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Love the slipcovers you see in Specialty Stores?  Want to create your own pair of jeans or a denim skirt?

Denims, Twill and Cotton Duck fabrics are great for home dec projects or for clothing, bags and other projects.

In this guide, I'll (1) explain the difference among denim, twill and cotton duck; and  (2) explain the weights of the fabrics and give you recommendations about what weight fabric might be best for your project.

What's the Difference Between Denim, Twill, Duck Fabric?

Denim:  A true denim fabric has a diagonal weave.  This weave is actually called a twill weave.  The diagonal weave helps denim to conform to the shape of the body -- that's why that old pair of jeans always seems to feel so good and fit so well!  A true denim has a colored yarn over another colored yarn.  Traditionally this is navy (indigo) over white.  As you wash the fabric, it will tend to fade to the second color.  Denim is traditionally 100% cotton; however, some denims also contain lycra or polyester.  You may also see denim referred to as "right hand" or "left hand" twill - this refers the nature of the diagonal weave.

Twill:  Twill fabric also has a diagonal weave.  The major difference between denim and twill is usually in coloration.  While true denim has one color over another, twill is usually a solid color all the way through.  So while a traditional navy denim is usually navy over white and fades toward white; a twill fabric will be a solid color and will simply lighten but retain the same basic color.

Cotton Duck:  Duck fabric is also a "sportweight" fabric similar to denim and twill.  Instead of a diagonal weave, duck has a plain (or square) weave.  It is generally durable and tightly woven.

What Weight of Fabric Do I Need?

You've probably seen denim referred to as 12 oz. or 14 oz.  This is usually defined as the weight of a square yard (36" x 36") of the fabric.  Please note:  sometimes sellers will refer to the weight of  a linear yard of the fabric (i.e. if the fabric is 60" wide, they would be referring to the weight of a piece that is 36" x 60").  Since the second piece would be much larger than the first, it would obviously be thinner and would not be as durable.  Make sure that you are comparing fabrics of similar weights when you are shopping among sellers.

Heavyweight:  Usually denim/twill/duck that is 13 oz. to 14 oz. per square yard.  This would be similar in weight to traditional-style Levi's, Wranglers, etc.  Fabric of this weight would be extremely durable and would be suitable for upholstery uses as well as for slipcovers, clothing, bags and other projects.  One note of caution; however, is that this weight is sometimes difficult to sew on a home sewing machine.  It is also heavy if you are putting large pieces in the washer and dryer.  So, even though this would give you the most durability, you might want to go with a little lighter weight fabric for ease of use.

Mid-Jeansweight:  I always think of this weight as denims/twills/cotton ducks that are about 10-12 oz. per square yard.  They are not quite as heavy as the heavyweight fabrics but they are still very durable.  In my mind, I think of them as more similar to the weight of designer jeans - just not quite as heavy as traditional blue jeans.  This weight is excellent for slipcovers, bags and many clothing projects (jeans, skirts, etc.).  This would still be a little heavy for something like a dress or shirt.

Light Jeansweight:  About 7 1/2 oz. to 9 1/2 oz.  Similar in weight to "khakis" or other dressier twill pants. Fabrics of this weight are good for slipcovers and draperies.  They can be used for upholstery but are probably not suited for upholstery on furniture that receives hard everyday use.  They are also suitable for skirts, pants, jackets, dresses, etc. and can be used for bags and other crafting projects.

Shirtweight/Light Bottomweight:  About 5 1/2 to 7 oz.  Fabric of this weight is suitable for lightweight skirts, slacks, uniform pants and shirts, blouses, shirts and other apparel.  It is also suitable for tablecloths, comforter covers, drapes and other home dec items.  It could also be used for light use slipcovers.


Thank You for Reading in-weave's Guide to Denim, Twill and Cotton Duck Fabric.  I hope that you have found it helpful.  Always feel free to ask questions if you don't know whether the fabric will work for your project.  It's really helpful if you include a few details about how the fabric will be used.





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