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Sewciety Fabric Blog

What is sateen cotton? A brief introduction

A closeup shot of a lilac coloured sateen cotton fabric.

Table of Contents

What is Sateen Cotton?

Sateen cotton is, quite simply, a type of sateen fabric that is made entirely out of cotton. However, because cotton yarns are typically woven in a different way to sateen cotton, the two end up looking quite unlike one another. 

Sateen cotton is actually woven in the same way that traditional satin fabrics are woven. 

Typically, regular cotton fabrics are weaved with the “plain weave” method. But sateen cotton usually involves multiple weft threads (usually three or four, but it can be more) passing over one warp thread before going under the next. 

This “sateen weave” gives sateen cotton its distinctive, smooth, and elegant appearance. Typical cotton, by comparison, is less shiny and less uniform. 

 

What is Cotton Sateen fabric used for?

Sateen cotton is great for making anything that ‘looks’ luxurious and is meant to be handled elegantly. This goes for ‘high-end’ home decor items, clothing or crafts.

 

What Can I Make With Sateen Cotton?

Sateen cotton is very soft, and so is popularly used to make:

  • bed linens & sheets
  • quilting
  • nightgowns
  • cushion covers
  • curtain linings
  • tablecloths
  • napkins
  • dresses, skirts, blouses & shirts
  • athletic shorts
  • scarves


Due to its high-quality appearance and smoothness, some crafters also use sateen cotton to make bags, pouches and other small accessories.

 

A closeup shot of a luxury-brushed cotton sateen fabric with a floral print.

This luxury-brushed cotton sateen fabric has a beautiful floral pattern, making it ideal for dressmaking.

 

What Is Cotton Sateen Fabric Like?

It feels soft, smooth, silky and even a little “warm” to the touch. It has a glossy appearance, and flows beautifully, bending and moving easily between the fingers. These are just some of the reasons that make it a sought-after fabric.

Properties Of Cotton Sateen: Advantages, Disadvantages & Characteristics

Some of the advantages and disadvantages here depend on the way the cotton sateen in question has been manufactured. For example, ‘heightened dye absorbancy’ tends to be more of a positive if the fabric has been mercerised. Likewise, it will only have the disadvantage of ‘chemicals involved in manufacturing’ if it has gone through this process. 

Not all types of cotton sateen may cause allergic reactions. Sea Island Cotton Sateen for example, is well known for its purity.

 

X
Durable More susceptible to ripping or snagging (compared to other cotton weaves
Drapes beautifully Traps heat
Crease-resistant Chemicals involved in manufacturing
Fade-resistant (from sunlight) Less breathable to cotton
Heightened dye absorbency May cause allergic reactions
Water-resistant
Mildew-resistant
Easy to clean
Feels warm and cosy



Different Types Of Sateen Cotton:

Different types of sateen cotton includes:

  • Regular sateen cotton — that has undergone a satin weave, distinguishing it from regular cotton fabric.

  • Organic — the most eco-friendly type in production, but apart from that identical to regular sateen cotton.

  • Mercerised — sateen cotton that is treated chemically to improve its performance.

  • Egyptian Cotton Sateen — similar to regular sateen cotton but regarded as more luxurious and of a higher quality.

  • Supima cotton sateen — a branded type of sateen cotton that’s grown in the United States and cultivated in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. The fibre lengths of this type of cotton are longer than other types of sateen cotton.

  • Pima cotton sateen — a ‘top-end’ type of cotton with an extra focus on luxury and quality.

  • Sea Island cotton sateen — a very rare and expensive type of cotton known for its exceptionally fine and long fibres, giving it a silky, highly-breathable and elegant appearance, along with a hypoallergenic purity.

 

A sateen cut of blue fabric, spread out by soft draped folds.

Sateen cotton has an elegant, shiny appearance and is commonly used for lining garments, and also in bedding and clothing.

 


Similar, Alternative Fabrics To Cotton Sateen

Check out our satin fabrics for fabrics that share the same weave. 

However, if you aren’t looking for a sateen weave but still want a similar type of fabric in terms of its other qualities, then you might want to check out:

The full range of fabrics that we sell can be viewed via our homepage

 

Is Cotton Sateen Eco-Friendly?

Yes — in the fact that cotton is a natural, biodegradable substance. Especially if it’s 100% organic cotton, as non-organic cotton will be treated with pesticides and synthetic fertilisers . 

But really its eco-friendliness depends on whether the production practices and treatments are themselves environmentally friendly. Dyeing, finishing, and water management of sateen cotton, if done with care for the environment, will reduce the fabric’s ecological impact. 

Cotton sateen is also sometimes (not always) treated chemically to make it look better and to enhance its qualities. This chemical process is known as ‘mercerisation’ and if the process is properly managed, this will reduce its environmental impact. 

If in doubt, check for labels such as ‘organic’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ when choosing cotton sateen, to get the most eco-friendly type available.



 

FAQs 


What is Egyptian Cotton Sateen?

Egyptian sateen cotton is similar to regular sateen cotton but it is regarded as more luxurious and of a higher quality. 

Egyptian sateen cotton is also not ‘mercerised’ — meaning it is not treated with chemicals to make it stronger or shiner. Instead, it is already naturally strong and shiny. So mercerisation is not needed.


What is the difference between cotton and cotton sateen?

The main difference is in the way the cotton yarns are woven. They are woven very differently in cotton sateen, and this is why it looks a lot different to usual plainly weaved cotton. 

Both types of material are 100% cotton, but cotton sateen is woven using the same technique found in traditional satin fabric cloths.


What is 100% Cotton Sateen?

100% cotton sateen is still the same material as cotton. But it’s woven in a different way that gives it a silky feel. It’s warmer and cosier to the touch, and perfect for people who want to feel warm. 

On the other hand regular cotton is more breathable, has a crispier feel, and is better for people who want to feel cooler.

 

A Brief History Of Sateen Cotton

Sateen cotton was created in 1844 by John Mercer, an Englishman from Lancashire who was the first to use the mercerised process. Mercer’s technique was later improved upon by H.A. Lowe, another English textile chemist, into its modern form in 1890.

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06 May 2024 Astyork

Pound a Metre’s blog post on sateen cotton is incredibly enlightening! The thorough explanation of what sets sateen cotton apart and its various qualities is both educational and engaging. It’s fantastic to have a resource that dives deep into different fabric types, providing valuable insights for sewing enthusiasts and fashion aficionados alike.

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