Chambray Fabric – Everything You Need To Know

Black Chambray Fabric

What Is Chambray Fabric, And What Is It Used For?

Chambray fabrics has a long history going back to the 1300s. Its invention is credited to Baptiste, a French weaver. In the 1530s, chambray fabric became more known as “cambric,” as it was then produced in Cambria, France.

The term “cambric” was used to refer to white linen cloth, although some weavers also used silk. In the 1700s, Britain made it illegal to import French fabric into England. Then they shifted to calling the Indian cotton fabrics “cambrics or batiste.”

Over time, the word “chambray” became the more accepted term to use for this weave pattern. Chambray textiles became more popular in the United States in the 19th century. It is generally used for workers’ clothing for its breathability and durability.

Striped Chambray Fabric

What is Chambray Fabric?

Chambray fabrics are made with linen, cotton, or silk. This plain weave fabric has colored yarn in the warp and white yarn in the weft.

The warp is the lengthwise yarn, while the crosswise yarn is the weft.

Textile manufacturers dye the chambray cloth blue or other shades to make it look like denim. It is a medium-weight fabric, lighter than denim but not lighter than cotton voile. Its texture depends more on the quality of the fabric and the weaving technique.

Cotton chambray is softer than linen chambray, which is coarser in texture. This makes it perfect for summer wear. Although silk was softer, chambray fabric proved to be more durable.

What is Chambray Fabric Used For?

Chambray fabric is a popular choice in modern times. The Chambray shirts are popular with both men and women. It is lightweight and breathable, perfect for wearing with jeans.

You can also wear it as a dress, shorts, a light jacket, or even fabric-topped shoes.

Its versatility allows for many mixes and matches you can make with your clothes without sacrificing comfort and durability.

Other Uses of Chambray Fabrics:

  • Upholstery for sofas and chairs
  • Bed sheet
  • Sheet material
  • Curtains
  • Table cloths
  • Napkins

Chambray vs Denim

Chambray fabrics are softer, thinner, and more lightweight. Denim can be stiffer, thicker, and heavyweight. Chambray is usually made for shirts, while denim is for jeans.

Both are machine washable, although chambray fabric may crease easily.

The chambray weaving process uses alternating plain weave patterns. It alternates one over the other making a more breathable fabric. On the other hand, denim uses a twill weaving process.

The warp thread goes over two weft threads before going under a third weft thread. The result is that the chambray fabric has the same color on both sides, while denim has a lighter side and a darker side.

Chambray fabric can be dyed in so many colors. Denim is usually available in blue or in different washes of blue.

In terms of the cost of the fabric, chambray is inexpensive compared to denim, which may be more expensive depending on the brand.

Floral Pattern Chambray

Frequently Asked Questions about Chambray

Is chambray fabric the same as denim?

Chambray is often mistaken for denim due to its almost similar weave. However, chambray has a gentler texture while denim is durable and heavyweight.

Is the chambray fabric a summer fabric?

Chambray fabric is great for summer as it is more breathable and lighter.

Chambray dresses are particularly popular during the summer.

When it’s hot and humid, chambray fabric keeps you cool.

Moreover, a fabric with a greater thread count will have a finer weave.

Is chambray fabric good quality?

Chambray is not necessarily a low-quality fabric. It has a long history of being used for luxury clothes.

Chambray fabric can have thread counts of 150 to as high as 500, which means that they are made from thousands of thin, dense fibers, resulting in a soft hand feel.

The high the thread count is, the better quality of the fabric is. It is well-known for its high quality and use during hot weather.

Does chambray fabric shrink?

For chambray that is made with cotton and washed with hot water, there may be up to 5% shrinkage. Cotton is known to shrink when washed in hot water. It is better to check the label first before putting them in the wash.

Better yet, use cold water when washing chambray fabrics and air dry them to prevent any shrinkage.

How much does chambray material cost?

Chambray is inexpensive in general. The cost of the fabric depends on the material used; when made with cotton, it is inexpensive.

When chambray is made with silk, it is relatively costly. It will also cost more when you choose organically produced and processed textile yarn. A high thread count can also raise the cost of production.

How Does Chambray Fabric Impact the Environment

The environmental impact of chambray fabric depends on the material used and the source of those materials.

Between cotton and synthetic materials, cotton can be more sustainable. Cotton can be organically grown and is also biodegradable. With the rise of fast fashion, cotton chambray fabric is the better choice, as it can still be recycled or upcycled.

A more environmentally friendly option is linen chambray. It requires fewer chemicals and water to process than cotton. It is also biodegradable and recyclable.


Chambray fabric is perfect for those who want to enjoy the look of denim but don’t want its heavy fabric, especially during warm or hot weather.

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