The Costume Weight Guide: Materials, Calculation – Hero and Vill

But have you ever seen a t-shirt or pair of jeans that boasts “heavyweight cotton” as its fabric and wondered what exactly that means?

What is heavyweight cotton?

Heavyweight cotton, as the name would suggest, is denser and heavier than other cotton materials, and creates a more durable, sturdy product.

Cotton is measured in ounces per square yard, and heavyweight cotton is usually 12 ounces or heavier.

But it is important to understand that there are many different types of cotton.

For example, t-shirts are often made with cotton jersey, which is a lighter-weight cotton.

Although cotton jersey in its heaviest form is still a lightweight cotton, that heavier version of cotton jersey will often be referred to as “heavyweight cotton jersey”.

Here’s what is considered to be heavyweight cotton for some of the most popular types of cotton commonly used in clothing:

TypeHeavy-weightUseCotton Denim16+ ouncesJeansCotton Jersey6+ ouncesTeesCotton Canvas12+ ouncesWork WearCotton Flannel6+ ouncesShirtsCotton Moleskin14+ ouncesWork WearCotton Corduroy12+ ouncesCasual Wear

In this article let’s take a closer look at heavyweight cotton to discuss what types of garments use this type of cotton, and what the pros and cons are for using it.

Qualities of Heavyweight Cotton Fabric

The amount of cotton that goes into clothing makes a lot of difference.

Not only are there differences in the feel but also in the looks and uses.

The heavier in weight the cotton, the stronger and more durable it will be.

With heavyweight cotton fabric, you get the following: 

A More Structured Fit: Heavyweight cotton clothing has a much more structured look.

With lightweight cotton fabric, you may see it blow easily in the wind.

Something sturdier, like heavyweight cotton duck canvas won’t be blowing in the wind.

For example, here are my 12-ounce cotton canvas pants.

Heavyweight cotton has many more threads for an overall heftier construction.

These threads are weaved all together for a sturdier feel and a longer-lasting lifetime for the fabric.

Cotton canvas is often used in workwear, and has a durable, coarse appearance:

More Warmth: Lighter cotton fabrics are breathable and porous, allowing air to flow through to keep you cool.

Heavyweight cotton is better for colder weather, adding an extra layer of protection from the cold.

Certain types of sturdier cotton can also offer added protection from moisture.

Types of Heavyweight Cotton Fabrics

As we discussed, even lightweight version of cotton, like cotton jersey, can have their own heavyweight version.

But if you are discussing a true heavyweight form of cotton, that weighs 12 ounces per square yard or more, these are the types to know: 

Canvas: A heavyweight cotton (usually 12 ounces) that is used to make very durable work jackets, pants, and coveralls.

Lighter weight versions of cotton canvas will weigh 7-8 ounces, and will be used in work shirts and also for summer work pants.

Corduroy: This hardwearing, medium-to heavyweight cotton texture is also known as cord, needlecord, and baby cord.

The ribs (cords) and the quantity of strings per inch is known as the wale, with the texture generally changing from 4-wale (wide) to 21-wale (thin needlecord).

Frequently utilized in the making of pants, dresses, skirts, shirts and other casualwear.

Denim: A fabric that practically everyone knows, this strong, hearty, substantial weight cotton texture is thickly woven, utilizing a twill weave.

Heavyweight denim usually weighs 16 ounces or heavier.

Pros and Cons of Heavyweight Cotton Fabric

Tough jobs are rough on clothes and may have you on your knees, working with tools and materials, or dealing with all kinds of weather.

Because the fibers of heavyweight cotton are knitted closely together, it is often used to make durable workwear.

For the job, cotton duck canvas is the most frequently used type of cotton.

Canvas is a firm, heavy plain weave fabric and will feel rough when you run your hand across it.

But heavyweight cotton isn’t right for all situations.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of heavyweight cotton.

Pros of Heavyweight Cotton 

Long-Lasting: When you make the transition to heavyweight cotton, you will notice the difference in the duration of your clothes.

It Does Not Tear Easy: Another plus is the fact that heavyweight cotton is tough.

If your work usually wears out other fabrics and you find that you get holes in your clothes, make the switch to heavyweight cotton.

With other fabrics that are loose and tight, wrinkles come about easily, but with heavyweight cotton, you never have to worry about this being a problem.

Warmth – Heavyweight cotton is heavier and denser, and does a better job at trapping heat.

Some heavyweight cotton fabrics, like canvas, can even offer some water resistance and protection from light precipitation.

An insulated canvas work pant can be a great option for winter.

Cons of Heavyweight Cotton 

It Is Heavy: Yeah, you will know it’s there.

