When you are making certain projects from fabric, you need to use a material that is absorbent. This would include making cloth diapers, towels and certain decor items. Generally, fabrics that are absorbent are made from natural fibres. Once you know which fabrics are most absorbent you can select the one that fits best with what you are making.
Cotton fabric comes in many different forms. The cotton plant is a shrub that is native to the Americas, Africa, India and Pakistan. The fibre that grows in the boll of the plant is used to make yarn and a woven fabric. It is preferred by many because it yields a soft, absorbent and breathable fabric. Woven cotton does shrink, so it is wise to buy an extra 1/ 8 yard of fabric to account for shrinkage when you first launder it. Woven cottons to consider would include percale and knit.
Terry cloth is a woven, or knitted, cotton or cotton-blend. The higher the percentage of cotton, the more absorbent terry cloth will be. It has a pile of uncut loops on either one or both sides. Terry cloth comes in a variety of weights and qualities. It is made from cotton so it does shrink when first laundered, for this reason you should use an extra 1/8 yard of fabric when constructing items. Terry cloth is commonly used to make towels, beach wear, robes and active wear.
Velour is a plush woven fabric made from either cotton or synthetic fibres. Velour is often blended with spandex to give it stretch. It is commonly used to make clothing and decor. Velour comes in a variety of weights and qualities. Typically, the thicker the velour, the more absorbent it will be. Velour may shrink, so it is wise to get an extra 1/8 yard of fabric.
Flannel is a twill, or plain weave fabric, with nap on one or both sides. It can be made of cotton, wool or synthetic fibres. It is used to make shirts, sleep wear, outerwear and decor. Flannel will pill and fade when laundered. Higher quality flannels, such as quilting flannel, pill and fade more slowly than others. Flannel also shrinks, so it is wise to buy extra to allow for shrinkage.
Chenille is a plush material that is made by punching loosely twisted tufts of yarn through a woven base fabric. It is used to make robes, towels and decor items. It is soft and absorbent. Typically, the more plush that chenille is the more absorbent it will be. Chenille is made from cotton and cotton synthetic blends. It can shrink some when first laundered, so it is wise to get an extra 1/8 yard of fabric to account for this.
Bamboo fabric is made from the pulp of the bamboo plant. It is light, strong and absorbent. It absorbs moisture and keeps it away from the surface. It is used to make home decor, towels and clothing. It is growing in popularity because it is more absorbent than cotton and it is considered to be more eco-friendly than conventional cotton. Bamboo is sometimes blended with a synthetic fibre. When purchasing bamboo material, remember the higher percentage of bamboo, the more absorbent it will be.
Hemp fabric is woven from the stem of the cannabis plant. It is stronger and more absorbent than cotton. It is used to make rope, twine, clothing and home decor. Hemp is often more natural than cotton because it grows more readily without the use of pesticides. Hemp also gets softer the more it is used and washed and it is UV resistant. That being said, hemp wrinkles easily, so it may not be appropriate for some projects.
- "More Fabric Savvy: A Quick Resource Guide to Selecting and Sewing Fabric"; Sandra Betzina; 2004
- "The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes: Personalize Your Craft with Organic Colors from Acorns, Blackberries, Coffee, and Other Everyday Ingredients"; Sasha Duerr; 2011
- Comfy Cloth Pads: What Fabrics Should You Use for Sewing Cloth Pads?