This article will help de-mystify what we mean by fabric 'weight' and how thread count and size play a part in helping you select the right fabrics for your project.
Our fabrics come in the following weight categories:
- Canvas (8+ Oz.)
Heavy (7.1 - 7.5 Oz.)
Medium Weight (5.1 - 6.7 Oz.)
Light (3.5 Oz.)
Sheer (2.5 - 2.8 Oz.)
The 'weight' of the fabric = the weight of a square yard fabric in ounces.
These fabric weights can also correspond to how thick or thin these fabrics will feel in your hand. The heavier the weight the thicker and sturdier the fabric, the lighter fabric will have more drape and be sheerer.
But what about medium-weight fabrics which are open-weave and drape well? Are lightweight fabrics sheer or opaque? To answer these questions, we need to understand more about the threads that make up the fabrics.
Each of our fabric listings will include details about the fabrics' thread size and thread count.
Here is an example from our IL019 Bleached page ( All-Purpose weight)
The size of the threads that make up the fabrics is listed first. The higher the number the thinner the thread and the lower the number means thicker threads.
Thread count is how many threads are in the warp/weft (length/width) of an inch of fabric. So a high thread count results in a denser, tightly woven fabric.
As an example, let's compare the IL019 All-Purpose to our IL041 Open Weave fabric, which is also considered to be a 'middleweight' fabric.
This fabric features, unsurprisingly from the name, an 'open weave', meaning the weave of this fabric is looser than usual.
Notice the thread count is almost half that of the IL019. The thread sizes are also larger than IL019 (smaller number). This means this fabric is still a middleweight by 'weight' but is vastly different in its properties from the IL019. Its open weave (low thread count) and heavier threads make this fabric very drapey, and less opaque.
Here's what they look like in more detail side by side, the IL041 open weave is on the left, and the Il019 is on the right.
So with this information, we can assume the IL041 open weave won't make a great pair of shorts, but it will look lovely as curtains or a shawl.
So in summary:
If you would like an opaque item - that is light in weight, but not see-through - you will need to look for fabrics made out of fine thread (high number on thread size) and high thread count. The thin thread will keep the weight of the cloth light, while the high thread count will keep the cloth dense.
If you would like a see-through item that is light in weight - you need to look for fabrics made out of fine thread ( high number on thread size) and have a low thread count.
If you would like a see-through item that is heavier - look for thick thread ( low number on thread size) and low thread count, like the open weave fabric.
If you would like an item that is heavy and not see-through - then look for thick thread ( low number on thread size) and higher thread count.
However, even using these guidelines will only help you narrow down your selection. Getting samples of your most favored fabrics is always the safest route.