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Weights of fabrics

Here is a recap of the fabric presentation held on 7 September at our meeting:

Fabric is weighed in GSM or ‘Grams per Square Meter’ is a measure of textile weight — i.e. how many grams does one square meter of linen weigh. GSM helps you compare similar products and gauge the best use of materials in hand. Generally speaking, thicker textiles are denser and have higher GSM ratings. The higher the GSM the less drape the fabric will have. Equally, the lower the GSM the less structure the fabric will have.

You need to keep this in mind when purchasing fabrics. If you are making a flowy blouse you need a low GSM, if making a sturdy coat you want something structured. Below is a list of fabrics with approximate GSM.

Lightweight (30-150 gsm):

70 gsm = 100% cotton lawn, including Liberty tana lawn
130 gsm = double gauze, cotton crepe, cotton sateen, 55% linen 45% cotton, Cupro and cupro mixes, chambray voile, tencel, viscose

Midweight (150 – 250 gsm):

80% cotton 20% linen, linen, quilting cotton, lightweight denim, wool suiting

Heavyweight (over 250 gsm)

Denim, twill, canvas, wool, some linens.


Sometimes when buying online you will also note that the Drape is listed. Drape refers to a fabrics ability to fall and create wavy folds. Softness vs Stiffness are the key factors in assessing this; the stiffer the fabric the less drape it has. Soft fabric tends to drape closer to the body forming wavy folds and stiff fabric hangs away from the body.

Lots of drape

Think very soft, often lightweight fabrics such as rayon, viscose and silks.

Fair amount of drape

Think lightweight cottons such as cotton lawns, chambray and voiles.

Medium Drape

Medium weight cottons and linens.

A little drape

Think thicker linens and cottons.

Very little drape

Think denim and thick twill.