What Are Heavy Fabrics? – Types of Thick Fabrics (Explained!)

Last Updated on May 22, 2023

When it comes to sewing and choosing the right fabric for your projects, understanding the characteristics and types of thick fabrics is essential. Heavy fabrics offer durability, strength, and unique aesthetics, making them suitable for various applications, from sturdy garments to upholstery and home decor.

What Are Heavy Fabrics
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In this blog post, we will explore different types of heavy fabrics, their qualities, and the best ways to work with them. Whether you’re an experienced seamstress or a beginner eager to tackle heavier materials, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you navigate the world of thick fabrics.

What are heavy fabrics?

Heavy fabrics, also known as heavyweight fabrics, refer to textile materials that have a substantial weight, thickness, and durability compared to lighter fabrics. These fabrics are often robust and sturdy and typically offer a higher degree of insulation, making them suitable for colder climates or items that require more durability.

Examples of heavy fabrics include:

  • Denim: A sturdy, durable cotton twill fabric for jeans and jackets.
  • Canvas: A robust, durable fabric often used for items like bags, tents, shoes, and upholstery.
  • Suede: A leather with a napped finish, commonly used in apparel such as jackets and shoes and upholstery.
  • Wool: A natural fiber derived from sheep and other animals, used in various garments, especially outerwear, due to its warm and insulating properties.
  • Flannel: A soft woven fabric, typically made of wool or cotton, used in clothing and bed sheets for warmth.
  • Tweed: A rough, woolen fabric known for its warmth and durability, often used in outerwear and suits. Etc

Due to their heavy nature, these fabrics often require specific sewing techniques, stronger needles, or heavy-duty sewing machines for proper handling. They are used for various purposes, including clothing, home decor, and upholstery, providing functionality and style.

Types of heavy fabrics

Here’s a list of some heavy or thick fabrics, along with brief descriptions, uses, and relevant sewing considerations:

