What Is The Difference Between Fabric And Material?

Before I started sewing, I could not understand how it is possible to buy cotton satin or even stretch cotton satin. I always thought something like “Satin is a fabric made of silk, which makes it smooth and shiny”.

This blog post is for those who struggle with the same issue as I did. I would like to help you, so let’s look into this enigma together.

What is material?

Material is the substance the individual threads/fibres of the crosswise and lengthwise grain are made of. This material may be natural like linen, cotton, silk, viscose or artificial (synthetic) such as polyester, nylon or acrylic to name but a few.

What is fabric?

Fabric is the product that is made by weaving or knitting threads made of those specific materials.

Satin fabric is a great example. It is woven in a specific way that gives it a nice, smooth and shiny look on its right side while a dull look and a little rough feel on its wrong side (see satin weave in the image below). It is important to realise that any threads (both natural and artificial) can be woven in the same way as in the image below and make a satin fabric.

Satin weave pattern example.

Organza is another example of fabric vs. material difference. Organza is woven in a plain weave pattern (see the image below) with a low density of warp and weft threads. This low density causes forming holes between the threads and makes the fabric look transparent.

Again, organza can be produced both from artificial (usually polyester or nylon) or silk fibers.

Plain weave pattern example.

Therefore, you may find the same fabric made of different materials. That’s it. No longer will it surprise you when both natural and artificial satin is on offer.

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