Put on a pair of reinforced heavyweight cotton canvas pants, and you won’t feel like going out for a jog.

It Is Stiff: Heavyweight cotton canvas in workwear will feel very stiff off the rack.

PRO TIP: To skip the stiffness, buy heavyweight cotton canvas that is pre-washed to break it in (sometimes referred to as Sandstone Duck).

It Can Be Expensive: The more cotton that goes into clothing, the more expensive it is.

Cotton is a commodity that is high in demand all around the world.

Plus, because it is of great quality and lasts a long time, it is considered an investment.

You will notice that heavyweight cotton items cost much more.

Heavyweight cotton won’t be a great summer option.

For me, I opt for a lightweight canvas in the summer.

To read more, visit our article about the best summer work pants.

Heavyweight Cotton is Great for Workwear

Heavyweight cotton is great for many reasons, but its durability and toughness make it almost essential for those of us who need something that can stand up to a tough work environment.

Heavyweight cotton stands the test of time and stays solid for years and years.

Its tight-knitted threads help create a strong feel and powerful hold.

Best Heavy Duty Work Shorts

Best Heavy Duty Work Shirts

Best Heavy Duty Work Pants

Just beware, it may feel stiff at first, and doesn’t make for the best summer workwear.

Top 10 Heavy Fabrics In Weight And Thickness

Top 10 Heavy Fabrics In Weight And ThicknessBest Heavyweight Fabrics1.

Coated FabricWhat is the heaviest weight cotton fabric?Which fabric is thickest?What is the heaviest cotton?What is heavy cotton fabric called?What is the toughest fabric material?What is a strong fabric?What will make fabric thicker?What is the heaviest canvas?Does heavy cotton shrink?What’s the heaviest weight t shirt?

While choosing a dress shirt fabric, we all consider the construction of the fabric and the thickness.

The thickness measurement of the heavyweight fabrics ranges from 0.0.12”-0.014”.

The fabric thickness depends on the corresponding weave type.

In each fabric type, due to specific threads, there are some exceptions.

In this article, we have laid out more guidelines along with some specific examples of each heavy fabric type from our own inventory.

Best Heavyweight Fabrics

When you think of heavy weight fabric, the first name that comes to your mind is Canvas.

This fabric takes its roots from a simple weave and has a plethora of different fibers.

The features of Canvas fabric are:

Canvas has a basket weave or twill weave, and it possesses a slightly rubbed surface.

Canvas is tightly woven, and it possesses stiffness and is thus suitable for making many things like bags, etc.

With the help of Canvas fabric, you can also make pants.

Usually, to treat the bags as water-resistant, 100% cotton canvas.

Denim is very strong and heavy weight fabric.

Dyed cotton yarn woven in a wrap-faced style helps in designing the Denim fabric.

This fabric has the ability of wicking moisture and retention of heat.

The features of Denim fabric are:

Denim is a twill weave fabric, and the most famous example of Denim fabric is jeans.

People use Denim to make sturdy, durable, and long-lasting garments.

Moreover, many artisans use it in the making of bags, jackets, and upholstery.

The products that have a finishing touch of Denim fabric become stiffer.

Denim is made up of 100% cotton fibers, and sometimes it is blended with spandex fibers.

Many times, people make Denim from hemp or linen fibers.

Duck Cloth is one of the heaviest weight fabrics.

To design Duck Cloth fabric, people use some other materials like flax.

This duck Cloth fabric is a plain-woven fabric and people also call it canvas.

This Duck Cloth fabric almost resembles with the Canvas fabric.

It is a coarse fabric as well, and so it is especially not used in making any kind of cloth or garments.

People use Duck Cloth fabric specifically in the process of bag making.

Duck Cloth fabric is easy to use and simple to dye and sew.

Corduroy is a thick and heavy weight fabric.

This fabric is somewhat stiff in nature, absorbs and releases moisture quickly, allowing the fabric to “breathe.” The features of Corduroy fabric are:

Corduroy fabric has a texture of cross-grain, and it has fine ridges that run across its length.

Corduroy fabric is used to make bags, cushions, jackets, pants, and other upholstery.

People usually use this fabric to make clothes for kids.

With the Corduroy fabric, to add stretch, people sometimes mix Spandex fabric.

This fabric is very warm and durable.

This is a heavy weight fabric and is very thick in nature.

People compose some Ottoman fabric to small ribs while others alternate in size from narrow to wide.

The features of Ottoman Fabric are:

The Ottoman fabric has a ribbed texture, and its texture is quite similar to Corduroy fabric.

People usually use it to make outerwear and for other upholstery.

