What Is Cotton Sateen Fabric?

Updated February 21, 2017

Cotton fabric comes in several varieties, which differ based on whether the fabric is woven or knit, as well as the type of weave used and fibre length. Cotton sateen is a woven fabric, usually made with mercerised threads.

Mercerised Threads

Mercerising cotton threads involves soaking them in sodium hydroxide under tension, which causes the cells to swell. This process makes the threads strong, shiny and insures they will accept dye better than regular threads.


Manufacturers use a satin weave of mercerised cotton threads to produce sateen fabrics. Woven fabric consists of warp and weft threads. In a plain weave, the weft (horizontal) thread goes under and over each warp (vertical) thread. In a satin weave, the weft goes over several warp threads before going under.


Cotton sateen is very smooth to the touch, but more likely to snag, because there are more threads on the top surface of the fabric.

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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.