What is French Terry Fabric? French Terry fabric is cotton fabric that has soft piles (a looped back). The loops form small channels that allow air to circulate, making it a perfect choice for activewear and other breathable clothing.

Many people enjoy the French Terry fabric because of its strength, durability, longevity and flexibility. Personally, my heart is filled with happiness and peace that only French Terry can offer. How are French Terry textiles made? French terry is a light to midweight material that can be used for casual or active clothes like sweatshirts, shirts, sweaters, etc.

It is slightly heavier than sweatshirt fleece, but still very soft and comfortable to wear. If you're looking for cotton french terry fabric in Australia, keep reading!


French Terry Fabric


The difference between french terry and fleece fabric

Fleece fabric is commonly used for winter clothing, such as track pants and jumpers. The outside of the fabric has a smooth surface, and the inner a 'brushed' (almost fluffy) appearance. Fleece fabric is generally on a higher gsm side (fabric weight) and can be found in a range of fibre compositions such as cotton, and cotton/ polyester blends.


Fleece Fabric


French terry fabric can also come in a range of fabric compositions and gsm (weights/thickness) and is also commonly used for loungewear. The main difference between french terry fabric and fleece fabrics, is that french terry fabric is not 'brushed' and has soft piles. On the inner side of the fabric you will find small distinctive loops. French terry fabric is a knit fabric that is very comfortable to wear, easy to sew and is a versatile for a range of different sewing projects and casual clothes.


French Terry Fabric

Tell me the difference between French Terry and Fleece Moisture-Wicking Ability?

A result of the different manufacturing methods, fleeces are less breathable than French Terry. Fleece also lacks the high absorbance and humidity-wicking qualities in the French Terry, meaning they don’t stay dry and warm. Contrary to fleeces, French terry is designed to keep the wearer dry and comfortable. Hence it is an important fabric for versatile comfort. All types of materials are, however, varying in their weight. You may also discover French Terry clothing with heavier weights and lighter fleece. French Terry is a flexible fabric compared to fleece.

Is French terry cotton good quality?

French Terry fabrics are soft and comfortable fabrics mostly made from cotton. French terry fabrics can be considered medium weight fabrics meaning that they are heavier than the cotton that can be found in most shirts.

French Terry Fabric

How to choose the right cotton french terry fabric for your project

When looking to purchase French terry fabric there are a few things to look for before taking the plunge. Those include, fabric composition, fabric weight (gsm), the width of the fabric, Stretch percentage and whether the supplier stocks matching rib knit or thread. Knowing all of this information in advance will create a more pleasant sewing experience and produce quality french terry clothing.

French Terry Fabric and matching rit knit

Fabric compositions

Fabric composition is the make-up of a fabric, typically described by the percentage of fibres used. For cotton french terry, the most common composition is 100% cotton, a cotton spandex blend, or a polyester blend.

Cotton French Terry Fabric

French terry that is 100% cotton is a good choice for loose fitting garments. Keep in mind due to the lack of elastane/spandex, the fabric will have limited natural stretch, if any. So this will need to be kept in mind when choosing a sewing project. Cotton is a natural fibre, durable and breathable. It is worth noting that cotton is a fantastic choice for young children. Young children lack the ability to regulate their body temperatures and can quickly become overheated, therefore a predominately cotton fabric is a good choose due to its breathable and moisture wicking properties.

Cotton Elastane French Terry Fabric

French terry can also be found in a cotton and elastane/spandex blend. Elastanes are elastic fibres that can be woven with cotton for post wetting treatments. The elastane will aid cotton garments in shaping back into their original form, whilst also resisting fatigue after repetitive use. The great thing about a french terry cotton elastane blend is not only do you have the stretch properties of elastane, but the added benefits of cotton. French terry fabric can often be described as a mid weight fabric that is suitable for cooler weather. It is a popular fabric as it is super comfy and a low maintenance fabric that is easy to launder in a regular washing machine.

Polyester French terry Fabric

Polyester fabric is made from plastic. It can be made from recycled or virgin materials, and it is often used to make clothing because it is durable and doesn't wrinkle easily. However, Polyester fabric is not my top choice because it's not very breathable, meaning that it can be uncomfortable to wear in warm weather. It also doesn't stretch very well, which can be a problem if you're looking for clothing that moves with you. Polyester fabric is often less expensive than cotton or other natural fabrics, making it a popular choice for budget-conscious shoppers. Also, polyester fabric can pill, which means that the fabric can become rough and covered in little balls of fiber. This usually happens because the fabric is washed incorrectly or exposed to too much heat.

