Cotton vs Poplin vs Twill: What Is Poplin Fabric (Full Guide)

No matter how fabrics are constructed, they have certain characteristics that create very interesting elements and looks. With those unique characteristics and looks, your wardrobe then becomes more attractive as well as interesting.

What is poplin fabric? Originally, poplin was made with silk fibers in a plain, tight, closed weave style with crosswise ribs that were originally filled with wool fabric. This style gave the fabric a nice luster and when made from the same fibers a very soft, smooth texture.

To learn more about poplin and how it compares to twill and cotton, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to in order to fully appreciate this material. Take a few minutes to get up to speed n this nice clothing fabric alternative.

What is Poplin Fabric?

This style of material probably originated in Europe around the 15th century approx. Poplin comes from a French word- papelino as it was made to honor the pope who made his home in the city where this material was created- Avignon, France.

While the material was created for the pope, it was often used in uniforms that made it onto the battlefield. Originally, it was made from silk with some wool fabric added to create a very special look in most clothing items it was used in.

This material was desired by women more than men as the former wanted a practical yet budget-friendly material that allowed them to move easily. They also wanted it to look good and keep them comfortable at the same time.

Today, the material is usually made from 100% cotton or a cotton-poly blend of fibers. The modern version drapes better than the original and is not too thin so that it loses any sturdiness.

It is a very popular fabric around the world and a very common one to find in the different fashion markets around the world.

Poplin vs Twill


While both weave styles have little ribs, the direction of those ribs for poplin is usually crossways while the ones for twill are on the diagonal plane. The biggest difference after this is when it is best to wear fabrics made from these weaves.

For those who like to stay cool in the summer, poplin is best while for those wanting to stay warm in the winter, a twill weave is better. When it comes to laundry work, poplin is easier to iron as it is wrinkle resistant.

Both work well in dress shirts for men while twill is a better material for work clothes. Twill also shows less dirt. Poplin is very durable while twill works best for denim fibers and khaki pant styles.

One of the better aspects of twill is that the tight weave stops stains from penetrating further into the fabric. Twill has enjoyed a very long existence as it has been dated to about the 7th century BC.

Which is Better Poplin or Twill?

Both fabrics have their specific purposes and those purposes make each fabric the best for those intentions. Poplin is better for the summertime when the temperatures rise because it can be a very thin material. It breathes and drapes well letting the hot air escape from around the body.

On the other hand, twill’s tight weave retains that heat and does not let it escape making this fabric better for winter. Also, in twill’s favor is that the tight weave stops stains from getting worse.

That is an important factor when it comes time to clean both materials. Poplin competes by being very easy to iron and its ability to resist wrinkles. Then when it comes to looking good, both fabrics are on about the same level.

Poplin is better suited for formal occasions while twill dress shirts will work for most cooler temperature events that require a tie and a dress shirt. Which one is better is up to you. The different purposes put both fabrics on even ground and both can contribute to your fashion style immensely.

What is the Difference Between Cotton and Poplin?

There really is not a difference between the fabrics themselves. If poplin fabric is made from 100% cotton then it will be basically the same as every other 100% cotton clothing item. They all have the same source, the same percentage of cotton, and the same type of feel.

The real difference comes in when those cotton fibers are woven or knit in a different technique than poplin is. Some cotton weaves are loose, light, medium, and heavyweight while poplin seems to come in only one weight class.

Also, poplin is best for shirts as it is called a shirting material. Regular and other cotton fabrics tend to have many more applications than poplin will have. Poplin has been known to be used for hospital fatigues as well as cooking aprons.

On top of that difference, there will be times where some regular cotton materials will be softer and smoother than poplin and those times when it is rougher. Poplin is not as thick as cotton canvas nor as rough to the touch.

Cotton vs Poplin


This comparison is like comparing green apples to red MacIntosh apples. You get the same fruit but a completely different taste and look. That is the way it is with this comparison. You are getting the same natural fibers, just in a different style and texture.

Cotton is known to be soft, easy to work with, and can be dyed in a variety of colors. But then so is poplin. The texture of both materials can range depending on the type of fibers used to create either option.