Ottoman fabric is often compared with fabrics like cotton, linen, and viscose.

Wool Tweed fabric is a very thick fabric, and people design this fabric for weather resistance.

It is a very thick fabric with its use in making jackets, bags, and coats.

The texture of this fabric is slightly coarse.

Wool Tweed fabric is composed of coarse homespun wool.

The thick weave of the Wool Tweed fabric fends off the droplets and deluges the entire better.

People love Wool Tweed even today for its natural allure, and this fabric perfectly blends with the surrounding countryside.

Chenille fabric is a heavy weight fabric, and it looks different in one direction compared to the other as the fibers of this fabric catch the light differently.

People use cotton to manufacture the yarn of this fabric.

The features of Chenille fabric are:

This fabric is very thick, heavy weight and warm as well.

The fibers used in this fabric may be of silk, synthetic, wool, or cotton.

Chenille is a fuzzy and soft fabric and yarn as a result of short piles of material on each strand.

This fabric is durable in nature.

It has a beautiful soft drape, which results in the popularity of this fabric in garments in recent years.

Suede is nothing but a type of fuzzy leather, and comprises of Suede fabric.

Artisans use this fabric to make garments, vests, pants, and accessories such as hats and belts.

The stretchability property of this fabric is low, and it has high heat retention capabilities.

The breathability and the moisture-wicking properties of this fabric are low.

This fabric is a very thick and heavy weight, and the surface of this fabric is furry and soft.

Polyester Fleece fabric is extremely durable in nature, and it holds the warmth resisting the moisture, and dries quickly.

This fabric is warmer than wool and has found its extensive use in making garments for astronauts, deep-sea diving suits, and also as ear-warmers for winter-born calves.

Different people use it especially to make outdoor clothes like winter jackets and shawls.

A fleece of weight of 300 or above will provide you a super thick Fleece.

The fibers present in coated fabrics are tensile in strength and are outstanding in elasticity, flexibility, and wet strength.

It is a heavy weight fabric, and the properties of this fabric are:

This fabric is densely woven and has a second layer of fabric that is used on the backside.

People finish the coated fabric to make it dense, resistant to water.

People use this fabric to make hoodies, raincoats, and other similar outwear.

Now that you have known about the top heavy weight fabrics, it is time to choose the best one for you!

What is the heaviest weight cotton fabric?

Although, in general, heavyweight cotton is 12 ounces or heavier, each type of cotton can have its own heavyweight version.

Although, in general, heavyweight cotton is 12 ounces or heavier, each type of cotton can have its own heavyweight version.

… What is Heavyweight Cotton and How Does it Help?

Type Heavy- weight Use Cotton Moleskin 14+ ounces Work Wear Cotton Corduroy 12+ ounces Casual Wear.

When you think ‘Thick’ canvas is the fabric name that first comes to my mind.

It can have a basket weave or a twill weave and has a slightly ribbed surface and is available in many weights.

What is the heaviest cotton?

What is heavy cotton fabric called?

Denim – very strong, robust, heavy-weight cotton fabric that is densely woven using a twill weave.

It’s used to make casual clothes such as jeans, skirts, jackets, shirts and work clothes.

What is the toughest fabric material?

An extremely dense version of PE is known as Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene, or UHMW.

It’s this characteristic that makes polyethylene the strongest fabric material.

What is a strong fabric?

Between the natural fabrics, silk had the highest tensile strength, while wool had the least amount of strength.

(30oz) Cotton Duck!

The Heaviest Canvas of All Time.

Does heavy cotton shrink?

Yes, 100% cotton can shrink if you don’t wash it properly.

If you want to shrink 100% cotton, wash it in hot water, if not, wash with cold water.

… For heavy dirty clothes, you can use hot water.

What’s the heaviest weight t shirt?

The Camber 302 is a heavyweight pocket T-shirt you can really feel good about: on chilly days you’ll feel good because Max-Weight T-shirts are knit from 100% cotton and it’s Camber’s heaviest T-shirt at 8 ounces.

The weight of the fabric determines a lot of its characteristics.

A heavier fabric usually means it is more resistant to external factors and is opaque.

The weight of the fabric is, for the most part, determined by the thickness of its threads and their weaving density.

Gram per square meter or ounce per square yard is the unit for the weight of the fabric.

And we call a fabric heavy when its weight is above 10-12 oz or 340-400 g/m².

And we call a fabric heavy when its weight is above 10-12 oz or 340-400 g/m².