  1. Denim: A twill weave cotton fabric is known for its strength and durability. Denim is primarily used for making jeans, jackets, and other types of work clothes. Sewing denim requires heavy-duty machines, preferably with a denim needle.
  2. Canvas: Traditionally made from hemp but now primarily made from cotton or linen. Canvas is tough and durable, often used for bags, shoes, tents, and upholstery. A heavy-duty machine is needed to sew canvas, and a heavy or denim needle is beneficial.
  3. Brocade: A thick, fine, and ornamental shuttle-woven cloth, frequently created with vibrant threads. It’s usually used in upholstery, draperies, and evening wear. It requires careful handling due to its thickness and embroidered design. A machine with a strong motor and a sharp needle can sew brocade.
  4. Velvet: A plush, soft fabric with a distinctive feel, often made from silk, cotton, or synthetic fibers. Velvet is used for evening wear, upholstery, and drapes. Sewing velvet can be tricky due to its slippery texture; a machine with a walking foot attachment can help.
  5. Corduroy: This fabric has a ‘cord’ or ‘wale’ surface, usually made from cotton or a cotton/poly blend. It’s often used for pants, jackets, and upholstery. Sewing corduroy requires a machine that can handle thickness, and a jeans needle can be helpful.
  6. Melton Wool: Aa thick, closely woven wool or wool blend that has been thoroughly brushed and felted for an incredibly smooth finish. It mostly serves as outerwear. A sturdy machine and wool or universal needle are necessary for sewing Melton Wool.
  7. Leather: Leather is animal skin and rawhide tanned to produce a strong and flexible material. It’s used for jackets, belts, shoes, handbags, and upholstery. Sewing leather requires a leather needle, a Teflon or roller foot, and a heavy-duty machine.
  8. Twill: A type of textile weave with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. It’s durable, drapes well, and is often used for jeans, jackets, and durable uniforms. A regular sewing machine can handle twill, but a denim or heavy-duty needle is recommended.
  9. Felt: A non-woven fabric made from wool, fur, or synthetic fibers. Felt is used for crafts, clothing, and in industrial applications. It can be hand-sewn or machine-sewn with a universal needle.
  10. Duck Cloth: Also known as “canvas.” It’s a heavy, plain woven cotton fabric. Duck Cloth is used for more sturdy items like bags, shoes, and hats. Sewing this material requires a heavy-duty machine with a heavy-duty needle.
  11. Burlap: Also known as Hessian, this is a heavy material made from jute, sisal, or other plant fibers. It’s used for sacks, bags, and rustic home decor. Sewing burlap requires a heavy-duty needle and a machine that can handle thicker fabrics.
  12. Suede: a kind of leather with a napped texture that is frequently used for upholstery, shoes, shirts, handbags, and jackets. Suede can be challenging to sew; using a machine with a walking foot and a leather needle is advised.
  13. Tapestry: A heavy, ornamental fabric, often woven with scenes or designs, used mainly for wall hangings, pillow covers, and upholstery. It requires a heavy-duty sewing machine and a sharp, strong needle.
  14. Gabardine: A tough, tightly woven fabric typically of worsted or cotton. Gabardine is often used in suits, overcoats, and trousers. A regular sewing machine can handle this fabric, but a sharp needle is recommended.
  15. Tweed: A rough, woolen fabric with a flexible texture, used mainly for outerwear and suits. A heavy-duty sewing machine with a universal or woolen fabric needle would be best for sewing tweed.
  16. Satin: Although not typically “heavy,” certain varieties of satin, like duchess satin, can be quite thick and heavy. It’s used in gowns, dresses, and home decor. Sewing satin can be tricky because of its slippery texture. A machine with a sharp needle and a walking or roller foot is recommended.
  17. Vinyl: A durable, flexible, plastic fabric used for upholstery, bags, jackets, and other items. Vinyl can be hard to sew due to its thickness, and a machine with a walking foot, a Teflon foot, or a roller foot along with a leather needle is recommended.
  18. Faux Fur: Synthetic fur made from polyester or acrylic. It’s used in clothing, toys, and home decor. Faux fur can be tricky to sew, and a machine with a walking foot or a roller foot along with a universal needle is recommended.
  19. Flannel: A warm, light fabric typically made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fiber and used in sleepwear, sheets, and shirts. Flannel is not usually “heavy,” but its loose weave can make it tricky to sew without stretching. A walking foot and a universal needle can help with sewing flannel.
  20. Chenille: A soft and fuzzy fabric that can be made from cotton, yarn, or rayon. It’s used in blankets, throws, and upholstery. A regular sewing machine with a universal needle can be used to sew chenille.

When sewing heavy fabrics, a longer stitch length and strong, good-quality thread are recommended. You may also need to adjust the tension on your sewing machine.

What fabric is thick and heavy?

The fabrics that are considered thick and heavy are:

  1. Upholstery fabric
  2. Canvas
  3. Brocade
  4. Poplin
  5. Denim
  6. Peau de soie, etc

These fabrics are all noted for their thickness and weight, making them suitable for projects that require durability and a substantial feel.

What is a heavy cloth called?

heavy cloth
Image Source: Weight of Stuff

A heavy cloth is called “Canvas.” Heavy cotton and, to a lesser extent, linen yarn is typically used to create a canvas, a resilient, heavy-duty fabric. It is a fantastic option for outdoor use because it can be combined with synthetic fibers to become waterproof or at least water-resistant.

Is wool a heavy fabric?

Wool can be considered a heavier fabric compared to some others. It is woven, often resulting in a denser, more substantial fabric that drapes less freely than lighter, finer fabrics.

However, the weight of wool can also vary depending on its weave and thickness, so not all wool fabrics are heavy. It’s also worth noting that even though wool might be denser or heavier, it’s typically not so heavy as to be burdensome or uncomfortable for the wearer.

What is heavy cotton?

