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What is Chambray Fabric

Beginner's Guides | Chambray Fabric Brenda HIggs April 21st, 2023

What is Chambray Fabric & Why is It so Popular


Chambray is a lightweight, regular weave, woven fabric that is popular in the fashion industry for its classic versatility and durability. It is in high demand with today’s top designers and high street fashion brands for shirts, dresses, pants, and accessories. It is a favourite with designers like Ralph Lauren for his iconic shirts and his chambray bedding. And Uniqlo because of its casual laid back vibe.

A popular choice for those who want to look good while feeling comfortable. Whether you’re dressing up or dressing down, chambray fabric is a great choice for any occasion.

If you are confused by the difference between denim and chambray, just check denim for its twill weave.

Are you looking for complimentary fabrics? Denim and chambray look great together.

In this blog post, we will explore the history of chambray fabric, its characteristics, and its uses in today’s clothing.

lady modelling an elbow length sleeve chambray dress in blue


History of Chambray Fabric

The town of Chambrai in France first produced chambray. Originally made from linen for the wealthy.  Antique French linen sheets are still much in demand.

However, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century that chambray became more widely available and affordable thanks to the invention of the power loom.

In the late 1800s, Chambray became popular when railroad workers and farmers used it to make workwear.

Its durability and breathability made it an ideal fabric for these labour-intensive jobs.


Characteristics of Chambray Fabric

lady side on wearing short sleeved mid blue chambray shirt

We usually recognise chambray by it two-colour plain weave and find it made today in cotton, cotton blends and linen. This creates a subtle texture that is similar to denim. It is a lightweight and breathable fabric that is perfect for warm weather, but can also be layered for colder months. 

Striped Chambray

The classic colour for chambray is blue. But today it can come in a variety of colours and also stripes. We love it for today’s fashionable clothing with a relaxed, casual vibe.

young girl modelling a knee length stripe chambray dress Olive dress pattern by Megan Nielsen

You can machine wash and dry chambray without it losing its shape or colour.

Uses of Chambray Fabric

In the fashion industry, one of the most common uses for chambray is for shirts. Both men’s and women’s. They are typically designed with a relaxed fit. And are perfect for creating a casual, laid-back look that is both comfortable and stylish.

Another popular use of chambray fabric is for dresses and skirts. Designers often create chambray dresses with a loose, flowing silhouette that is perfect for summer weather. They can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion, and are a great choice for those who want to look trending without sacrificing comfort.

It is also used for pants, shorts, pyjamas and jumpsuits. These clothing items are typically designed with a more tailored fit and are often paired with other pieces of clothing to create a complete outfit. 


What to Make with Chambray

With the influx of amazing Indie pattern makers and designers into the dressmaking market we are lucky to now have a wonderful array of patterns perfect for chambray

Merchant & Mills

lady sitting. in a dark studio wearing a merchant and mills denim dress in blue

Merchant and Mills of course is the ideal place to go to when looking for patterns suitable for chambray. Available from Merchant and Mills or online here.

The Assembly Line

lady wearing a blue cuff blouse with sort sleeves from The Assembly Line

The Assembly Line whose patterns are  all about clean lines and contemporary designs, functional yet stylish is the perfect partner for chambray


Megan Nielsen

young girl wearing a short jumpsuit / culotte dress by Megan Nielsen in pale blue cotton fabric

For a more classic tailored look, Megan Nielsen designs many dresses, skirts, tops and trousers that are perfect for making in chambray like the adorable shorts jumpsuit above.


Happy Sewing