Different Heavy Weight Fabrics and What to Expect from ThemCanvas FabricDuck Cloth FabricDenim FabricOttoman FabricCorduroy FabricWool Tweed FabricSuede or sueded fabricChenille FabricPolyester Fleece FabricCoated FabricFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to Heavy Weight FabricsWhat is the best needle to sew heavyweight fabrics?Which fabric is referred to as the heaviest cotton?What to do when you have to sew two layers of thick fabric?What is the best material for making raincoats?What is the thickest fabric?Wrapping it up!

Different Heavy Weight Fabrics and What to Expect from Them

As indicated above, the weight of the fabric goes a long way in determining its characteristics.

Therefore, knowing what to expect from fabric will enable you to successfully complete any of your sewing endeavors.

For today’s piece, we will be focussing on different heavy fabric types and their features.

Canvas Fabric

Canvas Fabric

Canvas Fabric

Cotton Canvas FabricCheck Price

You would agree that canvas is the probably fabric type that comes to mind when we talk about heavy fabrics.

This fabric relies on a basic weave and it is available in a variety of different fibers.

Without any doubt, canvas fabric is known for its toughness, firmness, and heavy-duty.

You can even make it weather-resistant and perhaps waterproof by combining cotton and synthetic fibers.

This, therefore, makes it an excellent outdoor cloth piece.

Canvas was historically made of linen and hemp.

However, more recently, you will mostly have cotton fibers going into its production.

Its resilience to moisture and stains makes it an ideal exterior cloth.

This quality has helped canvas find its way on some of the world’s best and most renowned bags.

You will also find the use of canvas in construction shoes, especially in casual wear.

If you are looking for a more high-quality stiff fabric type, you can go with hemp canvas, polyester canvas, and various mixes.

Duck Cloth Fabric

Duck Cloth Fabric

Duck Cloth Fabric

Cotton DuckCheck Price

Duck cloth fabric essentially is a woven canvas fabric that is often composed of cotton.

This makes it long-lasting, smooth textured, and rigid fabric.

Standard weights range from commercial fabric to lighter apparel.

Along with its durability, duck cloth fabric comes in twelve various weights.

However, keep in mind, canvas duck is another name for duck cloth.

Duck cloth resembles canvas fabric, that’s why it is usually referred to as canvas duck.

Canvas duck offers a wide variety of applications because of its weight range.

Various weights serve a variety of purposes.

Duck cloth has its use for a variety of purposes, including outdoor utility materials and garments.

It offers a wide variety of applications because of its weight range.

Different weights serve different functions.

Denim Fabric

Denim Fabric

Denim Fabric

You would agree that denim now has a legendary status when we talk about its wide range of use in everyday outfits.

It essentially is a sturdy cotton fabric with a woven fabric and a modest diagonal ribbing design.

This heavy-weight fabric prevents shrinking and creases and it achieves this characteristic through its production from cotton-polyester blends.

Nowadays, some denim fabrics contain a stretch fiber, like spandex or elastane, to give elasticity for more fitting clothing designs.

In denim, the cotton fabric is warp-facing.

The diagonal ribbing distinguishes denim fabric from the others, which are all woven cotton fabrics.

Moreover, as a tip, a typical size 80 needle would generally be enough for the lighter-weight types of denim.

They feature a very small tip that allows them to easily glide into the cloth and strengthen the shaft for further stability.

You can also buy a specific denim sewing machine.

You will find Ottoman fabric in the making of upholstery or heavy-duty outerwear.

If we talk about the composition, Ottoman fabric has a composition of pure silk strands and these give it a genuine glossy look.

However, nowadays, the majority of the ottoman fabrics have a blend of silk and other natural fibers, such as wool or cotton.

The best part about ottoman fabric is that spills tend to roll off the cloth due to ribbed weave, making it easier to keep clean.

Ottoman subsequently gained popularity as a fabric for jackets and bulky winter outfits, as well as curtains.

As a tip, try to use sewing machines for upholstery if you are thinking of designing some curtains with ottoman fabric.

Corduroy Fabric

Corduroy Fabric

Corduroy Fabric

Corduroy Fabric Solid PlainCheck Price

Corduroy is a dense, sturdy cloth.

This fabric is relatively rigid in nature and swiftly absorbs and releases moisture, enabling the garment to “breathe.”

Though corduroy is often made of cotton, it may also be woven using thick polyester fabric and cotton mixes or even 100% polyester.

On the other hand, you will also occasionally find wool in the production of corduroy by textile manufacturers.

Corduroy is still highly popular as a flexible, sturdy fabric suitable for pants, coats, and children’s wear.

Furthermore, corduroy also finds its use in the making of couch and chair covers, as well as ornamental cushions.

Wool Tweed Fabric

Wool Tweed Fabric

Wool Tweed Fabric

The next entry on our list of heavyweight fabric types is an extremely rigid and thick fabric with great weather resistance.

