Calico Fabric Guide

Dating from the 11th Century, Calico is a long-established and traditional fabric used extensively in industry.

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What is Calico fabric?

Calico Fabric is a plain-weave fabric made from natural unbleached cotton. It is a sturdy fabric recognisable by its smooth texture and natural appearance.

How is Calico Fabric made?

Calico fabric is made by weaving cotton yarns together on a loom. The fabric will be raw or ‘loomstate’, meaning it is not cleaned, bleached or processed in any way.

Can you Dye Calico Fabric?

It is easy to dye calico fabric with reactive fabric dye to achieve a wide range of colours. However, it is essential to note that if the fabric is loomstate (not pre-washed), some treatment is required before dying to ensure even absorbency.

What are some uses of Calico material?

Calico is commonly used for a variety of crafting projects, such as quilting, dressmaking and home decor. Due to its versatile nature, it is also used to make bags, aprons and other utility items thanks to its strength and durability. Calico is often used as a base cloth to make pillowcases, duvets and bedding ensembles. For any of these applications, loomstate calico should be pre-washed as there will be significant shrinkage.

It is also widely used by the fashion industry for toiles. A toile is a version of a sewing pattern that you make in order to check the size and fitting of the garment before you cut it into your final intended fabric for the project.

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Properties of Calico Fabric:

1. Biodegradable: Calico is a natural fabric made from 100% cotton. It is biodegradable and will compost easily.

2. Affordable Fabric: Calico is a much cheaper cotton fabric to produce and it is widely used in the fashion industry for toiles, home décor and tote bags.

3. Must Pre-wash: Calico fabric will shrink when washed and dried, so it is best to pre-wash it before using it in a project.

4. Versatile: Calico fabric can be used for a wide range of projects, from quilting and dressmaking to home decor and utility items.

5. Durable: Calico fabric is made from sturdy cotton fibres, making it a durable and long-lasting choice for projects.

Different Types of Calico?

There are several weights and widths of calico fabric available;

Types of Calico Fabric:

1.) (CD52)Calico AJ404 Scoured Natural: This is a fully shrunk, plain weave medium weight cotton in a natural cream colour, prepared for dyeing and/or printing.

Calico AJ404 Scoured Natural


2.) (CORG10) Organic Cotton Calico (Loomstate): Organic Cotton Calico (Loomstate) is an eco-friendly, unprocessed fabric made from organic fibres. It is a plain-woven textile directly from the loom, meaning it has not been dyed, bleached or undergone any other finishes. Due to its raw state, it will shrink significantly when washed.


3.) (CC27) Calico Heavy: Heavyweight Calico cotton is widely used in general dressmaking and craftwork, due to its strength and durability.


4.) (CC10), (CC37), (CC57), (CC16) and (CC17A) Calico Medium: Offering both strength and a delicate texture, calico natural medium-weight cotton is a popular choice for making toiles. It is also used to make pillowcases, duvets, and bedding, as it is available in wide widths.

Calico Medium


5.) (CC11) Calico Light: This is 60% lighter than the heavyweight calico fabric.

Calico Light

Does Calico Shrink?

Due to its absorbent nature, in the first wash, Calico can shrink by a good amount and it can become softer with each wash thereafter. So before using the fabric in a project, it must be washed.

How to Wash Calico? 

In general, calico should be pre-washed with a mild detergent in water between 30-40 degrees and should not be washed any higher than this once your project is complete. We would recommend it being hung out to dry rather than putting in the dryer as you will struggle to iron the creases out. If you want to soften the calico, you can try washing it with fabric softener.

Where to Buy Calico? 

You can buy calico fabric both untreated and pre-washed from Whaleys here.