“Heavy cotton” refers to cotton fabric that is denser and thicker than standard cotton materials. This type of fabric has a heavier weight and provides more structure, durability, and warmth than lighter cotton.

Here are more details about the terms you provided:

  • Cotton Drill: This durable cotton fabric has a strong diagonal bias (twill). Its toughness and resistance to tearing make it suitable for work clothes, uniforms, and sometimes upholstery.
  • Stretch Cotton: This fabric is a blend of primarily cotton with a small amount of Spandex or Lycra. This composition gives the fabric a comfortable stretch while retaining the breathability and comfort of cotton, which is ideal for garments that require movement.
  • Rep: A plain-weave fabric with distinct, slightly ribbed texture in the weft (crosswise direction) due to using bulkier weft yarns or several standard yarns bundled together. It can be made from various fibers, including cotton.
  • Ottoman: An extremely ribbed or corded fabric, frequently made of silk or a blend of cotton and other fibers. The fabric has thick ribs, or a corded appearance, that run from selvage to selvage.

Cotton suitings are typically heavier than cotton shirting materials. They’re used to make garments like suits that require more structure. Despite being heavier, they still retain the breathability and comfort of cotton.

When a sturdy fabric is needed, “heavy cotton” is frequently used for home décor, outerwear, business attire, and other uses. Because of the thickness and durability of these fabrics, a more robust sewing machine and a heavier needle are often needed to sew them.

What is heavy polyester?

heavy polyester
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600 Vinyl Back Heavy Polyester is a type of fabric that has a polyester base and a vinyl coating. The “600” is typically an indicator of the fabric’s density, with a higher number meaning a denser or thicker fabric.

Polyester is a synthetic fabric known for its strength, durability, and resistance to shrinking and stretching. It’s also quick-drying and resistant to wrinkles and mildew.

Polyester coated with vinyl has additional qualities such as enhanced strength, durability, and water resistance. This makes the material perfect for outdoor applications where durability and water resistance are needed. The coating also makes the fabric more resistant to tearing, which is beneficial for heavy-duty applications like outdoor covers and bags.

So, 600 Vinyl Back Heavy Polyester is a high-density, heavy-duty polyester fabric that has been coated with vinyl to enhance its durability and water resistance. Its uses are mainly in outdoor environments or where tough, long-lasting fabric is needed.

What is a heavy GSM fabric?

GSM, or grams per square meter, is a standard measurement that determines the weight of a fabric. This measurement helps clearly understand the fabric’s thickness and durability.

Generally, fabrics with a high GSM will be thicker, denser, and more durable than those with a low GSM. These fabrics are typically more hard-wearing and better suited for uses that require a sturdy, robust material.

A “heavy GSM fabric” refers to a high GSM count, usually over 350 GSM. These fabrics are typically thick and durable. Examples of heavy GSM fabrics include denim, canvas, flannel, tweed, and some types of wool. These fabrics are often used in applications like outerwear, upholstery, and other items where durability and longevity are important.

What GSM is heavy cotton?

Cotton fabric with a GSM (grams per square meter) greater than 350 would be considered heavyweight. So, heavy cotton would be any cotton fabric with a GSM above 350. This type of fabric is typically more durable and provides more warmth and coverage than lighter-weight fabrics. It’s often used for jackets, upholstery, and other high-wear applications.

What is a heavy silk fabric?

heavy silk
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A heavy silk fabric referred to in this context is Silk Marocain, also known as 4-ply silk. It is a crepe fabric, recognized for its weight, luxury, and matte sheen, making it suitable for formal wear and wedding dresses. Its heavy nature comes from the dense weave and the use of fine silk threads, contributing to a smooth surface. Moreover, it is known for its draping quality, presenting rich folds when used in garment construction.

Is double cloth heavy?

Yes, double cloth, due to its double weave construction, is generally considered to be a heavy fabric. The double weave contributes to the thickness and warmth of the fabric, making it heavier than many other types of fabric.