This fabric has a slightly gritty feel.

One stand-out characteristic of this fabric type is the dense weave and this helps to repel the droplets.

Even today, people adore Wool Tweed for its natural charm, and its fabric mixes in wonderfully with the surrounding landscape.

Typically, the material is made from multi-colored, stubby wool strands in a loose plain herringbone or tweed weave, this results in a unique appearance that is gritty, and crumbly yet keeps the cloth soft and comfortable.

A well-tailored tweed jacket in natural colors of plain weave, herringbone, or houndstooth can be dressed for a variety of events from corporate events to family occasions.

When compared to other fabric types, suede is a robust fabric with a very resilient character.

Suede is a durable long-lasting material.

Suede fabric, because it is generally thin, finds its use in the stitching of gowns, boots, jackets, or blankets.

Next on our list of heavyweight fabric types is Chenille.

Chenille is a thick woven fabric that can be manufactured from a number of fibers such as silk, wool, rayon, and cotton.

Chenille has a lovely silky drape, which has contributed to its higher use in clothing in recent times.

Despite the fact that the fibers in the chenille are not naturally glossy, the fabric and thread catch the radiance at right angles due to the piling orientation.

Earlier, Chenille had its use in bedsheets, carpets, and duvets, but its usage has extended to clothes and fashion items.

Polyester fleece is a warm, fuzzy fabric you will see in the making of sweaters, sweatshirts, coats, gloves, hats, bedding, and any other purpose that requires a warm, wool-like fabric.

It is a two-sided pile fabric, which means that a layer of chopped fibers grows on both the front and back surface of the fabric, comparable to corduroy or velvet.

Moreover, it is a thick polyester fabric that not only retains heat but also resists moisture and dries rapidly.

Its moisture resistance makes it extremely warm and great for harsh winter conditions.

Polyester fleece fabric is becoming extremely prevalent as a fashion fabric and has a variety of more specialized uses.

Even though it is polyester, it is preferable to cotton fleece since it is more resilient and does not shrink when washed.

Coated Fabric

Coated Fabric

This fabric type may have woven or non-woven fabrics.

However, when choosing coated fabrics, dimensional characteristics such as fiber density, entire thickness, total width or diameter, total length, and material weight must be considered.

After coating treatment, the fabric can be provided with a lot of beneficial features such as waterproofing, windproofing, flame retardant, light-shielding, and much more.

There are many coated fabrics available in the market that can provide all those features at once.

As the coated fabric has some exceptional qualities, it is widely used in making waterproofing tents, car covers, waterproof boots, socks, and some more stuff.

Above are the best thick fabric types you can use for your next DIY project.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to Heavy Weight Fabrics

What is the best needle to sew heavyweight fabrics?

To sew these thick heavyweight fabrics, always use a thick/denim needle such as 100/16, 110/18, and 120/20.

Which fabric is referred to as the heaviest cotton?

Denim is a heavyweight cotton fabric that is tightly woven with a twill weave.

It has its use in the production of things like jeans, coats, skirts, and other fashion garments.

What to do when you have to sew two layers of thick fabric?

When sewing more than two layers of such heavy-weight fabrics, you’ll need to have one.

What is the best material for making raincoats?

The coated fabric is the best when you want to sew any highly water-resistant product.

Raincoats are very well prepared with coated fabrics.

Canvas is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about thick fabrics.

Moreover, canvas comes in a variety of weights.

There you have it, the best heavyweight fabrics you can find right now.

Ahhh, fabric weight – the one thing that totally changes the look and feel of an item, but is extremely ambiguous, subjective and confusing.

Maybe you’re looking to purchase something new and are wondering how much different fabrics weigh, or which weight is best for a specific climate.

Either way, this ultimate fabric weight guide will cover the different categories of fabric weights, which fabrics fall into those categories, which you should choose for certain situations, the industry standard for how cloth weight is measured, and how it’s calculated.

Let’s get into these topics (and a few extra, meaty nuggets of weight-related information).

Fabric Weight Chart & Summary

You may be here for a quick summary of the weights of different fabrics.

Fabric weight is usually in the 2.5-18 oz range, and depends on the type of material used to produce it, the weave used, and the thickness of the fibre.

It is measured in grams per meter (gsm), or ounces per yard (oz).

Typically, lighter weight fabric is more appropriate for the summer, and heavier for the winter.

This (approximate) fabric weight chart outlines the typical weights of different materials, and their appropriate uses.

Fabric Weight Classification


Cotton, chambray, PVC.

During the summer, or as a layering piece all year round.


Linen, canvas.