Poplin brings you all the benefits that come with regular cotton as well. Plus, its tight weave is great for stain resistance, and the ability to resist tears and rips. Yet, it does not sacrifice any strength or softness.

But if poplin is still made with silk and wool, when cotton really doesn’t stand a chance in this comparison. Silk just elevates fabrics and clothing to a whole new level that cotton can only dream about.

Silk has a unique feel to it that is hard to beat, even for cotton.

What Does Poplin Feel Like?

It has a very soft feel to it which makes it an ideal fabric option when you are looking to create some great dress shirts for your mate or your male children. That soft feel makes the wearer nice and comfortable and it is a comfort that won’t go away after long hours in the office.

Plus, you should feel cooler wearing a poplin-made shirt because the material is very breathable. Its thin nature does not trap hot air or body heat next to your body. Instead, it lets it escape so you can stay cool when others are warm under the collar.

But when you put your hand on some poplin and your other hand on some other cotton fabrics, you may feel that it is a bit rougher than those other cotton materials. Poplin is not the softest fabric around and it is not the roughest either.

Some cotton materials are finer than poplin and with that fineness, they have a very soft feel to them.

Poplin Fabric Uses

This material is very versatile which is one reason why it is so popular. In the beginning, it was used for women’s dresses mainly because of the exquisite look the fabric had at the time.

Then it was used for military uniforms because of its toughness and the ability to keep soldiers cool during the day. The sheen of the material makes it great for casual clothing as well as for formal and other high-class events.

Then, this fabric is used for upholstery material because it is tough and still looks good when used for this purpose. This material can upgrade the decor of any home. But that is not all to the uses for this fabric.

This material has been known to be used for surgical attire as well as other hospital clothing. Then it is found in many apron styles so that the home bar b q king can stay clean as he serves up his masterpiece.

Then to east that bar-b-q masterpiece, you can spread the poplin tablecloth over the picnic table and enjoy what has been prepared. These are but a few of the uses this fabric has.

Can Poplin be Used for Quilting?


The word is that this material is so versatile it can be used for just about any fabric project you have in mind. That includes using it for quilts. One of the best aspects of using this material is that it does not wrinkle that easily.

This factor makes washing your quilt a whole lot easier. One drawback to quilting with poplin is that it may be a slippery material to work with. Another drawback is the type of fibers that the poplin fabric is made from.

If you are using a cotton-poly blend you may have some difficulties with different aspects of quilting. The issue of fraying will be a part of this discussion as well as some poplin materials do fray easily which will alter your quilting style and time.

The best thing to do when you are thinking about using poplin for your next quilt is to buy the 100% cotton version. This will save you a lot of trouble and make sure your quilt is nice and soft.

Cotton Poplin vs Quilting Cotton

One of the differences between these two materials is that quilting cotton is heavier than poplin cotton. This fact is what makes the former better for quilting projects than the latter. Cotton poplin usually weighs between 3 to 4 ounces per square yard while quilting cotton is at 4 and above ounces per square yard.

The strength of poplin would make any quilt longer lasting but it may not be as long-lasting as quilting cotton can make a quilt. But, with that said, some craft shops and fabric outlets tend to misrepresent the cotton materials they sell.

They will place quilting cotton under a different label or lump it in with all the other cotton varieties they offer. The texture of quilting cotton can vary as well. It will depend on where you bought it who made it and the quality of the fibers used to create the fat quarters, etc.

Poplin cotton probably is softer than quilting cotton. The latter doesn't have a great reputation for being the softest of all the cotton varieties.

What is a Poplin Shirt?

This kind of shirt is generally a nice dress shirt that should be worn during the warm Spring days, the long hot summer days, and the warm Indian summer days. It is a breathable shirt to wear and it should keep you cooler at the office when the air conditioning breaks down.

The look of a poplin shirt is very dressy and formal. It is perfect for those events that require a nice tie, suit, and a very good dress shirt. Plus, it is a very sturdy material that will resist tears and rips. Accidents may happen but poplin dress shirts may also resist the damage those accidents cause.

When it comes to laundry time, poplin is said to resist wrinkles making it easier to iron. These shirts are also very durable which means you do not have to replace them anytime soon unless something major takes place and ruins the shirt.

Poplin is known as a shirting material making it ideal to make great shirts when you want your spouse to look great.

