Oxford

By | June 2, 2016
Oxford Cloth, 100% cotton. Source: moodfabrics.com

Oxford Cloth, 100% cotton. Source: moodfabrics.com

No, not the university town in the UK – although this fabric apparently went through a period of being in vogue with students in that town in the early 20th century.

Oxford is lightweight cotton fabric, woven with a variant of the plain weave known as hopsack (I’ve sometimes seen it described as a basket-weave, but I’ll leave it to the experts to fight it out). Traditionally made with better-quality cotton fibers, and woven with a colored warp and a white weft – similar to chambray. Sometimes woven with cotton and polyester yarns, or cotton and rayon. It’s very popular for men’s button-down shirts.

In addition to shirts, there’s nothing stopping you from using this for light summer dresses or women’s blouses.

Unfortunately, there are sellers out there who’ll cheerfully attach the Oxford tag on to any plain-woven cotton suitable for shirtings, so stick to reliable vendors when shopping for this.

Oxford cloth - close up. Source: onlinefabricstore.net

Oxford cloth – close up. Source: onlinefabricstore.net

If you shop around, you can find lightweight oxford for as little as $4/yd. The higher-quality seems to go for around $15/yd. Again, be wary when shopping – always get swatches first, whenever possible. With a swatch in-hand, you’ll be able to better examine the yarns used and know how they’ll feel underhand.

Like any cotton fabric, you’re going to want to run this through the washer and the dryer at least once to ensure it’s done all the shrinking it’s going to do. Tumble dry on medium and try to take it out when it’s still slightly damp. It’ll tolerate a fairly hot iron (yay for labelled settings on the dial!) and steam helps get the creases out.

Sew with a universal needle and pure cotton thread.

Oxford cloth shirt. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Oxford cloth shirt. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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