What is heavy muslin cloth?

Heavy muslin cloth is a sturdy, dense type of fabric made from cotton. The term “muslin” typically refers to a variety of unbleached, undyed cotton fabric. When you hear “heavy muslin,” it means a more substantial weight version of this fabric that’s denser and more durable than regular or fine muslin.

Heavy cotton muslin has a wide range of uses. As you’ve noted, it’s a favorite among quilters for use as a durable backing material for quilts. This is due to its strength, which allows it to hold up well even with heavy use.

What is heavy woven?

“Heavy Woven” refers to a strong and flexible material made from polyester. The term “woven” suggests that the polyester fibers have been interlaced in a specific pattern to create a fabric. This kind of heavy woven polyester fabric has a thickness of 0.075 inches and can stretch to approximately 70% of its original length, making it both durable and flexible.

Is linen a heavy fabric?

Linen can be considered a heavier fabric compared to cotton. However, “heavy” is a relative term in the textile industry. While linen may be heavier and stronger than cotton, it is generally not classified as a “heavy” fabric compared to truly heavy fabrics like canvas, denim, or upholstery.

What is heavy wool called?

heavy wool
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“Tweed” can be referred to as heavy wool. It is a midweight or heavy wool fabric crafted in a wide range of patterns and colors. This fabric is known for its durability and warmth, making it a popular choice for outerwear.

Is Cotton or Wool heavy?

Wool is generally heavier than cotton. Wool’s denser structure and its composition of protein and lipids make it a heavier material compared to cotton, which is made of cellulose, a carbohydrate, and tends to be lighter. However, depending on the specific manufacturing process, both can be woven into various fabric weights.

Is poly cotton heavy?

Poly-cotton is a blend of polyester and cotton fibers. The weight of the poly-cotton fabric can vary depending on the ratio of polyester to cotton and the overall thickness of the fabric.

However, as polyester is generally lightweight and has a silkier feel, poly-cotton blends tend to be lighter than 100% cotton fabrics and are often used for lighter clothing and bedding. So, in general, poly-cotton is not considered a heavy fabric.

Which GSM is heavy?

A fabric of 400 GSM would fall into the transition between “lightweight” and “medium to higher weight.” While it’s not considered heavy compared to higher GSM fabrics, it’s certainly thicker and denser than lighter-weight fabrics. It’s more than suitable for uses where moderate thickness and absorbency are desired, such as bath or beach towels.

Is 270 gSM heavy?

Here is how 270 gsm would be categorized:

CategoryGSM RangeOZ Range
Light Midweight Fabric135 – 199 GSM4oz – 5.9oz
Midweight Fabric200 – 269 GSM6oz – 7.9oz
Midweight Heavy Fabric270 GSM upwards8oz upwards

As such, a fabric of 270 gsm falls into the Midweight Heavy Fabric category.

Midweight Heavy Fabric

GSM RangeDescription
300 to 400 GSMLightweight, thinner, coarser
400 to 600 GSMMedium to higher weight, soft and absorbent, good for bath or beach towels
700 to 900 GSMHighest, heavy weight, soft and absorbent, high-priced, a luxury towel

 As such, a fabric of 270 gsm falls into the Midweight Heavy Fabric category.

Conclusion

In conclusion, heavy fabrics open up possibilities for sewing enthusiasts and professionals alike. Each type offers unique characteristics, from denim and canvas to brocade and velvet, making them suitable for specific projects.

Understanding the qualities, sewing techniques, and machine requirements for different heavy fabrics will empower you to take on challenging projects confidently. Whether creating durable workwear, elegant evening wear, or sturdy home decor, the knowledge gained from this guide will serve you well.

Remember, practice and experimentation are key to mastering the art of sewing with heavy fabrics. So, dive in, explore, and enjoy the process of bringing your creative visions to life using these beautiful and robust materials. Happy sewing!

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