Madras Fabric – The Distinctive Cotton Ethnic Plaid Fabric

Madras fabric, what is it? Madras fabric is a light weight cotton fabric with a distinctive pattern, madras is has what is considered an ethnic plaid pattern. The name madras comes from Madras, India where the fabric was invented. Madras was originally mainly a black and red check fabric of East Indians, but now comes in a variety of plaid fabrics. Pure madras is 100% cotton.

Orange and Lilac Madras Fabric Pink and White Madras Fabric

Fabric Characteristics:

• As plaids, they must be matched

• Are hand woven cottons

• Have bold patterns that cannot be matched

• Shrink as much as 10%

• Some fabrics have small flaws

• Some are dyed with vegetable dyes that bleed, so fabric should be laundered in cold water until the water runs clear

Working With These Fabrics Requires:

• Sewing machine needles recommended are 60/8-70/10 sharps

• Sewing machine settings should be a stitch length of 1.5-1.75 mm

• Sewing machine feet recommended are the even feed, roller and zipper foot

• Thread recommended is all-purpose cotton, polyester or cotton/polyester blend

• Markers recommended are tracing wheel and carbon, temporary marking pens, chalk

• Tools and equipment recommended are sharp scissors, sharp shears, rotary cutter and mat, safety pins

• Seams recommended are plain, lapped, to name a few

• Edge finishes recommended are plain hems, bias facings, self-fabric facings, bindings and bands

• Closures and pockets recommended are all types

These Fabrics Are Suitable For:

Madras is recommended for summer clothing such as pants, shorts, dresses and jackets.

For information about the notions, tools, and equipment required to complete a sewing project, click here to view the sewing notions home page

For more information about this family of fabrics some great references are:

Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide

For more interesting information about madras fabric click here on

To continue exploring information about fabrics follow the links below.

Muslin Fabric
Fabric Facts
Fabric Content
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