Lightweight trousers, light suits and blazers.

This is the suit weight for summer.

Polyester, linen-wool blends, velvet.

Denim, wool flannel.

Heavier cloths, such as flannel, denim jacket.

Thick hoodies, woven outerwear, or sports coats made of thick material.

You typically won’t find fabrics of this weight used to create full suits or formal wear.

Very dense material is generally used in furniture upholstery, such as cushions and chair coverings.

All year round for upholstery, but for clothing, just in the coldest climates.

On top of the difficulty of putting different materials into weight categories, it’s also difficult to pinpoint exact categories, as weight isn’t fully objective (my medium weight may light for you).

Very lightweight fabrics are between 0-4oz.

Light fabrics are between 4-7oz.

Medium fabrics are between 7-11oz.

Heavy fabrics are between 11-14oz.

Heavy fabrics are between 11-14oz.

Very heavy fabrics are 18oz+ (up to 610 gsm)

These classifications may not mean much to you, especially with all these units (oz and gsm – don’t worry, I’ll explain later).

This next section will delve into each category in a bit more detail, and give some more fabric weight examples.

A Detailed Look at the Different Fabric Weight Categories

Cloths in this category are very light, and are usually very breathable, making them great for summer.

Compared to ‘very lightweight’ fabrics, those in this bracket are a bit more substantial, though may still be prone to a bit of transparency and wrinkling.

However, clothing made of lightweight material can potentially be worn all year round.

For example, a t-shirt can be worn during the winter, given correct layering.

We again get slightly heavier, and move into the lower-middle weight category.

This category includes ‘linen’ as a material, which is known for producing light weight variants of traditionally heavy clothing, such as suits and blazers.

So, when it comes to sartorialism, this is the suit weight for summer, as the fabric is strong and breathable.

Garments made from material in this category are considered ‘transitional’, and are appropriate to wear in the spring and autumn.

However, that said, you could probably get away with wearing this fabric all year round, though it will be on the lighter side.

With this weight category, wrinkles and transparency start to become less of an issue.

A definite fabric weight that can be worn all year round.

Heavier or lighter fabrics may be better for certain seasons, but 11-12oz is ever safe and appropriate for general use.

Fabrics that weigh between 12-14 ounces are considered ‘heavier fabrics’, and are most suitable in the winter, as they help with insulation.

These cloths usually are heavy enough to insulate, but still maintain manoeuvrability without being bulky.

This category includes materials such as wool flannel.

The heaviest category of cloth weight which is generally used for outerwear, such as overcoats, or upholstery.

Usually the weight pulls the piece down, allowing it to drape well.

So now you know exactly what each category involves – now it’s time to put a meaning to them with numbers and actual weight.

How is Fabric Weight Measured?

The Units of Fabric Weight.

Depending on where you are in the world, fabric weight is measured using different units.

Fabric is generally measured either in metric grams, producing GSM (grams/square meter), or, in countries that employ imperial measurements, ounces (oz), producing the measurement of OZ (ounces/square yard).

A higher number means a heavier fabric.

For example, a 400GSM suit does not weigh 400 grams in total – that is just the weight for a single meters squared of the fabric.

What is GSM Fabric Weight?

As stated, GSM is ‘grams per square meter’, and is the metric measurement used in most of the world.

So, as an example, if a material of size four meters squared weighs 2kg (2000g), then the ‘fabric weight’ will be 500GSM (2000/4).

Regardless of location, fabric weight of suits is usually measured in GSM.

What is OZ Fabric Weight?

In the context of material weight, oz stands for ‘ounces per square yard’, and is an imperial measurement that is used mainly by those in the US, Liberia and Myanmar.

Again, as an example, if a material of size four yards squared weighs 2o oz, then the ‘fabric weight’ will be 5 oz (20/4).

Annoying Alternate Measures – Ounces/Linear Yard and Grams/Linear Meter (GLM)

To make things even more confusing, some manufactures use ‘linear yards’ or ‘linear meters’ to measure fabric weight.

Simply, though still a yard or a meter long, these measurements have no set width, and vary per manufacturer.

Fabric Weight Conversions

Converting GLM to GSM (Grams/Linear Meter to Grams/Square Meter)

GSM = GLM / Width of Fabric in Meters

For example, for a material with a weight of 500 GLM that is 1.6 meters in width (160cm):312.5 GSM = 500 / 1.6

OZ = Linear Yard Weight / Width of Fabric in Yards

Again, for example, for a material with a weight of 350 per linear yard that is 60 inches (1.66667  yards) in width:210 OZ = 350 / 1.66667

Fabric Weight Conversion Calculators

Alternatively, for ease, there are many weight conversion calculation websites out there that can convert between the different fabric weight units:

So, now that we’ve covered the units of fabric weight, it’s time to get into which weight is most appropriate for your use.

