Fabric Cheat Sheet | Naturals

Updated: Oct 3, 2018

Guest blog by our designer, Alison Lennard

As a designer, it's easy for me to assume that everyone understands the importance of fabric and the properties and terminology as much as I do. I know that's not the case, so I'd like to assist you in your future fashion purchasing by offering some key, yet simple, info every fashionista should know.

Knit or Woven

First things first, cloth fits into two categories - Knit and Woven. This should be your key descriptive when explaining a fabric. Do you know or understand the difference?

It astounds me how many garment descriptions on clothing websites don't say this, as I believe it is the most important and descriptive trait possible.

Philosophy Australia
Knitted viscose jersey | Holly Jacket from our Cruise collection

Jersey Knit Fabrics

In simple terms Jersey fabrics are knitted, so they are more pliable, have movement and stretch and are comfortable to wear.

The construction method is that the cloth is made row by row. Much like someone hand knitting.

Philosophy Australia Spring 2018
Woven rayon voile | Edda top from our Porto story

Woven Fabrics

Woven fabrics are constructed by interlacing a warp and a weft thread. Think of a loom. The fabric therefore has limited movement. However, this doesn't mean the fabric is without comfort or stretch. Most wovens these days have an element of Spandex.

Here at Philosophy Australia, we offer both types. However, we have noticed a trend recently towards more woven fabrications.

Fabric Composition

Secondly, although there are many blends of fabric composition, there are only a few main yarn/filament types. If you understand the basics of these, then even a complicated composition will be translatable.

These can be broken down into Natural and Synthetic and all yarns can be used in both construction methods.

I'll start with the Naturals as we are coming into Summer when they are most relevant and we will discuss other fabrics in upcoming blog posts.


  • Cotton is a natural derivative from a plant.

  • Good for its breathability.

  • Bad for dye durability and you will need an iron.

Cotton comes in many weights and is universally the most utilised yarn.

Cotton filaments are measured in "counts". The higher the count, the finer the yarn and therefore the more premium the cloth. This is best highlighted with Manchester. A 250 count bed sheet will probably be at least half the price of a 1000 count one and not as nice to sleep in.

In clothing terms, the woven descriptives to know, increasing in weights are:


  • An ultra light woven cloth, very transparent. It is often used as lining.

Philosophy Australia Spring 2018
Voile | Voila shirt


  • A light and breezy woven which is semi transparent and often used for blouses.

  • Works best in a print, as can look too thin in a plain.

  • Seen here in style Voila

Philosophy Australia
Poplin | Mae shirt


  • A light yet non-transparent fabric used with an addition of stretch for a multitude of products; most commonly shirts.

  • Seen here in style Mae

Philosophy Australia
Sateen | Harriet dress from our Sole collection


  • A more dense cotton woven, named as such due to its subtle light reflective sheen.

  • Best when a small percentage of elastane for movement is blended.

  • Most commonly used for tailored pieces and dresses and looks great in both print and plain.

  • Seen here in style Harriet

Philosophy Australia
Drill cotton | Dream Jeans


  • Denim is a cotton drill, this is still a woven, has no transparency and is highly durable.

  • Seen here in style Dream Jean

Knitted cotton jerseys are described within the industry by their cut weight instead of their count. The heavier the gsm, the denser the fabric. (gsm means grams per square metre).

For example, a light jersey top would be around 150 gsm whilst a cotton sweatshirt would be around the 350 gsm mark.

Interlock, Rib, Single Jersey and loop back are all types of knitting process used for cotton.

Philosophy Australia
Viscose jersey Entice story | Teagan top and Joggy pant

A cotton tee is comfortable to wear as it breathes and doesn't generally cling but at Philosophy Australia, we prefer to offer Viscose. Viscose also offers these qualities but is better at maintaining its colour and shape long term. We love easy wear, easy care styles that have longevity!

For summer 2018 we have our Entice story offering plain Viscose Jersey and the introduction of Bamboo Jersey as our lighter alternative.

Philosophy Australia
Bamboo jersey Bamboo story | Zanne dress

We hope you found that both interesting and helpful. Which is your favourite cotton fabric?


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