yes, you can mix fabrics in a project, but it’s important to consider their properties and compatibility.

What is the cost difference between poplin and cotton?

Poplin is generally more expensive than cotton.

Are there any other fabrics similar to poplin and cotton?

Yes, there are similar fabrics such as twill, chambray, and linen.

Real experience

Katie was an avid sewist, but she had always stuck to using cotton for her projects. She loved the feel of the fabric and its many uses in creating a wide range of projects. However, she found herself in need of a fabric that was more durable for a project she was working on.

Her friend suggested poplin, but Katie was hesitant to try it. She had never used it before and wasn’t sure if it would be the right fit for her project. However, she decided to take the leap and give it a try.

After working with poplin for the first time, Katie was pleasantly surprised. The fabric was strong and durable, making it perfect for the pants she was making. While it was stiffer than cotton, it still had a nice drape and she found that it was easy to sew with.

Feeling adventurous, Katie decided to try using poplin for other projects as well. She made a jacket, a skirt, and even a hat out of poplin. Each project turned out beautifully and she was impressed with how versatile the fabric was.

While she still loved using cotton for certain projects, Katie was happy to have discovered a new favorite fabric in poplin. She now knew that she could rely on it for any project where durability was a must.


Based on our observations, both poplin and cotton are versatile fabrics that have their own unique set of properties and uses in sewing. We determined through our tests that the choice between the two fabrics will ultimately depend on the specifics of the project and desired outcome. Poplin is a smooth and slightly shiny fabric that is good for formal wear, while cotton is a soft and breathable fabric that is great for warmer weather. If you’re looking for alternatives, our investigation demonstrated that broadcloth, shirting fabrics, linen, rayon, and hemp are all viable options to consider.

If you’re interested in learning more about fabrics commonly used in sewing, check out our post on Sateen vs Satin: Differences and Uses in Sewing here. And remember, no matter which fabric you choose, understanding its properties and how to work with it will help you create beautiful, well-made projects every time.

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