Which Weight of Fabric Should I Choose?

Choosing an optimal fabric weight all depends what occasion and climate you need it for:

If you are intending to wear the item during the summer, I would recommend a lighter material.

Conversely, for fall and winter wear, you may want to look at heavier fabrics, such as a flannel.

Again, this will usually provide greater insulation to keep you warm, and better protection from the elements.

But if you want something for all year round, I would suggest a medium weigh fabric between the extremes.

It will be light enough not to drastically overheat and pull you down during the summer, but heavy enough to keep you warm in the winter.

A light cloth would probably be best suited for this climate.

I would also say that, from my experience, lighter weight fabrics are more comfortable, and sometimes feel like you’re not wearing anything at all!

So for excessive utility and movement needs, I would suggest staying away from heavy cloths, and stick to light and medium weights.

Additionally, denser, heavier, more tightly woven, and thicker fabrics are usually unsurprisingly tough.

So, if you need tough clothing, look at heavier weights.

But these aren’t hard and fast rules – some fabrics are very lightweight and extremely tough.

This next section will go into the weights, uses and strengths of specific varieties of broader materials, such as cotton.

This will help get you an even better picture of what material you should look for.

Specific Material Weights

Weights of Cotton Fabric

Cotton is one of the most widely used fabrics in clothing today, and comes in many different forms with many different weights and suitability.

Light Weight – Up to 200 gsm.

Medium Weight Cotton – 200-400 gsm

Heavy Weight – 400+ gsm

Chambray (135 gsm) – Often confused with denim, chambray is a medium-light fabric that is commonly used in shirts.

Chino (237-339 gsm) – A definite medium-heavy weight fabric that is usually woven in a twill weave and used to create ‘chino’ trousers.

Corduroy (140-300 gsm) – Associated with the older generation, typical corduroy is very heavyweight and thick.

In any case, corduroy is a smoothly textured, vertically ribbed fabric that is usually used in trousers and jackets.

Jersey (140 gsm) – Jersey is a lightweight cotton, usually with a tight weave, that typically makes up t-shirts.

Weights of jersey fabric are generally quite light.

Moleskin (255-440 gsm) – Moleskin is a medium-heavy cotton cloth that features a soft brushed surface, and is used for a multitude of items.

Muslin (203 gsm) – Usually ecru, weights of muslin fabrics usually come in at about 6oz.

Poplin Weave (130 gsm) – Light weight cotton with a tight weave that is usually found in dress shirts.

A cotton field that will make many different cotton materials.

Seersucker (100-160 gsm) – Seen on summery casual shirts or nautical themed sports coats, seersucker can usually be found in a contrasting stripe pattern.

Twill Weave (180-280 gsm) – A medium weight cotton weave categorised by ‘diagonal’ lines.

Velvet (34-600 gsm) – Velvet is a smooth and soft cotton fabric, and is generally used for special and luxurious garments, such as awesome dinner jackets.

However, due to a multitude of uses, velvet weight can vary from very light to heavy weight.

Is 180 gsm Cotton Good?

It all depends on what you’re using it for, and what type of cotton it is.

180gsm cotton is generally ‘medium’ to ‘light’ weight, so is good for use in all seasons.

But if you’re looking for something heavier for the winter, it’s probably too light.

Weights of Denim Fabric

Though a derivative of cotton, denim has even more sub categories.

When it comes to the weight of denim, it is traditionally measured in square yards, or oz, as we have been referring to it.

Denim weights vary from about 5-30 ounces:

Light Weight Denim Fabric

Very lightweight denim, such as five ounces, is only suitable for shirts, and other items that require a drape.

However, denim used to produce light weight jeans and jackets comes in at about 9-10 ounces, and is advantageous because it’s generally easier to wear and break in compared to heavier varieties.

Because of this, it’s less sweaty, making it the best denim weight for summer.

Also, in most cases, it’s cheaper than heavier denim.

That said, a disadvantage is that the ‘fade effect’, obtained by wearing the jeans for a long period of time, isn’t usually as aesthetically awesome as a heavier pair would produce.

Light weight denim won’t be able to achieve such a good fade as heavier weight denim.

Medium Weight Denim

This is the classic denim weight category for most jeans, and is a good progression if you’re used to wearing lightweight denim.

Medium weight denim takes it up a notch, and will generally be noticeably stiffer on initial use than lighter varieties, and will need more breaking in.

Additionally, the medium weight makes the jeans more appropriate for wear year-round, especially in the winter as they are slightly warmer.

