Sewing is not just about creating with sewing patterns and techniques; you can also explore different fabric textures to achieve a playful, unique look.
The texture of a fabric can greatly enhance the perceived quality of a project. Whether you’re making clothing, upholstery, curtains, or another project where you’re selecting fabric, it pays to understand the different types of fabric textures because they will enhance the final look of your project.
Texture is not just about how a fabric feels to the touch – some fabric textures are created from the weaving style and the techniques employed when crafting the fabric. In this article, we will introduce you to some playful and unique fabric textures that you can explore in your next sewing project.
1. Pre-Pleated Fabric
This type of fabric is pre-pleated using chemicals and heat, and the pleats can be made at regular intervals or randomly. Because of how the pleats are created, the texture will stay on the fabric even after washing.
Machine pleating, hand pleating, form/paper pleating, and special pleating paper are different methods used for pleating fabric. Most of the fabrics that you can find at fabric stores are created with machine pleating, which uses special machinery to fold and press the fabric.
This kind of texture is really fun to explore while you sew flowy dresses and skirts. It gives the fabric volume without being too bulky or heavy, which is ideal for summer garments.
2. Shirred Or Smocked Fabrics
Shirred or smocked fabrics have a “crunched up” texture that is created thanks to the elastic threads that are sewn or woven into the fabric. In some instances, spandex blended yarns can also be used instead of elastic threads, creating the crinkled texture of the fabric.
If you have a sewing machine, you can easily create a shirred texture just by sewing rows of elastics on plain fabrics.
Smocked fabrics look a bit different than shirred fabrics. Instead of using elastics to create the textures, smocking requires creating the pleats first, then using stitches to hold the pleats in place. Because of this, smocking can be created in various shapes like pinwheels or swirls, so it’s more fun to experiment with.
3. Ribbed Weave Fabrics
Ribbed weave is a type of plain weave, but the weft threads are larger and more prominent than the warp threads, creating an interesting “ribbing” effect. There are several types of ribbed weave fabrics, such as corduroy, faille, or ottoman.
We’re all familiar with corduroy, which is a thicker, more textured fabric that is a favorite for the fall and winter seasons, thanks to its cozy texture. Ottoman is very similar to corduroy, but the ribs are bigger and more pronounced. Faille also has very pronounced ribs, but it is silkier and more lustrous, thanks to the lightweight threads.
This type of texture gives your garment depth and interest, but it doesn’t bulk up the garment. Thanks to the plain weave construction, it is also quite easy to work with.
4. Pre-Quilted fabrics
Quilting is the process of combining several layers of fabric and padding (or batting) together to create a plush texture. The quilted patterns are created with lines of stitches throughout the quilt, securing the layers together as well as creating depth for the entire piece.
Similar to a piece of quilt, pre-quilted fabric is a fabric that looks like a finished piece of quilt, complete with diamond-shaped stitching. You often see pre-quilted fabric used in items that need a lot of volumes, such as winter jackets or bags.
There are many types of crepe fabrics, each with different levels of texture. Crepe fabrics have a signature crinkled appearance as a result of being treated with chemicals, which shrinks certain parts of the fabric.
Certain types of crepe fabrics have more pronounced crinkles compared to others. For example, Canton crepe is a type of crepe fabric that has a crosswise rib in combination with the crinkled texture. On the other hand, you can also find crepe fabrics made from silk or satin that have a very subtle texture, suitable for lightweight and elegant garments.
6. Hammered Satin
Hammered satin is technically a type of crepe fabric, but they are in a league of their own thanks to the signature texture that resembles hammered metal. The embossing technique gives hammered satin a pebbly texture that is very pronounced, perfect for dressy garments and upholstery.
7. Net Fabrics
Net fabric is made with yarns that are twisted or knitted together to create an open weave texture, with square or octagonal mesh designs.
There are many different twists to a net fabric’s design, however. For example, you can find net fabrics with point d’esprit designs, with large designs throughout the netting surface. This is commonly seen in net stockings. Net fabrics are also used in embroidery, which can add texture and depth to an embroidery piece.
There are so many types of lace fabrics, employing different crafting techniques. Lace fabrics are usually created with very, very fine yarns to create beautiful patterns that are often very sheer and lightweight, and the textures are created from the patterns themselves.
9. Faux Fur
Faux Fur fabrics are made to resemble the fur of animals, but they are often made by sewing soft, fine threads onto a knit background, creating a very plush and soft surface that everyone loves running their hands through.
There are so many applications for faux fur textures, from outerwear to rugs and bath mats.
10. Chinchilla Cloth
Despite the name, chinchilla cloth is not made from chinchillas. It is made from natural fibers like wool or cotton, with textures resembling fleece fabric.
Chinchilla cloth is a long-wearing fabric that has a machine-made finish that draws the nap into nubs, creating a soft, subtle texture that makes it perfect for winter outerwear.
11. Embroidered Fabric
Embroidery is a technique as old as time, and it is the perfect way to add patterns and textures to a plain piece of fabric. Embroidered fabrics such as Broderie Anglaise are really popular nowadays because they have a uniform pattern that is reminiscent of the early 1900s but still looks very sophisticated and unique.
12. Waffle Cloth
Waffle cloth really does look like waffles, thanks to the raised honeycomb pattern created by the unique weaving construction. Waffle cloth is also a plain weave, but by manipulating the warp and weft threads, the three-dimensional effect is created, resulting in a plush texture that’s perfect for towels and blankets.