Is Poplin Breathable?


Despite its tighter weave style, poplin is very thing material. That thinness does not take away the strength of the fabric and allows the material to breathe quite well. When one lives in or is going to visit a hot region of the country or the world, it is a smart idea to own or take along a couple of poplin-made shirts to help keep your cool.

Along with the breathability of this material, you shouldn’t have to fight hard to remove stains. The tight weave helps resist those stains and keeps them from getting deeper. The care of the material is also easier as the material resists wrinkles.

With less ironing work, you can have an easier time when it comes to laundry day. Poplin is a strong material which makes it ideal when you are on a tight clothing budget. The material lasts a lot longer than other cotton weaves making it ideal when you need to stretch your money.

Is Poplin Stretchy?

Like many natural fibers, poplin does have a little natural stretch to it. Without it, you would be uncomfortable when you wore the material and would not buy it. However, since poplin is very popular and used all over the world, that scenario is not true. You get a little stretch to make sure you are comfortable.

The stretch you get will not be as large as the type of stretch you get when you wear spandex or one of the stretch fabrics. How much you get will depend on the quality of the fibers but, it won’t be like the type of stretch that comes with a swimsuit or athletic clothing.

The material won’t restrict you when you need to move in different directions and you should be able to sit and bend over without losing any of the comfort this fabric is known for.

Are Poplin Shirts See Through?

No, not that we have seen so far but it is a possibility as it will depend on how thin the fibers were when woven together. The fabric was created in the 15th century, not the 21st so the design of the fabric would have been influenced by the customs of those times not the customs of today.

While some shirts may be see-through, the khaki pants, dresses, and other outfits made from this fabric are not. Those shirts would be in the dress shirt category and would be covered most of the time by a suit jacket and a tie.

With that said, it may be a good idea to wear an undershirt with a dress shirt to be on the safe side. 21st-century cultural norms are used to create these shirts and clothing items so a little of that thinking may influence the weave of the shirt.

Are Poplin Pants Comfortable?


Poplin fabrics have the reputation for being both soft and very comfortable. When you run your hand over the material you can literally feel how soft it really is. That softness is not sacrificed when the material is turned into pants.

Khaki pants are very comfortable when made from this material. They are light, airy, and durable making them a great style to wear when you have casual outings to attend. Khakis are known to be very comfortable to wear for most men and women.

Of course, the level of comfort will depend upon the fibers used to create the pants as well as their quality. Do not expect top-quality comfort when you are buying low-quality fabrics.

Other pants made from this material should be just as comfortable as long as they fit right and are cut correctly.

When to Wear Poplin

This is a very versatile fabric and you can wear poplin clothing items just about anywhere. For men, there may be a little more leeway as the shirts made from this material are perfect for formal attire events. Or even events that require a minimum of a tie and a dress shirt.

They are elegant dress shirts and upgrades just about anyone’s look. The pants may not be as flexible but they are great for casual outings where comfort, not looks to impress, are more important criteria.

Then you can wear casual poplin outfits to the hospital, the church service, picnics as well as just doing things around the house. Or you can, if you are a healthcare worker, wear poplin scrubs, or other medical clothing to remain nice and comfortable while not losing your professional look.

In other words, you can wear poplin to most places you go without violating any dress codes except for black or white tie affairs.

Where to Buy Cotton Poplin Fabric by the Yard

Your online options are numerous and Amazon never made it to the front page. You have many different online stores where you can save a little money by buying your poplin yardage from them.

Amazon made it at the top of the second page so you can see your online options are quite a few. Then you can go to one of the big fabric box stores and see what colors and styles they have in stock. You never know how much they will have on hand.

Then there are your local fabric stores which will have some selection ready for you. If not you can always go to your mall’s department stores to see what they can offer you. Discount stores may have some as well, both traditional brick and mortar and online outlets.

The price you pay will depend on the outlet and if they are having a sale or not.

Some Final Words

Poplin is a good fabric to use for a variety of sewing projects. It is very versatile, breathable, soft, and durable. It makes for a very comfortable shirt or pair of pants which can be worn almost anywhere.

The best version, if it is still made, is silk and the second best is 100% cotton.

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