What Is Broadcloth?

One of the best things about the world of sewing, quilting, and fashion in general is that there are endless possibilities when it comes to fabric options. However, it gets a bit trickier when you aren’t sure if a particular fabric is actually right for the idea you have in mind.

What Is Broadcloth?

Broadcloth is one of these. The primary uses of broadcloth include use for sleepwear, shirts, dresses, and casual dress. Broadcloth is rarely used for heavy blankets, quilts, or things such as upholstery, even though it might be thick enough and heavy enough to be used in such a way. 

So, what exactly is broadcloth, when should you wear it, and how do you look after it? All of these things and more we will talk about today! 

What Exactly Is Broadcloth?

Historically, this particular fabric was made from wool at first, it was thick, dense, and woven that was often used for rather tough tasks. However, now it is often used in crafting projects or for upholstery. It is not as often used as it used to be. 

It also used to be made on a loom which is fairly similar to the more modern looms that are around 45 to 60 inches wide, which we use today.

Cotton broadcloth is typically woven using a barrow, with subtle rib which gives it a look of poplin, however, it comes in a bit lighter in weight than the historical woolen version. 

Typically, synthetic fibers are not really used to make this type of cloth as they simply do not respond as well as cotton or woolen fibers do.

When To Wear Broadcloth

When should you wear broadcloth? Well, broadcloth is a versatile fabric that is easy to notice in your closet if you tend to wear a lot of button-down shirts. 

This fabric is also often found in women’s skirts as it has a very crisp feel and aesthetic. If you wear an outfit made from broadcloth, it presents you well, looks clean, and looks professional too. 

How Do You Maintain Broadcloth?

If you have items of clothing which are 100% cotton broadcloth it does not usually need dry cleaning. That being said, it does need to be steamed or ironed to keep its smooth and crisp appearance. 

Broadcloth skirts and shirts will often winkle, so they do need ironing or to be steamed when they come out of the dryer. 

If you have 100% cotton broadcloth, it will easily release odors in the wash. It is best recommended that you do a wash in cold water on a gentle cycle or do some washing by hand. You should also tumble dry broadcloth on a low mode. 

What Is Broadcloth?

How Is Broadcloth Made & What Is Its History?

Broadcloth origin can be found in Medieval England. Weavers started refining their techniques, with the assistance of Belgian craftspeople. Original broadcloth was made with wool, which was one of the most readily available textiles back then. 

The whole process was assisted by Flemish weavers, who did not have many materials to use. Most fabrics in England were later exported to Belgium, undyed, and there it would then be finished in vats to be dyed. 

When using broadcloth now, extra-wide looms are used. The cloth will be woven tightly before it is dipped in water and stretched on tenders, which are special racks that maintain tension in the fabric. 

Water would make the wool shrink when it is taken out to dry. 

Then the cloth will be rubbed over with fuller earth and then beaten with a hammer made of wood. 

After all this, the result would be a cloth that is almost felted and is supple, soft, and very smooth. It is far from greasy as well, which does make it stand out from a majority of other woolen items. 

Wool is the traditional fabric to be used, however, now, we tend to use more cotton, and you can find plenty of cotton varieties as well. 

Some cotton broadcloth can have a narrow and subtle rib which makes it look a lot like poplin, which is yet another textile which is very densely woven. 

Note that synthetic fibers are not used for this as it just does not behave like cotton or wool when they are specially treated. 

Broadcloth & Curtains

Broadcloth is more often made from cotton, so it is perfectly ideal to make curtains. Broadcloth is thick enough to handle the sun and makes for a good material for curtains, it also adds quite an elegant touch to whichever rooms you choose to put the curtains in. 

There are plenty of colors as well, so you can easily match your home decor color scheme with this. The only thing you need to think about is matching it with the right lining. 

The lining you use needs to be resistant to UV rays, but it should also not be heavier than the broadcloth. 

Is Broadcloth Used In Quilting?

Some people do use broadcloth in quilting. It can be a good fabric to use if you have a friend or family member who lives in a cold climate, as it is very dense and can keep them warm in the colder times of the year.

However, it is not always used for quilting, and it is up to personal preference. We will say that broadcloth fabric prices do tend to be more affordable when looking at other quilting fabric costs. 

With so many colors you do not miss out when you use broadcloth, but it is more difficult to sew with.


Broadcloth has been around for a very long time, and it is a popular fabric that is thick, dense, and warm. It can be used for many things, but if you are intending on using it for your crafts, make sure it is compatible… It is not the easiest material to use! 

Willa Price

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