Heavy Weight Denim

Finally, heavy weight jeans are even stiffer on initial purchase, are sometimes so stiff that they’re painful, and take months or years to break in.

Also, with the added weight, the fade you can achieve is the best.

Heavy weight denim isn’t suitable for most garments though, as it’s too tough.

Super Heavy Denim

The final category, that I didn’t bother mentioning in the summary, is the supposed ‘heaviest denim fabric in the world’.

Created by Naked & Famous, this 32oz denim cloth has the ability to stand up on its own, and takes months of hard work and pain to break in.

So, all in all, light weight denim is softer and easier to wear, whereas heavier denim is more durable and produces a better fade.

Weights of Linen Fabric

Linen is a non-cotton fabric made from the ‘flax’ plant, and is known for being lightweight and breathable, giving it popularity in spring and summer clothing.

As with cotton, it has many varieties with different weights.

Belgian Linen (340-509 gsm) – Used as a bedding and upholstery fabric.

Chambray Linen (203 gsm) – Used for lightweight apparel.

European Linen (288 gsm) – European linen is said to weight in at around 8.5oz, making it light-middle weight.

Irish Linen (237 gsm) – Another light weight linen that weighs around 7 oz, and is found in home decor items such as bedspreads and napkins.

It comes in at around 9 ounces, and is of a medium linen weight.

Metallic Linen (237 gsm) – A linen with a subtle metallic shine on the right side of the fabric, which comes in at around 7oz.

Canvas Fabric Weights

Canvas is a medium-heavy cotton cloth that is strong and durable.

General canvas fabric weight categories are as follows:

Here is a good video that looks at the differences between the weight of different canvas types in greater detail.

Weights of Wool Fabric

Light Weight (7-9 oz)

Light Weight (7-9 oz)

Light Weight (7-9 oz)

Light Weight (7-9 oz)

Wool in this range is usually easy to wear and breathable.

However, as these fabrics are so lightweight, they sometimes have a poor and unflattering drape, and wrinkle easily.

That said, this weight of wool is generally the most appropriate for the warmer climates.

Medium Weight (9-12 oz)

Medium Weight (9-12 oz)

Medium Weight (9-12 oz)

Medium Weight (9-12 oz)

In most places, medium weight wool usually constitutes all-year-round use, and is usable on warm and colder days.

Using the example of tailoring, if you are looking at purchasing a new suit, you should look at getting one in this weight category.

Heavier weight wool is not suitable for warmer climates, but will provide insulation and protection benefits in the autumn and winter.

Very Heavy Weight (14-20 oz)

Very Heavy Weight (14-20 oz)

Very Heavy Weight (14-20 oz)

Very Heavy Weight (14-20 oz)

Very Heavy Weight (14-20 oz)

Very Heavy Weight (14-20 oz)

Heavy weight wool is mostly used for woven outerwear, such as overcoats – this means that very heavy wool should be reserved for wear on cold winter’s days.

Tweed and heavy flannel would be a specific material in this category.

Depending on their geographical location, weight category labels such as ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ vary per brand.

For example, one brand may consider 290gsm fabric to be a ‘all-year round’ weight, though another may consider it more in the 310-360 range.

So, you’ll really have to pay attention to what you are purchasing, and consider the exact weights rather than just labels.

What Determines Fabric Weight

There are a few factors that determine how much a fabric weighs.

The weight of fabric varies depending on what material you are looking at, its weave, and its fibre type.

This makes some weights more appropriate than others for certain situations.

The material a fabric is made from is the biggest determining factor of fabric weight.

All of these fabrics are going to weigh slightly different amounts, due to their atomic composition.

On top of this, even for materials that have the same amount of atoms, atoms can differ in weight depending on the specific element, making one material heavier.

Fabric Weave

The weave of a fabric itself doesn’t directly affect fabric weight.

It does however affect how much material is used to create the fabric.

So, given two identical materials, a fabric with a tight weave will require more material than one with a loose weave, and will therefore be heavier.

On top of this, a tighter weave is generally more durable, as it will take more force to tear through and pull apart the threads.

However, fabrics with a tighter weave will be less breathable because there is less opportunity for air to circulate, compared to a looser weave where holes are plentiful.

Usually, fabrics created with larger, thicker, fibres are heavier than when fine fibres are used.

You can’t make a universal claim that ‘a garment with a tighter weave is heavier than one with a looser weave’, as other factors may differ that alter the weight.

So, now you know almost everything there is to know about weights of different fabrics and cloths, and which are suitable for which situations.

Use it to your advantage, and find a fabric to suit your needs!

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