What Is Poplin Fabric?

Poplin fabric is one of the most popular and common fabrics there is. It has been around since the 15th century and can come in a variety of different fibers, such as cotton, silk, wool, and polyester. Here is everything you need to know about the fabric, how it’s used, and how to work with it.

What is Poplin?

Poplin is a type of fabric that consists of a plain weave. The weave is incredibly tight, making the fabric durable and strong. Also known as “tabbinet” poplin is woven with a thick weft yarn and a fine warp yarn.

The fabric can be made of cotton, which is the most common today, but also in polyester, spandex, silk, and wool. The word “poplin,” comes from the French word, “papelaine,” which is derived from a French papal town called Avignon, which no longer exists today. The word was used to describe the blend of silk and wool poplin fabric that was commonly used in ceremonial garb and robes in the Avignon papal residence in the 15th century.

The fabric eventually evolved over time and during WWII, the fabric was popularly used in the Brith and US military, who used poplin as the main material for their uniforms. Military personnel took a liking to poplin as it was soft enough to be comfortably worn under jackets but also durable enough to withstand the brought elements of war.

Today, the most common type of poplin is made of 100% cotton, which is primarily used in men’s and women’s shirting.

Characteristics of Poplin

To know how poplin looks like, how it feels to the touch, and how it performs, here are 5 of poplin’s primary characteristics:

1.Soft and Smooth

Because poplin is made of tightly woven fibers in a plain weave, the fabric is smooth and soft to the touch, without any bumps or texture. This is especially true if the poplin is made of 100% cotton, which is a natural fiber made from the cotton plant.

2.Features a Subtle Sheen

Poplin features a subtle sheen that makes it ideal not just for casual, but also for semi-formal garb. Shirts made of poplin have a formal appeal to them, but some couture houses also use the fabric in their handmade pieces. The subtle sheen offers a touch of luxury to an otherwise inexpensive fabric.

3.Strong and Durable

The fabric is tightly woven in a plain weave, making it strong and durable. The fabric can be thrown into a washing machine and still keeps its shape and overall quality. It can also be worn daily without early signs of wear and tear.


Despite being durable, strong, and tightly woven, poplin is known for being lightweight. This makes the fabric a great fabric for warmer climates, especially in the summer season. But because it’s lightweight, lining may be needed if used for women’s dresses, blazers, and other garments.

5.Easy to Bleach, Dye, and Print On

Poplin is incredibly versatile, which means manufacturers can use the fabric in a wide variety of styles, from hundreds of different colors and shades to thousands of different prints and patterns. Because it’s tightly woven it holds dye and ink well, and because of the plain weave, the smooth surface of the fabric is easy to print on.

Best Uses of Poplin

Here are the best applications of poplin:

  • Shirting

Poplin is the most popular material used for shirts. This is because of its characteristics of being lightweight, breathable, absorbent, and resistant to creases. Poplin is found in a wide range of colors and prints, making it a versatile and stylish fabric to use for shirts worn casually, or under a jacket or blazer.

  • Women’s Dresses

Poplin has a good drape that makes dresses flowy and easy to wear. Poplin does not cling to the body, making it a great fabric for women’s dresses worn in casual settings, especially for summer dresses. Though poplin can be lightweight, lining can be used to make the dress less transparent.

Poplin also holds it’s shape, which means it’s a great fabric for dresses with a little structure, such as shirt dresses, skirts, and even semi-formal dresses that can be worn to church or to a wedding.

Some poplin manufacturers add a blend of spandex to the fabrics to add a little stretch, which makes the fabric ideal for those who want a little shape or curve to their poplin dresses.

  • Home Decor

Popp is crease-resistant, making it a great fabric for home decors such as tablecloths, pillowcases, upholstery, and even curtains. Embroidering poplin is also a popular craft because it holds embroidery thread and stretches well, making poplin an ideal fabric for quilting as well.

FAQ About Poplin

  • Is poplin inexpensive?

Yes, poplin is a budget-friendly fabric. Poly poplin is the cheapest of all types of poplin, as it’s made of inexpensive polyester and cotton. The most expensive type of poplin is silk poplin.

  • Is poplin sustainable?

Poplin that’s made of 100% cotton is eco-friendly as it doesn’t contain any chemicals and is made from a renewable source, which is cotton fibers, a natural material. Polyester blends are not eco-friendly as polyester is a synthetic or manmade fabric that is made out of chemicals.

  • Is poplin great for warm and cold climates?

Poplin that’s made of cotton is ideal for warmer climates while poplin that’s made of wool is ideal for cooler climates. However, it might be noted that poplin is generally lightweight, no matter what type of fiber it’s made of. You can wear poplin underneath a jacket if you wear it in cooler climates.

  • Is poplin wrinkle-free?

Poplin is not 100% wrinkle-free but it’s crease-resistant. All you need to do to smoothen the fabric is a light steam and a basic tumble dry in a dryer.

  • Is poplin water-resistant?

Because poplin is tightly woven in a plain weave, it does have a subtle water-resistant quality to it. Poplin made of 100% cotton is absorbent and breathable, but it does take some time for the fabric to be fully absorbent. Some manufacturers use poplin in raincoats, but they do add a layer of water-resistant chemicals on the surface.


Poplin is an inexpensive, versatile, and highly durable fabric with a wide range of uses and applications. It’s lightweight smooth, soft to touch, and features a subtle sheen. It is the most popular material used for shirting but, is also used in women’s dresses, pajamas, loungewear, home decor, and sewing crafts.