Poplin refers to a type of weave, meaning the way the fabric threads have been combined. It has been around for a very long time and is still used very widely by home sewers and in mass-produced clothing alike.
Where Does It Originate From?
France’s history is filled with stories of new fabrics. The term poplin itself derives from the word papelaine in French. This was a 15th-century word that came from the word “papelino”, which in turn was a name that was given to a silk fabric developed in Avignon, France, while the pope was based there.
Over time, the silk warp (vertical) yarns and wool weft (horizontal) yarns have given way to cotton or cotton and polyester combinations. Today the term refers to the specific weave rather than the make-up of the threads. After the threads are combined in a basic basket weave of threads that cross over and under each other in succession, a very dense fabric is created by closely pushing the threads together. This is what gives cotton poplin fabric that smooth silky touch. Depending on the thickness of the yarn, you might also feel a slight ribbed effect running along the warp.
Characteristics of Cotton Poplin
Cotton poplin works well in warmer weather due to its lighter weave in comparison to others. It is often used for summer dresses and in formal wear. When pressed properly, it gives a sleek and elegant look. It is also affordable and readily available all over from fabric shops and online. The downside is that the silky weave and cotton content give it the ability to crease fairly easily.
How to Wear Cotton Poplin
Cotton poplin is appropriate for shirting and dresses. Interestingly enough, reference is made to it in the 1868 classic novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In the book it is referred to as a fabric that would not be suited for a fine party as “the poplin wouldn’t do at all”.
These days it is worn casually and formally and can be found in an array of flat colours as well as beautiful prints. Although it travels badly because it is prone to creasing, the upside is that you have a silky feel and a very sleek look that can easily be transformed from casual into something a more dressy.