Broadcloth vs Cotton: What is Broadcloth Used For? (Guide)

The good thing about the sewing world, including the quilting side, is that there are so many fabric options one can choose from. The difficulty comes in when one is not sure if a particular fabric is good for the quilting project they have in mind.

What is broadcloth used for? The main uses for broadcloth are for shirts, dresses, sleepwear, and casual attire. It is not usually used to make quilts, heavy blankets, or used for upholstery though it may be heavy and thick enough to be used in that fashion.

To learn more about how to use broadcloth, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can use this material to its fullest potential. It is a plain weave fabric use most often for prints.

What is Cotton Broadcloth?

Historically, broadcloth was made from wool first. And it was a dense, thick, and plain woven material that was given tough tasks to perform. Its main purpose now is for upholstery or craft projects as it is not used as often as it once was.

Also, it was made on a loom that comes very close to the modern 45 to 60 inch wide looms used today. That was how it got its name. Broadcloth refers to the broadloom used to create it.

Cotton broadcloth is often woven with a barrow, subtle rib giving it the look of poplin but comes in a lighter weight than the wool version.

Usually, synthetic fibers are not used to make this cloth as they do not respond as wool or cotton fibers do.

What is Broadcloth Made Of?


Wool and cotton are the two main fibers used to make this material. But it can be made from silk and rayon as well. The natural fibers have a way about them that has them responding well to the purpose broadcloth is used.

While this fabric can be made from polyester and you may find this material in a lot of blends but the reality is the natural fibers create the best broadcloth you can use. The blends are more often seen in shirts and dresses than any other type of use this cloth has.

In the fashion world, there are about 16 varieties of this material so do not be surprised if it is made of different fibers than the ones mentioned here.

What is Broadcloth Used For?

You can find this material used in dresses, shirts, pajamas, lingerie, and similar clothing items but the main uses for this fabric is not for fashion. Usually, furniture and cars get a broad application of this material.

The reason for its use as upholstery and car seat fabric is because it is a dense material and can be very thick. It endures heavy traffic areas with ease and if found in good quality, it should last for decades.

If you need heavy duty casual wear clothing, then this is the material that you should turn to first. Denim has its place but it is not as colorful or has the designs that broadcloth has.

Can Broadcloth be Used for Curtains?


Since broadcloth is made more often from cotton, then yes you can use this material to make some decorative curtains. It is thick enough to handle the sun and should add a nice touch to whatever room you place those curtains in.

There is a wide range of colors and patterns you can choose from so matching the home decor or creating one should not be a problem. The key is to find the right lining to use with the material.

That lining should be UV resistant and not heavier than the fabric to get the right drape. Then you can use thermal, blackout, or other types of lining at your pleasure or need.

Is Cotton Broadcloth Good for Quilting?

It is possible as many people use that material over quilting fabric. It is a good fabric to use when you or someone you love is living in an extremely cold portion of the country as it is dense enough to keep the cold off your body.

Not everyone uses this material for quilts and it will be up to your judgment, expertise, and experience whether you will or not. Plus, the prices can be quite affordable competing with quilting fabric prices.

Then with the availability of solid colors, you are not going to miss anything when you replace quilting fabric with broadcloth. Just be prepared for a more difficult sewing experience.

Can Broadcloth be Used for Lining?


Yes, broadcloth can be used for lining as it is usually made from cotton and cotton is a great fabric to use to line purses, bags, and similar projects. Plus, you get a great color selection when you want the interior of those bags, etc. to look different.

On top of that, the material is durable and can handle high traffic situations like reaching in with your hands and pulling something out or putting something inside. Then, it is possible to get lightweight broadcloth so you are not adding an extreme amount of extra weight by using this material over other ones normally used for lining.

How you use the material will be up to you as it is a more affordable alternative when you can’t find the lining you want to use.

Is Cotton Broadcloth Soft?

Yes, broadcloth is soft and that is one reason it is often made into dresses, shirts, and casual clothing. Not only is it very soft next to your skin, but it is also very strong and durable. The right quality of broadcloth should last you a long time due to its dense weave.

The good news is that this material can be found in lightweight formats so you can use it for a variety of sewing projects when you want to work with a different type of fabric. It is a wide material so you should be able to get more fabric per yard than normal fabrics and at a lesser price. But that depends on many factors.

Is Cotton Broadcloth Breathable?

