Thursday, 9 March 2017

Fabric Focus: Chambray

Spring sewing might mean the appearance of florals but I'm all about Chambray this spring. There is something about this fabric that is all about comfort. Perhaps it's the wonderful characteristics of cotton that it highlights.   

Chambray (also spelled Chambrai) fabric refers to a lightweight plain woven fabric consisting of white yarns filling out the weft and coloured yarns lining the warp. What makes a Chambray a Chambrai is the use of the two different coloured yarns that are interlaced together.  

Source:  Linenplace

The warp refers to the lengthwise yarns that run parallel to the selvage. The weft is the yarns that woven over and under the warp yarns. Chambray is often confused with denim because Chambray is often seen as an indigo coloured cloth but in reality chambray can appear in many colours. 

Ohh, would love some yellow chambray!
Source:  Fabric Spark

Despite the indigo colour often seen with Chambray, it is not considered a denim and its distinction is found in the weave of the fabric. Chambray's plain weave (also call tabby) structure is woven with the warp and weft yarns alternating over and under each other. The strength of this fabric is found in the strength of the yarns used and the compactness of the structure that is woven. Whereas, a denim has a twill weave where the weft yarn will go over at least two warp yarns (to a maximum of four yarns) before going under one or more yarns and repeating the pattern. This structure makes twill fabric more durable than plain weave fabrics. Another difference between chambray and denim can be found in the fibre content and the contrast of colour on the opposite side.

Traditionally, chambray was made of linen but it is more common to find chambray in these parts that are made of cotton. Cotton chambray fabric is easier to care for in the sense that it can be laundered at home whereas linen is usually dry-cleaned unless you like a softness instead of the crispness that linen is know for. Cotton fibres are good for dyes and makes it perfect for the two tone fabric. But it also has some down sides.

Cotton, like linen, tends to wrinkle and that is not a desirable quality if you're like me and not all that fond of ironing. I can get over it based on the comfort level of this fabric and that ironing this fabric is easier when damp. The Vogue Sewing Book (1975 and 1982 editions) suggest using fabric softener to reduce wrinkling.

Chambray is a beautiful fabric for making shirts, dresses, and just about anything you would use a soft cotton fabric.

Source:  Tessuti Fabrics, Lily Linen Dress 
Maybe, if I can get my hands on some yellow Chambray fabric, I might give the Lily Dress a try. How about you, do you have a favourite fabric for spring sewing?

Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any manner for my gushing praise of Chambray fabric. After wearing my new chambray shirtdress, I just want to sing the praises for this fabric.


Colton, Virginia (ed.)  Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Montreal. 1982.  

Cruz, A. and McGraw, H. (eds.)  Vogue Sewing.  Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1982.  

Musheno, Elizabeth J. (ed.)  The Vogue Sewing Book.  Butterick Publishing--Division of American Can Company.  New York, 1975.  

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