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What about fabric weight?

Josefly | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Can anyone tell me how to judge a fabric by its weight? I was just looking at linens from a site mentioned on another thread here, and the linens are described by weight – ounces per yard. They ranged from 3.5 to 6.1 oz/yd. Would handkerchief linen be lighter than 3.5? Where would shirt-weight linen fit into that range? Pants-weight?


  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    Oh Boy, so many factors have to be taken into consideration when comparing fabrics by weight. Type of weave, size of yarns used, content of fabric. Kind of like comparing apples with oranges.
    Usually when comparing weights within similar weaves and contents of fabrics, the heavier the weight indicates a higher thread count and or a heavier thread used in the fabric. In the case of the linen you are looking at, the higher the number, the heavier the weight or hand of the fabric. A 6oz usually indicates something similar to a heavy weight like a heavy duck, or pantweight, suitable for a heavy suiting or coating. The lightest weight would be suitable for very lightweight garments, possibly the handkerchief linen. Pictures are often helpful if they are clear, but not always. Best bet is to contact the company and talk to a sales agent. They can best direct you to the proper weight choice.
    This is one reason that I keep a fabric file. I often will keep sample cuts I collect with info on different fabrics that I record all information I can find about it on. This includes extra info such as weight ranges by oz, and the weight of the sample if I can get it. I keep the info on recipe cards, in a file box, and build it as I collect them, from my stash, or from the store when I discover new fabrics I do not have. Cathy

    1. Josefly | | #2

      Thank you, Cathy. I can see that weight alone doesn't tell me enough, since, as you say, thread count and yarn size will both affect weight. So a coarse thread with low thread count could weigh the same as a fine thread with higher thread count. The lighter weight linens I saw at the recommended site still didn't look like what I think of as handkerchief linen - a very light, fine-threaded, almost sheer fabric. A file such as you suggest would be helpful, so that when a fabric weight is given online, you have something in hand to compare it with. The site I was looking at also showed thread size and both warp and weft thread counts - more info than I remember seeing on other online fabric sites, but perhaps I just didn't notice before?

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #3

        Sounds like a really good site if they give you threadcount info as well! Most sites I have seen do not give that much info, you are lucky to get just a picture, and not a good one at that!
        A higher thread count with low weight will indicate a finely woven lightweight fabric, with a fine thread, closer to the handkerchief linen. The thread will also be more like thread, closely twisted and fairly smooth.
        I am very unfamiliar with online shopping. I am tactile and have to touch fabric before I purchase it. So I shop wherever and whenever I can. Very frustrating when I cannot get what I need locally.
        Best thing I can recommend is still to contact the company to ask for what you want. I truly believe that not everything they have is on their sites. It takes a lot of time to put stuff up on the site, and specialty items do not get online.
        I will call a store before I travel. Saves time and money. So calling or emailing an online source would do the same. Most are more than happy to help. This also tells them what the customer wants, and if they can get it, they will. Cathy

        1. Josefly | | #5

          Thank you for the suggestions. I haven't ordered fabric online - I like to feel it first, too. This looks like a good site for linens, though; they have what they call "doggy bags" with pre-cut lengths of fabric at pretty good prices. Except, I believe they're located in California, and shipping would add to the cost.http://fabrics-store.com/I found the site from a reference in another thread on wide linens, and checked it out from curiosity. And their info on thread count and weight was interesting. They allow you to search for fabrics by weight, or by fiber content, or by color/pattern style, i.e., yarn-dyed, jacquard, print, etc. Interesting, huh? I haven't seen that on other fabric sites.

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #7

            I keep going back to that site because they have great info on fabric in general. And I figure a site that wants to teach about fabric as well as sell is a good thing. Dharmatrading was another one with great info, but my swiss cheese brain could never remember the name.
            Emmaonesock keeps popping up everywhere as a recommended site as well.I guess it all comes down to how badly you need to get it and how much you are willing to pay. Ordering a sample or swatch is probably cheaper in the long run than getting the wrong thing and having to return it. As a rural living person, I always consider my gas and car expenses when I take a run to the city for supplies. I figure that a round trip is going to cost me at least $25 or $30 in gas and wear and tear on my car, based on roughly 30 cents per km. It is roughly a 120km round trip for me. That would be roughtly 60 miles I think, give or take. So from a time and money POV, any total shipping costs under that would be a savings. Cathy

          2. Josefly | | #8

            Very true, It's true even in an urban area - fabric shops are not so numerous that travel distance is unimportant, so shipping costs aren't as bad as they seem on second thought. I've noticed that Mary Jo's Cloth Store strongly suggests, on their web site, a phone call to ascertain fabric availability, before driving to the store. Of course, they get a lot of people coming to shop from quite a distance. In my area, a call to Joann's or Hancock's doesn't usually result in much information - the folks working there don't have time to look for something for me. There is one good independent fabric store in town, though, and they're willing to help over the phone. Thank goodness.

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #9

            So a call or message to an online source, and ordering swatches of possible fabric choices would be sensible moves then. The other good thing about swatches is that they can then be put into a fabric file with info for future reference. You then have good samples of fabric with all the info on hand, plus enough probably to possibly wash a sample, if a minimum cut has to be purchased. A worthwhile learning experiment in my book. I do not know the cost of sample cards these days, but if you are looking at sewing a fair number of garments from a potential fabric and fabric source, the basic colours change little over the years, even if some colours change. It may be worthwhile to investigate the cost of those as well. Some independent stores carry sample cards from their salesmen, or can borrow them for you to look at as well. Make friends with the owner/manager. They are often happy to order in for you as well, esp if you can provide the info. They may be trying to source similar things for other clients. Cathy

          4. Josefly | | #11

            Good suggestions, as always.

      2. jane4878 | | #4

        If you're referring to Fabric-store.com, I believe they send out free swatches.  You can purchase a book of their most common colours.  I've never bought from them, but they sound very interesting.  I wish all the sights would have Pantone colours listed like Emmaonesock.


        1. Josefly | | #6

          Yes, that is the site. It's fabrics-store.com, by the way, plural.I agree, Emmaonesock is another great site - I love the way they give fabric care instructions and suggestions for appropriate uses for their fabrics.

          Edited 1/14/2009 10:03 pm ET by Josefly

  2. MaryinColorado | | #10

    If you go to http://www.dharmatradingco.com they have the weights of many fabrics listed, including cottons and linens.

    ooooooops!  I see you've already been there, done that. Sounds like we're getting lots of great info right here though....have a good week end! 

    Edited 1/15/2009 11:29 pm by MaryinColorado

    1. Josefly | | #12

      I have "window-shopped" at Dharma Trading, yes, and noticed the weights given for their silks, but that's really about all I've looked at. I'll go back and look at their other fabrics soon. I tend to get overwhelmed at their site - looking at all the stuff they have for fabric-dying, -stenciling, -painting, etc., and the ready-made "blanks" - garments especially suitable for those fabric treatments, it just makes me fidgety, antsy, wanting to try them all. When I realize how much other people are doing with fabric these days, I feel very far behind! This is a good time to browse their site, though, isn't it - plan for gifts for the year?

      Edited 1/16/2009 1:08 pm ET by Josefly

      1. MaryinColorado | | #13

        I get their newsletter every month, it's interesting, always has new artists info and you can then go to the website and learn about the technique and what they use it for and often tells you the artist's website.  I've spent alot of time there windowshopping too, especially late nights when I can't sleep.  I have ordered from them and been very pleased.  I think it would be fun to get into silk painting their scarves maybe in the summer when I can take the mess outside.

        So many fun ideas, it's hard to focus!  Mary

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