Breathability depends on a couple of factors. First, is the material lightweight or heavyweight? Second, will it be close to your skin or not? The heavier the fabric and the tighter the fit, means the less the material will breathe.

Thankfully broadcloth is not always made into a medium or heavyweight format. there is a lightweight version as well. Then since it is made from cotton and cotton is very breathable broadcloth should still maintain that ability even if it is a little heavier than other fabrics.

Some people call poplin cotton broadcloth and it is listed as a nice breathable fabric. Just consider the weight and the tightness of the clothing item to gauge how breathable broadcloth will be.

What Does Broadcloth Feel Like?


According to some this material has a nice look and feel to it. It may not feel like silk does but it is still soft, comfortable, and nice to hold. Then it will depend on the quality of the material and how it was manufactured to get any real sense of how the fabric feels.

Plus, it generally has a very smooth surface due to the many processing techniques applied to creating this material. One part of that process is called fulled and when broadcloth is put through this part of the manufacturing the fibers would felt together and get that smooth feel.

It is a nice natural feel that also has a very good natural look to the material.

Does Broadcloth Shrink?

The bad news is that it can. When it is made from 100% cotton then it will have all the characteristics that cotton has and that means it can shrink on you. If you are using a poly-cotton blend broadcloth then heat will make the material shrink some as well.

An iron will do the trick just as easily as hot water or your dryer will. Pre-washing should be standard operating procedures with most fabrics. Oh and be careful. Some manufacturers mislabel those identity tags and state that the material you are buying is 100% cotton when it is really a poly-cotton blend.

That makes sewing with the material like sewing with silk or chiffon.

Does Broadcloth Wrinkle?


It is a cotton fabric so yes, expect it to wrinkle and expect to iron it once it is dried. Or you can use your steamer instead of iron to make sure the shirt or dress looks great. The proper care of this material should keep it in top shape just like you do with cotton.

Cold water washing is recommended to protect against shrinkage, wrinkles, etc., then use the gentle cycle. While it is made of cotton it is not always as strong and durable as regular cotton fabrics are.

It is possible to tumble dry the material but keep the dryer on low when you do so.

Does Broadcloth Drape?

Yes, broadcloth can drape well. Its lightweight nature makes it a nice material to use for a breezy skirt or a nice casual shirt. Plus, you can use it for quilt tops or blocks when you do not want a very heavy quilt on your bed.

The thing about using broadcloth for dresses, etc., is that it is not always a tough material. If you add too much weight or tension or do not add the right stabilizer, then it tends to pucker on you.

To counter that issue, just choose the right design, quality of broadcloth, and then the right stabilizing material. Then your project should be trouble-free.

Does Broadcloth Fray?


It seems that if you get a poly-cotton blend version of this material, then you are going to have fraying troubles. This can take place no matter which type of cutting tool you use. Broadcloth has frayed on sewers who used very sharp rotary cutters so watch out and be forewarned.

Then even cotton broadcloth will fray on you so you should have an army of anti-fray techniques handy so you can use them quickly without losing a lot of sewing time. There are many to choose from and you should use the ones that work best for you and your sewing talents.

Most fabrics will fray when they are made from natural fibers. it is a fact of sewing life that you need to get used to.

Does Broadcloth Have a Right Side?

There is no right or wrong side to broadcloth fabrics. This is typical of many fabrics made today. It doesn’t matter which side you use and that makes sewing a lot more enjoyable as well as easier to do.

Some people say they can tell when the selvage is still attached to the broadcloth while others can’t even tell in that same situation. It may be up to your eyes and how sharp they are if you can tell the difference.

That difficulty in telling the right from the wrong side works in your favor as you do not have to keep track of which side of all the little pieces you have to use and which position they go in.

Broadcloth vs Cotton


The difference is going to found more in the weave style than in the characteristics categories. Broadcloth if made from cotton will have all the same characteristics that other cotton materials will have.

The weave is what will make the difference and since cotton can be woven in many different formats, each type of cotton fabric will have some unique qualities to it. If it is made from wool, expect the material to be heavier than cotton and warmer.

With a poly-cotton blend, the broadcloth can be as slick as silk and hard to sew with. You should see more fraying with the poly-cotton blend than other versions of broadcloth.

Cotton Broadcloth vs Poplin

While some people do use both terms interchangeably there are numerous differences between the two styles of fabric. Broadcloth can be given a rib to mimic poplin, yet poplin’s ribs provide strength as well as its corded look.

