What is Cambric?
Cambric is a type of fine, lightweight and plain weave fabric which has been used for garment making and for other purposes over a long period of time. It is one of the densest varieties of cloth woven in greige. Initially, cambric was made from linen or flax. Manufacturers first started using cotton for producing this fabric in the nineteenth century. It is suitable for lacework and embroidery work and was formerly used by women for these purposes. Cambric is referred to as batiste when used for these handiworks.
The name of this fabric originally derives from Cambrai, a city located in southern France where the fabric was first developed.
This fine textile was first produced during the later 1500s, gaining fast in popularity as a useful material for a wide range of applications. It was used for making the stiff neck-ruffs used during the Elizabethan period. The fabric was also used for making other articles like wall hangings, curtains, petticoats as well as a number of other textile products. Its use as a material for lacework and embroidery projects also began during this period.
For producing this fabric, linen or cotton is woven tightly to give the material a smooth and even grain. Once the fabric is made, it has to go through the process of calendaring which uses hot rollers for tightening the fibers and aligning them in a uniform direction. This gives the fabric a stiff and glossy finish. However, repeated washings may be necessary before the fabric attains the desired look and texture. Lower quality cambric may need to be treated again after a certain time period for regaining its original properties.
Difference between Cambric and Poplin
Cambric and poplin are two different types of fabrics. Cotton single count is used for producing both the fabrics. But, they have different thread densities which is one of the main differences between the two. Cambric has equal weft and warp densities while in case of poplin, warp density is greater than the weft density.
What is Cambric used for?
Different quality cambric fabrics are used for various purposes. It is used for making a wide range of readymade clothes including shirts, gowns, women’s tops and other types of garments and dresses. The fabric is often used in costumes and dresses not intended for permanent or long-term use, such as wedding dresses.
Lower quality fabric is used for making handkerchiefs, undergarments, napkins, doilies as well as for linings. It is occasionally used as backing fabric for various artworks and needle works. Other uses of the fabric include making bandages, dust covers etc. It can also be used in the process of book binding.
During the 1900s, cambric began losing popularity due to widespread availability of various other textiles manufactured using comparatively modern procedures. At present, a variation of this fabric, named Chambray, is popularly used for making shirts and other articles of clothing. Original and good quality cambric is still available at certain vintage stores.