How to Choose the Right Cotton Fabric

with Anna from Spoonflower's Brand Marketing Team

Edited: May 17, 2022

“I don’t know which one to use!” is something we often hear from customers when it comes to our fabric selection, especially cottons. To help you pinpoint the best cotton material for your next project, I stitched together four flowy skirts featuring our favorite woven cotton fabrics: Petal Signature Cotton®, Cotton Poplin, Cotton Lawn, and Organic Cotton Sateen. Keep reading for more information on these cotton contenders and how you can incorporate them into your sewing life!

Spoonflower Cotton Fabrics Rundown

Explore our favorite woven cottons—which will you choose?

Petal Signature Cotton
Cotton Poplin
Cotton Lawn
Organic Cotton Sateen

I picked a circle skirt, a great project for any beginner sewist due to its few pattern pieces and quick assembly, to showcase the different drapes and forms of each cotton. You can use this circle skirt calculator to make your own, too!

Petal Signature Cotton

First, our most popular and most affordable cotton: Petal Signature Cotton! This Spoonflower-exclusive fabric has a bit more structure compared to other apparel cottons, making it a great material for quilting projects or stiffer pieces that require shape. Petal was also created to display vivid printed colors and crisp design detail, a characteristic any crafter would appreciate! The skirt I made from this had a lot of volume and shape.

Project recommendations: Face masks, structured tops, fitted and pleated skirts


Featured design: Tulah, gold by ehpopoki

Mask design: Strawberry Daydream by cambrasine

Cotton Poplin

Cotton Poplin offers a very soft, smooth feel and nice sheen with excellent color detail. Easy to sew with a beautiful drape, this fabric is a sophisticated choice for both home decor and apparel, from table linens and curtains to dresses and shirting. I love the soft, yet crisp texture and subtle highlights of this skirt!

Project recommendations: Bowties, scrunchies, pillowcases


Featured design: Topographic Map [Pink] by danlehman

Cotton Lawn

We’re so excited for the launch of our newest fabric, Cotton Lawn! Due to its light and airy characteristics, Lawn is great to use for garments like blouses, long skirts, and button-ups. Despite how breezy Lawn is, it’s hard to wrinkle and keeps its shape quite well. This soft yet crisp fabric has a high thread count and a luxurious feel, and was my favorite material to use for these skirts!

Project recommendations: Summer dresses, blouses, baby clothes

Tip: Use a very small needle when sewing with finer fabrics like Lawn.

Organic Cotton Sateen

Our sustainable 100% Organic Cotton Sateen, a fine weave medium-weight cotton, is popular for its strong wash durability and more muted, subtle color on products. It has a buttery texture and is perfect for pretty much any cotton-based project you can think of! I loved the soft drape it has as a skirt.

Project recommendations: Baby shoes, loungewear, curtains

If you’re still not sure which cotton is calling to you, we suggest ordering a sample pack so you can see and feel all of our fabrics in person before making a decision.

Want to explore more fabrics?

Take a look at our different knit options with Meg of MEGMADE Sewing.

How to Choose the Best Knit Fabric

About the Author

Anna Fletcher

Anna is a seamstress and cosplayer of seven years who joined Spoonflower’s Brand Marketing Team in 2021. In her free time she’s either sewing together some new products for her small business, binging some sort of animated series, or relaxing with her cat, Mina.


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  • I bought the cotton poplin to make a structured dress and “Crisp” is an understatement. It is so stiff and I can’t even iron out the wrinkles. I’ve washed it multiple times in hopes of it softening and have had no luck. I made a mistake and had to unpick the seams, and there are now gaping holes that will need to be covered with embroidery. I used this “guide” to help me decide which fabric to buy and I am so disappointed. This fabric is so expensive and I don’t understand all the positive reviews.

    Kase | December 25, 2022 at 10:44 pm
    • Hi Kase! So sorry that our Cotton Poplin fabric did not meet your expectations. This fabric is crisp, but that allows for structure and durability when making apparel that requires it. We have used Cotton Poplin for basic collared shirts, baby clothing, skirts and more, and have found our customers enjoy it for other things like quilting and home decor projects. I would suggest using Organic Cotton Sateen if you’re looking for a softer look and something that will iron well.

      Crafty regards,

      Anna Fletcher | January 3, 2023 at 8:42 am
  • which cotton should i use for a duvet cover for college

    robyn | July 6, 2022 at 11:32 am
  • Thanks so much for this info! Now I have the answers that will make my fabric choice better suit the project choice.
    The pictures also helped.😊

    Sally Berman | March 7, 2022 at 1:02 pm
  • What fabric type would you suggest for covering the seats on dining room chairs that will get low to moderate use?
    Love your website and all that fabric!!
    Thank you.

