A Quilty Adventure Part V: How to Sew with Poplin


People always say that around Christmas, the media is all, “You deserve warmth and comfort and relaxation!” and then when the New Year hits, it switches to, “Get with the program! Get in shape! Get practical!”

Well, I’m about to take a page from the mainstream media playbook (since I’m just as widely circulated, right?) We ended the year with a comfy drive through Jersey and Wool, but now, it’s time to face reality.

We’re going to Poplin.

Poplin is not playing around. It’s a no-nonsense, plain and durable cotton fabric with a long history in the clothing world. Can you quilt with it? C’mon people. Hasn’t this journey yet taught you that you can quilt with anything? Let’s go. I’ll show you.

Read More From Our Quilty Adventures!


Land of Low-Maintenance Utility

How to Sew with Poplin: The History

Poplin has changed over the years (I mean, haven’t we all?) in some pretty great ways. Traditionally, the French-originated poplin was made from a silk warp, with a weft of worsted yarn, which kinda sounds interesting, right? It was soft, kinda shiny, with ribs from selvage to selvage. Also, some people called it tabinet, which I think would be a great name for my future daughter.

Nowadays, poplin is made from wool, cotton, synthetic fibers, or even a mixture of all of them. It’s a basic under/over weave, and no longer has that shininess, or ribbing. It’s pretty basic, but basic can be pretty great. Just wait until you hear about poplin’s special attractions.


Special Attractions

Some people place poplin in the category of “Forgiving Fabrics.” Um, yes please. I love/need forgiveness all the time. Poplin doesn’t wrinkle easily, and if it does, you can iron those wrinkles out in a snap. Because poplin is tightly woven, it’s nice and durable, making it a great choice for clothes, but other crafts, too (you know where I’m going with this).

Poplin is so versatile. You can do basically anything you want with it. You know what I want to do with it? I’ll give you one guess. (Quilt, guys, it’s quilt.)


How to Sew with Poplin: What to Pack

On our visit to poplin, we’re packing light. Because we can. You won’t really need a special thread or needle. Poplin is on the thinner, slipperier (IT’S A WORD) side of things, so you’re going to want to have your sharp scissors in tow, as usual.

Other than that, this is one of those trips we can hit with just a day pack. If you have your usual gear, you’ll be all set on our ride around poplin. It’s going to be great.

The Itinerary​

Poplin’s one of those places that’s wonderfully easy to navigate. No one-way roads, weird turn-arounds, or frustrating dead-ends. Just an open road, great weather, and light traffic. Let’s enjoy it.

First stop with poplin is a familiar one: washing the fabric. As always, check for any specific info you have on your fabric, but as a general rule, you can wash poplin in warm water and tumble dry on low. Like I said before (and I’m delighted to say again), poplin doesn’t wrinkle easily, and those wrinkles are easy to get out. I use a spray bottle and an iron on the cotton setting.

Since poplin runs on the thinner side, starch can be used to your advantage to stiffen things up while you work. (Read more about different kinds of starch on this blog post.)

Remember when I told you any needle will do? Well, I stand by it. It’s still technically true, but you may want to do a little test with the fabric you’re using. If you find that your needle punches holes in your poplin, consider a finer needle. Just in case you make a mistakes, smaller needle = smaller holes.

Piecing your poplin is… you guessed it… also easy. Because poplin’s cross-grain stretch isn’t all that stretchy (compared to other quilting cottons) you don’t have to worry as much while piecing. Isn’t this such a nice, carefree trip?

Famous Locals​

Indian Summer, Suzy Williams (me!)


​If you've been hanging around this blog for a while, one thing you may have picked up on is that I collaborate with Birch Fabrics...a lot. I love them. They love me. It's a beautiful thing! Well, in all of my collaborations I use their 100% organic poplin. It's so soft and yummy I feel spoiled every time I get to slice it up.

