Cotton Dress Fabric Guide

Cotton dress fabrics are natural cotton fibre fabrics that are most suitable for dressmaking. They are light and bright, a real must-have for summer garments. However, some heavier cottons are perfect for cooler climates.

When you buy a fabric, everything matters. Its colour and design, the way it drapes and how it matches your skin tone. The choice is tough, be it a textile showroom or an online fabric shop.

In summer 2018, we have seen lots of boho maxi dresses, amazing sheer embroidered gowns and striped shirtdresses made of pure cotton. What’s the news for the upcoming 2019 season? Read on to find it out! We will also shed light on cotton properties and types to help you select a proper cotton dress fabric.

Cotton dress fabric

Cotton Fabrics. Pros and Cons

Cotton is a 100% natural fibre as it comes from the cotton plant. Used in all life spheres and made at every price point, it is probably the most common fabric. At least 1 piece of clothing you are wearing right now has cotton in its structure.

Cotton fabrics are all-purpose and easy-to-use. They are:

  • Soft and breathable meaning that air can move through them and moisture can evaporate.
  • Easy to clean and machine washable.
  • Good at absorbing moisture.
  • Versatile — there are millions of different kinds of cotton fabrics.
  • Suitable for children, people with sensitive skin and allergies.

On the other hand, cotton fabrics:

  • Don’t hold dye really well so they fade over time.
  • Can bleed while being washed.
  • Wrinkle a lot.
  • Can shrink in hot water especially the first time they are washed.
Table 1. Pros and cons of cotton dress fabrics









Machine washable





Good for sensitive skin

Lightweight Cotton Fabrics

Lightweight cotton fabrics come in a variety of weights from sheer to semi-sheer. You can see lines from the cutting table (or your hand) underneath the sheer fabric. Which means fashionable sheer cotton dresses must be lined with lining fabric. They can also be worn with a camisole or an underbody. Not all lightweight kinds of cotton are sheer. Some darker and/or printed fabrics go with regular lingerie.

Fabrics like cotton gauze and cotton voile fold nicely and make airy dresses with a drapery. A gauze also has some crinkle to it so it is often used for making tunics, tops, swimsuit cover-ups etc. Cotton lawn fabrics are a little more of semi-sheer, closer to opaque. Liberty is probably the most popular and favourite brand. They are super soft and really wearable especially after being washed.

Medium Weight Cotton

A good example of a shirt weight or light-to-medium weight is cotton chambray. It looks like a denim fabric but with close folds. So it is going to be better for shirts, skirts and our favourite shirt dresses. Quilting cotton and cotton flannel have more body and wider folds than lightweight fabrics. They are used for more structured and fuller garments. A flannel has a brushed finish to it that makes it super-soft.

Don’t forget chino – strong twill fabric with a slight sheen. It is often associated with beige or navy uniforms and work clothes. However, this season safari style is all the rage. Time to wear a chino cotton dress. Khaki is the new black!

Medium-to-Heavy Weight Cotton

The first medium to heavy weight fabric we will talk about is cotton sateen. It has a shiny finish almost like a satin fabric you might use in a bridal gown or a prom dress. It has wider cones or folds, which means that you would want to use it in a little bit more structured garment like a jacket, a sheath dress or a pencil skirt. Due to its shiny finish, it looks casual and elegant at the same time.

Cotton corduroy has cords or ribs going down the fabric. They can be wide or narrow. Corduroy looks good in shirts, trousers and children's clothing. In 2019, it is frequently used for making retro-inspired cord dresses one can wear with a turtleneck. As its folds are much wider, it looks its best when you need more structure.

This chart will give you a quick tip on choosing cotton for your dress project:

Table 2. Cotton dress fabric types and properties

Cotton Type




Dress Type

Cotton gauze


semi sheer

folds really nicely

swimsuit cover-up

Cotton voile


sheer to semi-sheer

wide drape


Cotton lawn


close to opaque

supple drape

summer gown

Cotton chambray

medium to heavy weight


close folds

shirt dress

Cotton sateen

medium to heavy weight


wide cones or folds

sheath dress

Cotton corduroy



wide heavy folds

cord dress

How to Care?

We recommend all lightweight cottons to be gently washed and tumble-dried low. Alternatively, you can hang them to dry. It mainly depends on the quality of the fabric. One should remember to handle it with care or it can fray too quickly.

How to care for medium weight fabrics? Because they are a little bit heavier, they can withstand machine washing. In addition, you would like to do tumble-dry or hang dry depending on the quality of your fabric.

Strong, sturdy and durable, medium-to-heavy weight cottons like canvas and chambray can be machine-washed at 40-60°C and hot ironed. Corduroy aka baby cord requires a gentle 40 °C machine wash and warm-hot iron on the wrong side.

There’s nothing more saddening than a dress that doesn’t fit you when you take it out of a washing machine. So please remember to pre-wash and iron your cotton fabric before sewing so it doesn’t shrink.

Tissura Collection

All the fashionistas looking for an impressive dress that steals the show yet remaining super comfy to wear are highly recommended to check out the range offered by Tissura. At our store, you can buy online cotton dress fabrics by the leading European cotton producers, such as Liberty, Hausammann, Carnet, Cotonificio Albini and many others. To find the desired fabric faster, apply filters by type, print motif, and colour.

Below, we have placed photos of several fabrics from our range to give you a general impression of Tissura collection. To see the entire cotton dress fabric selection, click on the button under the pictures:

cotton dress fabric

Cotton Muslin Fabric — 38.50 € (46.90 US$) per one running metre;

Cotton dress fabric

Cotton lawn fabric — 33 € (40 US$) per one running metre;

Cotton dress fabric

Fil coupe cotton jacquard — 55 € (67 US$) per one running metre;

cotton dress fabric

Cotton lawn fabric — 33 € (40 US$) per one running metre

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