What Is Difference Between Poplin Cotton & Woven Cotton?

Poplin cotton is popular for dress shirts, trousers and lightweight dresses.

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A quick glance at a garment’s tag shows you the various fibers and fabrics incorporated into the item. If the term “poplin” pops off the list, it might make you a bit curious about the cotton. Poplin cotton and woven cotton aren’t necessary two different things -- so there’s no specific “difference” between the two fabrics. In fact, poplin cotton is just one of the various styles of woven cotton.

Cotton Chronicles

To understand the details of poplin cotton, you must first understand how cotton comes into being. After it’s grown in the fields and harvested by hand or machine, cotton makes its way to a textile mill. At the mill, automated machines meticulously open and mix the cotton bales. After the initial cleaning, the cotton moves through another machine that combs the cotton into clean, straight fibers. The fibers are spun and twisted together until they form a fine yarn, perfect for knitting or weaving. If it will be used to create clothing, the cotton yarn is woven into a rudimentary fabric. It will be sent to a different plant to get gussied up according to the garment’s requirements.


Like most other cotton fabrics, poplin is made through a weaving process. According to the Fabric Stock Exchange website, poplin fabric is fabricated with a double knit construction. It’s created by intertwining a fine yarn with a slightly thicker yarn. The two different thicknesses create a ridged or ribbed texture in one direction. The fabric is lightweight yet durable. It has a soft, smooth texture, and it's often treated to be water-repellent and wrinkle-resistant.

Where It’s Used

When poplin first emerged in the fabric industry, it was primarily used for casual clothes perfect for lounging around the house on the weekends. But with the increasingly casual dress code in the work environment, it has taken a strong hold of the business casual industry. Poplin cotton is frequently used for trousers, dress shirts, blouses, lightweight summer dresses and professional uniforms.

Care Instructions

Poplin cotton is typically quite easy to maintain. Although it’s a lightweight fabric, it’s quite durable. Care instructions usually involve machine washing in warm water and tumble drying on low heat. Although poplin is resistant to wrinkles, you should still promptly remove it from the dryer. Of course, be sure to review the specific care instructions included on your poplin garment. If the cotton has been mixed with another type of fabric -- such as silk or polyester -- or has been finished with a special type of treatment, other care instructions might apply.

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