What is French Terry made of?

French Terry was introduced into the textile trade in the 1980s. It’s created using wool knitted into loops with soft yarns on the inner edges and inside the garment’s interior. The knitter uses this technique to keep the outer surfaces smooth. This results in a soft and absorbent fabric able to be worn year round. The French Terry is generally larger than most t-shirts. Nevertheless, it can be quite lightweight when compared to sweaters and jackets. Aside from being comfortable, it's also possible to wear it alone at home as a layer or under a similar piece.


What is French Terry Aftercare and Laundry?

How can a French Terry keep it in top condition and maintain its durability? The most useful qualities for French terrazzo textiles are their relatively low-maintenance. Compared to other fabrics, this product is extremely resistant to wrinkling. Knit fabrics are usually flexible and stretch-able so they do not wrinkle if woven on several occasions. French terry clothing does therefore require no drying. Machine Wash will save you time. You need to wash cold and wash on low so that your results are optimal. It also ensures long-term preservation of color and quality.

Is French Terry Fabric for Summer or Winter?

Both, French Terry clothes can be used for both summer and winterwear, depending on the composition and weight of the fabric - and of course the sewing pattern! Some good things to sew with french terry in winter are sweaters, jackets, and pants. The cotton fabric is soft and stretchy, making it the perfect choice for winterwear. Plus, french terry is a breathable fabric, which means that you won't get too hot or sweaty when you wear it.

French terry is also a great fabric choice for sewing in summer. French terry clothing options in summer include shorts, dresses and skirts. French terry is a durable fabric so is a particulary good choice for shorts for children's shorts as it will withstand lots of wear and tear as children move about. I have written another blog post on this and you can read it here.

I personally love using french terry for making knit dresses (t-shirt dresses) for myself, or pencil skirts. It is such a soft versatile fabric, I can assure you once you start to sew with it you will want your whole wardrobe to be made from French terry - it really is the perfect fabric for cold weather and warmer weather.

Is French terry fabric thick?

No, french terry is not thick. It is a cotton fabric with loops that allow air to circulate. The loops form small channels that allow air to circulate, making it a perfect choice for activewear and other breathable clothing. When purchasing fabric is it always important to know the gsm, as that will determine the fabric thickness.

What does GSM mean?

GSM stands for grams per square meter, and it is a measure of the weight of a fabric. The higher the GSM, the heavier the fabric will be. GSM is often used to compare the thickness and durability of different fabrics. For more information on GSM's check out this article "What the Frig is GSM?"

What is a double knit fabric?

Double knit fabrics are knit on two needles simultaneously, which makes it thicker and more durable than a single knit fabric. It's perfect for winterwear, as it will keep you warm and toasty! Double knit fabrics are usually made from wool or cotton, but there are also synthetic versions available.

In comparison, single knit fabrics are knitted on one needle, which makes it thinner and less durable than a double knit fabric. It's perfect for summerwear, as it will keep you cool and dry! Single knit fabrics are usually made from cotton or synthetic materials, but there are also wool versions available.

Can I use french terry for neckbands and sleeve cuffs?

Yes you can use french terry for neck-banks and sleeve cuffs. However, you must consider which direction the fabric has maximum stretch, and the stretch percentage.

This is important, especially with neckbands as you want to be able to stretch it over the head. It is recommended to use a rib knit fabric for neckbands, waistbands and cuffs instead. Rib knit fabrics have excellent stretch, and stretch recovery. Most ready to wear garments you see in shops will use a rib knit fabric for the neckbands & wrist cuffs. Did you know at Melco we stock french terry and matching rib knits? Check out the rib knit range here.


French Terry Fabric

Final words

I hope this article helped solve all your confusion about French Terry Apparel. It's important to understand French Terry as a versatile material that is suited to virtually any climate activity or weather situation. 

Melanie Coultas


We are manufacturers of single jersey polyester french terry fabrics.
We am interested in the polyester fabrics.
Please contact us.

— Divij Arora

Should I prewash French Terry / all your fabrics prior to cutting out?
Also do you do an off white in the rib knit.
Can I get sample swatches of all the colours? I make kids clothes and it would certainly help to match to fabrics I buy.

— Jacqui Bunney

Should I prewash French Terry / all your fabrics prior to cutting out?
Also do you do an off white in the rib knit.
Can I get sample swatches of all the colours? I make kids clothes and it would certainly help to match to fabrics I buy.

— Jacqui Bunney