13. Metalesse Fabrics
Metalesse is a soft, puffy fabric that has a puckered surface. It has a pleasant texture that shows off various patterns and textures (like floral or geometric patterns), while the construction gives it significant volume that resembles a quilt with batting inside. This is why it is commonly used for blankets and home textiles.
Wool is a beloved winter fiber because it’s so warm, breathable, and versatile. There are many types of wool that are made from the hair of goats, sheep, or other animals.
Depending on the origin of the wool and how it was woven (or knitted) into the fabric, the wool may have different characteristics and textures. One thing that every type of wool can guarantee is that they are always really soft and fuzzy, which is why they are always the favorite fiber for winter garments and blankets.
Felt is also made from wool fibers, but instead of being woven or knitted, felt is made from combining wool fibers together using soap, moisture, and friction, so that the wool fibers follow no particular pattern, giving felt a very interesting and somewhat “messy” texture.
Felt is often very thick, and is often used to make bags, coats, and other garments that need a lot of structure.
16. Leno Weave Fabrics
A leno weave is a type of woven fabric that has little holes in it, with a loose construction that you usually see in medical gauges, although you can find leno weaves that have different woven patterns that can be used in home textiles.
Tweed is another popular winter texture because of how cozy it is. It’s a soft, open weave, and flexible fabric often made from wool fibers. It’s usually woven with a plain weave or herringbone structure, with different color threads for the weft and warp threads, creating a sophisticated, classic look.
Tweed is often used to make outerwear and other winter textiles.
18. Velvet And Velour
Velvet and velour are very similar in terms of construction but with slightly different appearances. Velour is a type of knit fabric that has a cut pile, and the crinkled crushed finish makes the fabric look very textured, especially when it meets the light.
Velvet has the same construction but is made from longer cut piles, which makes it look plusher and feel much softer. Both of these types of fabric are popular for loungewear items because they are highly flexible and feel soft to the touch.
Knit fabrics are pretty self-explanatory; they are made from machine-knitting cotton (or other fibers) threads together with constructions similar to hand-knit sweaters. The texture of knit fabrics depends on the type of stitches used, and they can even have raised patterns depending on the knit design.
Knit fabrics usually have a two-way or four-way stretch, and depending on the fibers used, knit fabrics can be worn during both colder and warmer seasons.
Chenille fabric also has a velvety look and plush texture, and you can even find chenille yarns to knit bulky blankets yourself. Chenille fabrics are usually woven or knitted to create a plush, textured look, which is why it is a beloved type of fabric for home textiles.
21. Terry Cloth
Terry cloth may sound unfamiliar, but most of us actually have several pieces of terrycloth in our homes because they are often used for towels and bath mats. Terry cloths are woven with looped threads on the surface of the fabric, creating volume and a raised texture that feels amazing against the skin.
22. Crinkle Finished Cotton
Crinkle finished cotton is made similarly to pre-pleated fabric, using chemicals and heat to compress the fabric in random patterns, creating a crinkled look.
Seersucker fabric is a variation of this, with a pronounced puckered appearance that usually has a checkered pattern, often seen in summer clothing items. Challis or gingham are both examples of seersucker fabric.
23. Jacquard Woven Fabrics
Jacquard woven fabrics look like they are made for royalty – thanks to the intricate, raised patterns created from the weaving process. Brocade is a variety of this type of fabric, with patterns created using different colored threads. You often see this type of fabric in home textiles like curtains or pillowcases.
Pleather, or synthetic leather, is a type of synthetic fabric that is made to look like leather, with subtle textures that resemble the porous surface of real leather. This type of fabric is very popular because it is quite versatile – you can use it to make clothing, handbags, shoes, etc., although it does require a lot of skills and special tools to work with.
25. Ribbon Knit
Ribbon knit fabrics are made from knitting ribbons together instead of using yarn, and this is often accentuated with a cotton knit background, creating a raised effect.
26. Slubbed Silk
Slubbed silk has a very subtle texture. It still has the softness and lustrous look of silk, but because of the construction using uneven filaments, the result has a slightly coarse look and feel.
27. Flocked Fabrics
Flocked fabrics employ a special printing technique that makes the design look significantly raised compared to the background fabric. When printed in flocked fabrics, the design is first printed on the fabric, then an adhesive binder is applied. Polyester or nylon fragments are then blown into the fabric, and its surface is raised, creating a three-dimensional effect.
28. Boucle Fabrics
Boucle fabrics have small spaced loops on the surface, but unlike Terry cloths, the loops in boucle fabrics are very uneven, creating a unique texture that is popular in upholstery or home textiles.
29. Huckaback Fabrics
Huckaback refers to coarse cotton/linen fabric that has a small distinctive dobby weave texture. It’s commonly used as a lining fabric for embroidery and also as towels.
30. Metallic Fabric
Metallic fabrics are made with metallic fibers. They are usually woven or knitted into the fabric, creating a shiny look that resembles the look of metals.
Fleece is a synthetic fabric that has a beautiful texture that resembles the coat of a sheep. It is known for its incredibly soft and warm feel, thanks to the soft and voluminous texture of the fabric, which is why it is very popular in winter clothing.
Flannel is another type of woven fabric that is made from cotton, but its texture comes from brushing the fibers on one side of the fabric, creating a beautifully fuzzy and napped texture for the fabric. This is why flannel is often used for bedsheets, shirts, and pajamas because they feel amazingly soft and warm against the skin.
A canvas is a plain-woven fabric that is typically made out of cotton and linen, and its coarse texture is because of the texture of the fiber rather than the weave style. This type of fabric is highly durable and is ideal for use when you need a bit of support from your fabric, such as bags, aprons, or home textiles.