The quilt above is a throw quilt pattern for sale in the shop, and is also a free baby quilt pattern found here. All of my collaborations with Birch Fabrics turn into free patterns for YOU so everyone wins! If you are interested in some of those free patterns, check out the FREE PATTERNS tab in the navigation bar above.​

Tri-Love, Melissa Lunden

FREE Poplin Quilt Pattern

​If you can't choose one poplin, don't! Chop up aaaaall the fabrics and sew a quilt. This is a free beginner friendly quilt pattern found here. If you haven't made an equilateral triangle quilt yet, now's the time. It's kind of a quilter's right of passage, actually. 😉

Happy Houses, Rossie Hutchinson



I'm dead.

And would you believe it, it's a free pattern TOO! How great did your day just get??​

Before You Check Out

Poplin is one of those destinations where you can go just to have fun. I told you this was going to be all about down-to-earth practicality, but practical can be fun, too, right?

Before you end your stay in poplin, let's bring up one last thing – those great scraps you're bound to have. The possibilities of those little scraps are endless, especially if you've tried any of my Sew Mojo mini quilts. They are fast, fun and soooo scrap-friendly. Make the most of your leftovers, and turn them into something great… and don’t forget to tell me about it! I love great things.​

Tootles! xo​


24 thoughts on “A Quilty Adventure Part V: How to Sew with Poplin

  1. Lexie B. says:

    Amazing timing! I just ordered a bunch of Birch Fabric poplin this morning for a quilt for my mom and I was a bit concerned with what I had gotten myself into. Now I’m ready and excited to get going! Thanks Suzy!

    • Suzy says:

      Girlfrand. NO question is dumb here. Actually, I think you’re reading my mind because in a couple weeks Lawn will be featured on our quilty adventure 🙂

      In short, Poplin and Lawn are different, but kinda similar. If you were to start with quilt weight cotton, the next step up in tightness of weave and weight would be Poplin. Take another step up and you hit Lawn – another step up and you’re standing with Voile (which gets pretty sheer). Lawn is made from fine combed cotton, has a lovely tight weave and is almost shiny in texture. If you ever purchase Liberty of London fabric for a quilt, it will be Lawn – which is also usually much more expensive than Poplin because of the high quality manufacturing.

      Next time you’re in a fabric store, try to feel the two side by side. That’s the best way to really understand the difference and whether or not you want to sew with it.

  2. karen s says:

    I always think of poplin as those go-to, indestructible pants that I’ve always had. Thanks for giving me a kick in the seat of my poplin pants and expanding my repertoire of quilting fabrics!

  3. Andrea says:

    Is poplin more difficult to quilt? I remember on instagram you had quilted the Indian Summer quilt and then ripped it out. Did you have any suggestions for quilting with this fabric?

    • Suzy says:

      This is such a great question and I love that you remembered! In my experience, it is a little bit trickier. Because poplin is thinner than regular lightweight cotton, you have to baste it more than you would quilt-weight cotton. Also, I think you have to machine quilt slower so the tension doesn’t get off. When I was quilting the Indian Summer baby quilt, I was stitching as fast as possible – which in the end caused that push and pull effect I didn’t like.

  4. Ashley says:

    I recently started working on a FlyAway quilt with Birch poplin, and my machine was kinda eating my fabric. So I re-threaded, cleaned my machine (yeesh), read this post, and tried some other troubleshooting. I also read your post on needles, and decided to pick up some 70/10s and see if that helped. All I’ll say is, using a universal needle was possible, but a little like spreading cold butter on toast. The 70/10 needles? Warm butter on hot toast. Yum!

  5. sierra says:

    I really want to make a quilt using Jay-cyn’s Del Pasado fabric. The cotton won’t be available until November, but poplin is available now, which is what brought be back to this post. I am making a baby blanket and want it to be soft and cuddly. Do you think I would get that feel with poplin?

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      oooooooh yes. Birch Fabrics poplin is light-weight and incredibly soft – most likely softer than the typical quilter’s cotton you’re used to using. I love using poplin for baby quilts for that very reason.

  6. Victoria Ghyselinck says:

    Would poplin for a backing be fine? If it’s thinner, would it be sheerer and therefore not a great choice?

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