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What is fabric weight and how does it affect your fabric choices? It is what it sounds like and will ultimately affect the actual weight of the shipped fabric order, but as an attribute of fabric, fabric weight is far more impactful.

Fabric weight is a measure that indicates the heaviness or thickness of a fabric. It is typically expressed in grams per square meter (gsm) or ounces per square yard (oz/yd²). Sometimes you may find we list our fabric with weight described as “per linear yard”. These measurements help to determine the density and quality of the fabric, and it is an important factor to consider when selecting materials for specific applications, such as clothing, upholstery, or industrial uses.

How Fabric Weight is Measured:

  1. Grams per Square Meter (gsm): This is a metric measurement where the weight of a fabric is calculated based on one square meter of material. For example, if a fabric has a weight of 200 gsm, it means that one square meter of that fabric weighs 200 grams.
  2. Ounces per Square Yard (oz/yd²): This is an imperial measurement where the weight of a fabric is calculated based on one square yard of material. For example, if a fabric has a weight of 5 oz/yd², it means that one square yard of that fabric weighs 5 ounces.
  3. *Sometimes Grams or Ounces per Linear Yard. While not a historical method of measuring fabric weight, this is an important factor because we sell our fabric by the yard, and this sometimes helps give an indication of fabric weight when the distributor or manufacturer does not supply enough information.

Importance of Fabric Weight:

  • Feel and Comfort: The weight of a fabric can affect its feel and comfort. Heavier fabrics tend to be thicker and warmer, making them suitable for winter clothing or heavy-duty applications. Lighter fabrics are usually thinner and more breathable, ideal for summer clothing or delicate items.
  • Durability: Heavier fabrics are often more durable and resistant to wear and tear, making them suitable for upholstery, workwear, or outdoor gear.
  • Drape and Flow: The weight of a fabric can influence its drape and flow. Lighter fabrics may have a softer drape and flow elegantly, while heavier fabrics may have a stiffer drape and hold their shape better.
  • Transparency: Lighter fabrics are often more transparent, while heavier fabrics are usually more opaque.

Examples of Fabric Weights:

  • Lightweight Fabrics: These fabrics are typically under 150 gsm (or around 4 oz/yd²) and include materials like chiffon, silk, and lightweight cotton.
  • Medium Weight Fabrics: These fabrics are usually between 150 gsm and 350 gsm (or around 4 to 10 oz/yd²) and include materials like denim, linen, and medium-weight cotton.
  • Heavyweight Fabrics: These fabrics are typically over 350 gsm (or around 10 oz/yd²) and include materials like canvas, upholstery fabric, and heavy denim.

When selecting a fabric for a specific purpose, it’s important to consider the fabric weight along with other factors such as fiber content, weave, and finish to ensure that the material meets the desired requirements for comfort, durability, and appearance.

How to calculate and/or translate one measurement to the other

Depending on what measurement you’re looking for, you may need to take a fabric weight in one unit and translate it to another. Below are some simple formulas…

GSM (Grams per Square Meter) to OZ/Y2 (Ounces per Square Yard): Here’s what to know. First, 1 ounce equals 28.3495231 grams (the weight). And 1 yard equals 0.9144 meters (the length). So,

  • 1 square yard = (.9144 meters x .9144 meters) or .83612736 square meters
  • Therefore, 1 ounce per square yard equals (taken from above): 28.3495231 grams / .83612736 square meters or 33.90574744 grams per square meter.
  • So, 33.91 GSM equals 1 OZ/Y2

What about Ounces per Linear Yard as seen sometimes on our store?

First, we will need to know the fabric’s width. Let’s assume it is 48 inches wide for the sake of this calculation.

In order to work backwards we might say something like “This fabric has a 2 pound per linear yard weight”. This is, also the number that affects your shipping cost btw as it tells the carriers the weight of the package we’re sending (excluding packaging, etc).

So we now know we have: 2lbs per yard (or 36 ounces) with a fabric that is 48 inches wide. We also know a yard is 36 inches by default. Now we need to find out how many square yards are in a 1 yard cut of fabric.

  • 48 inches wide x 36 inches length = 1728 square inches total
  • One square yard has 1296 square inches, so 1728 / 1296 = 1.33 square yards
  • We know that this is 2 pounds in weight from above, so 1.33 square yards = 2lbs or 36ounces
  • Another way of looking at this is this: “There are x ounces in 1 square yard which is equal to 36 ounces in 1.33 square yards”. With algebra we know that 1.33x = 36, so 36/1.33=x, or 27.01OZ/YD2
  • We can take this further into our formula above to find out the GSM in this fabric
  • 27.01OZ/YD2 to GSM would look like: 33.91x 27.01 = 917.86 GSM

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