Then poplin is often made with a silk warp and a worsted yarn for the weft part of the weave. Broadcloth has a dense weave which helps make it a durable fabric to wear or use and both materials are used in furniture applications as well.

There is some discussion about which fabric is smoother of the two with some people saying that poplin is smoother than broadcloth. The latter is softer and a bit thicker than poplin is.

Cotton Broadcloth vs Pinpoint


Both fabrics are very breathable but pinpoint is nactually an upgrade over the oxford weaving method. Plus it is also alight weight fabric like broadcloth. The main difference is that pinpoint is made from very fine thread making it wearable in all seasons.

Broadcloth is more transparent than pinpoint and it is not a fabric to wear when you are pleasantly plump. It will show those extra pounds, unlike pinpoint. That material will hide that extra weight and help you feel more confident when you go outside.

For men, if you have what is called man boobs, broadcloth is a fabric to avoid.

Broadcloth vs Oxford

Oxford is created by weaving a finer gauge fabric around a heavier fabric base. This gives it its well-known basket-like pattern and is the heaviest of all shirt weaves. This method dates back to the 19th century.

Broadcloth’s weave style was invented somewhere around the 15th century making it one of the oldest of all weave options for shirts. It is a lighter material than oxford and is not used in dress shirts as much as the Oxford fabric is.

The good aspect of oxford materials is that it is low maintenance while broadcloth takes a little more care. Broadcloth can be used in hot weather while oxford shouldn’t be worn during those times.

Broadcloth vs Muslin


Again, the difference between these two fabrics lies in how they were woven. There seems to be no problem substituting one for the other as they are about equal in weight and quality. The quality will always be a factor in any comparison and you need like qualities to make an accurate analysis.

If the broadcloth is made with or of polyester fibers then you are going to have trouble doing appliques and the polyester will not iron the same as 100% cotton broadcloth. Two differences between broadcloth and muslin are that broadcloth doesn't soften up like muslin can and it is stiffer of the two materials.

To some people broadcloth is like a lightweight canvas or duck cloth and muslin is more like regular cotton. That makes all the difference when you are trying to make clothing or a nice quilt for someone to enjoy.

Broadcloth vs Duck Cloth

The former fabric may be the lighter version of the latter. Where broadcloth can be made into nice clothing items, duck cloth is better suited for more outdoor activities. Duck cloth can be smooth as broadcloth to some extent as it is smoother than canvas and has a higher thread count.

Duck cloth has a variety of uses and can be made into tote bags, headboard material. curtains without any problem. If you want lighter weight materials in those items, then you would turn to broadcloth.

Then broadcloth should breathe better than duck cloth since it is the lighter of the two materials.

It is hard to say which material has the cuter patterns, variety of colors but for lightweight projects, you won’t go wrong using broadcloth. Duck cloth works better in strollers and baby covers as broadcloth may not work that well as a rain or snow protective fabric.

Broadcloth vs Kona Cotton


The latter material may be more solid than the former one. It weighs in at between 4.3 to 4.35 ounces per square yard. That weight makes the fabric ideal for those items like aprons that need some solid materials in those parts of the construction that endure heavy use.

Different quilting sewers love the colors that Kona cotton comes in and they enjoy working with that material over other types of fabrics. You could say that Kona cotton is stronger than broadcloth.

Plus, Kona cotton is a higher quality material than broadcloth which makes it easy to understand why so many people prefer using that fabric over other options. Just keep in mind that Kona cotton is a brand name, unlike broadcloth which is the name of the material.

How Much is Cotton Broadcloth?

As you already know different stores and their method of marketing their products will bring different prices for the same fabrics. The amount of fabric they buy will also contribute to the overall price.

The price you pay at your local fabric store may be higher than what you will pay at Joann or Michael's, but the quality of the material may be better than the national chains and they cannot buy as much as those chains can.

We have seen $12.99 per yard at Joann’s and as low as $4 at one internet outlet. If you search well you will find a broad range of prices that may or may not fit your budget.

Some Final Words

To some people cotton is cotton. But as you can see there are some differences between the fibers that all come from the same plant. Broadcloth has a long history and it is still useful today.

You just have to pick the right project to use that material. if you want to save money it is a good quilt substitute for other quilting fabrics.

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