    Joanne | March 7, 2022 at 9:59 am
    • Hey Joanne! For recovering dining chairs, I’d go with one of our heavier-weight woven fabrics. Celosia Velvet, Cypress Cotton Canvas, Recycled Canvas, Dogwood Denim, Belgian Linen or Performance Linen are all great picks! You can check out more of our recommendations here:

      Best of luck with your project! – Theresa

      Spoonflower | March 7, 2022 at 5:15 pm
  • Which fabric do you recommend for a pencil skirt? I don’t want it to be airy, overly wrinkly, or see-through.
    Thank you,
    Heidi Jo

    Heidi | December 24, 2021 at 1:33 pm
    • Hi Heidi, great question!

      I would recommend either Lightweight Cotton Twill or Dogwood Denim! I’ve made a skirt with cotton twill, and while it wasn’t pencil shaped it still had great structure and wasn’t wrinkly or see through at all.

      Happy sewing!

      Anna | January 4, 2022 at 7:53 am
  • which fabric type should I purchase for children’s ” fun” pillowcases?

    Kathye Broome | November 12, 2021 at 9:48 am
    • Hi Kathye,

      I would recommend Cotton Poplin or Organic Cotton Sateen for pillowcases!


      Anna | November 22, 2021 at 9:00 am
  • Dear Spotlight,
    I love everything I\\\\\\\’m reading about your company and the possible use both in purchase and design contribution. I also appreciate your site supporting Dark Reader in your text format. Many sites don\\\\\\\’t, and as I\\\\\\\’m legally blind, it allows your site use to becomes possible for many of us.
    My concern is the viable use for us where your product displays blind our ability to see your design detail. I\\\\\\\’m waiting a shipment for a new Samsung Monitor for my Mac and hope that, and better light settings will. improve enjoying your site.
    I might suggest you use darker backgrounds where you display your products such as the displays/videos you\\\\\\\’re using in education of your cotton fabric selections. I realize I\\\\\\\’m an old fart and may not fit your marketing curve but you have huge generations of Boomers 1 and 2 that hold a lot of cash, and with time on their hands, looking for ways to enjoy and improve their lives. My point is a large part of that group suffer to some extent with light sensitivity born from conditions of Glaucoma or Macular Degeneration.
    We\\\\\\\’re not dead, kids, we just can\\\\\\\’t see worth a shit. But I\\\\\\\’m also amazed that the products that are designed like Dark Reader can easily support and improve the the vision of most of you healthy souls that spend thousand of hours on a computer screen. I might suggest we all \\\\\\\’darken up\\\\\\\’ as oppose to \\\\\\\’lighten up\\\\\\\’ our days on the screens.
    Thanks for your time and I look forward to enjoying your dream and your products.

    Stephen Mark Mathis | September 12, 2021 at 9:35 pm
    • Hi Stephen,

      Thank you so much for your feedback! We are always striving to make our content more accessible to those with vision and hearing impairments and I will pass along these notes to the team for future content.


      Amy | September 13, 2021 at 11:06 am
  • Great tips – I haven’t ordered fabric yet because I haven’t been sure of the weight or how it will lay – this helps immensely! Your post includes a link to the circle skirt calculator, but the skirts you made have an elastic waist. Would you please share a link or directions for the elastic waisted circle skirt? Thank you!

    Christine | June 27, 2021 at 11:36 am
    • Hi Christine, good point!

      I took my final waist radius measurement (the one I got from the calculator) and added about 4 inches to it before cutting out my fabric. This makes the overall waist measurement larger to make room for the elastic stretching over your body as you put the skirt on. I was using the half-skirt option from the calculator, but if you’re going for the quarter-skirt add 6 inches to the radius instead, and 2 for the full skirt. You can follow the steps in this video on how to sew the waistband, insert the elastic, and attach to the base skirt. Hope this helps!

      Happy sewing,

      Anna | June 28, 2021 at 9:45 am
      • Dear Anna,

        Thank you so much. Just received the fabric I ordered – two beautiful prints in Petal Signature Cotton – now on to calculations, and thanks to your directions, hoping to soon have two beautiful new elastic waist circle skirts! So excited!

        Christine Restivo-pritzl | July 5, 2021 at 11:49 am
        • Awesome! Feel free to tag us (@spoonflower) if you decide to post your finished skirts on social media, we’d love to see!


          Anna | July 6, 2021 at 7:22 am
  • Can you tell us about opacity/transparency? With which ones will
    I have to wear a slip? Thanks!

    EK | May 14, 2021 at 7:15 pm
    • Hi EK, great question–

      Petal and Sateen are quite opaque, so no slip needed there! Poplin is a bit more sheer/lightweight but I still found it worked fine as a single-layered skirt. Lawn would be the most sheer from this group, if I put my hand behind one layer I can slightly see the outline– I could see it benefiting from an extra layer or slip.


      Anna | May 18, 2021 at 10:55 am
  • This was very helpful. Thank you so much.

    Robin Ely | May 14, 2021 at 8:53 am
  • Very informative!! Love the end result <3

    Madi | May 11, 2021 at 7:08 pm